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Chapter 2 - The Place of Concepts in Socratic Inquiry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2024

Gábor Betegh
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Voula Tsouna
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Summary

In ‘The Place of Concepts in Socratic Inquiry’, Terence Irwin examines Socrates’ question ‘What is F?’, which is often taken to be a request for some sort of definition or account of what F is. When Socrates asks, ‘What is courage?’, ‘What is piety?’, ‘What is temperance?’, does his discovery that everyone, including himself, cannot answer such questions in a satisfactory manner imply that these answerers do not know what the words mean? If one cannot answer the ‘What is F?’ question, does it follow that one lacks the concept of F? Irwin argues that conceptual argument has an indispensable role in the arguments that lead to Socratic definitions, but it will not take us all the way to them. To understand Socratic definitions, Irwin compares them with Aristotelian real definitions, and with Epictetus’ views on the articulation of preconceptions.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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