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The Ironic Defense of Socrates : Plato's Apology - David M. Leibowitz

The Ironic Defense of Socrates

Plato's Apology


Published: 1st July 2010
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"This is the most thoughtful and thought-provoking book-length study of Plato's Apology of Socrates I know. It offers a singularly fascinating, rich, and witty analysis of the dialogue. Leibowitz's book is extraordinarily ambitious inasmuch as it sets forth an interpretation of Plato's corpus as a whole, one that is focused on Socrates' defense of the philosophic life throughout the dialogues but also presents novel and provocative accounts of Socrates' teachings concerning the good, piety, justice, moral responsibility, eros, and happiness. It should prove to be an important book insofar as it raises far-reaching questions about the moral and religious character of Platonic/Socratic/classical philosophy in particular and about the broad philosophic themes of reason versus faith, moral freedom, and the nature of justice." - Peter Ahrensdorf, Davidson College

"I predict that David Leibowitz's brilliant study of Plato's Apology will spark considerable controversy among readers of this most famous dialogue. The Socrates that emerges here is a far cry from the tiresome scold or wheezing moralizer he is often presented as and (oddly enough) praised for being; as Leibowitz demonstrates, Socrates is in truth endlessly subtle, unsettling, relentless, and ironic. Indeed, Leibowitz analyzes more profoundly than anyone before him what Socratic irony means, both for the reading of Plato and for the Socratic life as a whole. The Ironic Defense of Socrates is not only an invitation to authentic Socratic philosophizing, but also an exercise in it, one conducted with great intelligence, clarity, and wit." - Robert C. Bartlett, Emory University

"David Leibowitz's book is a tough-minded study of Plato's Apology of Socrates, a study that should command the attention of serious students of Plato. With incisive wit, Leibowitz probes the intention and irony of Socrates' defense speech, and his analysis is thorough and demanding. His conclusions will prove controversial, but his challenge to conventional views is in the Socratic spirit and will clarify the perplexing problem at the heart of Socrates' inquiry into virtue and the human good." - Susan D. Collins, University of Houston

"The Apology is the closest thing we have to a Socratic autobiography: a personal account of the original source and meaning of the philosophic quest. But it is also, not unrelatedly, the speech of a man on trial for his life - and of a man who has a form of irony named after him. Some care in interpretation may thus be necessary. Deploying this care with brilliant clarity and precision, The Ironic Defense of Socrates provides an extraordinarily fresh, insightful, and persuasive account of this all-important document. There is simply no better book on the subject - and few subjects more important." - Arthur Melzer, Michigan State University

"This is a truly outstanding contribution that offers a fresh, arrestingly thought-provoking insight into Plato's moral and political philosophy. The book delivers a penetrating and illuminating new interpretation of Plato's Apology of Socrates, revealed to be not only the entree, but also the key to Plato's political philosophy as a whole. What gives the book its marvelous energy and drive is a sustained passion to get to the bottom of the most important issues - and this captures or revives something of what the Socratic spirit truly means." - Thomas Pangle, University of Texas, Austin

This book offers a controversial new interpretation of Plato's Apology of Socrates. By paying unusually close attention to what Socrates indicates about the meaning and extent of his irony, David Leibowitz arrives at unconventional conclusions about Socrates' teaching on virtue, politics, and the gods; the significance of his famous turn from natural philosophy to political philosophy; and the purpose of his insolent "defense speech." Leibowitz shows that Socrates is not just a colorful and quirky figure from the distant past but an unrivaled guide to the good life - the thoughtful life - who is as relevant today as he was in ancient Athens. On the basis of his unconventional understanding of the dialogue as a whole, and of the Delphic oracle story in particular, Leibowitz also attempts to show that the Apology is the key to the Platonic corpus, indicating how many of the disparate themes and apparently contradictory conclusions of the other dialogues fit together.

'Stylistically, the book is well written and avoids dry academic prose ... The book is aimed at graduate and advanced level students in philosophy and therefore will be of great assistance to those working on ancient political philosophy, Athenian democracy and comparative political philosophy.' Mehmet Karabela, Political Studies Review

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Title and Preliminary Considerationsp. 2
The Importance and Puzzling Character of the Apology of Socratesp. 2
Plato's Intensionp. 5
Prooeminum (17a1-18a6)p. 8
The Problem of Truthfulnessp. 8
Disputes about Socratic Ironyp. 21
Socrates' Defense Speechesp. 37
Prothesis (18a7-19a7)p. 39
The Charges of the First Accusersp. 39
The Purpose of Socrates' Speechp. 39
Defense against the Charges of the First Accusers (19a8-24b2)p. 49
Refutation of Their Charges (19a8-20c3)p. 49
First Digression: How the Charges of the First Accusers Arose (20c4-23e3)p. 60
Transition to the Present Accusers (23e3-24b2)p. 114
Defense against the Present Accusers (24b3-28b2)p. 116
Refutation of the Corruption Charge (24b3-26b2)p. 116
Reply to the Impiety Charges (26b2-28a1)p. 129
Conclusion of the Defense against the Present Accusers (28a2-b2)p. 135
Second Digression (28b3-34b5)p. 137
Nobility and Death (28b3-33a1)p. 137
The Movement of the Digressionp. 149
Teaching and Corruption the Young (33a1-34b5)p. 151
Epilogue (34b6-35d8)p. 154
Socrates' Rhetorical Strategyp. 154
Penalty Section (35e1-38b9)p. 161
The Greatest Goodp. 162
Final Speech (38c1-42a5)
Speech to the Condemners (38c1-39d9)p. 166
Speech to the Acquitters: Stories about Death (39e1-41e1)p. 167
Indirect Speech to the Condemners: Socrates' Sonsp. 41e1-42a5)
Socrates' Human Wisdom and Knowledge of Virtuep. 175
Strength of Soulp. 181
Socrates' Deathp. 182
Short Titlesp. 185
Bibliographyp. 187
Indexp. 193
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521194792
ISBN-10: 0521194792
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 206
Published: 1st July 2010
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 16.2  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.42