Plato’s Socratic Problem
We are accustomed to think of “Plato’s Socrates” as opposed to “Xenophon’s Socrates” or “the historical Socrates”. But the attentive reader will find many different Socrateses within Plato’s corpus. The multiplicity of Socrates in the dialogues reflects a deceptively simple but vitally important question for Plato: who (or what) is Socrates? Like the ti esti formula that characterizes many of the so-called early dialogues, this question seems always to end in aporia. In this paper, I explore some of the ways Plato multiplies Socrates in the dialogues, understanding them as strategies in Plato’s ongoing confrontation with his master’s mysterious opacity.