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Pregnant or barren? Socratic wisdom in Plato's Theaetetus (149a - 151d)

Eckersley, William Joseph; (2019) Pregnant or barren? Socratic wisdom in Plato's Theaetetus (149a - 151d). Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis aims to solve a contradiction that is generated by claims of Socrates’ in Plato’s Theaetetus that I refer to as the “puzzle of Socratic wisdom”. In the Theaetetus, Socrates claims to practice the art (technē) (Theaet 149a4, a7 150b6, c1, 151a) of midwifery, which, I argue at the opening of the first chapter, implies he possesses knowledge (epistēmē). This claim entails a contradiction when viewed in conjunction with Socrates’ claims that, firstly, wisdom (sophia) is the same as epistēmē (Theaet 145d-e) and, secondly, that he lacks any sophia (Theaet 150c4, c6, d1-2). Once I have shown this I consider two potential solutions that have been offered to this puzzle in the recent literature on the Theaetetus. Finding these solutions unsatisfactory, in the next chapter I consider the possibility that solutions that have been offered to a puzzle found in Plato’s early dialogues might help to solve the puzzle of Socratic wisdom. By exposing the similarities between the puzzles found in the early dialogues and the puzzle of Socratic wisdom I seek to justify the interpretive strategy of using solutions to the former to help solve the latter. I then explain and rebut a potential objection to adopting this procedure. This being so I go on to pursue the strategy of applying solutions offered to the puzzle from the early dialogues to the puzzle from the Theaetetus; I argue that the solutions on offer are for the most part unsatisfactory. In the final chapter I turn to offering my own proposal for how to solve the puzzle of Socratic wisdom. I argue that Socrates should not be understood as possessing the knowledge involved in practicing midwifery. I propose that instead, God possesses the insights necessary for practicing mental obstetrics and that Socrates collaborates with God in delivering and assessing the beliefs of Socrates’ interlocutors.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Pregnant or barren? Socratic wisdom in Plato's Theaetetus (149a - 151d)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074206
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