Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

It was been suggested (and here I am thinking in particular of comments made by Professor William Prior) that my book, Bitter Knowledge, would benefit from a more comprehensive attention to the argumentative details of the dialogues studied there. Professor Prior specifically suggests that, if we were to be given more of their argumentation, we might better appreciate the motivation or the disposition of the speakers in the dialogues under study.

The book as designed, as submitted in typescript, and as accepted for publication, included three appendices. These appendices comprised detailed outlines of the speakers and events portrayed in, respectively, the Prolagoras, the Meno, and the Theaelelus. They were intended to add depth and context to the analyses and discussions in the book's three chapters devoted to those dialogues. Unfortunately, during the production process, the editorial decision was made to cut the appendices, despite my objection.

The appendices, in their collection of the complex weave of speakers and themes and events and arguments within each individual dialogue, were meant to illustrate how educative lessons were interwoven with doctrinal concerns by the master-craftsman, Plato, in his depictions of Socrates talking and interacting with others. It seemed to me that, as much as Socrates denied or refused the mantle of teacher, most famously in the Apology, his actions belied his denials. In this respect, I was following the lead of Seth Benardete, whose book entitled, The Argument of the Action, nicely teaches us the lesson that the action of a text has an argument of its own, if we can but elucidate it. Putting my own particular spin on Benardete's insight, one might say that Bitter Knowledge focuses our attention throughout on the action (or activity) of the argument, rather than on the doctrinal aspects of the argument.

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