Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Socrates in Hades: On Plato’s Protagoras, Part II

Part Two of an Interesting Read

Amplify’d from www.ashokkarra.com
Below is an outline of the Protagoras that should make things clearer even to those who have not read the dialogue. If you are really pressed for time, the most important sections are “Protagoras’ myth,” followed by “Protagoras’ logos,” and the Socratic concerns about virtue which precede Protagoras’ myth. This post is about 1400 words.

309a – 310a: Socrates encounters an unnamed companion. The companion seems to think there is something between Socrates and Alcibiades; Socrates does nothing to discourage this impression. The companion is an “enthusiast for Homer;” he did not know Protagoras was in town, which would mark him a bit less enthusiastic about sophistry than Hippocrates. Socrates relates to the companion his story of the events leading to and including the discussion with Protagoras. Socrates admits he has “just now come from seeing [Protagoras]” and he seems to have met this companion by chance: contrast with Socrates’ saying he “has something to do” (335c-d) and the “appointment” he is late for (361e). Socrates has nothing to do, but uses the first excuse (along with a threat to leave) to get control of the conversation from Protagoras. The second mention of “appointment” is more curious: does Socrates have something to report, i.e. did he learn something? The encounter with Hippias, a sophist (see the Greater Hippias) does result in Socrates’ saying he learned something (Greater Hippias 304e).

Socrates in Hades: On Plato’s Protagoras, Part II

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