Introduction to Philosophy
February 13, 2012
Alcibiades Dialogue: Summary Analysis At the turn of the twenty-first century, Karl Rove was to George W. Bush what Socrates intended to be to Alcibiades twenty-five hundred years prior. In the present day, Socrates and Alcibiades relationship is comparable to that of David Axelrod and Barrack Obama. “Every great leader needs an advisor,” (Unique Business Solutions, LLC.).
Philosophy is aimed at determining the relationship between essence and existence. A student unfamiliar with the principles of philosophy would be well advised to begin their pursuit of knowledge with the story of Alcibiades. Pluto’s account of the interaction between Alcibiades, beautiful son of Clinias and Dinomache, and Socrates, infamous ancient Athenian philosopher, is a solid stepping stone for those looking to understand and apply the principles of philosophy. The story begins with what is known as frame dialogue in which it is established that Socrates will be the questioner until further discussion is had and Alcibiades will be the answerer. Anytime that Alcibiades strays from the established rules set by the frame dialogue, Socrates subtly reminds him of it as is shown on page 195 when Alcibiades simply states, “You’re right,” and Socrates responds by asking, “Hold on, by Zeus-who are you speaking with now? Anybody but me?” What this illustrates is that Socrates is not directly saying anything; he is simply asking questions, allowing Alcibiades to come to the conclusions on his own. The two knew of each other before this documented interaction but according to Socrates, his daemon wouldn’t allow him to speak with Alcibiades because the timing wasn’t appropriate. Up until this point, Socrates had been observing, what some may call “stalking”, Alcibiades from afar in order to learn all that he could about him. Socrates’ ultimate goal is to be Alcibiades’ political advisor later down the road, once Alcibiades attempts to fulfill his life’s ambition as the influential “saturator of all mankind” (156). At the time of their conversation, Alcibiades has an upcoming speech scheduled to give before the Athenians at the Assembly. Socrates first goal is to identify what it is that Alcibiades intends to discuss. Alcibiades cannot provide a definitive answer, so through the use of questioning; Socrates establishes the essence of learning. There are two ways to learn something: 1) on your own through your own experiences or 2) from someone else who is well versed in the subject. Their discussion makes clear that Alcibiades has no expert knowledge that would be appropriate for public address. It is also established that one must first admit that they do not know something, regardless of how simple or how much like common sense it may seem in order to learn it. The two discuss the essence of mistakes and who makes them; mistakes are made by those who thought they were knowledgeable but when they attempt to demonstrate, they are unsuccessful. There is also discussion of what is justice and injustice; they establish justice is what is advantageous and/or courageous while injustice is what is disadvantageous and/or cowardly. On page 192, Alcibiades shows movement from the vicious circle to the hermeneutic circle in saying “I think I must have been in an appalling state for a long time, without being aware of it.” On the following page, 193, he shows his intention of askesis when he asks what he should do to rectify the situation. Socrates’ questions allow Alcibiades to realize his satisfaction with his own hubris is detrimental because we are who we compete with. In order for one to be the best they can be, they need to