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The Role of Socrates, Lysis, and Menexenus in Plato’s Lysis

Filozofia, 2020, vol. 75, No 3, pp. 195-211.
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The aim of this study is to demonstrate that the value of the Lysis does not lie in Socrates’ puzzling treatment of φίλος and φιλία, but rather in the unique role that both Socrates and the other two main interlocutors, Lysis and Menexenus, assume in this Platonic dialogue. In the Lysis, Socrates plays the role of the sophist who uses errant logic, but with whom the young men are so infatuated that they simply agree with his every statement. Their inability to display critical thinking by challenging his flawed arguments constantly forces Socrates to revert to the role of the philosopher who refutes the points that he, himself, had just raised. The dialogue thus functions as a warning against blindly trusting the education of youths to sophists and potentially as an exercise for Plato’s students to detect problematic argumentation and to practise arguing against it.

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