A comprehensive discussion of Plato's treatment of techne (technical kwledge), which shows that the final goal of Platonic philosophy is ntechnical wisdom. The Greek word techne, typically translated as art, but also as craft, skill, expertise, technical kwledge, and even science, has been decisive in shaping our techlogical culture. Here David Roochnik comprehensively analyzes Plato's treatment of this crucial word. Roochnik maintains that Plato's understanding of both the goodness of techne, as well as its severe limitations and consequent need to be supplemented by ntechnical wisdom, can speak directly to our own concerns about the troubling impact techlogy has had on contemporary life. For most commentators, techne functions as a positive, theoretical model through which Plato attempts to articulate the nature of moral kwledge. Scholars such as Terence Irwin and Martha Nussbaum argue that Plato's version of moral kwledge is structurally similar to techne. In arguing thus, they attribute to Plato what Nietzsche called theoretical optimism, the view that technical kwledge can become an efficient panacea for the dilemmas and painful contingencies of human life. Conventional wisdom has it, in short, that for Plato technical, moral kwledge can solve life's problems. By systematically analyzing Socrates' analogical arguments, Roochnik shows the weakness of the conventional view. The basic pattern of these arguments is this: if moral kwledge is analogous to techne, then insurmountable difficulties arise, and moral kwledge becomes impossible. Since moral kwledge is t impossible, it cant be analogous to techne. In other words, the purpose of Socrates' analogical arguments is to reveal the limitations of techne as a model for the wisdom Socrates so ardently seeks. For all the reasons Plato is so careful to present in his dialogues, wisdom cant be rendered technical; it cant become techne. Thus, Roochnik concludes, Plato wrote dialogues instead of technical treatises, as they are the appropriate vehicle for his expression of ntechnical wisdom. David Roochnik is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. He is the author of The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos (Routledge, 1991).
David Roochnik is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, USA. He is the author of The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos (1991).