|The question of whether Plato's dialogues present his own doctrines is a very old one (ancient Platonists themselves divided on this question, with Antiochus and the "Old Academy" saying yes, and Carneades and the "New Academy" saying no). (Plato's 7th letter has been interpreted as saying no too, but I don't think that's the right interpretation, and anyway that letter is -- indeed all Plato's letters are -- of dubious authenticity.) The debate continues today, and Fred Seddon and I are obviously on opposite sides of it. (Note that just as I interpret Plato's dialogues as presenting Plato's own views, so I'm assuming that Seddon's dialogues present his own views too...)|
For present purposes I'll just express some puzzlement at the following comment that Seddon puts in Plato's mouth:
> Aristotle got it pretty much right. After
> all, he was my student and colleague for 20
> years. Read his stuff and see what he reports
> on me.
I agree that we should take Aristotle's testimony about Plato seriously, for just these reasons, but I think this fact supports my interpretive strategy better than Seddon's. After all, Aristotle in his treatises is constantly referring to doctrines from Plato's dialogues and calling them Plato's doctrines: Plato believes this, Plato teaches that, etc. (Aristotle tells us, for example, that Plato believed in Forms and Socrates didn't.) So Aristotle, Plato's student and colleague for 20 years, seems to have interpreted Plato's dialogues as setting forth Plato's positive doctrines. And surely Aristotle was in a better position to judge Plato's intentions than Carneades was.
(We also know from ancient testimony that Aristotle himself wrote dialogues, now sadly lost except for fragments; and in his treatises Aristotle will ocasionally refer the reader to them for fuller explanation of some point, implying that he sees his own dialogues the same way.)