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Plato's Dialogues

Fast facts on the 35 Platonic dialogues (and letters)
by

Jaye

on 11 December 2014

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Transcript of Plato's Dialogues

185
Plato's
Dialogues

PROTAGORAS
Socrates
Hippias of Elis
Protagoras
Prodicus
Alcibiades
Eryximachus
Phaedrus
Pausanius
Agathon
13 others

Can virtue be taught—or not?
Socrates debates the great sophist Protagoras
contains a version of the Promethean myth
53
pages
GORGIAS






Socrates
Callicles
Gorgias
Polus

A debate on oratory
Socrates debates the sophist and orator Gorgias
ends with a myth of the afterlife
77
pages
MENO






Socrates
Meno
A slave
Anytus

Can virtue be taught?
Socrates questions Meno’s slave in geometry
ideas: immortality of the soul, knowledge as recollection (anamnesis), hypothesis
conclusion: virtue is a gift of the gods
27
pages
EUTHYDEMUS




Socrates
Crito
Euthydemus
Dionysodorus
Clinias
Ctesippus


Dueling the sophists
great examples of sophistry by brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus
sophists promise to "refute whatever may be said, no matter whether it is true or false"
Dionysodorus: "You are babbling instead of being concerned about answering."
Socrates wants to enroll with Crito as students of the sophists
sophists: there is no Truth, only Opinion
36
pages
SOCRATES
"But this man here is so bizarre, his ways and his ideas are so unusual, that, search as you might, you’ll never find anyone else, alive or dead, who’s even remotely like him."

Alcibiades
son of the sculpture Sophronicus and the midwife Phaenarete. Half brother of Patrocles
orginally worked as a masted stonecutter
known for bravery in battle: at Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium
doesn't bathe much, dislikes crowds
GREATER HIPPIAS*








Socrates
Hippias of Elis


What is the fine?

Socrates and the sophist Hippias discuss the fine
Hippias: "Let me hear them once and I'll memorize fifty names."
Socrates: "I forgot you had the art of memory."
hilarious character of Sophronicus's son
21
pages
MENEXENUS








Socrates
Menexenus


Funeral oratory
Also known in antiquity as Funeral Oration
Socrates recites Aspasia's speech on honoring the dead and the history of Athens
14
pages
HIPPIAS







Socrates
Hippias of Elis
Eudicus


Can one be truthful and a liar?
Socrates has Hippias explain why he calls Achilles "best and bravest" and Odysseus "wily and a liar"
unless one knows the truth, one can't lie
it's better to be voluntarily bad than involuntarily bad
13
pages
ION








Socrates
Ion of Ephesus


Divine inspiration
Ion is a rhapsode of Homer
Socrates claims Ion's mastery of Homer is a divine inspiration
11
pages
REPUBLIC

Socrates
Glaucon
Adeimantus
Thrasymachus
Polemarchus
Cephalus
Lysias
Euthydemus
Clitophon




The ideal city
Socrates and others debate the meaning of justice
Socrates delivers his vision of the ideal city-state
251
pages
TIMAEUS






Timeaus of Locri
Socrates
Hermocrates
Critias

Creation of the world
the day after Republic
one of the only works of Plato available to Latin readers in the early Middle Ages—a foundation of Neoplatonism
Critias tells the story of Atlantis—as told by Solon to Critias's great grandfather
Timeaus tells of the creation of the universe and human beings
includes a description of Platonic solids, the Golden ratio, formation of the body, disease
soft is what gives way to the flesh; hard is what the flesh gives way to
smooth is hard and uniform; rough is hard and non-uniform
66
pages
CRITIAS







Critias
Socrates
Timaeus

History of Atlantis
follows Timeaus's speech directly
the history of prehistoric Greece, the ancient acropolis
the history of Atlantis under Poseidon and Atlas (the king)
unfinished
13
pages
CLITOPHON*








Socrates
Clitophon


Questioning Socrates
Clitophon says Socrates is best at turning a person toward virtue
Clitophon then claims Socrates obstructs those from actually reaching the goal of virtue

5
pages
EUTHYPHRO








Socrates
Euthyphro


What is piety?
Socrates is on his way to answer charges of impiety
Euthyphro has just brought murder charges against his own father
do the gods love the pious because it's pious—or is the pious pious because the gods love it?
14
pages
APOLOGY







Socrates
Meletus
jury of 500


Trial of Socrates
Socrates' defense speech against charges of impiety
Socrates is found guilty—asked to name his sentence, Socrates suggests "free meals at the Prytaneum"
Socrates is sentenced to death
18
pages
CRITO








Socrates
Crito


The social contract
Socrates declines Crito's pleas to escape
if a citizen has enjoyed the benefits of the state, he should also abide by its laws
10
pages
PHAEDO





Phaedo of Elis
Socrates
Simmias
Cebes
Crito


Death of Socrates
last hours and death (by hemlock) of Socrates
Socrates discusses the immortality of the soul—relates a myth of the soul after death
50
pages
STATESMAN






Socrates
visitor from Elea
Theadorus
Theaetetus


What is a statesman?
sequel to Sophist
Socrates again takes a backseat to the visitor
detailed examples of division and categorization
the myth of earth-made humans in the age of Chronos
discourse on clothes-making
63
pages
SOPHIST






Socrates
visitor from Elea
Theadorus
Theaetetus
What is a sophist?
the day after Theaetetus
the visitor from Elea (another philosopher) leads the discussion
refuting the Parmenidean idea of "what is" with "what is not"
conclusion: sophists do not possess knowledge, only the appearance of knowledge
57
pages
THEAETETUS





Euclides
Terpsion
Socrates
Theodorus
Theaetetus
What is knowledge?
the founding document of epistemology
Socrates calls himself a midwife of ideas in young people
viewpoint of the sophist Protagoras: "man is the measure of all things"
theory of Parmenides ("all is unchanging") vs Heraclitus ("all is motion and change")
great description of Socrates as spiritual teacher (150d-151c)
on patterns: "he pays the penalty of living the life that corresponds to the pattern he is coming to resemble" (177)
76
pages
CRATYLUS







Socrates
Cratylus
Hermogenes



About names
Cratylus (a student of Heraclitus) says names must reflect the nature of reality
an inspired Socrates executes complex etymological examples
Cratylus: one of the few who holds his own against Socrates
54
pages
PARMENIDES






Parmenides
Zeno of Elea
young Socrates
Aristotle


Instruction in philosophy
Parmenides and Zeno come to Athens to read from Zeno's book
Parmenides instructs a young Socrates
in the second part, Parmenides questions Aristotle on "one being"
extended Parmenian hypothesis on what is and is not
37
pages
PHILEBUS







Socrates
Protarchus
Philebus


Knowledge or pleasure?
deep exploration of the pleasures and of knowledge
Socrates: "All philosophers agree, nous is king of heaven and earth."
57
pages
SYMPOSIUM


Socrates
Aristodemus
Agathon
Pausanius
Aristophanes
Eryximachus
Phaedrus
Alcibiades
Speeches on love
told by Apollodorus, who heard it from Aristodemus
symposium (formal drinking party) in honor of Agathon's tragedy
speeches on the nature of love and loving boys
Alcibiades crashes the party, then gives a speech on Socrates
47
pages
PHAEDRUS








Socrates
Phaedrus

Countryside speeches on erotic love
perhaps the funniest of the dialogues
headstrong Phaedrus forces Socrates to make speeches
analogy of the soul as charioteer (with one good horse and one bad)
myth of the cicadas
39
pages
ALCIBIADES*








Socrates
Alcibiades

Instructing Alcibiades
self-knowledge as the necessary foundation for any other knowledge
the starting point (in later antiquity) for study of Plato
moral: Alcibiades will never realize his ambitions without self-knowledge
comparisons of Athens, Sparta and Persia
39
pages
2ND ALCIBIADES*








Socrates
Alcibiades

Care in prayer
derived from 1st Alcibiades
Socrates delivers a warning in what to pray for—only the gods know what is good
the Spartans pray only for what is good and noble
11
pages
HIPPARCHUS*








Socrates
a friend

What is greed?
Socrates concludes we are all greedy
the friend disagrees—but feels he has been tricked by Socrates' wisdom
excursus on Hipparchus, 6th century ruler of Athens
7
pages
RIVAL LOVERS*






Socrates
athletic lover
philosophical lover


Generalist or specialist?
Socrates argues against generalism, in favor of specialists
philosophy doesn't consist of learning lots of facts
9
pages
THEAGES*







Socrates
Demodicus
Theages
A new student
Demodicus asks Socrates about his son Theages' wish to be wise
Socrates says he knows nothing, except on love
Socrates discusses a divine inner voice which warns him against action
Socrates agrees to take on Theages
10
pages
CHARMIDES







Socrates
Critias
Charmides

Right relationships (sōphrosunē)
Socrates returns from Potidaea—and is smitten by young Charmides
a discourse on the virtue of sōphrosunē, concluding without a clear answer
23
pages
LACHES





Socrates
Laches
Nicias
Lysimachus
Melesius

What is courage?
Socrates is asked whether fighting in armor is good instruction for young men
Socrates engages the generals Laches and Nicias on courage
the dialogue ends inconclusively
21
pages
LYSIS





Socrates
Hippothales
Lysis
Menexenus
Ctesippus

What is friendship?
Socrates engages a group of good-looking boys in philosophy
Greek saying: "Friends have everything in common"
once again, they can't figure it out
19
pages
MINOS*








Socrates
a friend


What is law?
law is not what is accepted as law
ideally law is discovery of reality
story of King Minos of Crete (the original Greek lawgiver)
8
pages
LETTERS*







Plato
Dionysius II
Dion


On the politics of Syracuse
from the last two decades of Plato's life, when personally involved in Syracusean politics
letters I, II, III, and XIII addressed to the tyrant Dionysius II
story of Plato's early years (VII)
story of Plato's trips to Syracuse, dealings with Dionysius II, efforts to establish philosopher kings (I, II, VII)
politically shrewd, intelligent, direct
41
pages
EPINOMIS*







Clinias
Megillus
an Athenian

Appendix to Laws
discussions on the nature of wisdom
15
pages
LAWS







Clinias
Megillus
an Athenian

Political philosophy
longest and latest of the dialogues
proposes to legislate against homosexuality–in contrast to tone of earlier dialogues
297
pages
PLOT



Protagorus of Abdera
Euthydemus of Chios
Dionysodorus of Chios
Prodicus of Ceos
Gorgias of Leontini
Polus
Hippias of Elis
Thrasymachus
BOOK I
what is justice?
are people just because they are powerless?
would we all be unjust if we could?
BOOK II
Glaucon and Adeimantus praise injustice, hoping Socrates will refute them
a story of Gyges of Lydia
theory of division of labor
the ideal city will ban "false" books and stories
BOOK III
lamentations and stories of Hell will be banned, so none fear death
inharmonious things are banned: all modes except Dorian and
Phrygian, most musical instruments, impure laughter
guardians will live commonly, with common property
BOOK IV
justice is harmony of self
virtue is health, well-being of the soul
vice is disease, weakness and shameful condition
BOOK V
should men and women share roles?
society should hold wives and children in common
"the best men should have sex with the best women as frequently as possible"
the idea of philosopher kings
BOOK VI
Analogy of the Divided Line (the divisions of knowledge):
understanding (noesis) and thought (dianoia) are nonvisible, belief (pistis) and imagination (eikaisa) are visible
Metaphor of the Sun
BOOK VII
Allegory of the Cave
education is the craft of "turning around" not "putting into"
calculation, geometry, harmonic, and dialectic (the highest)
true studies deal with association and relation
BOOK VIII
the 5 types of government
aristocracy ("best power") is the form of Republic
inferior types are: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, tyranny
BOOK IX
the nature of desires
the tyrant's soul is worst, because his appetites rule him
BOOK X
poetry should be banned–it glorifies the passions
only hymns to gods and eulogies of good people allowed
immortality of the soul, karma and the afterlife, reincarnation
Myth of Er
CAST
Socrates
Sophists
Athenian boys
Philosophers

Parmenides
Zeno of Elea
a vistor from Elea
Cratylus
Athenians
Euthyphro
Crito
Theaetetus
Aristodemus
Agathon
Phaedrus
Aristophanes
Pausanias
Eryximachus
Alcibiades
Laches
Nicias
Clitophon
Critias
Theages
Charmides
Hippothales
Lysis
Menexenus
Clinias
470-399 BC
Socrates roams around Athens, engaging others in philosophy. He claims to know nothing (except about love). His opponents are the sophists, paid teachers who claim to know everything, but (according to Socrates) only have the appearance of knowledge.
35
dialogues + letters
*
indicates uncertain authorship
DEFINITIONS*








Plato
the Academy


Dictionary of 185 terms
a fragment of the definitions of the Academy
developing definitions was a common intellectual practice in ancient Greece
correct definitions were thought to make people morally better
terms
The dialogues

There is no writing of Plato’s, nor will there ever be. Those that are now called so come from an idealized and youthful Socrates. (II)

Character

Strength, courage, and cleverness are qualities in which others also may win distinction; but to be preeminent above others in truthfulness, justice, high-mindedness, and the grace of conduct—this is what would by general consent be expected of those who profess to honor these traits of character. (IV)

Politics

Don’t forget that one must please men if one would do anything with them, whereas self-will is fit only for solitude. (IV)

Death

None of us can avoid death, nor if any man could would he be happy, as people think. (VII)

Knowledge

For every real being, there are three things that are necessary if knowledge of it is to be acquired: first, the name; second, the definition; third, the image; knowledge comes fourth, and in the fifth place we must put the object itself, the knowable and truly real being. (VII)
QUOTES FROM LETTERS
EPIGRAMS*
Poetic writings
(1) You gaze at the stars, my Star; would that I were Heaven, that I might look at you with many eyes!
(2) Even as you shone once the Star of Morning, among the living, so in death you shine now the Star of Evening among the dead.
(6) When I kiss Agathon, my soul is on my lips, where it comes, poor thing, hoping to cross over.
(7) I throw the apple at you, and if you are willing to love me, take it and share your girlhood with me..
(8) I am an apple, one who loves you throws me at you. Say yes, Xanthippe; we fade, both you and I.
18
poems
THE ACADEMY
School of Plato
304
years
Plato

Speusippus
Xenocrates
Polemo
Crates
Arcesilaus
Lacydes of Cyrene
Evander and Telecles
Hegesinus
Carneades
Clitomachus
Philo of Larissa

founded by Plato ca. 387 BC
attended by Aristotle 367-347 BC
site of a sacred grove of olive trees, later enclosed by a wall
scholarchs
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