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Dialectic and Who We Are in the Alcibiades*

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AbstractIn the Platonic Alcibiades, Socrates raises two central philosophical questions: Who are we? and: How ought we to take care of ourselves? He answers these questions, I argue, in his famous comparison between eyes and souls. Both answers hinge upon dialectic: self-care functions through dialectic because we are communicating beings. I adduce arguments for this from the set-up and language of the comparison passage. Another important indication is that Socrates expressly refers back to an earlier, aborted attempt to describe who we are in terms of using discourse. Rather than recommending to Alcibiades a life of contemplation apart from interpersonal exchange, Socrates presents such exchange as central to our self-improvement and identity.

Affiliations: 1: Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität79085 Freiburg im


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