How Plato's Theory of Truth Explains the Socratic Method: Consistency is the Test of Truth

How Plato's Theory of Truth Explains the Socratic Method: Consistency is the Test of Truth

By: Rod Jenks (author)Hardback

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This book argues that "Plato's Socrates" subscribes to a coherence theory of truth, and according to that theory, there is only one fully consistent set of beliefs: the set which contains all and only true members. Thus, not only does inconsistency between two beliefs indicate that at least one of them is false, but the consistency of a belief with the other beliefs in the system suffices for its truth. In the early dialogues, "Plato's Socrates" uses an argumentative technique, the elenchos, in his attempts to convince his various interlocutors that they do not know what they think they know about morality. Many of his interlocutors are official spokespersons for the culture. Socrates thus talks to two generals about courage and to a priest about holiness. In these dialogues, Socrates will elicit a definition (D) of some moral term from his interlocutor, then he will elicit other beliefs held by that interlocutor, say, B 1, B2 and B3. He will then show that D is inconsistent with either {B 1, B2, B3} or with various consequences of {B 1, B2, B3}. He hopes thereby to prod the interlocutor into abandoning D, so that the interlocutor and Socrates can cooperate in searching for the right definition. If the elenchos succeeds in showing that D is inconsistent with {B 1, B2, B3}, it achieves its negative purpose. But Socrates often claims that he can show by this method that his own beliefs are true. He claims to have 'proved' them true, or to have chained his theses down 'with arguments of iron and adamant'. Yet the method seems capable only of yielding a verdict concerning the consistency or inconsistency of {B 1, B2, B3, D}, and not of establishing the truth of any one of its members.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780773437012
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9780773437012
  • ISBN10: 0773437010

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