Plato on Philosophy's Future

Allan Wooley (C) 2015

The insight upon which this article is based gradually grew and became clear to me, while I was working on an article that aimed to refute Lesley Brown's (1998) claim that Plato's "late" dialogues (especially the Theaetetus and the Sophist) were initiating a new type of dialogue by including past thinkers, an article also included in Crumbs Cast upon the Current, a book which I published in 2015. Later as I wrote the current article, I realized how important the insight was, and how it would change the way I approached Plato and philosophy itself; it provides me with a wholly new perspective, and one that will probably be very controversial.

In Plato's "early" dialogues Socrates seems to act as if he believes that his way of discussion and cross-examination will ultimately lead to the uncovering and confirming principles upon which all sensible people will agree and that he will finally weave together into a single set of consistent doctrines. It never works out, but the hope is always there. Perhaps at one time Socrates hoped that there would be a final philosophy or that all philosophy would always stay the same1 with a single method leading to a single set of principles accepted by all, as was happening in the study of mathematics which even in the late fifth century BC and more so in Plato's time was progressing to general agreement regarding its approach, principles, and methodology in several fields2. Maybe Socrates, hoping for a single set of beliefs agreed upon by all and convinced in conversations with the Pythagoreans Cebes and Simmias, believed that as in logic or mathematics and in modern science the answer to universal agreement depended on developing the correct method for dealing with philosophical problems. Socrates was working on such a methodology, though likely based more on the work of Zeno of Elea, and Plato continued to test and innovate, as did Aristotle after him, but despite their development of various powerful methodologies3 including systematic classical logic, there was no general agreement on the basic philosophic dilemmas. From the Crito 49d2-5 on, it is clear that Plato does not anticipate that there will ever be a general agreement that philosophical controversy will wither up and die, while the world agrees on a common philosophical stance or set of positions and sets up a catechism that all students learn.

And yet Plato like most other philosophers has heard the Siren song of Truth, the holy grail of final answers, and he argues that there are correct answers to philosophy's major dilemmas and that he has some of them in hand, and yet unlike other philosophers, Plato does not think that his correct answers will prevail and end philosophical controversy. Over his works there is clear evidence that he sees there will be continuing disagreement on the right way to resolve dilemmas in all the main areas of philosophical discourse. Of course, Socratic dialectic is a method that deals in dilemma-driven decisions, and the dialogues are full of instances of such, some dilemmas are not resolved and others seem to be. Very few seem to be resolved in the so-called early or aporetic dialogues which usually end with the original dilemma unresolved or changed into an associated dilemma which is also unresolved. In a few dialogues the dilemma seems to be resolved, but the careful readers realize that it is not4. In the so-called middle dialogues some of the dilemmas are reviewed and appear to be resolved to Socrates' satisfaction, but always with some explicit or subliminal caveat, reservation, or restriction, such as the Republic's utopian framework; it is an elaborate thought experiment with many points of reservation5. I will now go through those passages in which I will argue that Plato makes it clear that he sees no end to the controversy, and then I will address the question whether he came up with any philosophical explanation for this strange debilitating predicament in philosophy. I hope to show that Plato saw philosophy as always having at least two strongly espoused and opposed stances, that it was not a winner-take-all kind of enterprise, and that this is a position he holds across the spectrum of his dialogues. I hope to show the developmentalists that this was not a notion that belonged to just one or possibly two of the three periods into which they divide his dialogues. To do this I will show that he maintained this notion in each 'period'. It is not necessary for my point to call upon the unitarians for aid, though my argument may help support their position. Since most of the passages have already been given in Part I in the Greek and the English of the Loeb translations, I will use another translation here (the Hamilton-Cairns edition ) for reference and to avoid subconsciously tailoring the words to fit my arguments.

There are, of course, many instances of dilemma-driven decisions in Plato. The Apology has a large inventory 1) from those reported by Socrates such as the response to the oracle at Delphi, 2) to those he faces in the court room such as Meletus' accusation and his cross-examination of him, 3) to those that Socrates imagines such as in his famous hypophora at Apology 29, "Would you stop philosophizing, if we acquitted you?" with his hypothetical answer, a self-quote within a self-quote metaphorically picturing his claim that what a man possesses inside himself is far more valuable and powerful than what he possesses outside himself; for the good man possesses inside himself "truth and understanding and the perfection of [his] soul." In this last instance of a dilemma-driven decision, we have the type of seminal opposition of stances for which I am looking in order to ascertain what Plato considers to be the state of philosophy in general and of his efforts in particular. This seminal stand-off in the Apology is certainly very significant in the context of Socrates' trial and insofar is crucial in the history of philosophy, but Plato does not here make explicit its significance for philosophy as a profession and its practice as such. In the Crito we find the first such seminal stand-off with an explicit comment on its wider significance: "Now be careful, Crito, that in making these single admissions you do not end by admitting something contrary to your real beliefs. I know that there are and always will be few people who think like this, and consequently between those who think so and those who do not, there be no agreement on principle; they must always feel contempt when they observe one another's decisions.(Crito 49d)"

From the context we understand that the few who think like this believe that it is never right to do wrong or harm another, while those who do not, but believe that it is right "to do an injury in retaliation, as most people believe" (49c), that is, to help friends but to harm enemies (as is clear from Socrates' comments "as the many think" [49b] and "say" [49c], cf. his commentary at Republic 1.332d on to 335e) . At Crito 47c Socrates has indicated that they do not want to go through ethical issues one by one but to come up with a general overall rule which he suggests is the rule enunciated by the one who knows and not just the opinion of the many. And this is the rule that they have come up with after years of serious discussions (49a); namely, that it is never right to do wrong and harm another. This issue is surely defined as a seminal one, and yet it is also made very clear that this issue will always be an open question and that in future debates there will always be more opposed to Socrates' and Crito's position than for it. If this were the only philosophical issue in this predicament, then we might dismiss it in one way or another, as do those moderns who, for example, follow Bertrand Russell in proclaiming ethics as a matter of taste and not a real part of philosophy. However, Plato and the rest of antiquity as well as the majority of philosophers since then did not excise ethics or axiology from the precincts of philosophy. Our next step would be to check briefly whether we have any similar situations in the other precincts of philosophy. There is a passage at Sophist 246a-c that is seminal and has explicit commentary in the words of the Stranger:

"What we shall see is something like a battle of gods and giants going on between them over their quarrel about reality. .. One party is trying to drag everything down to earth out of heaven and the unseen, literally grasping rocks and trees in their hands, for they lay hold upon every stock and stone and strenuously affirm that real existence belongs only to that which can be handled and offers resistance to the touch. They define reality as the same thing as body, and as soon as one of the opposite party asserts that anything without a body is real, they are utterly contemptuous and will not listen to another word. .. and accordingly their adversaries are very wary in defending their position somewhere in the heights of the unseen, maintaining with all their force that true reality consists in certain intelligible and bodiless forms. In the clash of argument they shatter and pulverize those bodies which their opponents wield and what those others allege to be true reality they call, not real being, but a sort of moving process of becoming. On this issue an interminable battle is always going on between the two camps."

At Theaetetus 180-81 after mentioning Homer as the leader of the party of flux, which consists of the followers of Heraclitus, Socrates says, "I had almost forgotten, Theodorus, another school which teaches just the opposite- that reality is 'one, immoveable, being is the name of the all (Parm. frg. 7.38)' and much else that men like Melissus and Parmenides maintain in opposition to all those people." This passage is a resumption of a theme earlier in the dialogue at 152d where the enveloping discussion is about sense perception. Socrates says, "We were wrong to speak of them [the qualities and attributes of things] as 'being,' for none of them ever is; they are always becoming. In this matter let us take it that, with the exception of Parmenides [and his followers], the whole series of philosophers agree-- Protagoras, Heraclitus, Empedocles-- and among the poets the greatest masters in both kinds, Epicharmus in comedy, Homer in tragedy." Here then we have Theaetetus 181 clearly referring to the same precinct of philosophy (ontology or metaphysics) as the Sophist and continuing the doxography, if not the analogy, of the Sophist and also continuing the doxography of Theaetetus 152, where the precinct of philosophy is perception and epistemology, and the analogy is of a quarrel between the Eleatics and a group including the rest of the philosophers and the greatest poets. So now we have shown first that there is another place where the battle between opposed philosophical positions is perennial and that the opposition now occurs in two other precincts of philosophy, now covering the three main precincts of philosophy recognized in antiquity: ethics, physics, and logic or axiology, ontology, and epistemology in more modern terms.

However, there is more to be added to flesh out my argument before concluding. Theaetetus 152, as I just noted, characterizes the Heraclitean-Parmenidean dispute6 almost as a quarrel between true philosophy and the poets and their allies. This is an allusion to the quarrel between philosophy and poetry that is cited as a long-standing battle in the Republic 10.607b where it has similarities with the Theaetetus, but also encompasses more. The mention of the quarrel between philosophy and poetry comes at the end of the reconsideration of poetry in which the philosopher seems to win out over the poet. This is the second of the three final contests in the Republic, in the first of which the just man wins out over the unjust in four proofs and in the third of which the immortal soul wins out over death in the final cosmic myth. The second contest between philosophy and poetry (X.595a-607b) briefly more or less recapitulates the discussion of the Republic in books two through five in reverse order: metaphysics, psychology, poetic style, and poetic content, ending with the claim that philosophy has won out over poetry in their long-standing quarrel. And yet though Socrates' arguments all carry weight and are convincing, the very structure of Socrates' utopian state must remind us of the claim in the Crito at the start of this inquiry that only the few will agree with Socrates and the many will never subscribe to his beliefs; the same seems true in the Theaetetus where only the few Eleatics stand against the many poets, sophists, and other philosophers. And then there is the structure of the ideal polis, led by a very few philosopher kings and queens, with an elite, but small force of guardians, and populated by a very large majority of farmers and artisans whose belief in the state is based on myths. Also in the kallipolis the many also really believe in body, sense perception, and pleasure over Forms, logic, and self-abdicating goodness, though, as in a virtuous soul, the many emotions are kept in line by the spirit under the guidance of reason. Poetry is definitely the handmaiden of the emotions, sense-impressions, and special places and things, and will always have more supporters than philosophy, as the Eleatics, or the Platonists, practice it.

Moreover, Plato's citing of the longstanding quarrel between philosophy and poetry at the conclusion of the Republic is important for several more reasons. First it needs to be understood that Plato does not include all philosophy in the 'philosophy' quarrelling with poetry, but just the Eleatic-Academic flavor that he has clearly defined in books 5 and 6, certainly not the false philosophers Socrates castigates in Republic 6.487b-506d nor the philosophers whom he groups with the poets in the Theaetetus (152e), but just as clearly he does not catalogue Parmenides with the poets, though he is technically a poet. Again this is a longstanding quarrel which began explicitly with Xenophanes and will continue as long as man continues to be a compound of opposites; in fact, this quarrel (see my essay on the quarrel in Crumbs pp.165-174) is really just a metaphorical extrapolation of the opposition between man's sense-driven emotions and logic-based conceptual life, as seen in Plato's psychology in the Republic. The Republic is the high water mark of Plato's long-term project to find a middle way and to integrate the Parmenidean and Heraclitean world-views, but this citing of the quarrel and his endorsement of philosophy as the winner shows that those two world-views can not be equal partners, even if they are yoked together. A person must still choose sides, and very carefully, as Socrates told Crito. In the Republic when Plato does conjoin the Parmenidean and the Heraclitean world views in what scholars call Plato's two-world view, each is fully valid and plenipotentiary in its own sphere: Parmenideanism in the world of the Ideas and Hercliteanism in the world of sights and sounds, but this does not preclude the need for a choice; only one can be first and in overall control. And Plato states his choice here at the end before the myth by picking a winner in the quarrel between philosophy and poetry, a choice which covers all the precincts of philosophy as the reverse recess-panel recapitulation (X.595a-607b) shows.

Despite Plato's awareness of the odds against success, it is still a very important choice and struggle for him especially in the realm of ethics; for Plato, as for Socrates, the struggle starts, continues in midstream, and ends in ethics, in the conduct of men and the beliefs and convictions that drives that conduct. So the Crito and the other 'early' dialogues stress that everlasting struggle, and so it is at the end do the books of the Laws, which at 10.906a also announces an unending struggle between good and evil: "For since, as we have agreed among ourselves, the world is full of good things, but no less full of their contraries, and those that are amiss are the more numerous, the fight we have in mind is, we maintain, undying and calls for a wondrous watchfulness." And later at 12.967 there is a reference to the Republic's quarrel between philosophy and poetry in which poetry does the name calling: "It was this [calling the heavenly entities soulless rocks] that involved the thinkers of those days in so many charges of infidelity and in so much unpopularity, and further inspired poets to denounce students of philosophy by comparing them with dogs baying at the moon." And by the time of the Republic Plato has drawn the other two major precincts of philosophy into the struggle very explicitly, even though there is strong evidence in the Crito that he is already alluding to the Parmenidean and Heraclitean aspects or layers of the perennial philosophical struggle, as I have argued at the end of my article "Is the new dialectic of the Sophist really new?", Crumbs, pp. 124-148, esp. pp. 142-145.

Now it is time to consider the consequences of the results of this inquiry. For Plato philosophy was not a struggle in which the winner takes all; it was not even a struggle in which there is a permanent winner. He obviously did not foresee a time when one specific philosophic method and one specific set of coordinated positions or a single world-view would command and enjoy general acceptance among the experts and so among the general populace, as mathematics was beginning to have in Plato's time and as natural science does now. And since this is the case, we must wonder if Plato wondered about the cause of this strange situation, a situation so different from and unlike that of mathematics, the other love of Plato. Although the Republic, Symposium, and Phaedrus among other dialogues discuss and portray the psychological dichotomy between the mental faculties and detail the intersection of the Parmenidean and Heraclitean domains, I believe that Plato's Theaetetus is itself one initiative in his special search for the cause for philosophy's dilemma, an initiative in which he studies what he elsewhere considers the lesser faculty of sense perception. In a way this is his acknowledgement that the very constitution of man as a bipolar combination of sense impression and logical reason mandates in some way that mankind must always subscribe to two opposed methodologies and the two opposed worldviews that arise from them. Another such instance of Plato's effort to study carefully the Heraclitean domain is the Timaeus, and though he calls his inquiry a "tale which is probable (29d)," the history of the Timaeus shows his success, at least in the eyes of those who philosophize after him. So we have Plato making serious inquiries into the Heraclitean domain in epistemology and ontology, and if we consider Plato's reconsideration of pleasure as in some measure good or a goal in the Philebus, we certainly have a philosopher in Plato who also tried to examine the other side of the ethical debate and who overall looked closely at both sides of a multifaceted question. Therefore I consider Plato a modest philosopher, one who realizes the limits of philosophy, and tries to understand those limits. This may explain his aporetic approach to philosophy in general, and explain why he generally chose dialectic and dialogue over didactic exposition; he lived his faith and that's why he never speaks in the first person, and why his self-abdicating concern for others and for his Socratic ministry come before any desire for victory for himself. He never proclaims dogma.

Though his hope for a reconciliation and integration of the Parmenidean and Heraclitean world-views was always there, worked out philosophically and logistically in his portrait of the Republic and bolstered by the examples of its realization in exceptional individuals, he gradually gave up his utopian hopes for the integrated community as portrayed in the Republic, and settled first for lower expectations in the Politicus, and then finally for a even more practical approach in the Laws. Still his effort to conjoin the worthwhile elements of Parmenideanism and Heracliteanism bore fruit, for he found a place in his overall scheme of things for the methods and beliefs of both. However, he was always aware that a choice had to be made between the two world-views and his choice was clear throughout, based not only on his Socratic background, but also on his work in mathematics. Not only did Plato believe that mankind was destined to hold opposed worldviews forever, but also that the worldview opposed to the one he championed would be far more popular. Plato based his belief that there would be this perennial philosophic contention on history and on his dialectical investigation of the possible philosophical positions or stances. So far philosophical speculation since Plato's time till now seems to have demonstrated his perspicacity and the accuracy of his prediction. As Alfred North Whitehead has famously said, all philosophy since has been footnotes on Plato, and this inquiry seems to give an added dimension to his claim. We have seen that Plato saw philosophy as schizophrenic in his time and forecast that it would always be so. In other words Plato's claim is that there will never be a single final solution in philosophy, but that every following age would see at least two more or less opposed schools of philosophy, and that the one more aligned with his would be the less widely held. Though he gave an account of both views in his overall philosophy, he definitely subordinated the Heraclitean part to the Parmenidean. He did not expect his integrated view to be the ultimate winner, nor his choices in the three dilemmas in the basic precincts of philosophy. He gave his account of why there was this split in the human psyche that produced two disparate world views, and also his account of why he believed that his continued attempt to prove the superiority of his position was worthwhile, in fact, not just worthwhile, but supremely important.

Thus Plato not only practiced philosophy, but he also practiced metaphilosophy. He gave an account of the state of philosophy by allusion, example, and explicit exposition, as well as dealing dialectically with specific problems and issues. However, he chose not to do this in a rigidly systematic way, but to do it in a dramatic fashion rather than in continuous analytical exposition. I believe this was partly because he was modest. Usually a philosopher proudly proclaims his version of the truth and then defends his claim7; less frequently he slowly builds up his arguments step by step, perhaps in a modified Socratic dialectic, and lets the result speak for itself. The second is the more modest approach, but it is not really modest if the philosopher at the end claims to have built preemptive proof that his final conclusion must be true. Of course, Socrates never made any such claim, and so he was the first of that rare commodity, a modest philosopher, who did not even record his thoughts in writing, and yet he did not seem truly modest, but only ironically so. Plato is never a character in his dialogues, mentions himself only twice and in passing, never quotes himself, and seems to me to have been careful and modest in method, tentative and modest in not claiming the victor's crown, and also personally modest, even self-effacing in manner, a triple paragon of modesty. However, Plato's most modest act as a philosopher may have been to admit that philosophy has no end-game, no ultimate complete solution acceptable to all. Such modesty seems strange for a man who in the voice of Socrates claimed that a true philosopher was as similar to a god as was possible for a man (Tht. 176b), but then Plato like his mentor Socrates remains a difficult man to pin down, in this one aspect certainly, among many others; both were real-life correlates to the mythic Proteus8.

Although Plato's modesty may remain a Protean mystery, there will always be a much more pervasive and important Protean mystery. Although philosophy itself will always remain a transparent and open question, how each person deals with their inherent philosophic dilemma will remain lifelong Protean wrestling match. Plato outlined the education and institutions that he thought would help the individual to the best resolution, and he portrayed the many bad results like Thrasymachus, Callicles, Alcibiades, and the few good results like Theaetetus; the bad educators like Hippias, most poets, and most sophists, and the very few good educators like Socrates, but without a Platonic Academy, the result was generally a lonely individual Protean wrestling match. Moreover, given this situation, the question remains: what is the point or value of the Platonic vision, as I interpret it, and which I will call 'open Platonism'? It proposes a continuum of philosophic stances stretching between two polar positions, each of which has a certain internal consistency and which Plato saw as Parmenideanism and Heracliteanism, each modified by further philosophic insights that accrued to each during the fifth century BC and which continued to accrue through the fourth century to result in the opposed methodology and world-views of a reason-based virtue-striving idealism opposed to a sensation-based pleasure-seeking materialism. How much different was this world-vision from sophistic relativism or from Pyrrhonic scepticism9 in which each of the two opposing sides either attacked or cancelled out the other? Both Sophism and Scepticism were generally negative and nihilistic in effect. Though the first did not encourage modesty, the second did produce a large margin of philosophic modesty, beyond that it had little positive influence. Open Platonism, on the other hand, provides a map of our spiritual landscape that allows us to 'know ourselves,' both of the intrinsically opposed parts of ourselves, and so to be fully human. With open Platonism we come to realize that we can not escape either side of ourselves; we can only manage how they interrelate. Accordingly, we must negotiate a interrelation within ourselves, build some bridges between the two sides, claim some middle ground, and arrange some detente. In effect each of us must become a pontifex within ourselves. In coming to know ourselves, we can know others more fully and deeply, knowing that they face the same problems as we do ourselves. This is the benefit of open Platonism. As Socrates explains in the second part of the Apology, the key to the outer world is within us.

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Barnes, Jonathan. The Toils of Scepticism. Cambridge. Cambridge UP. 1990.
Bett, R. 1989. "The Sophists and Relativism". Phronesis 34:139-69.
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Maziarz, E.A.  and Greenwood, T. Greek Mathematical Philosophy. New York. Ungar Press. 1968. 
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O'Brien, MJ. 1963. "The Unity of the Laches". Yale Classical Studies 18: 131-47
Palmer, John. Plato's Reception of Parmenides. Oxford. Oxford UP. 1999.
Palmer, John. Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy. Oxford. Oxford UP. 2009.
Rutherford, RB. The Art of Plato. Cambridge. Harvard UP. 1995
Shorey, Paul. What Plato Said. Chicago. Univ. Chicago Press. 1965.
Smith, P. Chrisopher. 1995. "A Reconstruction of Plato's Methods of Argument in the Phaedo". The Third Way, edited by F.J. Gonzalez. 	  	Lanham, MD. Rowman & Littlefield. 95-107
Stokes, M. Plato's Socratic Conversations. Baltimore. The Johns Hopking UP. 1986. pp.36-113.
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Footnotes:

1) When Socrates claims in Gorgias 482a-b et alibi that "philosophy holds always to the same," he is not referring to all philosophies but just to that specific brand that he (and later Plato) espouses, that is later the foundation for the Theory of Ideas. A little later at 482e Socates explains his meaning more fully: he would prefer that "the majority of mankind disagree with and oppose me, rather than that I, who am but one man, should be out of tune with and contradict myself." Later at 490e the same theme of Socrates always saying the same things about the same things comes up again. These passages in the Gorgias make it clear that for Socrates and Plato what the philosopher expects of his own thinking, he expects from any series of arguments written down somewhere and existing separate from living minds, in a dialogue or treatise and called 'philosophy'. Cf. also Symposium 221e.
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2) Mathematics in Greece made astounding progress in the late 5th BC and through the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, see E.A. Maziarz and T. Greenwood, Greek Mathematical Philosophy, 1968, and Thomas Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics, vol. 1: From Thales to Euclid, 1981.
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3) Socrates seems to have developed the elenchos,progressive hypotheses, and of course the definition. In the Meno Plato seems to have added the element of intuitive insight which he descrived as recollection (anamnesis) and also a mathematical kind of apodictic proof (deductive from accepted axioms). In the Phaedo he expands the quasi-mathematical approach with 'apodictic demonstrations', measuring their effectiveness against the probable 'proof' of the dialectical-rhetorical arguments (cf. P. C. Smith, pp. 95-6 in The Third Way, 1995). In the Republic's Divided Line Plato summarizes his methodological results in dialectic up to then. In the Phaedrus 249b & 265d Plato reveals another method (of 'scientific' classification) that he calls division and collection/synthesis (diaeresis and synagogai), which he develops and explains in the Sophist and Politicus. Aritsotle built upon and extended Plato's work to formalize it and produce classical logic and the syllogism for deductive logic as well as inductive logic in his Posterior Analytics. Cf. also GMA Grube, Plato's Thought, 1980.
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4) To demonstrate this exhaustively would take pages, and there are many good introductory handbooks that would serve well for those curious for specific examples, such as two old standbys: AE Taylor, Plato: the man and his work, 1957 or Paul Shorey, What Plato Said, 1965. But briefly to give an example of my point. The Laches portrays a stand off between two generals on a military specific question which then through Socrates' wizardry morphs into an attempt to define courage. In both instances Laches, a man of action, and Nicias, a more contemplative man of words come to logger heads. As RB Rutherford (1995) 84 comments on their initial confrontation (181d-84c): "Since the two experts disagree, decision is difficult," and so Socrates is asked to arbitrate. Nonetheless, although Socrates involves both interlocutors personally and engagingly in the debate and both praise Socrates and perhaps learn some things, still the debate seems to end up in aporia with no clear, explicit answer. And yet it seems likely that Plato expects the reader/listener to realize, as MJ O'Brien suggested in YCS 18, 131-47, that the dramatic conclusion is obvious: Socrates is both a man of deed and of words and fills both aspects of this dichotomy that is mentioned several times in the dialogue, and moreover he is an exemplar of the courage that they are trying to define. And so one might say that the Laches is really not aporetic, but I doubt that Plato would agree, since 1) Socrates was never a general or military leader, though all acknowledged his bravery as a soldier, and 2) most importantly, Socrates has never claimed to know military strategy or the definition of courage, indeed quite the opposite. Accordingly, the Laches has more of a conclusion implicitly than is clearly stated, but still has no full answer to the question raised. See also M. Stokes, Plato's Socratic Conversations, 1986, pp.36-113.
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5) Plato's most obvious caveat comes in the Republic at the end of Book 9 (592a-b):
      "I understand, he (Glaucon) said. You mean the city whose establishment we have described, the city whose home is in the ideal, for I think that it can be found nowhere on earth.
        Well, said I (Socrates), perhaps there is a pattern of it laid up in heaven for him who wishes to contemplate it and so beholding to constitute himself its citizen. But it makes no difference whether it exists now or ever will come into being. The politics of this city will be his and of none other.
        That seems probable, he said."
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6) On the so-called dispute between Parmenides and Heraclitus cf. John Palmer (2009) 341-344, and (1999) 531-2 & 547-8, who points out that the notion of Parmenides targeting Heraclitus as a philosophic opposite rests on "reductive misrepresentation of both Parmenides' and Heraclitus' thought" and that this blighted doxography is used by Plato. In addition, I would argue that Plato uses that doxography for his own purposes, whether or not he realized its problematic provenance. As usual, Plato is not interested in history but in his current philosophic point, and since some good portion of the reductive misrepresentation was developed by sophists, we might pertinently ask whether Plato is joining those sophists who, like the author of Dissoi Logoi, argue that both sides can make a persuasive argument.
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7) The Presocratics were certainly not retiring. The Ionians took part in creating 'literary' prose, aiming for clear explicit exposition. Heraclitus certainly was not a wall-flower but considered himself equal to an oracle. Although Parmenides and Empedocles reverted to verse, they were certainly not self-effacing. Parmenides also tried to create a more explicit even apodictic clarity. Then there were Anaxagoras who was certainly willing to go against the flow, and Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus and such who were nothing if not self-promoters. And after Plato Aristotle renewed the trend of forthright explicit prose proudly proclaimed, and the Lyceum followed him in this as the Stoa followed Zeno. The Garden followed Epicurus in being willing to proclaim the Principal Doctrines in their own name, though they were generally more retiring, especially from public life. In this retirement alone they were like the Platonists, in all else quite the opposite. It is noteworthy, however, that all the major schools described their sages as possessing qualities very like those they attributed to their version of the gods.
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8) If we are really going to wrestle Proteus to the end and to force him to give us the answer that Plato tried to get, then we must reject the stance of modern man which, as Plato predicted, is the reverse of his integration. Instead of the Parmenidean philosopher outside the cave in the sun as the world of reality and the Heraclitean inside the cave watching the flickering shadows on the wall, most of the intellectually elite today believe the real world to be Heraclitean sense perception of matter, and the Parmenidean world belongs to the realm of mathematical imagination and such. If we can finally hold Proteus still, his answer might be that philosophy's task is not to get everyone to accept one world view, but rather to seek out the cause for our philosophic schizophrenia, to find an aitiology that we can all agree on and build upon that foundation to gain greater self-knowledge. There are several approaches. One is that which Plato has already initiated; namely to track how emotion driven by sense perception projects one worldview and logic driven by intuitive hypotheses projects a very different world view. Or further how cultures with a transparent language tend to build and emphasize idealistic world views, while cultures with opaque languages tend to build and emphasize empiric or pragmatic worldviews. There are several other pervasive but nearly imperceptible causes for philosophic bias that can serve as starting places deserving study and serious investigation. The job of philosophy is not, as has been tried in the past, to study common language, or to pursue logic by itself, or to make philosophy an adjunct or handmaid to science, but to study why philosophy, and the ultimate questions for which it seeks answers, remains an open wound that can not be closed, and what that means to mankind. We have two and a half millennia of attempted answers without general agreement. By now we should have realized that we are not going to get general agreement and decide rather to focus our energy on figuring out why this is such a prominent part of the human condition, what its cause is, and what its effect is on the mind of man. Certainly we should be able to come up with a better answer than that some parts of philosophy are just matters of taste while the other parts will eventually fade away and become parts of physical or social science or mathematics or logic,- the regina artium that has been transmogrified into labes antiquae, ancient ruins. As myth is the seed bed for philosophy, so philosophy exists only as the chrysalis to produce metaphilosophy, the inquiry where we will ultimately learn about the human condition, the arena of the examined life in its environs.
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9) For sophism see R. Bett (1989) 139-69, U. Zilioli (2007), P.Adamson (2014) 81-2; for scepticism see Arne Naess (1968) Scepticism; Jonathan Barnes (1990) The Toils of Scepticism; and Myles Burneat & Michael Frede (1997) The Original Sceptics: A Controversy.
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