Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 6, Issue 3/4, Fall/Winter 1999

Mary Bloodsworth
Pages 15-20

The Implications of Consistency
Plato on Protagoras and Heidegger on Technology

Scholars have argued that Socrates’s activity in Plato’s early dialogues involves generating, or exposing, logical inconsistencies within his interlocutors belief-sets. Possessing an inconsistent set of beliefs undermines coherence and is considered a great danger. In contrast to the prevailing view, I claim that it is not inconsistency as much as consistency that Socrates often regards as the greatest threat. Using the figure of Protagoras in Plato’s Protagoras and insights gained from Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” I suggest that it is Protagoras’s emphasis on technology and science (techne) that Socrates finds disturbing. It is Protagoras’s consistent shift in worldview away from Athenian belief in chance or luck (tuché), that poses the greatest danger, according to Socrates---a danger still evident, according to Heidegger, in the modern world.