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1. Edmunds now adds a reply to my criticism on this point. Since I have not the space to advance a detailed argument for Plato's superiority, I confine myself to indicating briefly that Edmunds falsely anticipates the line of argument that I would develop. I would not assert that Plato ought to be preferred simply because he is the "superior mind." On the contrary, I would argue that his portrait is superior because it corre - spends more closely to what other independent evidence reveals concerning Socrates' methods and effects. One part of this evidence is historical and political, concerning Socrates' friendships and political affiliations. I cannot go into that here, but Gregory Vlastos important paper, "The Historical Socrates and the Athenian Democracy," Political Theory (1983), shows that Xenophon's portrait is out of line with the totality of the independent historical evidence. Another part is the evidence of Socrates' importance and profound influence: the figure depicted in Xenophon is not, I think, one who could so have altered the history of thought. A third part is the fact of the indictment: for Xenophon, probably with deliberate whitewashing intent, depicts a fig - ure who could not easily have been found threatening towards tradition - al religion. A fourth and very important part is the evidence of Aristotle, which Edmunds invokes in his favor. For though Aristotle does as Edmunds says, distinguish the Platonic character from the historical figure, it is not the character of the early "Socratic" dialogues (the ones on which I wish to draw) that he so separates; it is, rather, the Socrates of dialogues such as the Republic (and even the Stranger of the Laws, whom he calls Socrates). These dialogues nobody but Burnet seriously holds to represent the position of the historical Socrates. Certainly I do not. tf one now examines the descriptions of the activity, methods, and views of the historical Socrates, as reported by Aristotle, one dis - covers that these fit very well, in fact, with what Plato depicts in the "Socratic dialogues" -- far better than they do with those of Xenophon's Socrates. This is all over-simple and needs much qualification; but it should suffice to show that Edmunds' brief rejoinder does not really dispose of my question.


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