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The Dialogues of Plato

Plato1 did not write philosophical treatises in the abstract fashion familiar from more recent times but rather composed works called dialogues from their form as conversations or reported conversations. Almost as if they were short plays, the dialogues have settings2 and casts of conversationalists (often including Socrates), who talk about philosophical issues. Divorcing the philosophical content of a Platonic dialogue from its literary form is no doubt a mistaken approach; a dialogue of Plato demands to be taken as a whole. The dialogues were meant to provoke readers into thoughtful reflection rather than to spoon-feed them a circumscribed set of doctrines.

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