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Apeiron

A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin

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Returning to the Heavens: Plato’s Socrates on Anaxagoras and Natural Philosophy

Samuel Ortencio Flores
Published Online: 2019-05-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2018-0052

Abstract

Readers of Plato since antiquity have generally taken Socrates’ intellectual autobiography in the Phaedo as a signal of his turn away from the study of natural philosophy. They have turned instead to characters such as Timaeus for evidence of Plato’s pursuit of physics. This article argues that Plato’s Socrates himself developed a philosophy of nature in his criticism of Anaxagoras and his subsequent philosophic pursuits. Socrates’ autobiography places the study of nature in a foundational position within the development of his philosophic method. In the Apology, Socrates further elaborated his investigation into nature through his understanding of theology. Finally, in the Phaedrus, Socrates connects the study of nature with the study of rhetoric as tools for virtue. Therefore, Plato’s Socrates does not reject or abandon physics, as has often been suggested, but rather, he incorporates it into his own philosophic project and challenges its practitioners to connect their own inquiries with human affairs.

Keywords: Plato; Socrates; Anaxagoras; natural philosophy; ancient physics

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About the article

Published Online: 2019-05-31


Citation Information: Apeiron, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2018-0052.

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