On Interpreting Plato’s Charmides

"On Interpreting Plato's Charmides," New School Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 11 (1986): 9-36. Reprinted in The Argument of the Action, 2000.


The Charmides is about sophrosyne, moderation and self-knowledge; but part of Socrates’ original question was about the state of philosophy in Athens; and since the self-knowledge is presumably the mark of Socrates’ philosophizing, the Charmides is about Socrates’ own understanding of his kind of philosophizing: it is the self-knowing philosopher Socrates confronting his own teaching about self-knowledge. The Charmides therefore is a Socratically narrated dialogue (one of four), for narration of dialogue is the most obvious way to represent reflexivity.