By Debra Nails
Agora, Academy, and the behavior of Philosophy deals tremendous cautious and exact criticisms of a few of the main vital assumptions students have delivered to undergo in starting the strategy of (Platonic) interpretation. It is going directly to supply a brand new method to staff the dialogues, in keeping with very important proof within the lives and philosophical practices of Socrates - the most speaker in such a lot of Plato's dialogues - and of Plato himself. either side of Debra Nails's arguments deserve shut recognition: the unfavorable facet, which exposes loads of variety in a box that regularly claims to have completed a consensus; and the confident part, which insists that we needs to attend to what we all know of those philosophers' lives and practices, if we're to make a significant try to comprehend why Plato wrote the way in which he did, and why his writings appear to depict diversified philosophies or even diversified techniques to philosophizing.
From the Preface by means of Nicholas D. Smith.
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Extra resources for Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy
Such an enumeration, almost a disclaimer, may appear a disingenuous pretense that scholarship has gone nowhere since ancient times. Not at all. "Some nineteenth-century scholars devoted their entire lives to studies of AGORA, ACADEMY, AND PHILOSOPHY 34 the sort we can now perform before lunch" (Smith 1992: 257). Depending how one defines 'progress', much has been established, particularly at the level of discrete issues and specific dialogues, though none of it with quite the certainty of the five initial non-philosophical propositions.
Cutting across these four methodological approaches are characterizations of Plato as, for example, a dogmatic and/or systematic philosopher, a skeptic, and/or a philosopher whose doctrines evolved over time. Ultimately, I will reject all these characterizations of Plato, at least in the forms in which they have been defended in the literature, because every one of them obscures what I hold to be Plato's central contribution to the conduct of philosophy: that the philosopher must proceed dialectically, neither adamantly committed to assumptions, nor prejudiced in favor of particular outcomes.
The great advantage of oral conversation is that it can be adapted exactly to the needs and interests of one's partner, but its corresponding shortcoming is that the limitations of the partner's intellect or knowledge or motivation can prevent progress in the conversation. An advantage of question-and-answer is its ability to keep the partner actively involved and thinking, but a disadvantage is the difficulty of introducing any substantial body of information to be studied and examined systematically and critically.
Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy by Debra Nails