Critias

Author: Plato

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Laches

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Laches is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. The participants in the discourse present opposing definitions of the concept of courage.

Lysimachus, son of Aristides, and Melesias, son of Thucydides (not the historian Thucydides), ask Laches and Nicias for advice on whether or not to have their sons train to fight in armor. After each gives his opinion, Nicias in favor and Laches against, they ask Socrates for advice.

Socrates wonders what the initial purpose of the training they want to instill in their sons is. Once they determine that the purpose is to instill virtue, and more specifically courage, Socrates discusses with Laches and Nicias what exactly courage is. The bulk of the dialogue consists of the three men (Laches, Nicias, and Socrates) debating various definitions of courage.

Cratylus

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Cratylus is the name of a dialogue by Plato. Most modern scholars agree that it was written mainly during Plato’s so-called middle period. In the dialogue, two men, Cratylus and Hermogenes, ask Socrates to tell them whether names are «conventional» or «natural», that is, whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an intrinsic relation to the things they signify.

The individual Cratylus was the first intellectual influence on Plato. Aristotle claims that Cratylus influenced Plato by introducing him to the teachings of Heraclitus.

Philebus

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It is a Socratic dialogue written in the 4th century B.C. that appears to be one of Plato’s last writings and is believed to have been written at the same time as the Timaeus. In this dialogue, Plato again uses Socrates as the main character and speaker and, in addition to him, the other interlocutors are Philebus and Protarchus.

Philebus contains some of Plato’s most sophisticated discussions of moral psychology. The central question of the dialogue concerns the relative value of pleasure and knowledge.

For most of it Philebus refuses to argue and remains silent, leaving it to Protagoras to defend hedonism against the attacks of the intellectualism advocated by Socrates. The final conclusion is that the good of life is the proportion with which these components are mixed.

Timaeus

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Timaeus is one of Plato’s dialogues, mainly in the form of a long monologue delivered by the title character, Timaeus of Locri, written in 360 BC. The work raises speculations on the nature of the physical world and the human being and is followed by the dialogue Critias.

Socrates, Timaeus, Hermocrates and Critias participate in the dialogue. Some scholars believe that it is not the Critias of the Thirty Tyrants who appears in this dialogue, but his grandfather, who is also called Critias. It has been suggested from some traditions (Diogenes Laertius VIII BC) from Hermippus (3rd century BC) and Timon (320-230 BC) that Timaeus was influenced by a book on Pythagoras, written by Philolaus, although this claim is generally considered false.

Sophist

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This is a Platonic dialogue from Plato’s late period, probably written in 360 B.C. Its main theme is to identify what a sophist is and how he differs from a philosopher and a statesman.

The participants of the Sophist are Socrates, who plays a supporting role, the elderly mathematician Theodorus, the young mathematician Theaetetus, and a visitor from Elea, often referred to in English translations as the Eleatic Stranger who is also described as a pupil of Parmenides and Zeno.

The dialogue begins when Socrates arrives and asks the Eleatic Stranger whether in his homeland the sophist, the statesman, and the philosopher are considered one class or three. The Eleatic Stranger replies that there are three and sets out to initiate a dialectical exchange.