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The Place of aporia in Plato's Charmides

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image of Phronesis

The aim of the paper is twofold: to examine the argument in response to Socrates' question whether or not reflexive knowledge is, first, possible, and, second, beneficial; and by doing so, to examine the method of Plato's argument. What is distinctive of the method of argument, I want to show, is that Socrates argues on both sides of these questions (the question of possibility and the question of benefit). This, I argue, is why he describes these questions as a source of aporia. Socrates can argue, without contradiction, on both sides of these questions because the arguments against the possibility and benefit of reflexive knowledge are premised on the supposition, defended by Critias, that this knowledge is only of one's knowledge and lack of knowledge, whereas the arguments for its possibility and benefit are not committed to this supposition.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin, Ireland;, Email:


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