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Colloquium 6: When The Middle Comes Early: Puzzles And Perplexeties In Plato’S Dialogues

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image of Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy

In this paper I focus on the problem of accounting for apparent inconsistencies between Plato’s early and middle works. Developmentalism seeks to account for these variances by differentiating a Socratic philosophy in the early dialogues from a Platonic philosophy in the middle. In opposition to this position, I propose an alternative explanation: differences between these two groups are due to Plato’s depiction and use of middle period epistemology. I argue that, in the early dialogues, Plato depicts Socrates’ use of the “summoners” described in Book 7 of the Republic, and that Plato uses Socrates’ failed attempts to summon interlocutors for the purpose of summoning readers. In conclusion, I suggest that the hypothesis that Plato uses summoners provides a framework for addressing the wider problem of inconsistencies within the Platonic corpus.


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