Teleology, Causation and the Atlas Motif in Plato's Phaedo

Schole 14 (1):82-103 (2020)
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Abstract

In this paper, I propose a new reading of Phaedo 99b6-d2. My main thesis is that in 99c6-9, Socrates does not refer to the teleological αἰτία but to the αἰτία that will be provided by a stronger ‘Atlas’ (99c4-5). This means that the passage offers no evidence that Socrates abandons teleology or modifies his views about it. He acknowledges, instead, that he could not find or learn any αἰτία stronger than the teleological one. This, I suggest, allows an interpretation of the Phaedo in which Socrates offers a consistent account of the αἰτία of generation and destruction.

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Daniel Vázquez
Mary Immaculate College

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