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An Absurd Question: Plato, Symposium 199d

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Chapter Summary

Some short piece of the text of Plato?s Symposium has generated no little discussion. Successive editors, faced with the task of discovering whether what is usually printed is actually what Plato wrote, and what, if that is what he wrote, he could have meant by all of it, have reached diverse conclusions on both these questions. There is no doubt at all about what Plato?s main point is?the context is quite explicit about that. The trouble comes with a distinction that he tries to make between what he is saying and something that he wishes to make clear he is not saying. The difficulty turns on some ambiguity in the way Socrates expresses himself: but there is no general agreement as to the nature of the ambiguity, or exactly why Socrates wants to draw attention to it.

Keywords: Plato; Socrates; Symposium

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