Phaedrus lures Socrates outside the walls of Athens, where he seldom goes, by promising to share a new work by his friend and mentor, Lysias, a famous writer of speeches. This dialogue provides a powerful example of the dialectical writing that Plato uses to manifest ideas that are essential to human existence and to living a good life. Phaedrus shows how oral and written forms of language relate to each other and to philosophy.
Gorgias of Leontini, a famous teacher of rhetoric, has come to Athens to recruit students, promising to teach them how to become leaders in politics and business. A group has gathered at Callicles' house to hear Gorgias demonstrate the power of his art. This dialogue blends comic and serious discussion of the best life, providing a penetrating examination of ethics.
A dialogue between Socrates and Meno probes the subject of ethics. Can goodness be taught? If it can, then we should be able to find teachers capable of instructing others about what is good and bad, right and wrong, or just and unjust.
The Phaedrus by Plato, is a dialogue between Plato's protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. It was probably written around 370 BC, at about the same time as Plato's Republic and Symposium. Ostensibly about love, the discussion in the dialogue focuses on the art of rhetoric and how it ought to be practiced. The dialogue appears in the direct words of Socrates and Phaedrus, without an introduction.
Socrates is in prison, sentenced to die when the sun sets. In this final conversation, he asks what will become of him once he drinks the poison prescribed for his execution. Socrates and his friends examine several arguments designed to prove that the soul is immortal. This quest leads him to the broader topic of the nature of mind and its connection not only to human existence but also to the cosmos itself. What could be a better way to pass the time between now and the sunset?
Socrates questions Ion, an actor who just won a major prize, about his ability to interpret the epic poetry of Homer. How does an actor, a poet, or any other artist create? Is it by knowing? Is it by inspiration? As the dialogue proceeds, the nature of human creativity emerges as a mysterious process and an unsolved puzzle.
In Euthyphro, Socrates is on his way to the court, where he must defend himself against serious charges brought by religious and political authorities. On the way he meets Euthyphro, an expert on religious matters who has come to prosecute his own father. Socrates questions Euthyphro's claim that religion serves as the basis for ethics. Euthyphro is not able to provide satisfactory answers to Socrates' questions, but their dialogue leaves us with the challenge of making a reasonable connection between ethics and religion.
Laches, a general in the Athenian army, saw Socrates fight bravely in the battle of Delium. When he and Nicias, another general, are asked to explain the idea of courage, they are at a loss, and words fail them. How does courage differ from thoughtless and reckless audacity? Can a lion be said to be courageous? What about small children who have little idea of the dangers they face? Should we call people courageous who do not know whether their bravery will produce good or bad consequences?
Critias is one of Plato's late dialogues and contains the story of the mighty island kingdom Atlantis and its attempt to conquer Athens, which failed due to the ordered society of the Athenians. Critias is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, preceded by Timaeus and followed by Hermocrates. The latter was possibly never written, and Critias was left incomplete. This edition was translated by Benjamin Jowett in 1871.