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"That Unpredictable Little Beast": Traces Of An Other Socrates

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Chapter Summary

Socrates' daimonion is something of an embarrassment in a figure who is otherwise celebrated for his powerful, probing intellect, and whose characteristic elenctic method is said to owe exclusive allegiance to secular ratiocination. Reports of Socrates' prophetic powers, such as his prediction of the failure of the Sicilian expedition or the retreat from Delium, are typically dismissed by modern scholars as "apocryphal tales" because they present a picture of Socrates so at variance with the Platonic version. The trail of the daimonion leads back even further to the little Platonic dialogue called Theages. Socrates' trust in the daimonion, that "unpredictable little beast" as Gregory Vlastos has called it, is wholly subordinated to his reliance on the power of reasoned discourse or a cipher for reason itself.

Keywords: daimonion; Gregory Vlastos; Socrates; Theages



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