Platonic dialogue

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Platonic dialogue is the name for the literary dialogues in which the Greek philosopher Plato (428 / 427–348 / 347 BC) presented his philosophy. Almost all of Plato's works are written in dialogue form. They are fictitious conversations between two to four participants. The dialogues contain Plato's authentic ideas, but because he allows representatives of different positions to have their say and does not appear as a conversation partner himself, his own opinion can only be inferred from the texts indirectly. The question of whether or to what extent he has identified with individual views that he put into the mouths of his literary figures is therefore often difficult to decide. In addition, some statements are joking, ironic, exaggerated or only suggestive. The challenge for the reader in the form of dialogical presentation is characteristic of Plato's view of philosophical discourse.


All of Plato's dialogues that were known in antiquity have been preserved. The Corpus Platonicum (the entirety of the works traditionally ascribed to it) contains, in addition to the dialogues that are certainly genuine, also some whose authenticity is disputed and some that are certainly spurious.

According to the current majority opinion of researchers, the following assumptions result for the question of authenticity:


The criteria and their problems

The chronology of the drafting of dialogues has been an important research topic since the beginning of modern times. It is very controversial. The research discussion about the order in which the dialogues arose is related to the attempts to classify them according to periods of origin. The intensity of this discussion is primarily determined by the assumption that a development of Plato's thinking can be read from the chronology. However, the numerous attempts to determine the details of a philosophical development on the basis of hypothetical assumptions about the chronological sequence of the works are mostly viewed with skepticism today. The assertion that a far-reaching development with significant changes in position can be seen from the order of the dialogues is opposed to the counter-thesis, according to which Plato pursued a uniform literary program from the beginning.

Different criteria and reference points are used for the chronological order. This includes cross-references in individual dialogues, the form of representation (narrative or dramatic), mentions of historical events that can be dated, aspects of content and stylistic features. The focus is on the investigation of style, to which most of the knowledge is owed.

However, the application of the criteria is usually fraught with great uncertainty or only leads to imprecise results. The cross-references and allusions to historical events are partly ambiguous. In an argument based on content-related criteria, it is assumed from the outset that Plato has presented his changing state of knowledge in full, which is very questionable, however. A general style analysis, because of its subjective character and because of Plato's wide range of variations in the art of style, hardly permits any conclusions to be drawn. More useful are the detailed results of the application of language statistical methods , which began as early as the late 19th century. Language statistics are based on the observation that the occurrence and frequency of use of individual words or combinations of particles can be characteristic of individual creative phases of an author. Clues of this kind also result from the rhythm of the sentence and from hiaten . The language statistics only allow a relatively reliable rough division of the dialogues into three groups. It cannot create a sufficient basis for a sound arrangement within these groups. It is also possible that Plato revised some dialogues repeatedly; if this is the case, the results of the language statistical studies are severely devalued.

Because of these uncertainties and inaccuracies, according to the prevailing assessment today, restraint is required when reconstructing the form of Plato's philosophy. Methodologically, it is very problematic to derive conclusions from speculative assumptions about the chronology with regard to individual phases of a philosophical and literary development.

The chronological grouping

The combination of the dating criteria has led to a rough threefold division into early, middle and late works, which - with some fluctuations - has established itself as the dominant doctrine. However, this scheme is repeatedly contradicted with regard to individual works and the solidity of its basis is disputed. A number of borderline cases remain unresolved.

The stylistic analysis enables the following grouping (with alphabetical order within the groups):

This result is in general well compatible with the common assumptions about the main features of the development of Plato's thought, even if the ideas of some dialogues speak for a different grouping: From a content point of view, Kratylos , Phaedo and Symposium seem to belong more to the middle group than to the early works, while Parmenides and Theaetetos , which stylistically belong to the middle group, in terms of content already belong to the later work. However, this does not contradict the results of the style analysis, since the phases of a philosophical development do not have to correspond exactly to those of the stylistic one. Terminologically, however, the deviations of the content periodization from the stylistic confusion can result.

Content-related aspects of the chronological grouping

In the early dialogues, the discussion mostly revolves around the question of the definition of a virtue or a concept of value. The search for a definition does not lead to a satisfactory result, but ends in aporia (perplexity). One of the main themes is the discussion between Plato's teacher Socrates and sophistics .

In the dialogues, which are grouped into the middle group according to content criteria, questions of definition are also often the focus of discussion. In contrast to the earlier works, the investigation no longer ends without a positive result. Answers are found which result from the assumption of the existence of the later so-called “Platonic ideas ”. Plato's doctrine of ideas is mostly assumed as a well-known, insightful and therefore no longer needing detailed justification for the discussion.

In the dialogues, which in terms of content belong to Plato's late work, problems arising from the theory of ideas are discussed. Another focus is political philosophy . It turns out that some theses from earlier works are problematic, have met with serious criticism and have to be modified considerably. With regard to the theory of ideas, questions of fundamental importance remain unsolved despite intensive efforts. In the later works, Plato often foregoes the literary elegance that is characteristic of the masterpieces of the middle phase. They are replaced by dry discussion. Sometimes it is about very difficult, abstract questions. Some statements require the reader to have considerable previous philosophical knowledge and a deeper understanding of the challenging topic. The natural-philosophical dialogue Timaeus , in which Plato presents a cosmological model, has a special position .

Non-chronological classifications

Even the ancient Platonists tried to classify Plato's works. They were not interested in the chronological order, but based on didactic aspects. You asked about the order in which you should read the dialogues. In the history of philosophy Diogenes Laertios , a systematic classification scheme, which was widely used in various variants, has been handed down in its complete version. This differentiates between teaching dialogues and examination dialogues. The teaching dialogues are divided into theoretical and practical, the theoretical into the logical and natural-philosophical subclass, and the practical into the ethical and political subclass. The investigation dialogues are divided into two classes: exercise dialogues and competition dialogues, which are in turn divided into two sub-classes.

At the latest in the 1st century BC The division into nine tetralogies (groups of four), which was common up until the modern era, was known. It follows a content and didactic criterion and is based on the example of the tragic tetralogy .

The target audience

Plato does not comment on his target audience. It is likely that some dialogues were primarily intended as promotional ( protreptic ) writings for a wider readership, which should be won over to philosophy. Demanding works such as Timaeus or Parmenides, on the other hand, were primarily suitable for philosophically trained and members of the academy . Presumably Plato wanted not only to convey his ideas to his students, but also to influence the philosophically interested part of the educated class. The extent to which he wanted to address the general public is controversial in research. For his students, the dialogues were exercise texts that were intended to guide a methodically correct examination of philosophical topics and, in particular, to encourage clarification of the questions that remained open.

Plato's numerous statements about listening and reading suggest that his contemporary audiences were both readers and listeners. Apparently he was starting from an audience that was primarily used to listening to literature. In general, hearing appears to be the most important source of information in the dialogues; readers seem to have been more of an exception. Presumably Plato read from his works at the academy and offered an opportunity for discussion, as he generally appreciated the stimulating character of conversational situations. He seems to have favored the form of reception of reading in private.

The literary form

Almost all of Plato's works are written in dialogue form, i.e. not - as was most philosophical literature back then - as didactic poems or treatises . The philosophical debates are replaced and supplemented and interwoven with insertions such as indirect reports, digressions or mythological parts. There are also long monologues.

Genre history

The philosophical dialogue as a literary genre arose in the circle of the pupils of Socrates. In addition to Plato, a number of his contemporaries wrote dialogues in which they had Socrates appear with partners. Such works were called “Socratic Conversations”. Plato became so important in this area that he was later considered the inventor of this literary genre. However, the question of who should have the honor of being the first to write Socratic dialogues was controversial in antiquity. It is certain that Plato helped the Socratic dialogue to break through and at the same time to its completion. He gave the species the shape in which it will be familiar to posterity.

Reasons for choosing the form of dialogue

The dialog form offers a number of advantages over other text forms:

  • She speaks to the reader through the artistic execution. The liveliness of the representation is attractive and gives an impression of life in the milieu of the philosophers.
  • It depicts a process of gaining knowledge and thus stimulates active thinking more than a textbook. Behind this is the conviction that genuine knowledge cannot be separated from the activity that leads to it. The character of the conversation offers the reader the opportunity to practice the presented examination method himself. The progress of knowledge takes place through the "help" that the interviewer gives to a criticized thesis by making a more weighty argument and thus opening up a new perspective and shifting the level of justification to a higher level.
  • It ties in with the custom of debating at guest feasts ( symposia ), which was valued by contemporaries educated by Plato .
  • The author refrains from taking any position of his own, he completely steps back behind his characters. Plato himself is never present in his fictional dialogues (principle of “platonic anonymity”). In this way he avoids direct guidance of the reader and leaves the judgment to him. At the same time, he keeps his distance from his own text. Dogmatic fixation, as it would be given in a textbook, is replaced by openness, the influence of the reader by the author's authority is counteracted. However, the author provides aids to understanding in an indirect way. From his “anonymity” it cannot be inferred that he does not have a position of his own.
  • Different styles and stylistic devices can be used, including jokes and irony. In the research literature, ten styles occurring in the dialogues are distinguished: colloquial, semi-literary, rhetorical, pathetic, intellectual, mythical narrative, historiographical, solemn, weighty (Onkos style) and legal style.
  • The representation of a fictitious oral discourse is the form of written knowledge transfer that comes closest to the oral discourse preferred by Plato. Plato has repeatedly expressed his skepticism about the suitability of writing as a medium of knowledge transfer ("writing criticism"). In dialogue, the way in which a topic is dealt with depends on the individual circumstances of those involved, their concerns, prior knowledge and skills. The individual factor can be taken into account in the conversation, but not in the case of knowledge transfer through textbooks. Plato sees this as a fundamental advantage of philosophizing in conversation, which he demonstrates through the design of his dialogues. It's not just about an abstract thought content, but about the meeting of different people with philosophy.

The question of how essential the form of dialogue was for Plato is answered differently in research. According to one direction, it is only a disguise, the philosophical content could also be presented in textbooks ("proto-essay view"). Paul Shorey and Harold Cherniss , among others, proceed from this point of view . The opposite position is that the form of dialogue is not secondary, but is of central importance for Plato as the only acceptable form of written dissemination of philosophical content. Karl Jaspers and Joachim Dalfen , among others, spoke out in favor of this view, which Friedrich Schleiermacher had already admitted in 1804 in the introduction to his translation of Plato ; Werner Jaeger made a similar statement.

Stanley Rosen and Mark Moes believe that the key to understanding the form of dialogue is provided by Plato's view that philosophy has a therapeutic (quasi “medical” or “psychiatric”) function, in that it frees you from errors - ignorance as illness - and leads to the right attitude and Way of life. Plato also pursues a therapeutic intention with his works, and this requires the form of dialogue.

The interlocutors

In almost all dialogues, Plato lets Socrates appear. It happens that Socrates is content with the role of a silent listener throughout the course of the discussion, but mostly he is the dominant figure. He has the strings in hand and directs the conversation by giving it the decisive impulses, and he helps his partners to gain insights by refuting their not sufficiently well thought-out views.

The number of people discussing varies between two and four. When Socrates has several interlocutors, he usually turns to them one after the other. In doing so, he proves to be a prudent didactician; he flexibly adapts his approach to the mindset, level of knowledge and insight of the partner. Therefore, changing the interlocutor is often accompanied by an abrupt change in the level of the debate. If the clarification of a question that arises would overwhelm the current interlocutor, this task is reserved for discussion with a better qualified person.

In the earlier dialogues, a number of Socrates' interlocutors belong to the type of supposedly knowledgeable person who is considered competent in the field of the respective discussion topic or at least considers himself competent and therefore appears self-confident or even presumptuous. It then becomes apparent, however, that these people are not up to the challenge of a deeper philosophical examination of the topic. Another type are philosophically ignorant people whose views are insufficiently thought out. Both types are far inferior to Socrates in both acumen and insight. In the later works, on the other hand, some participants in the dialogue are characterized by a high level of philosophical competence. In Parmenides , Socrates himself is still young and inexperienced and is given the opportunity to recognize weaknesses in his position. All discussions are characterized by a competence gap between a superior interviewer and a less knowledgeable partner. There is never a debate between peers. Equal philosophers only meet in the Timaeus , but there is no discussion there, instead, after an introductory discussion, Timaeus gives a long lecture. Thomas Alexander Szlezák sees the reason why Plato never allows peers to discuss, in the fact that such a discussion would have to lead into the area of ​​the " unwritten teaching " of Plato, which is not suitable for written presentation .

It happens that interlocutors for various reasons do not have the impartiality required for a philosophical investigation and refuse to engage in an open discussion. In these cases, there are narrow limits to what can be achieved.

Sometimes participants in the conversation are not named by name, but only named after their origin (“The Stranger from Elea ”, “The Athens”).

Form of representation

Plato uses different forms of representation. In the “dihegematic” (narrative, narrative) dialogues, a reporter describes the conversation as a past event. “Dramatic” is the name given to the dialogues in which the course of the discussion is directly presented in a scenic manner and thus brought into the present. There is also a mixture of these two forms. The division into dramatic, narrative and mixed dialogues was made in antiquity. In the prologue to the dialogue Theaetetus a stylistic reason given is that speaks for the dramatic form that Plato used in all later wrote dialogues; in the earlier dialogues he had often chosen the narrative form of representation. The dramatic form allows for a more vivid narrative, the dihegematic has the advantage that the reporter can give the reader additional information about the behavior and mood of the people.

Some dialogues have a framework that creates a connection between the presence of the narrator's listener and the time of the narrated conversation. Usually the narrator relies only on his memory, performing an amazing feat of memory. The long, precisely reproduced conversation in Parmenides dates back decades; the narrator, who was not there himself, only knows it secondhand; he memorized it a long time ago by frequently listening to the report of one of those present at the time. The course of the conversation is only reproduced in the Theaetetos using a recording.

Literary fiction and historical reality

Plato uses a realistic framework to create the impression that he is presenting an authentic report on the course of a historical event. His partly precise information about the place and time of the dialogues contribute to this. The specific setting is, for example, a visit to the imprisoned Socrates before his execution in 399 BC. Chr. (Kriton) , a meeting in the house of Polemarchus (Politeia) , a feast in the house of Agathon (Symposium) , a walk outside Athens on the River Ilissos (Phaedrus) or hike to the cave of Zeus on Mount Ida around the time of Summer solstice (Nomoi) . Often the traditions, reports and myths that are woven into the dialogues are authenticated by naming their alleged sources, for example in the Atlantis myth in Timaeus and in Critias .

Such precise information cannot hide the fact that all dialogues are not authentic minutes of conversations, but rather literary fictions. Despite the apparent accuracy, Plato did not seek historical correctness. This is shown by various blatant anachronisms (temporal inconsistencies) that result from its chronologically relevant information. The inconsistencies that he could easily have avoided are not due to carelessness, but are intentional. Plato thus exposes the apparently conscientiously given details as inventions and thus makes the reader aware of the fictionality of the text.

In view of the literary character of the dialogues, the problem of relation to historical reality arises for research. The vast majority of the participants in the dialogue named by name were undoubtedly historical contemporaries of Plato, and some of them were prominent. The question arises as to how realistic these persons are drawn and to what extent they actually represented the views put into their mouths. The focus is on the relationship between the literarily portrayed “Platonic” Socrates and Socrates as a historical personality. This question is one of the most difficult problems in the history of ancient philosophy. The intensive research discussion has not led to a clarification. A convincing reconstruction of the philosophy of historical Socrates is now considered impossible. It is also controversial whether the “Socratic method” of the search for truth demonstrated in the dialogues is a characteristic feature of the philosophical investigations of the historical Socrates. Skeptical researchers limit themselves to the observation that Plato allows his teacher, whom he puts in the best light as a master of dialogue, to practice a certain superior type of conversation. While some early dialogues are regarded by some researchers as useful sources for the reconstruction of a realistic image of Socrates, there is no doubt for the dialogues that emerged from the middle ages that the Platonic Socrates represented Platonic ideas that were alien to the historical Socrates.

It is possible that Plato took into account peculiarities of their actual expression in the linguistic design of the utterances that historical people put in their mouths. It can be assumed that he imitated Socrates' style in particular. Even the occasional verbatim adoption of someone else's text seems to have occurred; Plato's assertion that a speech reproduced in Phaedrus' dialogue was by Lysias is probably correct . It is disputed to what extent the myth of the origin of civilization, which Plato tells of the title character, the sophist Protagoras , in the dialogue Protagoras , goes back to the historical Protagoras.

The course of the conversation


In modern research, the method of reviewing opinions used in some - especially early - dialogues is referred to as "Socratic elenchos". With this approach, the Platonic Socrates proves untenable claims to be erroneous, thereby exposing the claim of the authors of these claims to knowledge or wisdom as unfounded. An important feature of the Elenchos is that Socrates ensures his partner's consent at every single step (principle of homology). This is a prerequisite for the cooperative continuation of the discussion. If the partner does not accept a premise of the argument, Socrates has to reschedule and take a detour. This flexibility is a major advantage of the dialogical search for truth.

Usually Socrates asks his interlocutor a question about the definition of a certain term and receives an answer to it. Then he asks follow-up questions whose connection with the first question is initially hidden from the interlocutor. At the same time, he submits suggested answers that appear to the interlocutor to be obviously correct, so that he receives his approval. The accepted answers to the follow-up questions now become premises . Socrates can then show that there is a contradiction between the premises and the answer to the initial question. Thus the proposed definition is useless if the premises are correct. Therefore, the interlocutor has to change his position. In theory, this can be done by checking the premises or by modifying his proposed definition or replacing it with a completely new one. However, he does not doubt the correctness of the premises, since he considers them to be evident. Therefore, he only has the option of a new search for a definition. If he can't think of a useful suggestion, he has to admit his perplexity.

The Elenchos can only produce negative results. Opinions are refuted, but it is impossible to prove a positive statement to be correct in this way. Nevertheless, this process allows progress. If one frees oneself from an illusion by refuting an erroneous assumption, one receives the impetus for a new, perhaps more successful search for truth. If the falsification by the Elenchos does not succeed, the verified claim gains plausibility.

For the Platonic Socrates, the elenchos is an act of benevolence towards the interlocutor, for whom the path to knowledge is opened by being led to the elimination of his errors. In this way, the Socratic conduct of conversation differs fundamentally from that of the Sophists. Sophistic argumentation aims to refute the opponent in order to defeat him in a battle of words and thus to prove one's own superiority ( eristics ); the truth of the matter is unimportant.


Maeutics is the didactically motivated art of directing conversations that Platonic Socrates practiced. The designation builds on an idea that Socrates in the dialogue Theaetetus puts forward. There he compares his didactics with the work of his mother, a midwife. May he help souls in the birth of their insights as the midwife helps women in the birth of their children. If a seeker of truth is, as it were, “pregnant” and suffering from birth pains, midwifery is required so that knowledge can be produced (“born”). He, Socrates, does not give birth to wisdom himself, but only helps others to produce their knowledge. He never teaches his disciples, but he enables those who try hard to make rapid progress. With obstetrics, he enables her to discover and hold onto many beautiful things in herself.

If a seeker of truth receives maeutic help in his active endeavors to gain knowledge, the helper consistently renounces instruction and does not assert his authority. Only with his goal-oriented questions does he bring to light a knowledge that was already present in his interlocutor in a hidden, unconscious way. This affirmation and strengthening of personal initiative appears in Plato's presentation as an alternative to conventional knowledge transfer by passing on and practicing teaching material. Hence the Platonic Socrates refuses to consider himself teachers and those whom he maeutically helps to name his students.


For the Platonic Socrates, irony is an important, versatile means of representation. She is considered a main feature of its appearance. This is why the term “Socratic irony” has become established. The dissertation by Søren Kierkegaard from 1841, devoted to this topic, made a particular contribution. Kierkegaard saw in irony not only a conversational behavior of Socrates, but his way of life. With irony, as a pioneer of a dawning new epoch, he had polemically demarcated himself from the past. As a way of life for Socrates, the ironic game (in the sense of hiding what one really is) was already presented in Plato's symposium .

In everyday language, in Plato's time - unlike in today's usage - irony ( eirōneía ) was misrepresentation, insincerity, speaking with the intention of deceiving. In this sense, Thrasymachus , an opponent of Socrates, uses the term in Plato's Politeia : he mockingly speaks of the “well-known eironeia of Socrates”. In doing so, he raises the charge that Socrates is playing a tactical game in the debate by critically attacking foreign theses while holding back his own opinion.

In rhetoric, on the other hand, irony was not understood as a disguise or concealment of the truth, but on the contrary as a means of vividly clarifying facts. The speaker asserted the opposite of what he meant, but at the same time gave the audience appropriate signals to understand that this claim was absurd. This indirect exposure of the inappropriateness and absurdity of the allegations was intended to make it drastically clear that the opposite assessment actually represented by the speaker was correct.

The Socratic irony ties in with the rhetorical use of this medium, but the Platonic Socrates uses his irony for didactic purposes. Some of his statements are obviously ironic and express the opposite of what he means. This applies above all to his habit of giving the impression of being more ignorant than the representatives of other opinions by emphatic, exaggerated emphasis on his ignorance, while the course of the conversation shows that it is the other way round. He ironically praises the wisdom of people whose incompetence he has seen through and shown to the reader. With this kind of irony, Socrates illuminates the arrogance and superficiality of the spokesmen of the opposing side and their uncritical supporters.

In other cases, however, the irony is not so obvious as it is subtle, and the intent behind it is not readily apparent. Therefore, it is still controversially discussed in modern research whether individual statements in the dialogues are meant ironically or seriously and what the Platonic Socrates intended with irony. A statement can be an ironic game in one respect and a serious philosophical thesis in another (“complex irony”). For example, the emphasis on ignorance (“ I know that I don't know ”) is not only a means of ironic distancing from the arrogance of knowledge of those who consider themselves wise, but at the same time - on another level of understanding - an expression of serious epistemological skepticism. Such statements should unsettle the reader and encourage independent reflection and a more in-depth discussion of the topic in question. However, uncertainty is also noticeable in research debates. Thomas Alexander Szlezák points out that when interpreting the dialogue texts an excessive use of the “magic word irony” led to methodologically problematic, barely verifiable conclusions, whose speculative arbitrariness Szlezák criticizes as “ solipsism ”.

The aporia and the question of a dogmatic system of Plato

A number of dialogues lead to no result except that previous approaches have proven to be unsuitable and a solution is not in sight. This conversation situation and at the same time the mental state that has arisen with such a finding is called aporia (perplexity). Most of the “aporetic” dialogues belong to the early work, but also in dialogues that belong to the later work in terms of content ( Parmenides , Theaitetos ), endeavors for knowledge end aporetic.

The aporetic outcome of an attempt at knowledge does not mean that Plato was convinced that the problem was unsolvable. The unsatisfactory result can also be attributed to the fact that Socrates' dialogue partner was insufficiently qualified to work out a solution and the investigation could therefore not be deepened in a way that would have overwhelmed him. Aporia is a provisional state that is not intended to lead the reader into resignation, but rather to stimulate their own efforts. It shows that additional knowledge must be acquired in order to deal with the problem. Thus the aporia is both an end point and a possible new beginning. A new approach - such as incorporating the previously disregarded doctrine of ideas - can help.

Proponents of the controversial hypothesis that Plato communicated the most important part of his philosophy, the “unwritten doctrine”, only orally, see propaedeutic aids in the dialogues . In Plato's writings the core content of his philosophy is only hinted at, not presented. According to this point of view, which is represented by the "Tübingen and Mailänder School", the aporia only arises at the level of knowledge that Plato assumes in the dialogues of some interlocutors and the broader target audience. In the academy, however, Plato orally imparted knowledge to his students that formed the basis for the way out of the aporia. This interpretation is based, among other things, on the “cut-outs” in the dialogues, where reference is made to further explanations required to clarify a question, but these are omitted. The cut-outs are therefore partly references to the unwritten teaching, knowledge of which would be a prerequisite for a solution.

The counter-position introduced by Friedrich Schleiermacher , which later found many supporters, especially in the Anglo-American region, says that everything essential is in the dialogues, even if not always in a form in which it is readily apparent to every reader. A distinction should not be made between written and oral teaching, but only between a relatively superficial and an in-depth understanding of the content of the dialogues.

The rejection of the hypothesis of an unwritten “esoteric” doctrine was later expanded by many of its proponents in the sense that they generally deny “dogmatic” positions in Plato. In the opinion of these researchers, no systematic dogmatics of Plato can be derived from the dialogues either. A variant of the “anti-soteric” direction is the “analytical school” (Gwilym EL Owen, Gregory Vlastos et al.), Which does not consider the content of individual assertions, but rather the philosophical method, to be essential in the dialogues. The influential philosopher Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was also convinced that Plato only wanted to encourage philosophizing with the dialogues and not present any systematic teaching . He founded the school of the "Straussians", which is still involved today in the research debates on the interpretation of Plato. In contrast to the analytical school, the Straussians attach great importance to the narrative framework of the dialogues.

Jacques Derrida, on the other hand, saw in Plato a dogmatic metaphysician . David M. Halperin and the Straussian Stanley Rosen contradicted him , according to whose interpretation the dialogues should be understood more in the sense of the deconstruction advocated by Derrida than in a dogmatic sense.

Use of Myths

Plato inserted numerous mythical stories into his dialogues, which he used to illustrate and supplement philosophical statements. These myths are called “Platonic” because Plato partly invented them himself and partly adapted them for his purposes by redesigning existing mythical material. He viewed the philosophical myth as a special way of representing truth and possible access to it, as an alternative and complementary to the logos , reason-driven consideration and argumentative comprehensible investigation. He dealt intensively with the problem of the relationship between myth and logos.

Just like the logos, the myth in the dialogues serves the goal of winning the readers over to the philosophical search for truth and the way of life and to offer those who have already walked this path an additional incentive to lead a consequent philosophical life. While the logos addresses reason, the myth also addresses the irrational areas in the soul, which must also be aligned with the philosophical goal. It should encourage the attainment and cultivation of the virtues ( aretaí ) and instill confidence in the rightness of a virtuous life. This purpose is served in particular by the myths of the hereafter , which hold out the prospect of justice on the other side that the righteous may hope for.

Plato makes a claim to truth only for the philosophical content of his myths, not for details of the mythical stories. All that matters to him is the effect of the myth on the mind of the listener or reader, not the truth of a mythical representation in the literal sense.

The individual dialogues

Real dialogues for sure

  • Charmides (early work): Socrates discusses with Plato's uncles Charmides and Kritias the question of the determination of prudence ( sōphrosýnē ), whereby their relationship to self-knowledge is also addressed. The dialogue ends aporetically.
  • Euthydemos (early work): This aporetic dialogue is about the art of argument ( eristics ). At the request of Socrates, the eristic art of debate with its fallacies isdemonstratedby the sophists Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. The aim is not to find the truth, but to win over the opponent in the debate. In contrast to this is the Socratic search for truth.
  • Euthyphron (early work): In this aporetically ending dialogue with Euthyphron, Socrates discusses the nature of piety and its relation to justice . It does not succeed in defining the term piety satisfactorily.
  • Gorgias (early work): Socrates discusses with Gorgias , Polos and Callicles the determination, goal and evaluation of rhetoric as well as the question of the right life, the ethical responsibility of the speaker and politician and the ethical assessment of committing and suffering injustice .
  • Ion (early work): Socrates discusses with the Rhapsoden Ion about his art, about poetry and its interpretation as well as about the relationship between poetry and poet's interpretation and philosophical knowledge. It turns out that Ion’s claim that he has specialist knowledge as a rhapsodist is not valid.
  • Kratylos (middle group in terms of content): In this aporetic dialogue, Socrates discusses with the philosopher Kratylos and with Hermogenes , who takes a position opposite to Kratylos, the question of whether names and linguistic designations are naturally assigned to their objects and thus objectively correct, as Kratylos claims , or just based on convention, as Hermogenes thinks. In a natural context, words would come into consideration as a means of knowledge.
  • Critias (late work): This dialogue has remained unfinished. The interlocutors are Socrates, the Pythagorean Timaeus of Lokroi , Hermocrates and Plato's uncle Critias . Kritias tells the Atlantis myth.
  • Crito (early work): Crito visits Socrates, who has been sentenced to death, in prison and tries in vain to persuade him to flee. Socrates rejects the disregard for the law associated with this step.
  • Laches (early work): Socrates investigates with Lysimachos and Melesias, who are concerned about the upbringing of their sons, as well as the statesman Nikias and the troop leader Laches, the question of how bravery is to be defined. All attempts at definition prove to be inadequate, the dialogue ends aporically.
  • Lysis (early work): In addition to Socrates, the boys Ktesippus, Menexenos , Hippothales and Lysis take part inthis aporetically ending dialogue. It's about friendship, erotic relationships and unrequited love, and the question of how to win a lover. Trying to determine what a friend is fails.
  • Menexenos (early work): Socrates discusses with his pupil Menexenos, whostill appears as a boyin Lysis , but is already a young man here. The subject is the writing of speeches. Menexenos is considering becoming politically active, which in democratic Athens is associated with being a speaker, and aiming for an office. He asks Socrates for advice.
  • Menon (early work): Socrates' interlocutors are the Thessalian troop commander Menon of Pharsalus , a slave of Menon and the Athenian politician Anytos. The question of what virtue is and whether it is teachable knowledge is discussed. The outcome is aporetic.
  • Nomoi (late work): Socrates is not involved in this dialogue, Plato's most extensive work. Three old men - the Cretan Kleinias, the Spartan Megillos and an unnamed Athenian - talk about forms of government and legislation during a hike in Crete. They start with general considerations and then turn to the specific task of drafting the plan for the establishment of a settlement in Crete and the constitution of the new state. The legislation is being worked out in detail.
  • Parmenides (late work in terms of content): Here the still young Socrates meets the famous philosophers Parmenides and Zenon von Elea . A young philosopher named Aristotle - not Plato's famous disciple of the same name - is also involved in the conversation. Aristotle later worked as an oligarchic politician. Questions of ontology are discussed, in particular the theory of ideas , as the representative of which Plato anachronistically lets his teacher Socrates appear here. The discussion leads to aporias that remain unresolved.
  • Phaedo (middle group in terms of content): Phaedo von Elis , a student of Socrates, reports to the Pythagorean Echekrates about a conversation that Socrates had with a group of friends on the day of his death. The main interlocutors of Socrates were the Thebans Simmias and Kebes . Socrates defended his doctrine of the immortality of the soul against the objections of Simmias and Kebes and presented the Platonic doctrine of ideas.
  • Phaedrus (middle group): Socrates talks to his friend Phaedrus about love passion, which is defined as one of four types of divine madness. The immortality of the soul is also discussed. Later the conversation turns to a critical reflection on rhetoric and its relationship to knowledge. It is about the question of how the art of persuasion can be used in the service of philosophical truth-finding.
  • Philebos (late work): Socrates discusses with two representatives of hedonism , Philebos and Protarchos , the hedonistic thesis that good is to be equated with pleasure. Socrates, who rejects hedonism, advocates the opposite thesis, according to which pleasure is part of the good life, but is subordinate to reason. He only approves of the pure (pain-free) form of pleasure, which does not endanger the activity of reason.
  • Politeia (middle group): The two brothers Plato, Glaucon and Adeimantos , are involvedin this very extensive dialogue as Socrates' main interlocutor . Other participants in the dialogue are the sophist Thrasymachos and the wealthy businessman Kephalos and his son Polemarchus. A variety of topics are addressed. The starting point of the discussion is the question of the definition of justice. Socrates understands justice to be the appropriate, natural and harmonious relationship between the parts of a whole. It describes an ideal state that is just in this sense and whose citizenship is divided into three harmoniously interacting classes . The ontological basis of this state concept is the Platonic doctrine of ideas. The Platonic ontology is illustrated with three famous parables (parable of the sun , parable of lines , parable of the cave ).
  • Politics (late work): In addition to Socrates, there are also a philosopher of the same name who is called "the younger" to distinguish himself from the famous Socrates, the mathematician Theodoros of Cyrene and an unnamed guest, the "stranger from Elea". The debate only takes place between Socrates the younger and the stranger, with the philosophically far superior stranger directing the conversation. The two philosophers want to work out the definition of the statesman and the specifics of his area of ​​responsibility. State art is compared with weaving art ( Weber parable ).
  • Protagoras (early work): In the house of the rich Athenian Callias, who in the research literature Callias III. some intellectuals meet: next to the host and Socrates the famous sophist Protagoras , Hippias of Elis , Prodikos of Keos , Alcibiades , Critias and a young Athenian named Hippocrates. Your conversation revolves around the questions of whether virtue can be taught and whether the virtues form a unit. The dialogue ends in an aporia.
  • Sophistes (late work): Involved are Socrates, Theodoros of Cyrene and the stranger from Elea (as in the Politikus ) and also the mathematician Theaetetus ; the actual discussion, however, only takes place between the stranger and Theaetetus. You set yourself the task of defining the term “sophist”. The Dihairesis method is used. The characteristic activity of the sophist turns out to be dissimulation and deception. In this context, the essence of the lie and the contrast between true and false, being and not being, are discussed.
  • Symposium (middle group in terms of content): In the house of the tragedy poet Agathon some friends meet for a feast. In addition to the host and Socrates, there are Phaedrus, Pausanias (a student of Prodikos von Keos), the doctor Eryximachos and the comedy poet Aristophanes . Each of them sets himself the task ofpaying tribute to Eros in a speech. The speech of Aristophanes, whotellsthe myth of the spherical people , and especially that of Socrates, whoexplainsthe doctrine of “ Platonic love ” that he received from the priestess Diotima , isfamous. Later, Alcibiades joins them and gives an eulogy for Socrates.
  • Theaetetus (late work in terms of content): The participants in the conversation are Socrates, Theaetetus and Theodoros of Cyrene. The main theme of the aporetically ending dialogue is knowledge as such, i.e. epistemology , and the question of the truth content of sensory perception.
  • Timaeus (late work): Socrates, Timaeus of Lokroi, Critias and Hermocrates take part in this dialogue, the same people who also appear in Critias . The starting point is the connection to a conversation from the previous day about the best state. Kritias tells of the mythical ancient Athens, which perished in a natural disaster and to which he gives characteristics of an ideal state (Atlantis myth). The presentation of the military exploits of the original Athenians is postponed. The main part of the dialogue is the subsequent natural-philosophical lecture by Timaeus. He describes the origin of the cosmos ( cosmogony ), the rational shaping of the world by the demiurge (god of creation) and the creation of humanity.

Dialogues of controversial authenticity

  • Alkibiades I : This dialogue is a dialogue between Socrates and Alkibiades. Socrates goes into the soul-science basis of the right understanding of ethics and politics. He emphasizes the fundamental importance of self-knowledge, the knowledge of oneself, which he equates with the soul.
  • Hippias maior : Socrates deals with the sophist Hippias von Elis . He asks him for a definition of the beautiful. All the proposed definitions that have been considered prove to be unsuitable; the dialogue ends aporetically.
  • Hippias minor : This dialogue is mostly declared to be genuine in the more recent research literature, but the question of authenticity has not been definitely clarified. Socrates meets with Hippias von Elis and his host Eudikos. The subject is the assessment of two main heroes of Homeric poetry, Achilles and Odysseus , from the point of view of honesty. This raises the question of the assessment of voluntary and involuntary lying and, in general, of voluntary and involuntary bad behavior.
  • Kleitophon : The interlocutors are Socrates and his pupil Kleitophon . Kleitophon asks what makes justice. He complains that Socrates calls for justice in an impressive way, but fails to go into the concrete content of the proclaimed ideal and the practical implementation.
  • Theages : Socrates meets with Demodokos and his son Theages. Demodokos would like to win Socrates as a teacher for his son, who has political ambitions. In this context, the philosophical concept of education is discussed.

False dialogues

Five of the surely fake dialogues ( Alkibiades II , Epinomis , Anterastai , Hipparchus , Minos ) were considered to be the works of Plato in antiquity. Therefore they were included in the tetralogy order. Others, whose inauthenticity was already clearly recognizable at that time, were eliminated when the tetralogy order was drawn up. All dialogues handed down outside of the tetralogy order are certainly not authentic. These are the following works: About the just (Latin De iusto ), About virtue (Latin De virtute ), Sisyphus , Halkyon ("The Kingfisher"), Eryxias , Axiochos and three conversations handed down under the inappropriate title Demodokos .

All of the fake dialogues appear to have come from members of the academy. They are in the period between the 4th and the 2nd century BC. BC originated. The consideration of these works from the point of view of forgery does not go far enough, because they are also examples of an examination of the problems raised by Plato, which imitates Plato's style and argumentation. Perhaps a clear separation of real and fake scriptures is not always practicable; the possibility is to be expected that some of the dialogues classified as dubious or inauthentic are works that were worked out by his students or by later Platonists based on drafts of Plato. Even real dialogues may have been revised by academicians. Plato himself is said to have constantly revised his works.

How to quote

The three-volume edition of Plato's works, which the printer Henri Estienne ( Latinized Henricus Stephanus) published in Geneva in 1578, was the definitive edition until the early 19th century. According to the page numbering of this edition ( Stephanus pagination ), Plato's works are still cited today. Each of the three volumes of Stephen's edition has its own continuous pagination; therefore a passage in Plato is only precisely determined by the specification of both the work title and the Stephen page. For the dialogues Politeia and Nomoi , which are divided into books, the book number is often given in front of the Stephen page.

Complete editions and translations

Complete editions without translation

  • John Burnet (Ed.): Platonis opera . 5 volumes, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1900–1907 (critical edition; reprinted several times)
  • Platonis opera . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1995 ff. (Authoritative critical edition; replaces the Burnet edition, but only volume 1 has been published so far)


  • Otto Apelt (ed.): Plato: All dialogues . 7 volumes, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 (without Greek texts; reprint of the Leipzig 1922–1923 edition)
  • Gunther Eigler (Ed.): Plato: Works in eight volumes . 6th, unchanged edition. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2010 (1st edition 1970–1983), ISBN 978-3-534-24059-3 (critical edition of the Greek texts and slightly edited translations by Friedrich Schleiermacher )
  • Plato: Anniversary edition of all works , introduced by Olof Gigon , transferred by Rudolf Rufener, 8 volumes, Artemis, Zurich and Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-3640-2 (without Greek texts)
  • Ernst Heitsch , Carl Werner Müller et al. (Ed.): Plato: Works. Translation and commentary . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1993 ff. (Without Greek texts; various translators; 14 volumes published so far)


  • Joachim Dalfen : Thoughts on Reading Platonic Dialogues. In: Journal for Philosophical Research . Volume 29, 1975, pp. 169-194.
  • Michael Frede : Plato's Arguments and the Dialogue Form. In: James C. Klagge, Nicholas D. Smith (Eds.): Methods of Interpreting Plato and his Dialogues . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992, ISBN 0-19-823951-3 , pp. 201-219.
  • Rolf Geiger: Dialectical Virtues. Investigations into the form of conversation in the Platonic dialogues . Mentis, Paderborn 2006, ISBN 3-89785-446-5 .
  • Rolf Geiger: literary aspects of the writings of Plato . In: Christoph Horn u. a. (Ed.): Plato Handbook. Life - work - effect. Metzler, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-02193-9 , pp. 363-386.
  • Christopher Gill: Dialectic and the Dialogue Form . In: Julia Annas , Christopher Rowe (Eds.): New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient . Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2002, ISBN 0-674-01018-3 , pp. 145-171.
  • Roland Mugerauer: Socratic pedagogy. A contribution to the question of the proprium of the Platonic-Socratic dialogue. 2nd, improved edition. Marburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-8288-2752-3 (dissertation)
  • Thomas Alexander Szlezák : Read Plato . Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, ISBN 3-7728-1578-2 .


  1. Michael Erler offers a thorough presentation : Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie . Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar , Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 27–29, 99–335.
  2. For a discussion of authenticity see Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 291f., 663–665 and the literature cited there.
  3. On the ongoing discussion of authenticity see Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 301f., 667f. and the literature mentioned there. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato. In: Der Neue Pauly , Vol. 9, Stuttgart 2000, Sp. 1098f. thinks that a consensus in favor of authenticity can be found. Debra Nails: The people of Plato judge differently . A prosopography of Plato and other Socratics , Indianapolis 2002, p. 168 and Ernst Heitsch: Platon: Greater Hippias. Translation and Commentary , Göttingen 2011, pp. 111–123; they consider falsehood to be fact.
  4. On the ongoing discussion of authenticity, in which the advocates of inauthenticity predominate, see Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 305f. , 668 and the literature cited there.
  5. On the ongoing discussion of authenticity, in which the advocates of authenticity are in the minority, see Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p 299, 666 and the literature cited there.
  6. Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , ed. By Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 22. Cf. Holger Thesleff : Platonic Patterns , Las Vegas 2009, p. XIII, 499f.
  7. Michael Erler provides an overview: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 22-26.
  8. See, for example, Julia Annas: What Are Plato's “Middle” Dialogues in the Middle Of? In: Julia Annas, Christopher Rowe (ed.): New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2002, pp. 1–23 and the answer by Dorothea Frede : Comments on Annas (p. 25 -36).
  9. Jaap Mansfeld : Prolegomena , Leiden 1994, pp. 74-89; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 19f .; Olaf Nüsser: Albins prologue and the dialogue theory of Platonism , Stuttgart 1991, pp. 101–168.
  10. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Read Plato. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 38-41; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 96f. See Holger Thesleff: Platonic Patterns , Las Vegas 2009, pp. 541-550.
  11. Sylvia Usener: Isokrates, Plato and their audience. Tübingen 1994, pp. 143-229. See Jackson P. Hershbell: Reflections on the Orality and Literacy of Plato's Dialogues. In: Francisco J. Gonzalez (Ed.): The Third Way , Lanham 1995, pp. 25-39, here: 31-39.
  12. Michael Erler: Plato ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 60, 65–71; Charles H. Kahn: Plato and the Socratic Dialogue , Cambridge 1996, pp. 1-35; Jean Laborderie: Le dialogue platonicien de la maturité , Paris 1978, pp. 13–51.
  13. ^ Richard B. Rutherford: The Art of Plato. London 1995, p. 8.
  14. This emphasizes Werner Jaeger: Paideia. Berlin 1989 (reprint of the 1973 edition in one volume), p. 661f.
  15. Roland Mugerauer: Socratic pedagogy. Marburg 1992, pp. 263-266.
  16. Rolf Geiger: Dialectical Virtues. Investigations into the form of conversation in the Platonic dialogues. Paderborn 2006, pp. 22-28.
  17. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Read Plato. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 77-85; Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato and the writing of philosophy , Berlin 1985, pp. 66–78.
  18. Jackson P. Hershbell: Reflections on the Orality and Literacy of Plato's Dialogues. In: Francisco J. Gonzalez (Ed.): The Third Way , Lanham 1995, pp. 25-39, here: 28f.
  19. See on Platonic anonymity Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 75–78. See the contributions in the anthology Gerald A. Press (Ed.): Who Speaks for Plato? Studies in Platonic Anonymity , Lanham 2000 and Michael Frede: Plato's Arguments and the Dialogue Form. In: James C. Klagge, Nicholas D. Smith (eds.): Methods of Interpreting Plato and his Dialogues , Oxford 1992, pp. 201-219; Norbert Blössner: Dialogform and Argument , Stuttgart 1997, pp. 6–12, 41f .; Ludwig Edelstein : Platonic Anonymity. In: American Journal of Philology 83, 1962, pp. 1-22; Rolf Geiger: Dialectical Virtues. Investigations on the form of conversation in the Platonic Dialogues , Paderborn 2006, pp. 39–43. A critical analysis of common interpretations of “anonymity” is offered by Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Platon and the writing of philosophy , Berlin 1985, pp. 348–350.
  20. Holger Thesleff: Platonic Patterns. Las Vegas 2009, pp. 51-64; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 33f.
  21. Konrad Gaiser : On the hermeneutics of the platonic dialogues. In: Konrad Gaiser: Gesammelte Schriften , Sankt Augustin 2004, pp. 1–97, here: 31f., 39. For the different views on whether Plato wanted to overcome the deficits of written texts with the form of dialogue, see Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss The history of philosophy: The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 92f.
  22. Joachim Dalfen: Thoughts on reading Platonic dialogues. In: Journal for philosophical research 29, 1975, pp. 169–194, here: 174–188, 193f .; Rolf Geiger: Dialectical Virtues. Investigations on the form of conversation in the Platonic Dialogues , Paderborn 2006, pp. 28–38. On Plato's criticism of writing, see Ernst Heitsch: Plato on the right way to talk and write , Stuttgart 1987, pp. 27–40.
  23. A summary of this position is provided by Mark Moes: Plato's Dialogue Form and the Care of the Soul. New York 2000, pp. 1-3; for criticism of the “proto-essay view” see pp. 3–24.
  24. Karl Jaspers: The great philosophers. Vol. 1, 3rd edition. Munich 1981, pp. 261-267; Joachim Dalfen: Thoughts on Reading Platonic Dialogues. In: Journal for philosophical research 29, 1975, pp. 169–194 (brief overview of the history of research p. 169f. Note 1).
  25. Werner Jaeger: Paideia. Berlin 1989 (reprint of the 1973 edition in one volume), pp. 659–662.
  26. An overview of the various positions is provided by Christopher Gill: Dialectic and the Dialogue Form. In: Julia Annas, Christopher Rowe (eds.): New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2002, pp. 145–171, here: 147–149. Cf. Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 61; Gyburg Radke : The smile of Parmenides , Berlin 2006, pp. 1–5.
  27. ^ Stanley Rosen: Plato's Symposium. 2nd Edition. New Haven 1987, pp. XXXIX-LVII; Mark Moes: Plato's Dialogue Form and the Care of the Soul , New York 2000, pp. 22-175.
  28. See also Rolf Geiger: Dialektische Tugenden. Investigations into the form of conversation in the Platonic dialogues. Paderborn 2006, pp. 132-142; on the special case of the Euthydemos dialogue, pp. 139f.
  29. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Read Plato. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, p. 32, 120-126; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 85.
  30. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Read Plato. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 143-145.
  31. ^ Rolf Geiger: Literary aspects of the writings of Plato. In: Christoph Horn u. a. (Ed.): Platon-Handbuch , Stuttgart 2009, pp. 363–386, here: 364.
  32. On the anonymous participants in the dialogue see Marie-Laurence Desclos: L'interlocuteur anonyme dans les Dialogues de Platon. In: Frédéric Cossutta, Michel Narcy (eds.): La forme dialogue chez Platon. Évolution et réceptions , Grenoble 2001, pp. 69-97.
  33. Diogenes Laertios 3.50.
  34. ^ Vittorio Hösle : Der philosophische Dialog , Munich 2006, pp. 169–175.
  35. ^ Joachim Dalfen: Literary Techniques of Plato. In: Joachim Dalfen: Kleine Schriften , Salzburg and Horn 2001, pp. 157–174, here: 160–163; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 78, 80.
  36. Louis-André Dorion provides an overview of the history of research: The Rise and Fall of the Socratic Problem. In: Donald R. Morrison (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Socrates , Cambridge 2011, pp. 1–23. See also Debra Nails: Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy , Dordrecht 1995, pp. 8–31.
  37. On the problem of the relevant source references see Hugh H. Benson: Socratic Method. In: Donald R. Morrison (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Socrates , Cambridge 2011, pp. 179–200, here: p. 179 note 2; Louis-André Dorion: The Rise and Fall of the Socratic Problem. In: Donald R. Morrison (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Socrates , Cambridge 2011, pp. 1–23, here: 16f.
  38. Jürgen Villers: The paradigm of the alphabet. Plato and the scriptural nature of philosophy. Würzburg 2005, p. 85.
  39. Plato, Protagoras 320c-323a.
  40. Bernd Manuwald : Plato's myth-narrator . In: Markus Janka , Christian Schäfer (ed.): Platon als Mythologe , 2nd, revised edition, Darmstadt 2014, pp. 113–135, here: 116; Kathryn A. Morgan: Myth and Philosophy from the Presocratics to Plato , Cambridge 2000, pp. 132-154.
  41. Norbert Blössner: Form of dialogue and argument. Stuttgart 1997, pp. 251-258; Rolf Geiger: literary aspects of the writings of Plato. In: Christoph Horn u. a. (Ed.): Platon-Handbuch , Stuttgart 2009, pp. 363–386, here: 370f .; Jean Laborderie: Le dialogue platonicien de la maturité , Paris 1978, pp. 159–170.
  42. ^ Hugh H. Benson: Socratic Method. In: Donald R. Morrison (ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Socrates , Cambridge 2011, pp. 179-200; Peter Stemmer : Platons Dialektik , Berlin 1992, pp. 143–146; Rolf W. Puster : On the argumentation structure of Platonic dialogues , Freiburg 1983, pp. 90–99.
  43. Michael Erler: Elenchos. In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, p. 107f .; Peter Stemmer: Platons Dialektik , Berlin 1992, pp. 143, 146-150.
  44. Rolf Geiger: Dialectical Virtues. Investigations into the form of conversation in the Platonic dialogues. Paderborn 2006, pp. 108-119.
  45. Plato, Theaitetos 148e-151d; see. 161e.
  46. Michael Erler: The meaning of the aporias in the dialogues of Plato. Berlin 1987, pp. 60-70; Michael Erler: Maieutik. In: Christian Schäfer (Ed.): Platon-Lexikon , Darmstadt 2007, p. 193f.
  47. Plato, Symposium 216d-217a.
  48. Plato, Politeia 337a.
  49. Melissa Lane gives an overview: Reconsidering Socratic Irony. In: Donald R. Morrison (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Socrates , Cambridge 2011, pp. 237-259. Lane advocates a non-ironic interpretation of what is usually considered ironic.
  50. See on the Socratic irony Hartmut Westermann: Ironie. In: Christoph Horn u. a. (Ed.): Platon-Handbuch , Stuttgart 2009, pp. 297-300; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 88.
  51. ^ Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato and the writing of philosophy. Berlin 1985, pp. 368-374.
  52. Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 85f.
  53. Michael Erler: The meaning of the aporias in the dialogues of Plato. Berlin 1987, pp. 78-96, 259-279.
  54. See e.g. B. Thomas Alexander Szlezák: Plato and the written form of philosophy. Berlin 1985, pp. 280-283.
  55. Gyburg Radke provides a detailed research overview: The smile of Parmenides. Berlin 2006, pp. 1–62.
  56. Some straussianische posts includes, for example, edited by Richard Hart and Victorino Tejera anthology Plato's Dialogues - The Dialogical Approach , Lewiston (NY) 1997th
  57. ^ Francisco J. Gonzalez: Introduction. In: Francisco J. Gonzalez (Ed.): The Third Way. New Directions in Platonic Studies , Lanham 1995, pp. 1–22, here: p. 10 note 28.
  58. Joachim Dalfen: Plato's afterlife myths: a "new mythology"? In: Markus Janka, Christian Schäfer (ed.): Platon als Mythologe , 2nd, revised edition, Darmstadt 2014, pp. 355–371, here: 366–369; Michael Erler: Platon ( Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, p. 92.
  59. See on Plato's view of the function of myths Theo Kobusch : The return of the myth. In: Markus Janka, Christian Schäfer (ed.): Platon als Mythologe , 2nd, revised edition, Darmstadt 2014, pp. 47–60, here: 50–53; Konrad Gaiser: Plato as a philosophical writer. In: Konrad Gaiser: Gesammelte Schriften , Sankt Augustin 2004, pp. 3–72, here: 58–63; Penelope Murray: What Is a Muthos for Plato? In: Richard Buxton (Ed.): From Myth to Reason? , Oxford 1999, pp. 251-262.
  60. However, only the authenticity of Minos was apparently completely undisputed; With regard to the other four dialogues, occasional doubts were expressed or other persons were named as authors. See Eduard Zeller : The philosophy of the Greeks in their historical development , Part 2, Division 1, 6th edition. Hildesheim 1963, p. 441 note 1.
  61. See also Michael Erler: Platon ( Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike , edited by Hellmut Flashar, Volume 2/2), Basel 2007, pp. 27f., 60 and the literature cited there.