Distinction Between Plato And Socrates

Decent Essays

In Plato’s depiction of Socrates, there is a clear distinction between Socrates and sophists. In this essay, I shall argue that this contrast between Socrates and sophist is not as clear as presented by Plato. For this reason, the essay will examine Socrates from Plato's Apology and Meno to consider the reliability of our sources, and contradictions. I will begin by reviewing the term sophist by identifying the typical attributes. I will then consider Socrates' claims that distinguish himself from a sophist, before finally presenting the problem with such distinctions.

To begin with, the term Sophist generally describes teachers of rhetoric and arête (virtue) that charge fees for their services . In Plato's work, sophists often carry negative connotations, evident when Socrates makes claims to distance himself from sophists in the Apology. Socrates states that he does not want to be called a skilful speaker "unless they call an accomplished speaker the man who speaks the truth" (Apology 17b). …show more content…

Sophists usually accumulate wealth from their services, but Socrates is poor. Finally, in Plato's Meno, sophists like Gorgias claims to know and be in a position to teach what virtue is, yet Socrates repeatedly claims a lack of knowledge, stating that "When I do not know, neither do I think I know." (Apology 21d), showing his refusal to acknowledge his own authority to teach others, unlike sophists.

Nonetheless, there are reasons to doubt the distinction between Socrates and sophists. To begin with, the representation of Socrates as being different to sophists comes exclusively from Plato's dialogue. The reliability of this limited amount of source is questionable. Since depictions of Socrates are all from secondary sources, there are possible biases in Plato's portrayal and interpretation of Socrates as clearly distinct from

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