This notion of the Socratic project and of Socrates' elenctic activity, however, is difficult to reconcile with Xenophon's claim that the question "what is madness" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) was central to Socrates' concerns.
I believe that madness, and in particular the distinction between divine madness and human madness adduced by Socrates in the Phaedrus, is of central significance to our understanding of Socratic philosophy and Socratic elenctic method even, or especially, in those dialogues which seem to lack any reference to the notion of divine forms of madness.
Although the categorization of the Parmenides as late or coming "at the peak" of the Platonic dialogues along with the Timaeus can be traced back to the Academy in the sequence associated with Iamblichus, Friedreich Schleiermacher argued that it was a relatively early elenctic
and "aporetic" dialogue which ought to be grouped with the Protagoras.
The difference is significant because it suggests that it was only between the time when he wrote the Crito and the date when he composed the Gorgias, and not throughout his early period, as Gregory Vlastos has so forcefully argued, that Plato came to the view that everyone possesses a stock of true moral beliefs which entail the negation of any false moral belief they may also hold.(22) Furthermore, it is of course not only perfectly consistent with this idea, but evidence in its support, that only in the Gorgias does Plato have Socrates, for the first time, commit himself to the truth of the results of elenctic investigation (486e5-6; cf.
A problem with this interpretation, however, is that such a notion of "philosophical" knowledge is systematically articulated only in the middle and later writings of Plato and in the texts of Aristotle.(26) There is very little evidence for thinking that this notion constituted an idea disseminated widely enough--or, for that matter, articulated sufficiently--by Socrates' time (or even by the time of Plato's early works) to provide a sensible term of contrast with Socrates' elenctic method of dialectic.
But in the sense which he would give to "teaching"--engaging would-be learners in elenctic argument to make them aware of their own ignorance and enable them to discover for themselves the truth the teacher had held back--in that sense of "teaching" Socrates would want to say that he is a teacher, the only true teacher: his dialogue with his fellows is meant to have, and does have, the effect of evoking and assisting their efforts at moral self-improvement.(33)