Philosophy Today

Volume 68, Issue 2, Spring 2024

Jack Montgomery
Pages 381-400

The Socratic Moment

This essay attempts to rethink what is here called “the Socratic Moment” in Western philosophy, that is, the unique turn that philosophy takes in the early Socratic dialogues of Plato. The essay begins by contesting the traditional view that the goal of Socratic inquiry is to gain irrefutable knowledge of ethical concepts such as courage, justice, friendship, and the holy for the purposes of future action. It argues instead, through a close reading of key passages from Plato’s Apology and Euthyphro, that Socratic inquiry actually begins with the concept under consideration in order to put the interlocutor themself—their beliefs and their actions—into question.