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Nova tellus

Print version ISSN 0185-3058


GONZALEZ VARELA, José Edgar. Republic I and Criticism of the Socratic Elenchus. Nova tellus [online]. 2012, vol.30, n.2, pp.39-72. ISSN 0185-3058.

Book I of Plato's Republic differs notably in style and philosophical strategy from books II-X. In this paper I explain why there is such a difference. I defend a novel version of a well-known thesis: that the main role of Republic I is to criticize Socrates. My interpretation is novel in two respects: (a) I emphasize that the critique is directed exclusively to Socrates' philosophical method (the elenchus) and not to some specific Socratic doctrine, and (b) I claim that Republic I shows that the elenchus may fail in two different ways: by failure of the elenchus' preferred dialectical weapon (the techne analogy, Cleitophon) and by failure of one of the conditions of possibility of the dialogue (basic agreement about values and virtues, Thrasymachus).

Keywords : justice; method; Plato; refutation; Socrates.

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