Just Silence in Plato’s Clitophon

Polis 36 (2):266-288 (2019)
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Plato’s Clitophon presents a confrontation between two alternative views of justice, one conventional and the other philosophical – and of Clitophon’s inability to move from the one to the other due to his confusion over the relationship between knowledge and virtue and his misconception of the path from ignorance to knowledge, which probably results from his ambition. The nature of this confusion is such that Clitophon can only overcome it by abandoning his submissive stance toward the authority of Socrates, which fact, combined with the character of his appeal to Socrates for an answer to his difficulties makes any authentic verbal response from Socrates unlikely to help and to risk harm. Silence from Socrates at the conclusion of the dialogue would therefore exemplify the principle that it is not for the just to harm anyone.

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Shane Gassaway
Tulane University


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