The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Book 10 of the Laws is intended to prove that the gods exist, care for us, and are not persuaded by bribes (885b7-9). The arguments put forward concerning the gods in Book 10 are described as “our noblest and best prelude (kalliston te kai ariston prooimion) on behalf of the laws” (887c1). In this paper I want to investigate how Plato establishes the fact that nous, “god, in the correct sense, for the gods” (897b2), exists. Some scholars have noted the “empirical” character of Plato’s arguments for the existence of god in Laws 10. While empirical facts do provide an important supplement to Plato’s theology, they do not comprise the whole or even most important part of that theology. Instead of looking at the technical or empirical arguments for god’s existence in Laws 10, I will examine how Plato’s commitment to dialogical conversation, where partners in logos work towards a shared understanding of the subject at hand, plays a foundational role in establishing the central principles of his theology.


Lewis Trelawny-Cassity presented “Empirical and Dialogical Proofs for the Existence of God in Plato’s Laws X” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Anaheim in 2010. A much revised version appeared as “On the foundation of theology in Plato’s Laws” in Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Spring 2014).

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