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Eristic Trickery

In response to:

Large Questions from the July 7, 1966 issue

To the Editors:

I wish to comment briefly on a silly remark about Plato made by Anthony Quinton in his review of Jonas, Grene, and Bronowski. The remark reads: “A silly question of Plato’s (how we can set out to discover new knowledge unless we know what we want to know already) is given a sensible interpretation (how do we get new knowledge), a kind of tour de force of which that philosopher is infinitely susceptible.” If Quinton had taken the trouble to look up the passages on which his remark is based (Meno, 80d-81a3) he would have seen:

1) That the question is raised not by Plato, nor by his Socrates, but by Meno.

2) That Plato’s Socrates regards the question as an eristic trick, and thinks very little of it (81a3). Perhaps Quinton had better stick to the Large Questions.

Hilail Gildin

Queens College

Flushing, New York

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