Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Phronesis Vol. 48, No. 4, August 2003

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Phronesis Vol. 48, No. 4, August 2003

Article excerpt

Socrates' Pursuit of Definitions, DAVID WOLFSDORF

This paper examines the manner in which Socrates pursues definitions in Plato's early definitional dialogues and advances the following claims. Socrates evaluates definitions (proposed by his interlocutors or himself) by considering their consistency with conditions of the identity of F (F-conditions) to which he is committed. In evaluating proposed definitions, Socrates seeks to determine their truth value. Socrates evaluates the truth value of a proposed definition by considering the consistency of the proposed definition with F-conditions that F he believes to be true. (For instance, a proposed definition's inconsistency with one of these gives Socrates reason to believe that the definition is false.) Socrates' belief in the truth of a given F-condition to which he is committed may be based on self-evidence, its endoxic status, experience, or deduction from premises to which he is committed on the basis of any of the previous three. However, Socrates does not consider the epistemological grounds of his commitments to his F-conditions. …

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