Becoming Socrates
Title Details

256 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Becoming Socrates

Political Philosophy in Plato's "Parmenides"

by Alex Priou

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
A rigorous investigation of Socrates' early education, pinpointing the thought that led Socrates to turn from natural science to the study of morality, ethics, and politics
Plato's Parmenides is regarded as a canonical work in ontology. Depicting a conversation between Parmenides of Elea and a young Socrates, the dialogue presents a rigorous examination of Socrates' theory of the forms, the most influential account of being in the philosophic tradition.

In this commentary on the Parmenides, Alex Priou argues that the dialogue is, in actuality, a reflection on politics. Priou begins from the accepted view that the conversation consists of two discrete parts -- a critique of the forms, followed by Socrates' philosophical training -- but finds a unity to the dialogue yet to be acknowledged. By paying careful attention to what Parmenides calls the "greatest impasse" facing Socrates' ontology, Priou reveals a political context to the conversation. The need in society for order and good rule includes the need, at a more fundamental level, for an adequate andefficacious explanation of being. Recounting here how a young Socrates first learned of the primacy of political philosophy, which would become the hallmark of his life, Becoming Socrates shows that political philosophy, and not ontology, is "first philosophy."

Alex Priou is an instructor in the Herbst Program in the Humanities in Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Acknowledgments
The Problem of the Parmenides
Parmenides on Socrates' "Platonism": "Parmenides" 126a1-137c4
Parmenides on Eleatic Monism: "Parmenides" 137c4-166c5
The Problem of Socrates
Notes
Works Cited
Index
"For the first time, Plato's presentation of the young Socrates being schooled by the great Parmenides in ontology is shown to illuminate, and to be illuminated by, Plato's presentation of the mature Socrates analyzing justice in the Republic. What results is a deeply thought-provoking new perspective on Platonic-Socratic political philosophy." Thomas L. Pangle, University of Texas at Austin
"Alex Priou addresses here the crucial role that the Parmenides plays in Plato's account of the 'Socratic turn,' that is, in the thinking that led Socrates to turn away from natural philosophy and initiate a new way of philosophizing that we now call political philosophy. This impressive and valuable new interpretation helps us to understand better a notoriously difficult Platonic dialogue about the beginning of both political theory and the tradition of Western rationalism." Mark J. Lutz, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
"Alex Priou achieves an extraordinary feat in his study of the Parmenides. Becoming Socrates is essential reading for understanding both the emergence of political philosophy and the centrality of political philosophy." INTERPRETATION
"Alex Priou's Becoming Socrates is a noteworthy achievement. It sheds new light on the relation between Plato's theory of forms and political philosophy, and puts forth a winning account of both Parmenides and Plato's philosophical project as a whole." ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
"Becoming Socrates [...] is still more philosophically ambitious in scope, and more responsible in its sense of how its chosen dialogue relates to Platonic philosophy as a whole." Review of Politics

Hardcover

9781580469197

March 2018

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9781787441972

March 2018

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Title Details

256 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press