Plato’s Phaedo

"Plato's Phaedo," ms. 1980. In The Argument of the Action, 2000.


I wish to discuss four things in Plato’s Phaedo. First, the intention of the dialogue as a whole; second, the plan or structure of the Phaedo; third, some arguments of the Phaedo; and fourth, the reason for the structure of the dialogue.

Of Plato’s narrated dialogues, three are not narrated by Socrates. The three platonic dialogues that are narrated by someone other than Socrates – Plaedo, Symposium, and Parmenides – all include an account of the early thought of Socrates. Their chronological order puts the Phaedo first, where Socrates himself gives an autobiography of his early thinking; followed by the Parmenides; and last, by the Symposium. Of these three accounts, only the Phaedo contains a picture of the wholly pre-Socratic Socrates, and that account, consequently, is the only one that is nondialogic in form.