This book explodes the myth that Plato wrote all the 'Sokratic' dialogues. The so-called Biographical Hypothesis, that Plato expressed his own philosophical ideas through the mouthpiece of his mentor Sokrates, has held sway now for around two millennia. However, all scholars agree that it is full of inconsistencies and fails to answer numerous questions.
By analysing the sources from the earliest known commentators, the author has been able to pinpoint where the Biographical Hypothesis originated and why it is so insidious. He proposes an alternative theory, the Dialectical Hypothesis, which relies on the assumption that the dialogues are based on fact, not fiction. A literal reading of them leads to the conclusion that some were end of day diary notes of Sokrates himself, some were taken down by his followers and some may have been dictated by Sokrates to one or more followers. In addition to these, there is a small collection of genuine Platonic dialogues and letters.
The author supplements this theory with a unique and novel explanation of the science of Classical Greece. Unlike the forces of nature used to explain cosmology and the universe today, Classical Greek scientists described the universe in terms of universal principles. These are in fact the archetypal Forms described all over the dialogues. The eleven universal principles used by Sokrates are described in detail and illustrated by examples from the dialogues, together with justifications as to why these should be considered to be the Forms that have bedevilled scholarship since Aristotle. An understanding of science is shown to be fundamental to the task of 'knowing oneself'.
Finally, Sokrates' philosophy is described in detail. Instead of being seen simply as a man who questioned everything or even as being a moralist, with nothing more substantial behind him as is the commonly held scholastic view, he emerges as a mystic in the tradition of the great Ionian philosopher-scientists before him and one who added greatly to the understanding of the universe and to the path to be followed to achieve eudaimonia, the ultimate goal of all philosophers of his age.
The book concludes with a revision of the traditional chronology and attribution of all the dialogues.
This book is available to purchase at YPD Books
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