provided a solution in his method of simple questioning to bring forth creative thought for inspection and contemplation.
Tarnopolsky thus sees the Gorgias as Plato's attempt to lay bare the salubrious effects of the Socratic elenchus
on open-minded, justice-loving, shame-sensitive individuals (like Gorgias), but also to reveal the more dangerous consequences of the elenchus
when applied to more shameless characters (Polus and Callicles) who are less capable of self-reflection and cannot negotiate the soul-turning evolution at which the elenchus
Having realized that point, he refutes idealism in a way similar to that in which the Socratic elenchus
refutes the interlocutor's view in a dialogic search for a shared truth.
The first section addresses the historical origins of Socratic method, the second reexamines Vlastos's analysis of "the Elenchus
"; the third section challenges the assumptions of those who read the dialogues dogmatically by focusing on specific dialogues and highlighting the protreptic and deconstructive dimensions of Socrates' philosophizing; finally, the fourth section offers a set of interpretations of the elenchus
at work in the Charmides.
Since Plato takes the Socratic method to establish truth and since the Socratic elenchus
can only establish consistency, Plato must take truth to be fully analyzable in terms of membership in a consistent set.
Yet seen from this perspective the argument has some rather unusual features: in particular, the presence of an impersonal interlocutor ("the many") and the absence of the crisp and explicit argumentation that is typical of Socratic elenchus
Vlastos's "The Socratic Elenchus
," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 1 (1983): 27-58.
One interesting background feature of Aristotle's thinking about logic, reasoning and the scientific method is that he is considering such matters always in a dialectical context, in the sense of thinking of them on the model of question-answer dialogues not unlike the Socratic elenchus
In section 4 Schmid examines both the positive and negative aspects of the Socratic ideal of rationality by which Socrates' elenchus
("his method of education he employed" [p.
Do they display the elenchus
rather than reflect on it?
In the earlier dialogues, characters were chosen either as "proponents of views to which Socrates was hostile" or as "typifying those opinionated but confused individuals whose value systems constituted natural targets for the Socratic elenchus
," whereas in the later dialogues, the choice of characters was largely "symbolic," representing Plato's "carefully thought-out apportionment of philosophical debts" (p.
The author begins with a discussion of Socratic elenchus
in the early dialogues understood as the "well-disposed refutation" mentioned in the Seventh Letter as a propaedeutic to the acquisition of philosophical wisdom.