Five Dialogues

ISBN: 0915145235
ISBN 13: 9780915145232
By: Plato G.M. Grube Donald J. Zeyl

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Reader's Thoughts


Who wouldn't love a series of dialogs from a smartass who walked around Athens asking people irritating questions until they finally decided to kill him? In all seriousness though, what I really identified with in this book is not so much the actual philosophy of Socrates, but his insistence on making people think about their beliefs and opinions.

John Ryan

I quite enjoyed this piece. All 5 of the works are short and sweet. Plus Plato has the added bonus of being easy to read (unlike Kant and Heidegger). I reviewed The Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, and Phaedo in my review of The Trial and Death of Socrates, and as such will not be further discussing those here. In Meno, Socrates teaches a young boy some basic principles in geometry, as well as how to solve the geometry problem. (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle required their students to study geometry for two years before they would teach them, as it built training skills, being equivalent to logic for current philosophy majors.) Socrates goes about this by asking his student some leading questions; however, in contrast to employing the Socratic Method in which he asks a series of questions in order to draw out a contradiction from his interlocutor, he makes a genuine effort to teach his student. After successfully teaching his student, Socrates concludes that all knowledge is contained within, and that it is the teacher's job to assist the students in realizing the knowledge that is contained within, and recognizing it as such. This principle may have been the basis for Descartes' theory of innate ideas, in which Descartes asserts that there are some ideas which human beings are born with, such as the idea that God exists. (After all, Plato was to the Ancient philosophers in Greece what Descartes was to modern philosophers in Europe: they both initiated an era with lots of great ideas and inspired their successors.) However, it has been said that all Western philosophy is a footnote to Plato; such a thing has never been said about Descartes. And that is why it is worth your time to read this piece.

Shalini Patras

Apolocy, Crito and Phaedo by Plato seem more like short booklets. In Apology Socrates defends himself in the court to the public of Athens. In Crito, Socrates dialogues with his friend, Crito about the virtue of going through his execution by drinking poison. The book raises many moral questions─how should a citizen face the death penalty when he or she is not guilty? What should you do when the public chose to unjustly condemn you? It is a superb dialogue on the virtue of obeying the laws of the nation, as its citizen. In Phaedo, Socrates dialogues with his friends who had come to visit him in prison on the day of his execution. The three readings evokes powerful emotions in the reader on morality, virtue, citizenship, and even religious leanings. The three writings of Plato, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo is available free of cost on I recommend everyone, especially those in leadership, be it parents, CEOs, or teachers to read these writings by Plato. Euthyphro and Meno were not a part of this collection that I got from Amazon.

Robert Sheard

I'm not sure how one "rates" Plato, and by extension, Socrates, but this gave me a headache. I can follow the logical chains in the dialogues, but I'm bothered by the unstated assumptions behind some of them. For example, in Phaedo, there's a long argument/proof explaining how Socrates "knows" that the soul exists separately from the body and that it exists both before the body and after it. He spends an inordinate amount of time proving the before and after existence while never addressing a single word to proving that the "soul" actually exists at all. Maybe it's in another dialogue; I don't know. I also have a problem with the idea that learning isn't really learning at all, but that we already have all of our knowledge before we're born (in the soul?) and then lose it when we're born and then "recollect" it throughout life. Again, if the whole soul assumption falls apart, so does this rather bizarre notion. Sorry, not buying it.

John Yelverton

A must read for those who want to understand how the world continues to work to this very day.

Eric Barger

It's Plato. Enough said...


I understand that the five Socratic dialogues presented here are are both culturally and historically significant to the development of philosophical reasoning in the western world. I get it: Socrates is a big deal and the “Socratic method” of proving hypotheses through dialectic questioning helped develop the foundation of philosophical inquiry. However, not being particularly versed in ancient Greek philosophy and thus lacking the critical reading techniques required to capably appreciate the methodical questioning utilized by Socrates throughout these dialogues, I found this to be a laborious and boring read. Many of the theories presented in the dialogues such as the philosophy of forms, evidence for piety, and the incorruptibility of the human soul have significance, however as I read them I couldn’t help but feel that humanity has progressed so far beyond these concepts to a greater understanding of human perception. Maybe if I read this in my late teens or early twenties I would have been more impressed because these dialogues are a foundation that so many other great thoughts have built upon, but in my thirties with a broad background in inquisitive reading under my belt, my impression of the Socratic dialogues was not inspired.

Hamza Hassoun



Apology quotes:"Socrates is guilty of wrongdoing in that he busies himself in studying things in the sky and below the earth; he makes the worse into the stronger argument, and he teaches these same things to others.""Socrates is guilty of corrupting the young and of not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other new spiritual things.""To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.""Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.""...and what do I deserve to suffer or to pay because I have deliberately not led a quiet life but have neglected what occupies most people..."


It was nice to go back to these after some time away. The Phaedo is longer than I remembered, too; but the ending myth of the cycle of souls is fantastic.


پنج گفتگوEuthyphro / Apology / Crito / Meno / Phaedo


on to plato from the pre-socratics. we started with the apology this week. i can't think of anything i've ever read that's more moving. how did i forget?[update: today i finished the phaedo, and i fucking wept. in the 10am sunshine.][update: by 'read' i mean i've read two of the five, and will now, of necessity, retire the book until at least january. but i get it. i have to read them all. i have to read all of plato. i'll just plow through this one little semester, and on the other side will be the time i need to do it in.]


Criticizing Plato's logic is like finding fault with medieval helicopter schematics because you can't use them to produce an actual helicopter. Plato, Socrates and their cohorts were making up rhetorical forms on the fly, so it's almost beside the point to note that their arguments themselves weren't always airtight or that they spent a lot of time developing lines of thought that can't really be subjected to logical proofs. Plato is up to his usual tricks here, setting Socrates against a selection of debate stooges, who are invariably persuaded by Socrates, whether each step of his arguments exactly makes sense or not. Imagine the Lincoln-Douglas debates conducted by Abbott & Costello: the exchanges don't always add up to anything in terms of logic, but you're willing to follow them to see where they take you, not least, in the case of Five Dialogues, because of the critical importance of the subject matter. Socrates is caught here on his march toward execution, so this collection offers important insight into a pivotal moment in Western Philosophy and history, not to mention an invaluable glimpse into ancient Athens and the beginnings of western ethics and epistemology. Best read standing up in a used book store.


Mine is the 1942 edition!


This is is probably one of most essential book for any one who wants to know more about philosophy.I have read most of the dialogues before and every time you read it you get something new, like the bible. Yes, I believe this should be any philosophers bible, the one only guide understanding other philosophy works and a guide to how to do work out your own "the best way to think about things". I say this because when I first read Euthypro I did not understand anything. The second time I read it, I understood in the end Euthypro did not know what piety is even though in the beginning who seem to very confident what it meant. The third time I read it, I began to see how Socrates was being Ironic as to boast Euthypro's knowledge and baiting him into discussion that makes Euthypro foolish. I probably get more out if it if I read it again and again.This was same with Apology. It was my first time reading the Crito, Meno, and Phaedo it was tough read, and again I did not really comprehend much from it. However, I will probably get something new when I read it again.Ultimately, These dialogues shows how great Writer and Philosopher Plato is, and also what a great Philosopher Socrates. Even if most people did not like Socrates during his time, I know he has been loved more by great thinkers after his demise. True Legend.

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