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Scheitern in den Sokratischen Dialogen Platons

Uhlmann, Gyburg

Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie, Bd. 2023 (2023), Iss. 2: S. 72–95

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Uhlmann, Gyburg


Plato’s dialogues often end in a seemingly unsatisfactory conclusion, or aporia. Such aporetic endings are regularly interpreted as examples of Socratic irony, in which Socrates mocks his interlocutors by feigning ignorance and deliberately leading them into an aporia. Alternatively, they are seen as reflecting skepticism about the attainment of certain and consistent empirical knowledge. This paper revisits Plato’s Euthyphro and argues that the arguments and attempts at definition provide methodological criteria for the acquisition of knowledge and do not fail entirely, but only in certain aspects. It shows how a new, comprehensive understanding of piety can be developed by collecting the unrefuted, fragmented insights on piety from Euthyphro and integrating them with pieces of knowledge from the Politeia. The paper also explores the reasons for the deliberate presentation of failure in the Aporetic dialogues, namely to highlight the pitfalls of believing in one’s illusory expertise about something without fully understanding it, and thus to encourage the pursuit of sound, reliable knowledge by overcoming ›double ignorance‹.