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Bloomsbury Academic


Did Socrates have a metaphysics? The question is complex. We might begin by asking, what is a metaphysics? We might also ask, who we mean by Socrates? Let me deal with these questions in order. Metaphysics is concerned with what lies at the foundation of things, the principles underlying reality. ln this essay, that will mean primarily an ontology, a theory of 'what there is'. Now one point on which the authors discussed in this article agree, a 'point of departure' that anchors their various views about Socratic metaphysics, is that Plato had a metaphysics: as Gregory Vlastos puts it, 'a grandiose theory of "separately existing" Forms' (Vlastos 1991: 48). 1 This ontology is found in the Phaedo, Symposium and Republic. Our authors agree further that the Platonic Forms are universals, causes, paradigms or standards, and in some sense self-predicational ('the Form of F itself is F'). Given this level of agreement on Platonic metaphysics, we can ask three questions about Socratic metaphysics: Did Socrates espouse Platonic metaphysics? Did he espouse some predecessor to Platonic metaphysics? Or was Socrates 'innocent' of metaphysics?

Chapter of

The Bloomsbury Companion to Socrates


John Bussanich
Nicholas Smith


Copyright © 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission.



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