chapter  3
Pages 34

Plato’s defence of Socrates and of the practice of philosophy in the early dialogues is direct and straightforward. His case is, as we have seen, that Socrates awakened Athenians to the care of their souls through the practice of elenchos, which made them aware of their own ignorance. As the early period gives way to the middle period, the picture becomes very much more complicated. First, Plato develops further his criticisms of our everyday perspective on life. He examines closely, and finds wanting, the claims to our attention made by art, rhetoric and eristic (eristic being a sort of argumentative logic-chopping; a perversion of philosophy in which we try to win arguments, and not arrive at truths). Plato also develops further his conception of philosophy. He formulates new ideas about philosophical method, new philosophical doctrines about the nature of knowledge and reality, and a new conception of the philosophical way of life.