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The Socratic Paradox and Its Enemies

In The Socratic Paradox and Its Enemies, Roslyn Weiss argues that the Socratic paradoxes—no one does wrong willingly, virtue is knowledge, and all the virtues are one—are best understood as Socrates’ way of combating sophistic views: that no one is willingly just, those who are just and temperate are ignorant fools, and only some virtues (courage and wisdom) but not others (justice, temperance, and piety) are marks of true excellence.  
         
In Weiss’s view, the paradoxes express Socrates’ belief that wrongdoing fails to yield the happiness that all people want; it is therefore the unjust and immoderate who are the fools. The paradoxes thus emerge as Socrates’ means of championing the cause of justice in the face of those who would impugn it. Her fresh approach—ranging over six of Plato’s dialogues—is sure to spark debate in philosophy, classics, and political theory.
           
 “Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Weiss, it would be hard not to admire her extraordinarily penetrating analysis of the many overlapping and interweaving arguments running through the dialogues.”—Daniel B. Gallagher, Classical Outlook
 
“Many scholars of Socratic philosophy . . . will wish they had written Weiss’s book, or at least will wish that they had long ago read it.”—Douglas V. Henry, Review of Politics

248 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2006

Classical Studies

Philosophy: History and Classic Works

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Reviews

“I expect this book to stir controversy of the best sort: the kind that acknowledges a challenge worth responding to. This is an eye-opening, indeed quite startling reinterpretation of Socratic claims that have for some decades been the prize exhibits for the standard view of Socrates. Reading along, I often felt like cheering.”

G. R. F. Ferrari, University of California, Berkeley

"Weiss’ careful consideration of many key texts is interesting and surely advances a particular interpretive approach to Socratic philosophy. . . . Weiss’ handling of the individual arguments is careful and informative. Her discussions offer the reader a number of nuanced interpretations that engage with contemporary scholarship."

Joel A. Martinez | Polis

“Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Weiss, it would be hard not to admire her extraordinarily penetrating analysis of the many overlapping and interweaving arguments running through the dialogues.”

Daniel B. Gallagher | Classical Outlook

“Many scholars of Socratic philosophy . . . will wish they had written Weiss’s book, or at least will wish that they had long ago read it.”

Douglas V. Henry | Review of Politics

"This is an important book. . . . A saner Platonic Socrates emerges along with improved coherence across Plato’s dialogues. Weiss builds her case in careful detail . . . and [is] a pleasure to read as well."

Maureen Eckert | Journal of the History of Philosophy

"[Weiss’s] Socrates is . . . a philosopher for all seasons, a powerful champion of humble decency and honest intellectual effort. . . . This is a Socrates well worth cheering for, and Weiss deserves our heartfelt thanks for presenting him in such a lively and convincing way."

Jacob Howland | Scripta Classica Israelica

"The strength of the book lies in its series of close readings of important stretches of Platonic texts and in provoking critical reflection on what might indeed have become simply received wisdom. . . . A provocative book which deserves serious study."

James Warren | Phoenix

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: The Fight for Justice
2. The Protagoras: "Our Salvation in Life"
3. The Gorgias: How Ought a Human Being to Live?
4. The Hippias Minor: "If There Be Such a Man"
5. The Meno: Desiring Bad Things and Getting Them
6. Republic 4: "Everyone Desires Good Things"
7. Laws 9: All Just Things Are Beautiful
8. Conclusion: Socrates Reconsidered
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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