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Throughout this book, Gooch tells and retells the stories of Socrates and Jesus as he examines perennial human issues: Why would anyone willingly die? To what do these two martyrlike deaths bear witness? What are the limits of words in explanation and defense? Why was Jesus silent during his trial? Why did Socrates' most powerful apologia fail? What words, if any, work in prayer? Do words work against the fear of death?

Out of this philosophical and religious questioning, Reflections on Jesus and Socrates throws new light on the compelling figures of these two and on the continuing meanings of their stories for us today. Also of Interest. David Weissman. Edited by Wendy Hasenkamp with Janna R. LeComfort combines the impeccable skill of hand craftsmanship with superior quality materials, thereby rendering the production process a truly creative act.

Care As in works of fine art decorated with the most secret and subtle of nuances, LeComfort prizes attention to detail in the realization of every single model, guaranteeing the value of their work. From a raised border to an agile seam, every tiny detail is witness to a conscious and rational compositional path.

Innovation Keeping up with the times by flowing along new horizons of technology, within the boundaries of traditional manufacturing. Movable seating, reclining headrests and raised armrests are just a few examples of the functional predispositions inherent in numerous LeComfort models.

Invisible mechanisms created to expand and amplify the experience of comfort. Design Quality materials combined with versatile function, interacting with an in-depth study of style, interpretate a variety of different aesthetic inclinations to create the design concept in line with the imaginary of LeComfort. Substance and form come together in unision. Respect for Nature The LeComfort universe fits into that delicate balance which for centuries has seen man involved in a wonderful yet precarious relationship with Nature.

Designed on a human scale and dedicated to protecting nature, the LeComfort approach, in all stages of production, comes from an unconditional respect for the environment, first and foremost advocate of well-being. Dionysius II seemed to accept Plato's teachings, but he became suspicious of Dion, his uncle. Dionysius expelled Dion and kept Plato against his will. Eventually Plato left Syracuse. Dion would return to overthrow Dionysius and ruled Syracuse for a short time before being usurped by Calippus , a fellow disciple of Plato.

According to Seneca, Plato died at the age of 81 on the same day he was born. One story, based on a mutilated manuscript, [59] suggests Plato died in his bed, whilst a young Thracian girl played the flute to him. Plato owned an estate at Iphistiadae , which by will he left to a certain youth named Adeimantus, presumably a younger relative, as Plato had an elder brother or uncle by this name. Although Socrates influenced Plato directly as related in the dialogues, the influence of Pythagoras upon Plato, or in a broader sense, the Pythagoreans , such as Archytas also appears to have been significant.

Aristotle claimed that the philosophy of Plato closely followed the teachings of the Pythagoreans, [62] and Cicero repeats this claim: "They say Plato learned all things Pythagorean. Pythagoras held that all things are number, and the cosmos comes from numerical principles. He introduced the concept of form as distinct from matter, and that the physical world is an imitation of an eternal mathematical world.

These ideas were very influential on Heraclitus, Parmenides and Plato. Numenius accepted both Pythagoras and Plato as the two authorities one should follow in philosophy, but he regarded Plato's authority as subordinate to that of Pythagoras, whom he considered to be the source of all true philosophy—including Plato's own. For Numenius it is just that Plato wrote so many philosophical works, whereas Pythagoras' views were originally passed on only orally.

According to R. Hare , this influence consists of three points:. Plato may have studied under the mathematician Theodorus of Cyrene , and has a dialogue named for and whose central character is the mathematician Theaetetus. While not a mathematician, Plato was considered an accomplished teacher of mathematics.

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Eudoxus of Cnidus , the greatest mathematician in Classical Greece, who contributed much of what is found in Euclid 's Elements , was taught by Archytas and Plato. Plato helped to distinguish between pure and applied mathematics by widening the gap between "arithmetic", now called number theory and "logistic", now called arithmetic. In the dialogue Timaeus Plato associated each of the four classical elements earth , air , water , and fire with a regular solid cube , octahedron , icosahedron , and tetrahedron respectively due to their shape, the so-called Platonic solids.

The fifth regular solid, the dodecahedron , was supposed to be the element which made up the heavens. The two philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, following the way initiated by pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Pythagoras, depart from mythology and begin the metaphysical tradition that strongly influenced Plato and continues today. The surviving fragments written by Heraclitus suggest the view that all things are continuously changing, or becoming. His image of the river, with ever-changing waters, is well known.

Parmenides adopted an altogether contrary vision, arguing for the idea of changeless Being and the view that change is an illusion. These ideas about change and permanence, or becoming and Being, influenced Plato in formulating his theory of Forms. Plato's most self-critical dialogue is called Parmenides , featuring Parmenides and his student Zeno , who following Parmenides' denial of change argued forcefully with his paradoxes to deny the existence of motion. Plato's Sophist dialogue includes an Eleatic stranger, a follower of Parmenides, as a foil for his arguments against Parmenides.

In the dialogue Plato distinguishes nouns and verbs , providing some of the earliest treatment of subject and predicate. He also argues that motion and rest both "are", against followers of Parmenides who say rest is but motion is not. Plato was one of the devoted young followers of Socrates. The precise relationship between Plato and Socrates remains an area of contention among scholars. Plato never speaks in his own voice in his dialogues , and speaks as Socrates in all but the Laws. In the Second Letter , it says, "no writing of Plato exists or ever will exist, but those now said to be his are those of a Socrates become beautiful and new"; [71] if the Letter is Plato's, the final qualification seems to call into question the dialogues' historical fidelity.

In any case, Xenophon's Memorabilia and Aristophanes 's The Clouds seem to present a somewhat different portrait of Socrates from the one Plato paints. Some have called attention to the problem of taking Plato's Socrates to be his mouthpiece, given Socrates' reputation for irony and the dramatic nature of the dialogue form. Aristotle attributes a different doctrine with respect to Forms to Plato and Socrates.

In the dialogues of Plato though, Socrates sometimes seems to support a mystical side, discussing reincarnation and the mystery religions , this is generally attributed to Plato. In the Meno Plato refers to the Eleusinian Mysteries , telling Meno he would understand Socrates's answers better if he could stay for the initiations next week.

It is possible that Plato and Socrates took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries. In Plato's dialogues. Socrates and his company of disputants had something to say on many subjects, including several aspects of metaphysics. These include religion and science, human nature, love, and sexuality.

More than one dialogue contrasts perception and reality , nature and custom, and body and soul. The theory of Forms is first introduced in the Phaedo dialogue also known as On the Soul , wherein Socrates refutes the pluralism of the likes of Anaxagoras , then the most popular response to Heraclitus and Parmenides, while giving the "Opposites argument" in support of the Forms. It can also be said there are three worlds, with the apparent world consisting of both the world of material objects and of mental images, with the "third realm" consisting of the Forms.

Thus, though there is the term "Platonic idealism", this refers to Platonic Ideas or the Forms, and not to some platonic kind of idealism , an 18th-century view which sees matter as unreal in favor of mind. For Plato, though grasped by the mind, only the Forms are truly real. Plato's Forms thus represent types of things, as well as properties , patterns, and relations , to which we refer as objects.

Just as individual tables, chairs, and cars refer to objects in this world, 'tableness', 'chairness', and 'carness', as well as e. One of Plato's most cited examples for the Forms were the truths of geometry , such as the Pythagorean theorem. In other words, the Forms are universals given as a solution to the problem of universals, or the problem of "the One and the Many", e. For Plato this is because there is one abstract object or Form of red, redness itself, in which the several red things "participate".

As Plato's solution is that universals are Forms and that Forms are real if anything is, Plato's philosophy is unambiguously called Platonic realism. According to Aristotle, Plato's best known argument in support of the Forms was the "one over many" argument. Aside from being immutable, timeless, changeless, and one over many, the Forms also provide definitions and the standard against which all instances are measured.

In the dialogues Socrates regularly asks for the meaning of a general term, intensional definitions - What is X? There is thus a world of perfect, eternal, and changeless meanings of predicates, the Forms, existing in the realm of Being outside of space and time ; and the imperfect sensible world of becoming, subjects somehow in a state between being and nothing , that partakes of the qualities of the Forms, and is its instantiation.

Plato advocates a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife. In the Timaeus , Socrates locates the parts of the soul within the human body: Reason is located in the head, spirit in the top third of the torso , and the appetite in the middle third of the torso, down to the navel.

Several aspects of epistemology are also discussed by Socrates, such as wisdom. More than one dialogue contrasts knowledge and opinion. Plato's epistemology involves Socrates arguing that knowledge is not empirical, and that it comes from divine insight. The Forms are also responsible for both knowledge or certainty, and are grasped by pure reason.

In several dialogues, Socrates inverts the common man's intuition about what is knowable and what is real. Reality is unavailable to those who use their senses. Socrates says that he who sees with his eyes is blind. While most people take the objects of their senses to be real if anything is, Socrates is contemptuous of people who think that something has to be graspable in the hands to be real. In Plato's dialogues, Socrates always insists on his ignorance and humility, that he knows nothing , so called Socratic irony. Several dialogues refute a series of viewpoints, but offer no positive position of its own, ending in aporia.

In several of Plato's dialogues, Socrates promulgates the idea that knowledge is a matter of recollection of the state before one is born, and not of observation or study. In the Meno , Socrates uses a geometrical example to expound Plato's view that knowledge in this latter sense is acquired by recollection. Socrates elicits a fact concerning a geometrical construction from a slave boy, who could not have otherwise known the fact due to the slave boy's lack of education.

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The knowledge must be present, Socrates concludes, in an eternal, non-experiential form. In other dialogues, the Sophist , Statesman , Republic , and the Parmenides , Plato himself associates knowledge with the apprehension of unchanging Forms and their relationships to one another which he calls "expertise" in Dialectic , including through the processes of collection and division.

In other words, if one derives one's account of something experientially, because the world of sense is in flux, the views therein attained will be mere opinions. And opinions are characterized by a lack of necessity and stability. On the other hand, if one derives one's account of something by way of the non-sensible forms, because these forms are unchanging, so too is the account derived from them. That apprehension of forms is required for knowledge may be taken to cohere with Plato's theory in the Theaetetus and Meno.

Many have interpreted Plato as stating—even having been the first to write—that knowledge is justified true belief , an influential view that informed future developments in epistemology. Many years later, Edmund Gettier famously demonstrated the problems of the justified true belief account of knowledge.

That the modern theory of justified true belief as knowledge which Gettier addresses is equivalent to Plato's is accepted by some scholars but rejected by others. Several dialogues discuss ethics including virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, crime and punishment, and justice and medicine. Plato views "The Good" as the supreme Form, somehow existing even "beyond being". Socrates propounded a moral intellectualism which claimed nobody does bad on purpose, and to know what is good results in doing what is good; that knowledge is virtue.

In the Protagoras dialogue it is argued that virtue is innate and cannot be learned. Socrates presents the famous Euthyphro dilemma in the dialogue of the same name. The dialogues also discuss politics. Some of Plato's most famous doctrines are contained in the Republic as well as in the Laws and the Statesman. Because these doctrines are not spoken directly by Plato and vary between dialogues, they cannot be straightforwardly assumed as representing Plato's own views.

According to this model, the principles of Athenian democracy as it existed in his day are rejected as only a few are fit to rule. Instead of rhetoric and persuasion, Socrates says reason and wisdom should govern. As Socrates puts it:. Socrates describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" [92] and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine.

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According to him, sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. A large part of the Republic then addresses how the educational system should be set up to produce these philosopher kings. In addition, the ideal city is used as an image to illuminate the state of one's soul, or the will , reason , and desires combined in the human body. Socrates is attempting to make an image of a rightly ordered human, and then later goes on to describe the different kinds of humans that can be observed, from tyrants to lovers of money in various kinds of cities.

The ideal city is not promoted, but only used to magnify the different kinds of individual humans and the state of their soul. However, the philosopher king image was used by many after Plato to justify their personal political beliefs. The philosophic soul according to Socrates has reason, will, and desires united in virtuous harmony. A philosopher has the moderate love for wisdom and the courage to act according to wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge about the Good or the right relations between all that exists. Wherein it concerns states and rulers, Socrates asks which is better—a bad democracy or a country reigned by a tyrant.

He argues that it is better to be ruled by a bad tyrant, than by a bad democracy since here all the people are now responsible for such actions, rather than one individual committing many bad deeds. This is emphasised within the Republic as Socrates describes the event of mutiny on board a ship. Socrates' description of this event is parallel to that of democracy within the state and the inherent problems that arise.

According to Socrates, a state made up of different kinds of souls will, overall, decline from an aristocracy rule by the best to a timocracy rule by the honorable , then to an oligarchy rule by the few , then to a democracy rule by the people , and finally to tyranny rule by one person, rule by a tyrant. This regime is ruled by a philosopher king , and thus is grounded on wisdom and reason. In Book VIII, Socrates states in order the other four imperfect societies with a description of the state's structure and individual character.

In timocracy the ruling class is made up primarily of those with a warrior-like character. It is characterized by an undisciplined society existing in chaos, where the tyrant rises as popular champion leading to the formation of his private army and the growth of oppression. Several dialogues tackle questions about art, including rhetoric and rhapsody. Socrates says that poetry is inspired by the muses , and is not rational. He speaks approvingly of this, and other forms of divine madness drunkenness, eroticism, and dreaming in the Phaedrus , [] and yet in the Republic wants to outlaw Homer's great poetry, and laughter as well.

In Ion , Socrates gives no hint of the disapproval of Homer that he expresses in the Republic. The dialogue Ion suggests that Homer's Iliad functioned in the ancient Greek world as the Bible does today in the modern Christian world: as divinely inspired literature that can provide moral guidance, if only it can be properly interpreted. For a long time, Plato's unwritten doctrines [] [] [] had been controversial.

Many modern books on Plato seem to diminish its importance; nevertheless, the first important witness who mentions its existence is Aristotle, who in his Physics writes: "It is true, indeed, that the account he gives there [i. The importance of the unwritten doctrines does not seem to have been seriously questioned before the 19th century. A reason for not revealing it to everyone is partially discussed in Phaedrus where Plato criticizes the written transmission of knowledge as faulty, favoring instead the spoken logos : "he who has knowledge of the just and the good and beautiful The content of this lecture has been transmitted by several witnesses.

Aristoxenus describes the event in the following words: "Each came expecting to learn something about the things that are generally considered good for men, such as wealth, good health, physical strength, and altogether a kind of wonderful happiness. But when the mathematical demonstrations came, including numbers, geometrical figures and astronomy, and finally the statement Good is One seemed to them, I imagine, utterly unexpected and strange; hence some belittled the matter, while others rejected it.

Their account is in full agreement with Aristotle's description of Plato's metaphysical doctrine. In Metaphysics he writes: "Now since the Forms are the causes of everything else, he [i. Plato] supposed that their elements are the elements of all things. Accordingly the material principle is the Great and Small [i.

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Further, he assigned to these two elements respectively the causation of good and of evil". The most important aspect of this interpretation of Plato's metaphysics is the continuity between his teaching and the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plotinus [j] or Ficino [k] which has been considered erroneous by many but may in fact have been directly influenced by oral transmission of Plato's doctrine. A modern scholar who recognized the importance of the unwritten doctrine of Plato was Heinrich Gomperz who described it in his speech during the 7th International Congress of Philosophy in The trial of Socrates and his death sentence is the central, unifying event of Plato's dialogues.

It is relayed in the dialogues Apology , Crito , and Phaedo. Apology is Socrates' defense speech, and Crito and Phaedo take place in prison after the conviction. Apology is among the most frequently read of Plato's works. In the Apology , Socrates tries to dismiss rumors that he is a sophist and defends himself against charges of disbelief in the gods and corruption of the young.

Socrates insists that long-standing slander will be the real cause of his demise, and says the legal charges are essentially false. Socrates famously denies being wise, and explains how his life as a philosopher was launched by the Oracle at Delphi.

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He says that his quest to resolve the riddle of the oracle put him at odds with his fellow man, and that this is the reason he has been mistaken for a menace to the city-state of Athens. In Apology , Socrates is presented as mentioning Plato by name as one of those youths close enough to him to have been corrupted, if he were in fact guilty of corrupting the youth, and questioning why their fathers and brothers did not step forward to testify against him if he was indeed guilty of such a crime.

If Plato's important dialogues do not refer to Socrates' execution explicitly, they allude to it, or use characters or themes that play a part in it. Five dialogues foreshadow the trial: In the Theaetetus and the Euthyphro Socrates tells people that he is about to face corruption charges. In the Protagoras , Socrates is a guest at the home of Callias , son of Hipponicus , a man whom Socrates disparages in the Apology as having wasted a great amount of money on sophists' fees. Two other important dialogues, the Symposium and the Phaedrus , are linked to the main storyline by characters.

In the Apology , Socrates says Aristophanes slandered him in a comic play, and blames him for causing his bad reputation, and ultimately, his death. The character Phaedrus is linked to the main story line by character Phaedrus is also a participant in the Symposium and the Protagoras and by theme the philosopher as divine emissary, etc. The Protagoras is also strongly linked to the Symposium by characters: all of the formal speakers at the Symposium with the exception of Aristophanes are present at the home of Callias in that dialogue.

Charmides and his guardian Critias are present for the discussion in the Protagoras. Examples of characters crossing between dialogues can be further multiplied. The Protagoras contains the largest gathering of Socratic associates. In the dialogues Plato is most celebrated and admired for, Socrates is concerned with human and political virtue, has a distinctive personality, and friends and enemies who "travel" with him from dialogue to dialogue. This is not to say that Socrates is consistent: a man who is his friend in one dialogue may be an adversary or subject of his mockery in another.

For example, Socrates praises the wisdom of Euthyphro many times in the Cratylus , but makes him look like a fool in the Euthyphro. He disparages sophists generally, and Prodicus specifically in the Apology , whom he also slyly jabs in the Cratylus for charging the hefty fee of fifty drachmas for a course on language and grammar.

However, Socrates tells Theaetetus in his namesake dialogue that he admires Prodicus and has directed many pupils to him. Socrates' ideas are also not consistent within or between or among dialogues. Mythos and logos are terms that evolved along classical Greece history. In the times of Homer and Hesiod 8th century BC they were essentially synonyms, and contained the meaning of 'tale' or 'history'. Later came historians like Herodotus and Thucydides, as well as philosophers like Heraclitus and Parmenides and other Presocratics who introduced a distinction between both terms; mythos became more a nonverifiable account , and logos a rational account.

Instead he made an abundant use of it. This fact has produced analytical and interpretative work, in order to clarify the reasons and purposes for that use. Plato, in general, distinguished between three types of myth. Then came the myths based on true reasoning, and therefore also true. Finally there were those non verifiable because beyond of human reason, but containing some truth in them. Regarding the subjects of Plato's myths they are of two types, those dealing with the origin of the universe, and those about morals and the origin and fate of the soul.

It is generally agreed that the main purpose for Plato in using myths was didactic. He considered that only a few people were capable or interested in following a reasoned philosophical discourse, but men in general are attracted by stories and tales. Consequently, then, he used the myth to convey the conclusions of the philosophical reasoning.

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Some of Plato's myths were based in traditional ones, others were modifications of them, and finally he also invented altogether new myths. The theory of Forms is most famously captured in his Allegory of the Cave , and more explicitly in his analogy of the sun and the divided line.

The Allegory of the Cave is a paradoxical analogy wherein Socrates argues that the invisible world is the most intelligible 'noeton' and that the visible world h oraton is the least knowable, and the most obscure. Socrates says in the Republic that people who take the sun-lit world of the senses to be good and real are living pitifully in a den of evil and ignorance.

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Socrates admits that few climb out of the den, or cave of ignorance, and those who do, not only have a terrible struggle to attain the heights, but when they go back down for a visit or to help other people up, they find themselves objects of scorn and ridicule. According to Socrates, physical objects and physical events are "shadows" of their ideal or perfect forms, and exist only to the extent that they instantiate the perfect versions of themselves.

Just as shadows are temporary, inconsequential epiphenomena produced by physical objects, physical objects are themselves fleeting phenomena caused by more substantial causes, the ideals of which they are mere instances. For example, Socrates thinks that perfect justice exists although it is not clear where and his own trial would be a cheap copy of it.

The Allegory of the Cave is intimately connected to his political ideology, that only people who have climbed out of the cave and cast their eyes on a vision of goodness are fit to rule. Socrates claims that the enlightened men of society must be forced from their divine contemplation and be compelled to run the city according to their lofty insights.

Thus is born the idea of the " philosopher-king ", the wise person who accepts the power thrust upon him by the people who are wise enough to choose a good master. This is the main thesis of Socrates in the Republic , that the most wisdom the masses can muster is the wise choice of a ruler. A ring which could make one invisible, the Ring of Gyges is considered in the Republic for its ethical consequences. He also compares the soul to a chariot. Socrates employs a dialectic method which proceeds by questioning. The role of dialectic in Plato's thought is contested but there are two main interpretations: a type of reasoning and a method of intuition.

Each new idea exposes a flaw in the accepted model, and the epistemological substance of the debate continually approaches the truth. Hartz's is a teleological interpretation at the core, in which philosophers will ultimately exhaust the available body of knowledge and thus reach "the end of history.

Plato often discusses the father-son relationship and the question of whether a father's interest in his sons has much to do with how well his sons turn out. In ancient Athens, a boy was socially located by his family identity, and Plato often refers to his characters in terms of their paternal and fraternal relationships.

Socrates was not a family man, and saw himself as the son of his mother, who was apparently a midwife. A divine fatalist , Socrates mocks men who spent exorbitant fees on tutors and trainers for their sons, and repeatedly ventures the idea that good character is a gift from the gods. Plato's dialogue Crito reminds Socrates that orphans are at the mercy of chance, but Socrates is unconcerned.

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In the Theaetetus , he is found recruiting as a disciple a young man whose inheritance has been squandered. Socrates twice compares the relationship of the older man and his boy lover to the father-son relationship, [] [] and in the Phaedo , Socrates' disciples, towards whom he displays more concern than his biological sons, say they will feel "fatherless" when he is gone. Though Plato agreed with Aristotle that women were inferior to men , he thought because of this women needed an education.

Plato thought weak men who live poor lives would be reincarnated as women. Plato never presents himself as a participant in any of the dialogues, and with the exception of the Apology , there is no suggestion that he heard any of the dialogues firsthand. Some dialogues have no narrator but have a pure "dramatic" form examples: Meno , Gorgias , Phaedrus , Crito , Euthyphro , some dialogues are narrated by Socrates, wherein he speaks in first person examples: Lysis , Charmides , Republic.

One dialogue, Protagoras , begins in dramatic form but quickly proceeds to Socrates' narration of a conversation he had previously with the sophist for whom the dialogue is named; this narration continues uninterrupted till the dialogue's end. Two dialogues Phaedo and Symposium also begin in dramatic form but then proceed to virtually uninterrupted narration by followers of Socrates. Phaedo , an account of Socrates' final conversation and hemlock drinking, is narrated by Phaedo to Echecrates in a foreign city not long after the execution took place.

Apollodorus assures his listener that he is recounting the story, which took place when he himself was an infant, not from his own memory, but as remembered by Aristodemus, who told him the story years ago. The Theaetetus is a peculiar case: a dialogue in dramatic form embedded within another dialogue in dramatic form.

In the beginning of the Theaetetus , [] Euclides says that he compiled the conversation from notes he took based on what Socrates told him of his conversation with the title character. The rest of the Theaetetus is presented as a "book" written in dramatic form and read by one of Euclides' slaves. Thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters the Epistles have traditionally been ascribed to Plato, though modern scholarship doubts the authenticity of at least some of these.

Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts. The usual system for making unique references to sections of the text by Plato derives from a 16th-century edition of Plato's works by Henricus Stephanus known as Stephanus pagination.

One tradition regarding the arrangement of Plato's texts is according to tetralogies. No one knows the exact order Plato's dialogues were written in, nor the extent to which some might have been later revised and rewritten. The works are usually grouped into Early sometimes by some into Transitional , Middle , and Late period. Whereas those classified as "early dialogues" often conclude in aporia, the so-called "middle dialogues" provide more clearly stated positive teachings that are often ascribed to Plato such as the theory of Forms. The remaining dialogues are classified as "late" and are generally agreed to be difficult and challenging pieces of philosophy.

This grouping is the only one proven by stylometric analysis. The following represents one relatively common division. Increasingly in the most recent Plato scholarship, writers are skeptical of the notion that the order of Plato's writings can be established with any precision, [] though Plato's works are still often characterized as falling at least roughly into three groups. A significant distinction of the early Plato and the later Plato has been offered by scholars such as E.

Dodds and has been summarized by Harold Bloom in his book titled Agon : "E. Dodds is the classical scholar whose writings most illuminated the Hellenic descent in The Greeks and the Irrational In his chapter on Plato and the Irrational Soul Dodds traces Plato's spiritual evolution from the pure rationalist of the Protagoras to the transcendental psychologist, influenced by the Pythagoreans and Orphics, of the later works culminating in the Laws. Lewis Campbell was the first [] to make exhaustive use of stylometry to prove objectively that the Critias , Timaeus , Laws , Philebus , Sophist , and Statesman were all clustered together as a group, while the Parmenides , Phaedrus , Republic , and Theaetetus belong to a separate group, which must be earlier given Aristotle's statement in his Politics [] that the Laws was written after the Republic ; cf.

What is remarkable about Campbell's conclusions is that, in spite of all the stylometric studies that have been conducted since his time, perhaps the only chronological fact about Plato's works that can now be said to be proven by stylometry is the fact that Critias , Timaeus , Laws , Philebus , Sophist , and Statesman are the latest of Plato's dialogues, the others earlier. Protagoras is often considered one of the last of the "early dialogues".

Three dialogues are often considered "transitional" or "pre-middle": Euthydemus , Gorgias , and Meno. Proponents of dividing the dialogues into periods often consider the Parmenides and Theaetetus to come late in the middle period and be transitional to the next, as they seem to treat the theory of Forms critically Parmenides or only indirectly Theaetetus. The first book of the Republic is often thought to have been written significantly earlier than the rest of the work, although possibly having undergone revisions when the later books were attached to it.

While looked to for Plato's "mature" answers to the questions posed by his earlier works, those answers are difficult to discern. Some scholars [] indicate that the theory of Forms is absent from the late dialogues, its having been refuted in the Parmenides , but there isn't total consensus that the Parmenides actually refutes the theory of Forms.