Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 2, Spring 2011

Benjamin A. Rider
Pages 395-413

Self-Care, Self-Knowledge, and Politics in the Alcibiades I

In the Alcibiades I, Socrates argues for the importance of self-knowledge. Recent interpreters contend that the self-knowledge at issue here is knowledge of an impersonal and purely rational self. I argue against this interpretation and advance an alternative. First, the passages proponents of this interpretation cite—Socrates’ argument that the self is the soul, and his suggestion that Alcibiades seek self-knowledge by looking for his soul’s reflection in the soul of another—do not unambiguously support their reading. Moreover, other passages, particularly Socrates’ cross-examination of Alcibiades, suggest the contrary reading, that self-knowledge includes knowledge of qualities peculiar to the individual.