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The Midwife of PlatonismText and Subtext in Plato's Theaetetus$
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David Sedley

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267033

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199267030.001.0001

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Opening Moves

Opening Moves

(p.1) 1 Opening Moves
The Midwife of Platonism

David Sedley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Following a survey of established interpretations of the Theaetetus, I sketch my own, incorporating elements of many of them, especially of Myles Burnyeat’s. I argue that for once Socrates is not Plato’s mouthpiece but that rather Plato wants to present the Socrates of the early dialogues as his own midwife. I draw attention to Plato’s unitarian approach to his own work – his constant emphasis on its philosophical continuity. The theme of midwifery, which I argue serves this same end, is then further fleshed out by reference to the opening stages of the dialogue’s argument. Finally, I map out the principles underlying Socrates maieutic art, principles that in the remainder of the book I will argue to underlie certain positive philosophical insights that, despite his self-declared barrenness, he finds himself able to articulate.

Keywords:   Burnyeat, dialogues, maieutic, midwife, mouthpiece, Plato, Socrates, Theaetetus, unitarianism

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