Though it is completely uncontroversial to claim that earlier thinkers exerted a significant influence on Plato’s mature theoretical philosophy, scholars have been more reticent to recognize the influence of earlier figures on Plato’s mature ethical philosophy, especially when those figures include the sophists. Nevertheless, the 5th century sophistic debate about the value of justice exerted a considerable influence on Plato’s mature ethical thought, and nowhere more so than in the Republic. In this talk I argue 1) that Glaucon and Adeimantus’ challenge to Socrates in Republic II evolves out of this existing debate, 2) that Plato penned their challenge to be the most sophisticated version of immoralism yet advanced and, in particular, to overcome an important and influential earlier argument defending the value of virtue, and 3) that recognizing these first two points has serious implications for how we understand the central argument of the dialogue. It is only by understanding the tradition out of which Glaucon and Adeimantus’ immoralist challenge develops that we can truly appreciate the revolutionary force of Socrates’ defense of justice in the Republic.
If you would like to go out to dinner with the speaker after the meeting, then please contact the chair of the meeting before Tuesday of that week. The meals of the chair and the speaker are covered by the faculty; others attend at their own expense.
The Seminar will take place in the Ryle Room. Colleagues and students who are unable to attend in person are welcome to join remotely, via Microsoft Teams, by clicking this link. You will be redirected to a page in which you will be prompted to sign in with your Oxford SSO.
Workshop in Ancient Philosophy Convenors: Ursula Coope, Simon Shogry and Luca Castagnoli