Marie Curie fellowship from the European Union to Kristian Larsen
DICTUM is a basic research project focused on the technical core of Plato’s philosophy, that is, his conception of dialectic, the method that distinguishes philosophical inquiry from other kinds of inquiry.
The main objective of the project is to reexamine Plato’s notion of dialectic in order to test the hypothesis that, contrary to a near-consensus in contemporary scholarship, Plato’s dialogues embodies a unified notion of dialectic. This hypothesis does not entail the view that dialectic can be reduced to a single method. DICTUM rather assumes that Platonic dialectic operates through different approaches to what is investigated, but that these approaches are complementary and together point to a unified conception.
DICTUM’s main hypothesis subsumes four sub-hypotheses that will be tested in the course of the project: 1) Collection and division form an integral part of Platonic dialectic as such, a consequence of the fact that Plato regards the abilities to see likenesses between things, on the one hand, and to differentiate them, on the other, as defining features of the human intellect.
2) Collection and division may therefore be performed on a wide variety of subjects and are used in inquiries into both ontological and politico-ethical questions. 3) Socratic inquiry through question and answer employs collection and division. 4) The hypothetical method discussed in e.g. the Republic and the Phaedo, while not identical with collection and division, depends on collection and division.
DICTUM will result in four articles that will address each sub-hypothesis. The project will also include a lecture series on method and routes of inquiry in early Greek thought and an international conference on Plato’s conception of dialectic.
Larsen’s Supervisor on the project is Hallvard Fossheim.