Dialectic in Late Plato – Leeds – 19th May, 2016.

You are warmly invited to a day workshop on “Dialectic in Late Plato”, to be held at the University of Leeds (IDEA Centre), 19th May, 2016, 10am-5pm. Lunch provided.


  • Dr Matthew Duncombe (Durham)
  • Dr Fiona Leigh (UCL)
  • Prof. Vasilis Politis (TCD)

Workshop Theme and Context:

What is dialectic? What is it for? How should it be practised (or exercised)? The workshop poses these questions in relation to Plato’s Republic and post-Republic dialogues.

Robinson’s 1953 work proposed that “dialectic” was simply Plato’s name for whatever his favoured philosophical method of inquiry was. More recent scholarship has brought to the fore a number of questions that suggest that understanding dialectic in Plato is a much more complex matter. These questions include:

  • how much continuity we should find between dialectic in later Plato and the kind of distinctive conversation-based style used by Socrates;
  • how significant the inter-personal nature of “dialogue” is for “dialectic”
    the extent to which one should see persuasive elements within dialectic;
  • how we should understand the relationship between dialectic and methods of collection and division;
  • how we should connect an understanding of dialectic in these later Platonic works with what we know of competitive dialectical practices within the Academy;
  • what level of continuity we should discern between dialectic in the Platonic diaogues, and later (e.g. Aristotelian) views of dialectic;
  • how an understanding of dialectic might explain the ways in which it is contrasted with rhetoric in some dialogues;
  • how an understanding of dialectic explains the ways in which it can contribute to rhetoric.

Against this background, the workshop returns to the dialogues to elucidate the understanding of dialectic in play in the arguments of particular works. The workshop’s focus will be on careful interpretation of key passages in late Platonic works. But the questions listed above show that this carries much wider significance for our understanding of the nature and value of dialectic, and of philosophical method, in Plato and beyond.


Please register in advance (no charge; include any special dietary requirements) here:


Administrative enquiries (registration, dietary requirements): idea@leeds.ac.uk

Other inquiries: Jamie Dow (j.dow@leeds.ac.uk)
Hosted by the Leading Minds research project (IDEA Centre, University of Leeds) and by the Yorkshire Ancient Philosophy Network (part of the White Rose Centre for the History of Philosophy (CHiPhi)).


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