The Charmides of Plato

Problems and Interpretations

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The Charmides is among Plato's most intriguing and perplexing dialogues. The range of subjects touched or treated is extremely wide: matters logical, epistemological, moral, ethical, political, and religious. In many cases, these are discussed in a highly inconclusive and aporetic way, especially when it comes to the subject of knowledge. Finally, the dialogue is also difficult on almost every level of its expression; mock-reasonings, misunderstandings, ironies, paradoxes, and perplexities abound. As a result, the run of its many arguments, both on the short and the long range, and its overall structure are not easy to discern. If a text of such a character is to be made completely accessible, a full-scale commentary is required; it is much to be regretted, therefore, that there is no commentary in which the difficulties of the Greek, the argument, and the place of the philosophical problems in the development of Plato's thought are comprehensively and coherently explained. This monograph does not aspire to that status, but makes an essential contribution towards achieving that aim (in addition to the many other works in the field, Lamb's scrupulous translation of 1927 and Bloch's penetrating study of 1973 in particular) by presenting a detailed examination of forty-two passages of which the interpretation is disputed; many more minor problems are dealt with along the way. In all matters of interpretation, special attention has been paid to defining the exact place of the passage within the run of the, often intricate, argument. The result of this attention can also be observed in an analytical 'Summary of the contents of the Charmides'.

Subjects: Classical philosophy

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