Gareth Matthews suggests that we can better understand the nature of philosophical inquiry if we recognize the central role played by perplexity. The seminal representation of philosophical perplexity is in Plato's dialogues; Matthews invites us to view this as a response to something inherently problematic in the basic notions that philosophy deals with. He examines the intriguing shifts in Plato's attitude to perplexity and suggests that this development may be
seen as an archetypal pattern that philosophers follow even today. So it is that one may be won over to philosophy in the first place by the example of a Socratic teacher who displays an uncanny gift at getting one perplexed about something one thought one understood perfectly well. Later, however,
wanting like Plato to move beyond perplexity to produce philosophical 'results', one may be chagrined to discover that one's very best attempt to develop a philosophical theory induces its own perplexity. Then, like late Plato and like Aristotle, the philosopher may seek to 'normalize' perplexity in a way that both allows for progress and yet respects the peculiarly baffling character of philosophical questions.
"Contains many insightful remarks, particularly for someone with some familiarity with Plato, both about the dialogues and about philosophy as it is practiced today."
1: Perplexity and the Figure of Socrates
2: Perplexity and the Beginning of Philosophy
3: Getting Perplexed about the Virtues
4: Getting Perplexed about Divine Normativity
5: Shared Perplexity: The Self-Stinging Stingray
6: Avoiding Perplexity: The Paradox of Inquiry
7: Purely Instrumental Perplexity
8: Second-Order Perplexity
9: Professionalized Perplexity: The Midwife
10: Perplexity as Itself a Target of Inquiry
11: Perplexity and Methodology in Aristotle
12: Socratic Perplexity and the Nature of Philosophy