As Arendt sees, in opposing ancient contemplative philosophy, Machiavelli is also opposing its adoption and incorporation by Christian scholastics. The exception is his description of the Roman army, which lost its virtue, according to Machiavelli, when ordered to fight by the decemvirs who had denied the plebs any part in the government.
He addresses all his prose works to individuals who are or wish to become political leaders. LW : By no means do you neglect the dark arts of the political operative as Machiavelli presents them in his various writings, political and literary. In The Prince, Machiavelli explicitly maintains that the use of force is necessary in establishing and maintaining political order, but that it is not sufficient.
It is also necessary to use fraud, or, in his words, to fight like a fox as well as like a lion, although the partisans of the lion do not understand this necessity. However, although he recommends elections and popular jury trials as means of keeping the ambitions of political leaders in check, in the Discourses he recognizes that both of these institutional mechanisms can fail.
They also tend to glorify extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice for example, by Manlius Torquatus and Scipio more than less extraordinary, but clearly more politically useful, achievements like military victories and prudent legislation. As Machiavelli emphasizes at the end of Chapter 18 of The Prince, people ultimately judge politicians by the results of their policies—whether their government preserves their lives, families, property, and liberty. Smart politicians, then and now, —claim to be acting for the common good—and so strive to appear to be merciful, faithful, humane, honest, and religious.
Few of the rest of us can see their inner motives. But, Machiavelli assures his readers, like all other human beings, political leaders act first and foremost according to their own understanding of their own good. That good, Machiavelli argues, consists in most cases of maintaining the political position or state they have achieved. Peoples can become corrupt, however; and when they become corrupt, they cease to elect their most virtuous citizens. This happened in Rome after the Punic Wars, when the people no longer feared foreign conquest.
They then began to elect individuals who entertained them or, ultimately, whom they feared.
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Machiavelli suggests that drastic measures may be necessary in order to reawaken the fear that initially convinced people to establish and obey a government led by their most virtuous citizens. But he claims, with some reason, that the need to take such drastic measures was understood and covertly taught by the ancients.
For example, although Machiavelli explicitly recognizes that the Romans used the harsh measures that Plato recommends in all three of his emphatically political dialogues— Republic, Statesman, and Laws— to purge the population of individuals who cannot be convinced to obey the laws, he does not finally recommend such purges himself. He advocates institutional reforms of a different kind. In sum, Machiavelli did not invent or even discover the harsh requirements of establishing and maintaining political order. He emphasizes these harsh truths because he thinks that many of his readers have been able—or led—to forget them, and have suffered greatly as a result.
Only by recognizing the strength of the passions that lead human beings to compete with one another, and by trying to guide rather than simply to repress these passions, is it possible to design and maintain political orders that secure the freedom of all—or almost all—from oppression. Catherine H. Zuckert is Nancy R. About the Author. I read Machiavelli as though he is advising me how I might be a civic citizen, as in one who collaborates with the willing people more than with the municipality.
That is, cities must have leaders, who are of necessity erroneous humans and since the city is their focus the errors tend to cause loss and misery for the people. They turn out to be indictment of the prince but enlightenment for the people. Abraham Lincoln said, in his first inaugural address that ultimate justice comes from the people. In other words, he urged the people to enjoy spiritual life but separate it from civic justice; that is, separate church from state and state from church.
He adds that in a religious city only a dreamer would make that suggestion. The most we can learn is that that which is virtuous, cannot be lacking in virtue, and that even a Republic can succumb to atheistic materialism. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site brings together serious debate, commentary, essays, book reviews, interviews, and educational material in a commitment to the first principles of law in a free society.
About Contact Staff. Catherine Zuckert Catherine H. An Independent Counsel for Civil Violations. Recent Popular Posts Popular. Comments Fascinating! Well done, very substantive. Thanks to both. Professor Zuckert and Ms. Yet, despite the fear or discomfort, a particularly satisfying aspect of this sort of examination is that one's own answers determine the course of the argument.
Socrates effected no turns in the discussion except in response to a reply by a respondent. A related component of the success of the Socratic oral method is that a respondent's conclusions can be more firmly defended with argument than if they were learned in more conventional ways; after all, the conclusions will have been reached after a grueling trial including a number of dead ends and returns to the start. One's own labors will have been spent in the gaining of knowledge.
But it is not only conclusions that are important in the Socratic method, for what is communicated by the practice itself, modeled, is a set of techniques about how to examine philosophical problems effectively. The method is intrinsically as well as extrinsically valuable; life is worth living only so long as one is examining it. Rarely is this more obvious than when discussions in Socratic dialogues end in aporia, implicitly promising a new beginning some other time. Without relinquishing what was successful about the Socratic educational program, Plato's founding of the Academy enabled him to overcome some of the oral method's faults.
A formal institution of higher learning could expel or refuse admission to those who were intellectually unsuited or insincere, and could attract young men whose fathers might have objected to Socrates's less formal style and manner. Living and studying together in an academic community, these like-minded and earnest students and researchers of philosophy would have far greater opportunities to pursue issues to their natural conclusions.
Moreover, Plato's writing of dialogues that could be discussed in that rarified atmosphere enabled the students to learn systematic bodies of earlier philosophy, to approach them critically, and thus to develop philosophy further. Some features of double openendedness are familiar, some so unfamiliar as to be controversial, but all share the characteristic of tentativeness, provisionality: there is no premise, no conclusion, no technique in all the corpus that is insulated from challenge. Nothing whatsoever is treated as so certain that it cannot be, indeed that it ought not be, rethought and revised repeatedly.
I would add that it is not only the brief Socratic pieces such as Charmides, Laches, and Lysis for which this is the case; it occurs also in Cratylus, the first book of the Republic, and the Theaetetus. Openended in exactly the same sense, subject to revision, are ii the initial assumptions with which Socratic inquiry begins. In fact, it is routine in the dialogues, when inquiry falters in some way, for Socrates to suggest to his respondent that he go back, take a different starting point, and thus correct his course.
In the entire corpus, the only thing ever said to be free of assumptions is the good itself, and that brings me to a related sense of Plato's openendedness: iii in the corpus taken as a whole, even the seemingly most cherished assumptions the nature of goodness, for example are subjected to criticism. In the first and second books of the Republic, Thrasymachus, Adeimantus, and Glaucon make headway against the good; Callicles does likewise in the Gorgias.
Thrasymachus and Callicles at least, though they are both browbeaten by Socrates into yes-man roles, never come close to conceding the fundamentality of the good, maintaining relativistic positions instead. Plato goes further to insure openendedness at the level of the whole corpus by assigning incompatible views to the same character, usually Socrates, in different dialogues: e.
Plato's iv dialectical method itself is openended too. This is a difficult point to make clear in a short time, but what I mean is this. The assumptions of the method, as well as its procedures and its results, are as unprotected from criticism and revision as the content of the dialogues. Plato achieves this openendedness in part by isolating and suspending particular aspects of his method hypothesis, say, or a logical rule while subjecting them to implicit critique, and partly by addressing directly the strengths and weaknesses of particular techniques.
Finally, and I return now to something less controversial than my last point, v the dialogue form itself preserves Plato's openendedness and thereby preserves much of what was successful about the Socratic oral method. Unlike the presocratics who, despite a range of literary forms from treatise to poetry, presented a body of doctrine, Plato's dialogues both illustrate and instantiate a variety of doctrines and methods, creating what I described earlier as a lack of consensus in the literature about what Plato himself believed.
Another consequence of Plato's writing dialogues, a consequence that secures something of the personal aspect of Socrates's practice, is that the dialogues portray philosophy in its social embeddedness: positions advocated by interlocutors derive from their experiences in life. Who were their teachers?
What were their ambitions? Those who read the dialogues in the Academy could identify appropriately with the characters presented in them. Insofar as Plato may have used Academic arguments in dialogues, of course, Academicians would literally see themselves there. What is most important in Plato's use of the dialogue form is that there could be no truckling to a master, no intellectual laziness that so often leads a would-be philosopher to hitch his wagon to someone else's grand scheme, in hopes of working out some of the neglected details.
It is incumbent upon each reader to labor to whatever conclusions are possible, providing such defenses and critiques as are necessary along the way. This makes Plato's work not a jot less relevant or powerful now than twenty-four hundred years ago. The Socratic oral method, I should add, is and was further preserved by what we may take to have been the Platonic Academy's ability to combine the oral and the written into one overall attitude toward philosophical inquiry.
What was best about Socrates's questioning could still go on, with what was worst corrected by the written dialogues. Some of his works— Parmenides is a stellar example—do confine themselves to exploring questions that seem to have no bearing whatsoever on practical life. But it is remarkable how few of his works fall into this category. Even the highly abstract questions raised in Sophist about the nature of being and not-being are, after all, embedded in a search for the definition of sophistry; and thus they call to mind the question whether Socrates should be classified as a sophist—whether, in other words, sophists are to be despised and avoided.
In any case, despite the great sympathy Plato expresses for the desire to shed one's body and live in an incorporeal world, he devotes an enormous amount of energy to the task of understanding the world we live in, appreciating its limited beauty, and improving it.
His tribute to the mixed beauty of the sensible world, in Timaeus , consists in his depiction of it as the outcome of divine efforts to mold reality in the image of the forms, using simple geometrical patterns and harmonious arithmetic relations as building blocks. The desire to transform human relations is given expression in a far larger number of works.
Socrates presents himself, in Plato's Apology , as a man who does not have his head in the clouds that is part of Aristophanes' charge against him in Clouds. He does not want to escape from the everyday world but to make it better. He presents himself, in Gorgias , as the only Athenian who has tried his hand at the true art of politics. Similarly, the Socrates of Republic devotes a considerable part of his discussion to the critique of ordinary social institutions—the family, private property, and rule by the many.
The motivation that lies behind the writing of this dialogue is the desire to transform or, at any rate, to improve political life, not to escape from it although it is acknowledged that the desire to escape is an honorable one: the best sort of rulers greatly prefer the contemplation of divine reality to the governance of the city. And if we have any further doubts that Plato does take an interest in the practical realm, we need only turn to Laws.
A work of such great detail and length about voting procedures, punishments, education, legislation, and the oversight of public officials can only have been produced by someone who wants to contribute something to the improvement of the lives we lead in this sensible and imperfect realm. Further evidence of Plato's interest in practical matters can be drawn from his letters, if they are genuine. In most of them, he presents himself as having a deep interest in educating with the help of his friend, Dion the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius II, and thus reforming that city's politics.
Just as any attempt to understand Plato's views about forms must confront the question whether his thoughts about them developed or altered over time, so too our reading of him as a political philosopher must be shaped by a willingness to consider the possibility that he changed his mind. For example, on any plausible reading of Republic , Plato evinces a deep antipathy to rule by the many. Socrates tells his interlocutors that the only politics that should engage them are those of the anti-democratic regime he depicts as the paradigm of a good constitution.
And yet in Laws , the Athenian visitor proposes a detailed legislative framework for a city in which non-philosophers people who have never heard of the forms, and have not been trained to understand them are given considerable powers as rulers. Plato would not have invested so much time in the creation of this comprehensive and lengthy work, had he not believed that the creation of a political community ruled by those who are philosophically unenlightened is a project that deserves the support of his readers. Has Plato changed his mind, then?
Has he re-evaluated the highly negative opinion he once held of those who are innocent of philosophy? Did he at first think that the reform of existing Greek cities, with all of their imperfections, is a waste of time—but then decide that it is an endeavor of great value? And if so, what led him to change his mind? Answers to these questions can be justified only by careful attention to what he has his interlocutors say.
But it would be utterly implausible to suppose that these developmental questions need not be raised, on the grounds that Republic and Laws each has its own cast of characters, and that the two works therefore cannot come into contradiction with each other. According to this hypothesis one that must be rejected , because it is Socrates not Plato who is critical of democracy in Republic , and because it is the Athenian visitor not Plato who recognizes the merits of rule by the many in Laws , there is no possibility that the two dialogues are in tension with each other.
Against this hypothesis, we should say: Since both Republic and Laws are works in which Plato is trying to move his readers towards certain conclusions, by having them reflect on certain arguments—these dialogues are not barred from having this feature by their use of interlocutors—it would be an evasion of our responsibility as readers and students of Plato not to ask whether what one of them advocates is compatible with what the other advocates.
If we answer that question negatively, we have some explaining to do: what led to this change? Alternatively, if we conclude that the two works are compatible, we must say why the appearance of conflict is illusory. Many contemporary scholars find it plausible that when Plato embarked on his career as a philosophical writer, he composed, in addition to his Apology of Socrates, a number of short ethical dialogues that contain little or nothing in the way of positive philosophical doctrine, but are mainly devoted to portraying the way in which Socrates punctured the pretensions of his interlocutors and forced them to realize that they are unable to offer satisfactory definitions of the ethical terms they used, or satisfactory arguments for their moral beliefs.
According to this way of placing the dialogues into a rough chronological order—associated especially with Gregory Vlastos's name see especially his Socrates Ironist and Moral Philosopher , chapters 2 and 3 —Plato, at this point of his career, was content to use his writings primarily for the purpose of preserving the memory of Socrates and making plain the superiority of his hero, in intellectual skill and moral seriousness, to all of his contemporaries—particularly those among them who claimed to be experts on religious, political, or moral matters. For example, it is sometimes said that Protagoras and Gorgias are later, because of their greater length and philosophical complexity.
Other dialogues—for example, Charmides and Lysis —are thought not to be among Plato's earliest within this early group, because in them Socrates appears to be playing a more active role in shaping the progress of the dialogue: that is, he has more ideas of his own. Aristotle describes Socrates as someone whose interests were restricted to only one branch of philosophy—the realm of the ethical; and he also says that he was in the habit of asking definitional questions to which he himself lacked answers Metaphysics b1, Sophistical Refutations b7.
That testimony gives added weight to the widely accepted hypothesis that there is a group of dialogues—the ones mentioned above as his early works, whether or not they were all written early in Plato's writing career—in which Plato used the dialogue form as a way of portraying the philosophical activities of the historical Socrates although, of course, he might also have used them in other ways as well—for example to suggest and begin to explore philosophical difficulties raised by them. By contrast, in Apology Socrates says that no one knows what becomes of us after we die.
Phaedo is often said to be the dialogue in which Plato first comes into his own as a philosopher who is moving far beyond the ideas of his teacher though it is also commonly said that we see a new methodological sophistication and a greater interest in mathematical knowledge in Meno. Having completed all of the dialogues that, according to this hypothesis, we characterize as early, Plato widened the range of topics to be explored in his writings no longer confining himself to ethics , and placed the theory of forms and related ideas about language, knowledge, and love at the center of his thinking.
The focus is no longer on ridding ourselves of false ideas and self-deceit; rather, we are asked to accept however tentatively a radical new conception of ourselves now divided into three parts , our world—or rather, our two worlds—and our need to negotiate between them. Definitions of the most important virtue terms are finally proposed in Republic the search for them in some of the early dialogues having been unsuccessful : Book I of this dialogue is a portrait of how the historical Socrates might have handled the search for a definition of justice, and the rest of the dialogue shows how the new ideas and tools discovered by Plato can complete the project that his teacher was unable to finish.
In doing so, he acknowledges his intellectual debt to his teacher and appropriates for his own purposes the extraordinary prestige of the man who was the wisest of his time. That is because, following ancient testimony, it has become a widely accepted assumption that Laws is one of Plato's last works, and further that this dialogue shares a great many stylistic affinities with a small group of others: Sophist , Statesman , Timaeus , Critias , and Philebus. These five dialogues together with Laws are generally agreed to be his late works, because they have much more in common with each other, when one counts certain stylistic features apparent only to readers of Plato's Greek, than with any of Plato's other works.
Computer counts have aided these stylometric studies, but the isolation of a group of six dialogues by means of their stylistic commonalities was recognized in the nineteenth century. It is not at all clear whether there are one or more philosophical affinities among this group of six dialogues—that is, whether the philosophy they contain is sharply different from that of all of the other dialogues.
Plato does nothing to encourage the reader to view these works as a distinctive and separate component of his thinking. On the contrary, he links Sophist with Theaetetus the conversations they present have a largely overlapping cast of characters, and take place on successive days no less than Sophist and Statesman. Sophist contains, in its opening pages, a reference to the conversation of Parmenides —and perhaps Plato is thus signaling to his readers that they should bring to bear on Sophist the lessons that are to be drawn from Parmenides.
Similarly, Timaeus opens with a reminder of some of the principal ethical and political doctrines of Republic. It could be argued, of course, that when one looks beyond these stage-setting devices, one finds significant philosophical changes in the six late dialogues, setting this group off from all that preceded them. But there is no consensus that they should be read in this way.
Resolving this issue requires intensive study of the content of Plato's works. So, although it is widely accepted that the six dialogues mentioned above belong to Plato's latest period, there is, as yet, no agreement among students of Plato that these six form a distinctive stage in his philosophical development.
In fact, it remains a matter of dispute whether the division of Plato's works into three periods—early, middle, late—does correctly indicate the order of composition, and whether it is a useful tool for the understanding of his thought See Cooper , vii—xxvii. Of course, it would be wildly implausible to suppose that Plato's writing career began with such complex works as Laws , Parmenides , Phaedrus , or Republic. In light of widely accepted assumptions about how most philosophical minds develop, it is likely that when Plato started writing philosophical works some of the shorter and simpler dialogues were the ones he composed: Laches , or Crito , or Ion for example.
Similarly, Apology does not advance a complex philosophical agenda or presuppose an earlier body of work; so that too is likely to have been composed near the beginning of Plato's writing career. Even so, there is no good reason to eliminate the hypothesis that throughout much of his life Plato devoted himself to writing two sorts of dialogues at the same time, moving back and forth between them as he aged: on the one hand, introductory works whose primary purpose is to show readers the difficulty of apparently simple philosophical problems, and thereby to rid them of their pretensions and false beliefs; and on the other hand, works filled with more substantive philosophical theories supported by elaborate argumentation.
Plato makes it clear that both of these processes, one preceding the other, must be part of one's philosophical education. One of his deepest methodological convictions affirmed in Meno , Theaetetus , and Sophist is that in order to make intellectual progress we must recognize that knowledge cannot be acquired by passively receiving it from others: rather, we must work our way through problems and assess the merits of competing theories with an independent mind.
Accordingly, some of his dialogues are primarily devices for breaking down the reader's complacency, and that is why it is essential that they come to no positive conclusions; others are contributions to theory-construction, and are therefore best absorbed by those who have already passed through the first stage of philosophical development.
We should not assume that Plato could have written the preparatory dialogues only at the earliest stage of his career. For example although both Euthydemus and Charmides are widely assumed to be early dialogues, they might have been written around the same time as Symposium and Republic , which are generally assumed to be compositions of his middle period—or even later.
No doubt, some of the works widely considered to be early really are such. But it is an open question which and how many of them are. Plato uses this educational device—provoking the reader through the presentation of opposed arguments, and leaving the contradiction unresolved—in Protagoras often considered an early dialogue as well. So it is clear that even after he was well beyond the earliest stages of his thinking, he continued to assign himself the project of writing works whose principal aim is the presentation of unresolved difficulties.
And, just as we should recognize that puzzling the reader continues to be his aim even in later works, so too we should not overlook the fact that there is some substantive theory-construction in the ethical works that are simple enough to have been early compositions: Ion , for example, affirms a theory of poetic inspiration; and Crito sets out the conditions under which a citizen acquires an obligation to obey civic commands.
Neither ends in failure. If we are justified in taking Socrates' speech in Plato's Apology to constitute reliable evidence about what the historical Socrates was like, then whatever we find in Plato's other works that is of a piece with that speech can also be safely attributed to Socrates. So understood, Socrates was a moralist but unlike Plato not a metaphysician or epistemologist or cosmologist.
That fits with Aristotle's testimony, and Plato's way of choosing the dominant speaker of his dialogues gives further support to this way of distinguishing between him and Socrates.
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The number of dialogues that are dominated by a Socrates who is spinning out elaborate philosophical doctrines is remarkably small: Phaedo , Republic , Phaedrus , and Philebus. All of them are dominated by ethical issues: whether to fear death, whether to be just, whom to love, the place of pleasure. Evidently, Plato thinks that it is appropriate to make Socrates the major speaker in a dialogue that is filled with positive content only when the topics explored in that work primarily have to do with the ethical life of the individual.
The political aspects of Republic are explicitly said to serve the larger question whether any individual, no matter what his circumstances, should be just. When the doctrines he wishes to present systematically become primarily metaphysical, he turns to a visitor from Elea Sophist , Statesman ; when they become cosmological, he turns to Timaeus; when they become constitutional, he turns, in Laws , to a visitor from Athens and he then eliminates Socrates entirely.
In effect, Plato is showing us: although he owes a great deal to the ethical insights of Socrates, as well as to his method of puncturing the intellectual pretensions of his interlocutors by leading them into contradiction, he thinks he should not put into the mouth of his teacher too elaborate an exploration of ontological, or cosmological, or political themes, because Socrates refrained from entering these domains.
This may be part of the explanation why he has Socrates put into the mouth of the personified Laws of Athens the theory advanced in Crito , which reaches the conclusion that it would be unjust for him to escape from prison. Perhaps Plato is indicating, at the point where these speakers enter the dialogue, that none of what is said here is in any way derived from or inspired by the conversation of Socrates.
Just as we should reject the idea that Plato must have made a decision, at a fairly early point in his career, no longer to write one kind of dialogue negative, destructive, preparatory and to write only works of elaborate theory-construction; so we should also question whether he went through an early stage during which he refrained from introducing into his works any of his own ideas if he had any , but was content to play the role of a faithful portraitist, representing to his readers the life and thought of Socrates.
It is unrealistic to suppose that someone as original and creative as Plato, who probably began to write dialogues somewhere in his thirties he was around 28 when Socrates was killed , would have started his compositions with no ideas of his own, or, having such ideas, would have decided to suppress them, for some period of time, allowing himself to think for himself only later. What would have led to such a decision? We should instead treat the moves made in the dialogues, even those that are likely to be early, as Platonic inventions—derived, no doubt, by Plato's reflections on and transformations of the key themes of Socrates that he attributes to Socrates in Apology.
That speech indicates, for example, that the kind of religiosity exhibited by Socrates was unorthodox and likely to give offense or lead to misunderstanding. It would be implausible to suppose that Plato simply concocted the idea that Socrates followed a divine sign, especially because Xenophon too attributes this to his Socrates. But what of the various philosophical moves rehearsed in Euthyphro —the dialogue in which Socrates searches, unsuccessfully, for an understanding of what piety is?
We have no good reason to think that in writing this work Plato adopted the role of a mere recording device, or something close to it changing a word here and there, but for the most part simply recalling what he heard Socrates say, as he made his way to court. It is more likely that Plato, having been inspired by the unorthodoxy of Socrates' conception of piety, developed, on his own, a series of questions and answers designed to show his readers how difficult it is to reach an understanding of the central concept that Socrates' fellow citizens relied upon when they condemned him to death.
The idea that it is important to search for definitions may have been Socratic in origin. After all, Aristotle attributes this much to Socrates. But the twists and turns of the arguments in Euthyphro and other dialogues that search for definitions are more likely to be the products of Plato's mind than the content of any conversations that really took place. It is equally unrealistic to suppose that when Plato embarked on his career as a writer, he made a conscious decision to put all of the compositions that he would henceforth compose for a general reading public with the exception of Apology in the form of a dialogue.
The best way to form a reasonable conjecture about why Plato wrote any given work in the form of a dialogue is to ask: what would be lost, were one to attempt to re-write this work in a way that eliminated the give-and-take of interchange, stripped the characters of their personality and social markers, and transformed the result into something that comes straight from the mouth of its author?
This is often a question that will be easy to answer, but the answer might vary greatly from one dialogue to another. In pursuing this strategy, we must not rule out the possibility that some of Plato's reasons for writing this or that work in the form of a dialogue will also be his reason for doing so in other cases—perhaps some of his reasons, so far as we can guess at them, will be present in all other cases. For example, the use of character and conversation allows an author to enliven his work, to awaken the interest of his readership, and therefore to reach a wider audience.
The enormous appeal of Plato's writings is in part a result of their dramatic composition. Even treatise-like compositions— Timaeus and Laws , for example—improve in readability because of their conversational frame. Furthermore, the dialogue form allows Plato's evident interest in pedagogical questions how is it possible to learn? Even in Laws such questions are not far from Plato's mind, as he demonstrates, through the dialogue form, how it is possible for the citizens of Athens, Sparta, and Crete to learn from each other by adapting and improving upon each other's social and political institutions.
In some of his works, it is evident that one of Plato's goals is to create a sense of puzzlement among his readers, and that the dialogue form is being used for this purpose. The Parmenides is perhaps the clearest example of such a work, because here Plato relentlessly rubs his readers' faces in a baffling series of unresolved puzzles and apparent contradictions.