|image by LMRitchie|
Let me start again with a few theses I would like to defend and develop:
- Cephalus and his sons are individualistic progressivists, not traditionalists
- Cephalus is morally engaged, if philosophically complacent
- Socratic irony is collaborative, not adversarial
- Dialectic is inclusive in intent, if exclusive in effect
I want to develop these theses against the background of some typical strains of interpretation:
- The standard reading, according to which:
- The much-repeated and never-demonstrated premise that "helping friends and harming enemies" is a core precept of traditional Greek morality.
- The narrative according to which prior to Plato, virtue is conceived externally, in terms of canons of behavior.
- The interpretation of Socratic irony as a clever argumentative tactic.
- The Straussian tradition, according to which:
- Interpretation of Plato depends on an interpretation of Socratic irony, and an exposition of the genre of Platonic dialog (a thesis I endorse).
- Socratic irony is a practice of treating different kinds of people differently (a thesis which Strauss advances on the basis of a reading of Xenophon, and tries to apply to Plato).
- Cephalus represents ancestral piety.
- Philosophy as advocated by Plato opposes itself to piety and tradition.