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Calling Philosophers NamesOn the Origin of a Discipline$
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Christopher Moore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195056

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195056.001.0001

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Plato’s Saving of the Appearances

Plato’s Saving of the Appearances

Radical Revision or Explanatory Reconstruction?

(p.221) 8 Plato’s Saving of the Appearances
Calling Philosophers Names

Christopher Moore

Princeton University Press

This chapter confronts the use of philosophia by Heraclides' teacher, Plato. It shows that across his dialogues, Plato treats philosophia as a term in common parlance, and thus that he is, in effect, saving the appearances (of Thucydides and Gorgias, among others) when he presents it as conversations that conduce to virtue and flourishing. The dialogues dramatize or narrate just those conversations. Plato does provide something new, but it is not a new “meaning” of philosophia. It is, rather, a new explanation for the possibility that philosophia-style conversations could actually conduce to their end, human happiness. The epistemological and metaphysical considerations mooted in the dialogues concerning knowledge and universals do not determine what philosophia is (namely, conversations) but how philosophia could actually work (namely, by getting clearer about what is really true). Given how unappealing philosophia has been made out to be, a proponent needs to vindicate this apparently lazy pursuit. The Academy, an institution devoted to this pursuit, needed a defense. Yet, in most of Plato's dialogues, philosophia still refers to person-to-person interactions, not to anything beyond those conversations; philosophia is not yet a discipline, a historically extended, increasingly distributed, and impersonal, concerted enterprise.

Keywords:   Plato, philosophia, human happiness, philosophia-style conversations, Plato's dialogues, person-to-person interactions

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