dogmatism and ‘zetetic self-depreciation’
(Politis, 2011, p.12)
and its connection to both
and the Socratic quest for knowledge. We will conclude with an assessmentof the nature and extent of Socratic scepticism.Critics have often debated the so-called ‘Paradox of Socratic Ignorance’. Thedilemma is as follows: How can Socrates’ position be both coherent and serious whenin one breath he professes ignorance and yet, in the next, either avows knowledge or self-assuredly states opinions? In an attempt to resolve the paradox some scholars,such as Gulley
,have argued that Socrates is disingenuous in his claim of ignorance.According to Gulley, Socrates’ professions of ignorance are a mere ‘expedient toencourage his interlocutor to seek out the truth, to make him think that he is joiningSocrates in a voyage of discovery’
and are evidence only of his‘slyness or irony’
Alternatively, there is the claim made byThrasymachus,
that Socrates conceals his knowledge deliberately inorder to bait his interlocutor into forwarding their own beliefs, which he can thendisparage and refute. However, this notion, the idea of ‘Socrates the sly’
(Forster, 2007, p.2)
is unconvincing for numerous reasons.Firstly, Gulley’s argument fails to account for those situations where encouraging people to elenchus is not an option, such as when Socrates professes his ignorance tothe members of the jury in the
. Secondly, if Socrates aim weresimply to shame and refute his interlocutors, then why does Socrates repeatedly insistthat his quest is for knowledge and why does he continue to search for it? Would suchan elaborate hoax really be necessary if ones aim were merely to humiliate onesopponents? Moreover, if Socrates actually does possess the knowledge he claims tolack, he is certainly ‘remarkably good at hiding it’
(Brickhouse and Smith, 1994, p.3
asover half the early dialogues conclude with the participants in a state of
in the traditional sense of confusion or perplexity, and all end in failure toobtain definitional knowledge
. Furthermore, if one were dissembling, would one
I am not referring here to
in the traditional sense of a state of perplexity and puzzlement,which commentators typically maintain is the result of a failed search for the answer to a particular
question, but rather
, ‘in the sense of what is articulated by a two-sided question with whatappear to one and the same person to be good reasons on both sides’(Politis, 2011, p.8).
, in thesense of ‘lack of passage’ or ‘inability to advance’(Politis, 2011,VI, p.3).
Brickhouse and Smith, 1994, p.32, Benson, 2000, p.178. However, one may argue that perhaps in thisinstance Socrates dissembles in order to secure his acquittal. Yet, in response, as Benson, 2000, p.179,notes, he certainly could have picked a more convincing story.
Brickhouse and Smith only recognize the traditional type of
Brickhouse and Smith,1994, p.3.