Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Socrates describes Euthydemus and Dionysodorus as two brothers who are "perfect in the use of their bodies" and "invincible in every sort of warfare". They are also sophists who take money and offer wisdom in the art of rhetoric and persuasion.

Euthydemus and Dionysodorus have come to Athens to "teach virtue" for those willing to pay and the Athenian noblemen have brought their sons to learn from them. Socrates wants to know how you can teach virtue. It soons becomes clear that the brothers do not want to teach wisdom, but only the skill of manipulating an argument with absurd, abstract reasoning. At times it can seem as though the brothers are employeeing similar tactics as Socrates. However, Socrates approaches the discussion from a point of ignorance, hoping to "learn" from the brothers while they attempt to make others feel foolish. They also claim that everyone already has wisdom, but that they can help it be revealed.

Euthydemus: Do you not know letters?

(Clinias) He assented.

E: All letters?

C: Yes.

E: But when a teacher dictates to you, does he not dictate letters?

This again was admitted by him.

E: Then if you know all letters, he dictates that which you know?

This reminds me of an infomerical on late night television when the the demonstrator tells you that the power to make money (lose weight, do math in your head, etc) is inside you but his special book (video, 6 week program, etc) will help you become a better person. It is comical if you get it, but don't buy it.

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