DIALECTICAL SWORDPLAY IN PLATO’S LACHES

D B Futter

Abstract


Scholarly attempts to understand Plato’s distinction between
philosophy and sophistry typically concentrate on explicit thematic
discussions or on dialogues in which primary characters are well
known sophists or rhetoricians. By contrast, this paper elucidates
the nature of sophistical speech by means of an interpretation
of Laches, a Socratic dialogue with two Athenian generals about
courage. Textual argument is provided to show that one of the
two primary interlocutors, Nicias, attempts to avoid refutation by
means of certain dialectical defence mechanisms. The nature of these
defence mechanisms is analysed and shown to imply a form of
discursive self-alienation, that is, an unwillingness to say what one
really thinks about virtue. Socrates’ elenchus is then interpreted as an
attempt to penetrate Nicias’s dialectical defences in order to
reconnect him to a pre-theoretical self-understanding from which
philosophy must take root.

Keywords


Plato; Socrates; Laches, Nicias, Sophistry, Elenchus

Full Text:

PDF


DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/63-0-992

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.



ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2011.

http://akroterion.journals.ac.za/public/site/images/scholar/g3010_768

Disclaimer:

This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help