Virtue as the Love of Knowledge in Plato's Symposium and Republic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Framed by the Symposium, with its central portion being an account of Republic VI, this chapter begins by considering, and rejecting, Alcibiades' proposed programmatic solution to the Socratic problem - that Socrates does have knowledge, and is concealing it. The alternative account which Socrates gives of himself in Republic VI, as one of the natural philosophers possessing the natural virtues, is then detailed, with an eye both to the light it sheds on Socrates and to its function in the context of the unfolding argument of the Republic. The chapter then returns to the Symposium to consider the detailed description which Alcibiades gives of Socrates' behaviour, the actions that allegedly manifest true virtue: for although his solution to the Socratic problem is flawed, his speech contains the materials needed for the correct solution. What he describes is remarkably similar to the natural virtue of Republic VI, 485-7, conforming better to this account than to his own proposed explanation. The role of natural virtue and the nature of the philosophers in Plato's work are examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaieusis
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191711008
ISBN (Print)9780199289974
StatePublished - May 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Alciabedes
  • Natural virtues
  • Philosphers
  • Socrates
  • True virtue


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