Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Symposium

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Abstract

This chapter articulates the productive link between self-knowledge and ignorance. The author argues that Socrates advocates knowledge of one’s ignorance for two principal reasons. First, it is an epistemic virtue that leads to progress in inquiry. This is the more well-known reason for Socrates’ advocacy. However, though certainly epistemic in character, the aporia that follows from knowledge of ignorance must be accompanied by an appropriate existential sense of the self as limited, without which no epistemological progress can occur. Second, knowledge of ignorance allows one to act more virtuously in concrete circumstances. Extending her analysis from the Apology to the Meno, the author shows how Socratic wisdom entails a response of care for others, something of which Meno is incapable despite having made some (albeit limited) epistemological progress in his definitions of virtue. One’s own lived understanding of the Delphic imperative necessarily involves recognizing, and cultivating engagement with, the affective and emotional responses of one’s refuted interlocutor.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnowledge and Ignorance of Self in Platonic Philosophy
Pages186-205
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781316877081
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2019.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)

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