Why did Plato put his philosophical arguments into dialogues, rather than presenting them in a plain and readily understandable fashion? In writing rich tales of philosophical encounters, does Plato desert clarity in favour of seducing his readers with fine words, or is there a philosophical reason behind the form of his argument? While recent work has focused on the literary brilliance of the early dialogues, the late dialogues present a particular problem: they lack the vivid literary character of Plato's earlier works, and the dialogue structure seems to be a mere formality. Is there a philosophical reason why Plato's late works are in the form of dialogues? In this volume, a group of internationally prominent scholars address that question. Their answers are fresh, varied, and powerfully argued. This volume offers both a series of first-class essays on major late Platonic dialogues and a discussion which has important implications for the study of philosophical method and the relation between philosophy and literature. It shows that the literary form and modes of dialectic of the late dialogues are richly rewarding to study, and that doing so is of deep importance for Plato's philosophical project.
Christopher Gill is Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter. He is the editor of The Person and the Human Mind: Issues in Ancient and Modern Philosophy (OUP, 1990) and the author of Personality in Greek Epic, Tragedy, and Philosophy: The Self in Dialogue (OUP, 1996). Mary Margaret McCabe is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London. She is the author of Plato on Punishment (Berkeley, 1981), and Plato's Individuals (Princeton, 1994).