2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

The Cave-Dwelling Alcibiades
Greg S. Wiser
Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentor

Alcibiades, the notorious figure of ancient Athenian public life, alternately garnered the respect and deepest censure of his fellow citizens. His traitorous behavior makes him a problematic figure in Plato’s works, since Plato’s contemporaries viewed Alcibiades as influenced by Plato’s intellectual forebear, Socrates. In The Symposium, Plato links Alcibiades’ speech detailing his relationship with Socrates to themes and images from the “Cave Allegory” of The Republic, thereby calling into question Alcibiades’ claims to care about philosophy and about Socrates. Plato aligns Alcibiades’ speech with the Allegory in several important ways. Both pieces draw frequently upon language of compulsion and discuss the pain involved in philosophical discovery. Further, both pieces explore the character of philosophical knowledge and how it can be transmitted between individuals. By comparing the representations of these issues in Alcibiades’ speech with those in the Allegory, Plato’s disapproval of Alcibiades’ understanding of philosophy emerges.

Keywords: Plato, Alcibiades, The Republic, The Symposium, Ancient Greece, Ancient Philosophy, Socrates, Allegory of the Cave

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 58-2
Location: VH 1232
Time: 4:00

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