Dialectic in xenophon’s Memorabilia: Responding to 4.6

William Henry Furness Altman


A consideration of Memorabilia 4.6 as a whole and in context reveals that Xenophon’s Socrates taught his companions to be “more dialectical” (dialektikōtéroi) by deliberately offering them bad, simplistic, or fallacious arguments in order to provoke debate, discussion, and dialectic. This reading indicates why Xenophon introduces the chapter modestly by saying “I will try to explain even this” (the first words of 4.6.1) and why some of the arguments that follow have generated a decidedly mixed scholarly response. Although the chapter as a whole will be analyzed and discussed, particular attention is given to the use of the word “hypothesis” in the chapter (4.6.13-14) and the fact that Socrates identifies Odysseus as “a safe speaker” at 4.6.15.


Xenophon. Socrates. Dialectic. Akrasía. Odysseus.

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ISSN 2179-9180



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