Scholars of Plato are divided between those who emphasize the literature of the dialogues and those who emphasize the argument of the dialogues, and between those who see a development in the thought of the dialogues and those who do not. In this important book, Russell Dancy focusses on the arguments and defends a developmental picture. He explains the Theory of Forms of the Phaedo and Symposium as an outgrowth of the quest for definitions canvassed in the Socratic dialogues, by constructing a Theory of Definition for the Socratic dialogues based on the refutations of definitions in those dialogues, and showing how that theory is mirrored in the Theory of Forms. His discussion, notable for both its clarity and its meticulous scholarship, ranges in detail over a number of Plato's early and middle dialogues, and will be of interest to readers in Plato studies and in ancient philosophy more generally.
'Russell Dancy presents a very thorough and detailed analysis of many arguments in the so-called Socratic dialogues ... This book provides meticulous scholarship and informed philosophical analysis of the many key texts in Plato which form his theme. Dancy will serve as a sure guide to all who engage with the details of his themes. He states and defends his claims with commendable clarity.' British Journal for the History of Philosophy 'The great Plato still intrigues contemporary philosophers and, while works devoted to him usually fall in the field of classics, his concepts are often discussed in terms of analytical philosophy. The book by R. M. Dancy is an excellent example of this approach. This form of presentation is convenient for the reader and, thanks to carefully selected examples, is perfectly suitable for didactic purposes. The book is a valuable attempt to show, by means of the analytical method, the development of Platonic thought from the earliest dialogues to the later ones. ... an important contribution for those interested in the theory of definitions, while a detailed analysis of the dialogues is a valuable tool for educators and students of Plato.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review