Plato Seeking for “One Real Explanation” in Phaedo


This essay intends to discuss what Plato was seeking as an explanation in Phaedo. In this dialogue, we observe Socrates criticizing both the natural scientists’ explanations and Anaxagoras’ theory of Mind because they could not explain all things, firstly, in a unitary and, secondary, in a real way. Thence, we are to call what Plato is seeking as his ideal explanation in Phaedo “One Real Explanation”. He talks at least about three kinds of explanation, two of which, the confused and foolish way of explanation by Forms and the explanation by Forms appealing to essence, are just "second best" and lower degrees of explanation. His ideal explanation is an explanation that can explain all things by one thing and in a real way. Though he cannot show, at least in Phaedo, how this One Real Explanation can work, we can see Plato completing the theory by the Form of the Good in Republic.

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Mohammad Bagher Ghomi
University of Tehran


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