Elenchus and moral education on Plato’s Sophist

Keywords: Plato. Sophist. Refutation. Moral Education. Ignorance.


One of Socrates' striking features is his way of inquiring. Through investigation supported by a series of questions interspersed with the answers of an interlocutor, Socrates follows a path of negation of the theses presented to them until reaching a total impasse in this search. Socrates calls elenchos (refutation) his usual procedure and it was well known for what is presented to us in Plato's first dialogues. On the other hand, in the Sophist dialogue, in the sixth definition, the association of elenchos with sophistic activity is also presented as an educational method. These two cases are a matter of debate among scholars, they consider that the elenchos in this passage of the Sophist is not the same method as Plato's first dialogues, mainly because it is considered an educational method; but the elenchos of the first dialogues would only serve to show that the interlocutor holds conflicting opinions on the moral issues We pretend, therefore, to show that Plato is not presenting a new understanding of the elenchos and yet that it was already thought of as an educational method in previous dialogues.

Author Biography

José Wilson da Silva

Professor substituto da Universidade Estadual do Ceará e Professor Colaborador do Mestrado Acadêmico em Filosofia da Universidade Estadual do Ceará. Pós-doutorado, Doutorado e Mestrado em Filosofia pela Universidade de São Paulo,


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