The philosophical puzzle about the position of Socrates in the early Platonic dialogues is the reason why Socrates demands that terms be defined. Many have said recently that knowledge and meaning do not demand definitions, for there is know-how besides intellectual knowledge and the successful use of symbols is often unreflective. This book's argument is that for Socrates, freedom, or rational agency, requires definitions. Socrates is freedom's advocate; he is not an early epistemologist or semanticist. Due to this, he is still relevant to current philosophy. Certain recursive or performative acts of definition are free in being fully conscious, deliberate, or self-sufficient. They are self-predicating Forms. The search for them is free in a different sense, namely in relating to everything beyond itself. Moreover, that search is moral. For being self-relational, the Forms are not identifiable from without. They could be anywhere and so must be sought everywhere. Anyone could turn out to be one's liberator, so one must respect each of one's interlocutors, as Socrates does when asking questions.
Tommi Juhani Hanhijarvi received his doctoral degree in philosophy from the Humboldt Universitat zu Berlin, Germany. His main interests are Plato, the metaphysics of free will, and the philosophy of history.
Preface Introduction 1. Good in the Protagoras 2. Good in the Hippias Major 3. Good in the Lysis 4. Right in the Euthyphro 5. Right in the Charmides 6. Right in the Apology 7. Socrates and the Phaedo 8. Socrates and the Theaetetus Conclusion Bibliography