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05/18/2015

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Mark Hopwood

I'm totally on board with the general point here, but I feel compelled to leap to Plato's defense! I agree that Xanthippe gets a pretty raw deal in the Phaedo, but in general, my feeling is that the dialogue format allows for a form of philosophical writing that is considerably more attentive to the human context in which moral claims are made. To take just one example: when Euthyphro confidently asserts the piety of taking his father to court, it clearly matters that he's making this argument to someone (Socrates) who's being taken to court himself, by people whose reasoning is just as feeble as Euthyphro's. Even on the Xanthippe issue, it's notable that Plato's text is written in a way that allows us to see the human consequences of Socrates's high-minded dedication to following the law. So: I think this is a massively important issue for us to think about as philosophers, but I'd be inclined to see Plato as a model rather than the root of the problem.

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