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Surprise Endings: Cephalus and the Indispensable Teacher of Republic X

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Plato imputes an important form of understanding to Cephalus in Book I of the Republic and revisits it at the end of Book X. Plato's astute observations of mental life in old age tie Cephalus’ conversation to the concept of “life review” in contemporary geriatric psychology. This provides the basis for an argument that Cephalus exemplifies the indispensable teacher described in Book X, and this raises interesting new epistemological and ethical issues. Finally, I ask why commentaries on the Republic have overlooked this theme, and argue that an ageist bias against Cephalus has distorted commentators’ reading of the text.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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