Socrates and Plato: Understanding the World and Changing It

  • Debra Nails
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 165)


As Socrates is said to have been attracted to the natural philosophy of Anaxagoras in his youth, Bob Cohen’s PhD was in physics, and the textbook he authored in that subject is still widely used. As Socrates irritated powerful Athenians who put him on trial, Bob ran honourably afoul of the McCarthyites and was consequently denied tenure at Wesleyan (where he was later to be named a trustee). True, there was no hemlock, but his brush with academic oblivion was a harsh lesson in the importance of institutional support. While I would not presume to pronounce what his motives were in founding, with Marx Wartofsky, the Center for the Philosophy and History of Science, the Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science, the Boston Philosophy of Science Association, and various affiliated editorial and other projects, I have no compunctions whatever about championing the important consequences of the establishment of those institutions.


Dialogue Form Philosophical Practice Oral Method Oral Conduct Socratic Method 
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  1. 7.
    Nehamas (1992a) documents this historical episode abundantly.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Antidosis 12 (dated 353), Turner trans.Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    See ‘Plato’s Arguments and the Dialogue form’, in: J. C. Klagge & N. D. Smith (eds.), Methods of Interpreting Plato and His Dialogues (Oxford 1992).Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    See, for many examples, William Harris’s Ancient Literacy (Cambridge, Mass. 1989), pp. 88–92.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra Nails
    • 1
  1. 1.Mary Washington CollegeUSA

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