Psychological Dimensions of Socratic Protreptic
Socrates , Alcibiades , Eros , Protreptic , Psychology , Hubris , Theaetetus , Shame , Phaedrus
My goal in the present work is to add to our understanding of Socratic protreptic. I do so by focussing on psychological traits and qualities of character in Socrates’ young associates. There are a number of candidates throughout the dialogues whose colourful depiction and careful psychological rendering offer us ample material for study. In this study, I focus on two characters in particular. First, I look at the presentation of Alcibiades in the final scene of Symposium. Here I explore how Plato uses hubris and shame to explain the failure of protreptic in this gifted Socratic associate. Next, I look at Theaetetus as presented in the eponymously named dialogue. His characterization as an able, intelligent and model candidate for philosophy gives us a penetrating insight into the Socratic ideal. Finally, I offer a reading of Eros in Phaedrus that examines the psychological dynamic between the lover and his beloved. While a number of types of lovers are envisioned in this dialogue, I argue that if a beloved is to succeed in turning toward philosophy his lover must be a philosophical lover motivated by other-regarding care for his beloved’s soul.