Recollection and the Problem of the Socratic Elenchus

Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy 10:257-95 (1994)
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We simply cannot make sense of Socrates' procedure for cross-examining his interlocutors in the early dialogues if we insist that Socrates uses cross-examination only for the purpose of testing his interlocutor's claim to knowledge. This view of Socratic cross-examination cannot explain the fact that Socrates examines theses that he himself proposes and that neither he nor his interlocutor explicitly endorses. In contrast,the supposition that Socrates is inquiring on these occasions provides a good explanation for his procedure. When one is attempting to gain true belief and knowledge, it is important to consider the cases that can be made for hypotheses that one has never before considered, much less believed to be true.

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Jyl Gentzler
Amherst College


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