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Says Who? Modes of Speaking in the Euthydemus

Leigh, F; (2019) Says Who? Modes of Speaking in the Euthydemus. Australasian Philosophical Review , 3 (2) pp. 123-130. 10.1080/24740500.2020.1716658.

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Abstract

With very few exceptions, the relatively small number of scholars who have lavished attention on Plato’s Euthydemus have found it fertile soil in two respects. For some, it is a compilation of fallacies committed by the sophistic brothers, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, designed to serve as an introductory sourcebook of bad argument—a forerunner to Aristotle’s Sophistici Elenchi [Robinson 1942; Sprague 1962; Hawtrey 1981]. 1 For others, it contains a significant contribution to Platonic ethics by way of a compressed and vexing argument for the view that compared to other purported goods (e.g., health and wealth), wisdom is the only good ‘in itself’ (280b–282a) (e.g. Irwin [1995: 32–3, 73n, 118–20]; Russell [2005: 16–47]). 2 By contrast, in her various papers and lectures on the Euthydemus, M.M. McCabe discerns a much wider variety of topics at issue in the dialogue (e.g., self-knowledge, a rejection of consequentialism), and while focusing on specific passages, has situated her interpretations within a view of the text as a whole. 3 So, too, in the target paper for this volume, ‘First Chop Your Logos … Socrates and the Sophists on Logic, Language, and Development’, McCabe [2021a] argues that a close reading of several passages reveals the sophistic brothers’ deployment of a formidable position or view on the relation of language to the world that presents a serious challenge to Socrates’ assumptions about statements and saying, and that Plato’s response to the challenge emerges from consideration of different elements at play throughout the whole dialogue. Due to limited space, I will restrict myself in this introduction to a sketch of the structure of the Euthydemus, for those unfamiliar with it, and an outline of McCabe’s reading of the sophistic challenge and Plato’s response to it, occasionally gesturing towards key claims or objections advanced in the commentaries in this volume (though I have generally been unable to note McCabe’s [2021b] detailed responses in her reply piece, ‘Who’s Who and What’s What’).

Type: Article
Title: Says Who? Modes of Speaking in the Euthydemus
DOI: 10.1080/24740500.2020.1716658
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/24740500.2020.1716658
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
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/10090211
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