The Moral Intellectualism of Plato's Socrates

The Case of the Hippias Minor

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Commentators do not take Socrates' theses in the Hippias Minor seriously. They believe it is an aporetic dialogue and even that Socrates does not mean what he says. Hence they are unable to understand the presuppositions behind Socrates' two interconnected theses: that those who do wrong and lie voluntarily are better than those who do wrong unintentionally, and that no one does wrong and lies voluntarily. Arguing that liars are better than the unenlightened, Socrates concludes that there are no liars. Instead, there are only those who know and those who don't. The unenlightened cannot lie, and alien volitions, desires, or emotions are unlikely to mislead and deceive those who know, i. e., the wise. Why, then, is a thinker like Socrates ready to defy the experience and moral convictions of his contemporaries and even our own to such an extent?

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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