Posted by Spratley on September 22, 1998 at 02:16:37:
In Reply to: Confused about socrates/plato discernment posted by Genevive Jones on September 21, 1998 at 20:11:36:
You can't. This is one of the biggest and most debated issues in classical studies. We know so little of Socrates (only from about three sources), and he never wrote anything. The tradition is to take what Plato says at face value, visualizing the mouths of Socrates and Plato interchangeably. Socrates is as much a literary character as he is a real man. So whether we say that Socrates said, or that Plato said, or that Plato has Socrates say, it makes no real difference.
The challenge, the skill which must be developed, is to be able to tell what Plato means to say when he has Socrates say something. Very often the conversation, the dialog that Socrates is having serves to discuss a totally seperate point in Plato's philosophy --but its all literary device.
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