The Strange Conversation of Plato’s Minos
In the Minos or On Law Socrates asks a nameless companion out of the blue, “What is law for us?” knowing full well, it seems, that the companion himself will not be able to give a satisfactory answer. Why on earth, then, would Socrates bother to ask the question of the companion—a man clearly more ignorant than himself? The mystery only deepens when the companion mishears and misunderstands Socrates’ decisive contribution to the conversation and Socrates doesn’t even bother to set him straight. Rather, he uses the definition of law the companion mistakenly thinks he heard to lead him, via the companion’s own opinions, to a position that Socrates does not himself hold. In this chapter, Goldberg hopes to uncover the deep philosophical reasons for Socrates’ procedure in conducting so strange a conversation.