Project Abstract

This project will forge the first systematic treatment of Plato’s approach to joint inquiry. The aim is to describe how, for Plato, inquiring with others ought to take place, when and how the inquiries should be opened and closed, considering that joint inquiries are often limited by a particular set of interlocutors with diverging beliefs, motivations, abilities, and levels of expertise. The project will approach Plato’s dialogues not only as theoretical reflections but also as depictions of inquiries in action.

We will argue that a careful reading of Plato’s dialogues shows that they contain a robust and interesting conception of what the aims of inquiries ought to be and how these aims ought to be achieved, and how achieving those aims depends on fulfilling the mutual responsibilities of inquirers. For Plato, the best inquiry is an inquiry conducted in co-operation with others.

Moreover, Plato is well aware that inquiry has an affective and a motivational dimension. An excellent inquirer is someone who is motivated by the right things and genuinely open-minded, humble, and courageous. A well conducted inquiry promotes these features in inquirers and is conducive to overcoming adversity, dogmatism, or laziness.

The project will, further, show how Plato’s conception of norms of inquiry and virtues of inquirers is anchored in his broader epistemological and ethical commitments. We will establish fruitful connections between contemporary and Platonic epistemology.

Last modified: 2021-12-07