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Clitophon’s ChallengeDialectic in Plato's Meno, Phaedo, and Republic$
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Hugh H. Benson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199324835

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199324835.001.0001

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Dialectic in the Republic

Dialectic in the Republic

(p.237) 9 Dialectic in the Republic
Clitophon’s Challenge

Hugh H. Benson

Oxford University Press

The final chapter turns to Plato’s description of dialectic in Republic 6 and 7. These books contain the images of the Sun, the Line, and the Cave, as well as the description of the education of the future philosopher-rulers. In the Line, Plato describes in some detail a method of learning, which has come to be known as dialectic by distinguishing it from its near cousin, which is labeled “dianoetic.” The dialectical method that emerges is an elaboration and development of the method of hypothesis. The chapter focuses on two features of this elaboration. First, the upward confirmation path of the method of hypothesis ([Cb]) must be pursued until one reaches “the unhypothetical first principle (archê) of everything,” which is identified with the Form of the Good. Second, Plato’s extended contrast between dialectic and dianoetic helps to flesh out the nature of dialectic and the method of hypothesis.

Keywords:   Socrates, Plato, Sun, Line, Cave, dialectic, method of hypothesis, dianoetic, Form of the Good, unhypothetical first principle

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