Type: Definition Essays
Sample donated: Elvira Drake
Last updated: October 3, 2019
In Plato’s early dialogues, we can see Socratesas the main figure, puzzling his interlocutors with his questions. For example,in the Laches, Socrates is seekingfor the essence of courage disembodied from any particular context. In the Euthyphyro, he was looking for a generalstandard which makes particular things pious.
And in the Meno, there was the same search for an overarching definition, thistime for virtue. What is common to all of these dialogues is that we can seethe tension between universality and particularity in the context ofdefinitions and instances, essences and attributes. All of the early dialogueswe read in the beginnings of the semester in a sense give hints about Plato’sunderstanding of philosophy and philosopher. In Plato’s eyes, Socrates was aphilosopher. He was after true nature of things. His aim was discovering thefixed concepts not as pure speculation but as a view to lead a good life.
Hewas trying to reach universal, unchanging definitions of things. In a sense; hewas trying to understand things for themselves, what something really is. Andcertainly, knowledge of something was different from its attributes andinstances.
For this reason, Socrates was a philosopher for Plato. He wascritical in his discussions, he was searching for truth by carefulexaminations. This whole process was philosophical for Plato. And, it seemslike philosophical wisdom comes from the idea of universality, that is,desiring and searching for universal truths. In this sense, we can see thehints of Plato’s understanding of philosophy and philosopher in his earlydialogues. Although his theory of forms is not developed in a systematic mannerin Socrates’ teachings yet, I think that his ideas about philosophy andphilosopher is somehow present in those dialogues.
At least, we can see theseeds being sowed in Plato’s mind. Plato develops his philosophy and the roleof philosopher with his theory of forms in a rigorous matter in the Republic later.