Plato, dialectic

Plato begins to discuss the word “dialectic” near the end of Book VII. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines dialectic as “logic” or “discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation” (link). Leading up to and after this, he discusses with Glaucon the importance of education and looking upward. In this context, he seems to be adding his own twist to M-W’s definition. Not only is it logic or reasoning but also the journey on which the reasoning sends you; it “awaken[s] the best part of the soul and lead[s] it upward” (1148). The two conclude that dialectic is the most important ability, just above arithmetic. It seems as if the combination of arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy is also included in his definition of the word. One must understand logic and be able to question things to come to one’s own conclusions, therefore coming closer to the ultimate “good” in order to even begin to fully understand the three subjects and use them well.

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