A New Perspective on Plato’s Socratic Dialogues

By Phin Upham

I recently re-read the essay “A New Interpretation of Plato’s Socratic Dialogues,” by Charles H. Khan, included in my book Space of Love and Garbage. Charles H. Kahn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, The Verb ‘Be’ in Ancient Greek, and Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, as well as his first book, Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. The present article reflects the views developed in his Plato and the Socratic Dialogue (1996).

Here is the bio (above) from the essay and a quotation of my favorite paragraphs of the essay (below).

Despite the fact that he perfected the form, Plato did not invent the Socratic dialogue. In the years following Socrates’s death, a number of his former associates wrote short dialogues in which Socrates was the principal interlocutor. Aristotle in his Poetics recognizes the sokratikoi logoi, or “Conversations with Socrates,” as an established literary genre. One of the innovations in my interpretation of Plato is to attempt to situate his early work in the context of this literary genre.

In some fields, and particularly in Biblical scholarship, genre studies have been dominant for a generation or two. Students of the Gospels, for example, have shed new light on their subject with interpretations that focus on the literary form of the narrative and speeches reported in each Gospel. It is a striking fact that, as far as I can see, there has never been a similarly genreoriented study of Plato’s dialogues. So I want to direct your attention to certain generic features of the Socratic literature that can be of considerable importance for the understanding of Plato’s work.

——————————————————————————————

About the Author: Phin Upham is a writer and investor from NYC and SF. He usually writes about philosophy, investing and travel. Visit Phin Upham Facebook page.

Need help getting US Visas?

The United States has long been one of the premier destinations for immigrants of all nations and walks of life to come and work, study, or live – but you will need US Visas to get in and stay legally. The land of opportunity indeed, these visas are not incredibly difficult to get for most people, but there are a couple of things you need to focus on to make sure you application process goes smoothly.

First off, you need to get all of your documentation together. This is critically important if you don’t just want to get a visa but would also like to apply later for US citizenship or fill out an application for US passport. Make certain that you secure all information necessary and pack them with you – copies in duplicate or even triplicate if possible, especially if it’s going to be difficult to secure this kind of information after you leave your home country.

Secondly, you’ll need to begin working and saving money as soon as possible. The fee structure is unique in almost every case, but expects to spend at least $1500 – and that’s assuming you will not need the assistance of a lawyer (sometimes you can find them to work pro bono, but don’t count on it). You’ll also want to do as much research as possible, and tap into the leverage and experience of places like the American Immigration Center Inc. While the process is most often a smooth and relatively quick one, like any other time you’re dealing with a massive governmental body there can be delays and procedures that need clarification and correction. Make sure everything is in line so that you don’t have to waste an time getting into this great country legally.