OXFORD TUTORIALS

GBT 2 Study Questions Pt. 8
Theaetetus

24. Theaetetus (pp. 15-75; 142a- 177e)

1. Who is Theaetetus, and what is the question which Socrates wants to discuss with him?

2. What is Theaetetus' first answer, and how does Socrates respond to it (146d-e)?

3. When Theaetetus expresses discouragement about finding an answer, how does Socrates say that he can help him?   How does Socrates describe his profession?

4. According to Socrates, how did the earlier Greek philosophers understand reality (152c-157d)?

5. What does Socrates say is the "foundation" of philosophy (155d)?

6. What problems does Socrates find in Protagoras' idea that "Man is the measure of all things" (161c-e)?

7. What does Theaetetus conclude from Socrates' example about learning a foreign language (163a-c)?

8. What evidence does Socrates give against the Protagoras' idea "that each person is self-sufficient with regard to intelligence" (169a-170c)?

9. What problem does Socrates point out with the name which Protagoras chose for his book, The Truth (171a)?

10.  According to Socrates, what is the difference between philosophers and lawyers (172c-174a)?  How does the example about Thales illustrate this point?

11. What kinds of questions interest the philosopher (175a-e)?

12. What does Socrates mean by "assimilation to God," and how does he think it can be accomplished (176a-e)?   How might a Christian respond to Socrates about this idea?

13. What does Socrates think will be the "inescapable... penalty for immorality" (176e-177a)? 

14. What is one way that Socrates thinks can lead an arrogant, ungodly man toward the truth (177b)?


25. Theaetetus
(pp. 76-131; 178a-210d)

1. How does a consideration of knowledge "about things that will occur in the future" affect the "man-measure" principle of Protagoras?  What do Socrates and Theaetetus conclude from their investigation of doctors, farmers, cooks, etc. (178a-179a)?

2. How does Socrates support his view that if Protagoras is correct, then "every answer to any question is equally correct" (179a-183a)?

3. What is the point of Socrates' Trojan Horse illustration (184d)?

4. What leads Socrates to conclude that "knowledge is not located in immediate sense experience but in reasoning" (185e-186d)?

5. How does Socrates define "thinking" and "belief" (189e-190d)?

6. To understand how "false belief" could take place, Socrates compares memory to a "wax block."   How does this illustration help explain how a "false belief" could occur (191c-194b)?

7. Socrates compares his notion of "mental wax" to Homer's understanding of the "heart" because of a similarity in the Greek words for "heart" (ker) and "wax" (keros).   List all of the potential qualities of wax which Socrates compares with the potential quality of memory (194c-195a).

8. Socrates' proposes an example in which the correct sum of five and seven is mistaken for "eleven."  This kind of mistake proves the possibility of "a purely mental error."  How does this kind of error prove his earlier thinking about "false belief" to have been wrong (195c-196c)?

9. How does Socrates' analogy of the mind to an "aviary" help to explain how the mind may have "possession of knowledge" without having immediate access to that knowledge (196d-198d)?

10. Although this approach to knowledge (as true belief) looked promising, especially with the example of the aviary, Socrates still rejects it.  Why?  How do orators, lawyers, and juries prove that "true belief" is something different than knowledge (198e-201c)?

11. Now Socrates and Theaetetus make a new attempt to explain knowledge as "true belief accompanied by a rational account" (201d).  Socrates proposes three possible understandings of a "rational account" (206c-208e).  Summarize the three possibilities.   Which possibility does Socrates favor?

12.  Although this understanding also looks hopeful at first, Socrates rejects it.  Why?  (209d-e)

13. How do Socrates and Theaetetus conclude their discussion?  What is the final result of Socrates' "midwifery" (210b)?

14. What does Socrates say to comfort and encourage Theaetetus (210c-d)?