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Only logoi left alive: The Socratic victory against the anti-logikoi in the Phaedo

The CEU Campus
Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

According to the traditional interpretation of the Phaedo, Plato's purpose in this dialogue is to prove that the soul is immortal. This purpose ties in with the celebrated definition of philosophy as preparation for death, which is introduced in this dialogue and becomes canonical in the later history of philosophy. Setting aside the importance of the immortality of the soul in Plato's cosmology, and in spite of its role in later dialogues, and its appropriateness as a topic for discussion in the context of Socrates' execution, I would like to suggest that this not the main concern of the Phaedo. The alternative reading of the dialogue that I would like to present (which is not entirely incompatible with the traditional interpretation) turns on the criticism of the anti-logikoi (practitioners of debate techniques leading often to contradiction), that occurs in a part of the dialogue usually described as the 'digression on misology (mistrust of logical debate, literally hatred of logos or logoi in the sense of account/s, but possibly also in the sense of reason). I propose to offer an account of Plato's interest in antilogic in general and to examine the role of the criticism of antilogikoi within the broader framework of Plato's philosophical agenda, and to show how a better appreciation of this criticism lends us further insight on the famous account of Socrates' second voyage. Ι shall argue that Plato's main aim in the Phaedo is to celebrate the immortality of logoi (or logos) and the immunity that philosophers following Plato and his own teacher Socrates are able to present to the threats of the anti-logikoi.