Plato's Use of Fallacy: A Study of the Euthydemus and Some Other Dialogues

Plato's Use of Fallacy: A Study of the Euthydemus and Some Other Dialogues

Plato's Use of Fallacy: A Study of the Euthydemus and Some Other Dialogues

Plato's Use of Fallacy: A Study of the Euthydemus and Some Other Dialogues

Excerpt

There is no doubt that there are many fallacious arguments in Plato's dialogues. This book is an attempt to try out the hypothesis that Plato was fully conscious of the fallacious character of at least an important number of these arguments, and that he sometimes made deliberate use of fallacy as an indirect means of setting forth certain of his fundamental philosophical views.

Of course there may well be arguments in the dialogues which Plato regarded as sound but which are in fact fallacious. It is not my purpose to deny this nor to examine passages where Plato may have committed unintentional logical errors. My purpose is rather to insist that in the case of certain specific fallacious arguments Plato was fully aware of the fallacy and used it for a purpose.

As for what is meant by speaking of the way in which Plato 'uses' certain fallacies, the view that I shall develop may be summarized as follows: Plato's general method in these cases is, not to incorporate or build fallacious arguments into his dialogues in such a manner as to produce conclusions based upon unsound foundations, but rather to introduce them for the purpose of working out their implications. Thus he is able (1) to expose them for what they are, and sometimes (2) to clear away possible lines of attack upon his own position, or even (3) to show that when the proper correction is applied his own views receive support.

The book, then, has been called Plato's Use of Fallacy because it is this latter point, the connection between fallacy and Plato's philosophical position, which has engaged my attention . . .

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