Thomas, Derek Alan Brendon (1974)
Aspects of the relation between doctrine and dialectic in Plato.
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An attempt is made to identify a principle underlying the increasing complexity of the early and middle dialogues of Plato without postulating a secret doctrine or straining the text. Socratic argument is argument from a position, and this reserved position is, often the key to the vicissitudes of the argument. Yet he is prevented from expressing this position because there is no generally recognized contemporary framework of philosophical discussion by means of which he can make his argument independent of the reaction of his interlocutors. Thus the whole dialectical situation is part and parcel of the proof. The whole dialectical situation was analysed by Plato in the effort to generalise the application of the proof, to produce a doctrine of character - of the man on whom dialectic works, a doctrine of hypothesis in which dialectic is interpreted to professors of other disciplines in a competition for attention traditional between the disciplines, a doctrine of memory and recollection, based on analysis of the role played by memory in guaranteeing the truth content of a conversation; and a doctrine of mind and perception which is dialectic internalized and transposed to a mental sphere. The fundamental character of Platonic proof is reported dialectic, and in the dialectic reported, at least at the beginning, natural forces work to produce the desired result. The evidence for a formalized dialect is dependent on or independent of or even pre-dating Plato is not sufficient to produce conviction. The ghost of Socrates must always be supplied to the dialectical machine.
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Institution: University of London, Royal Holloway College (United Kingdom).