While anyone's highest priority must be to live well as a human being, Socratic examination aims to make us aware that we lack such expertise, so that our most pressing question becomes how to acquire the knowledge that Socrates has made us desire. Hugh Benson's book proposes to understand the method of hypothesis as Plato's strategy for that acquisition (3). Chapter 1 argues that Plato “owes” us “an account of how such an acquisition is to be accomplished,” and that “Platonic dialectic, as Plato's philosophical method has come to be called,” is that account (4). Chapter 2 argues that the “elenctic” dialogues fail to pay the debt owed us, because the only strategy there—whether we look at Socrates's explicit recommendations or study his performance of elenchus—is to find an expert who will transmit expertise to us, and this strategy “appears doomed to failure. Socrates...

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