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The Ontology of Socratic Questioning in Plato's Early Dialogues Paperback – Jul 2 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (July 2 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438444044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438444048
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 503 g
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #992,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: HASH(0xa09e01b0) out of 5 stars 1 review
HASH(0xa15dc408) out of 5 stars Difficult but valuable interpretation of some central topics in the early Platonic dialogues Dec 18 2015
By Wendell Bowerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kirkland's book is focused on aporia, the condition of doubt to which Socrates brings his interlocutors at the conclusion of many of the early dialogues of Plato, and on the so-called Socratic paradox, that is, the fact that Socrates generally claims to have no knowledge yet he exhibits a degree of virtue that seems impossible to achieve without the knowledge of what virtue is. He does an excellent job of reviewing the vast literature on these topics. Chapter 3 focuses on parts of the Apology and Chapter 6 on the Laches; these chapters are quite subtle and interesting. They do not stand alone, however, because they depend on the other, more general, chapters that gradually develop Kirkland's argument for a phenomenological interpretation of the early dialogues. It would be difficult to summarize Kirkland's complex interpretation of aporia, but the general idea is that aporia is not a mere negative state but a condition, both intellectual and emotional, that Socrates experiences and wants to bring his audience to share, a condition that is itself a goal rather than a mere means toward a complete understanding of specific virtues (that understanding is probably impossible, as Kirkland thinks Socrates and Plato see it).
The book is difficult to read, in large part because the concepts themselves are unfamiliar and complex, though Kirkland tends to use 10-dollar words more than necessary, and he has the unfortunate habit of not translating lengthy quotations in his extensive notes. (The notes, by the way, are essential to his argument.)
It is interesting to read this book in conjunction with another recent controversial critique of the early dialogues, that by John Beversluis, titled Cross-Examining Socrates. Beversluis argues that the arguments of Socrates paralyze his interlocutors but often "have no lasting effect" because those interlocutors are unpersuaded. Kirkland would perhaps respond that Socrates' purpose is not persuasion, and that what Beversluis calls "paralysis" is instead a valuable state of aporia.


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