The Unity of Virtue, Ambiguity, and Socrates’ Higher Purpose

Ancient Philosophy 37 (2):333-346 (2017)
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In the Protagoras, Socrates argues that all the virtues are the very same knowledge of human wellbeing so that virtue is all one. But elsewhere Socrates appears to endorse that the virtues-such as courage, temperance, and reverence-are different parts of a single whole. Ambiguity interpretations harmonize the conflicting texts by taking the virtue words to be equivocal, such as between theoretical and applied expertise, or between a power and its deeds. I argue that such interpretations have failed in their specifics and in general, as I defend an alternative that takes into account Socrates' higher purpose in testing others, namely to show them their ignorance of virtue.
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