Yes, says Critias; a science of oneself. Critias says that it is a science about all other sciences, thus including itself.

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Socrates, after some consideration, finds this paradoxical. But whether acting scientifically would make us fare well and be happy, this we have yet to learn, my dear Critias.

What is it about science that can make us happy? Is it that we can make shoes or work bronze?

SparkNotes: Charmides: General Summary

To the happy man who knows everything scientifically, it is the knowledge of good and evil that makes him particularly happy. Now Socrates merely has to wrap up his work of deconstructing the very concept of sophrosyne. But when push comes to shove, does the physician need moral knowledge to be able to produce health? Does the cobbler require it to produce shoes? Here, Socrates has separated morality wholly from technique.

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The Charmides is a dialogue of Plato, in which Socrates engages a handsome and popular boy in a conversation about the meaning of sophrosyne, a Greek. Charmides son of Glaucon, was an Athenian statesman who flourished during the 5th century BC. An uncle of Plato, Charmides appears in the Platonic dialogue.

The common denominator is a tension between the kind of knowledge that constitutes technical expertise, and the reflective understanding of moral truths that Socrates is so keen to dig up. Especially, it means that our task is not exhausted by making sure that all social tasks are performed competently.

The question is not just, given what needs to be done, who can do it best and how. The question is what needs to be done at all. But that is precisely why this dialogue is so interesting. Between them, Charmides and Critias possess charisma, virtue, reflective capabilities; they radiate a competence to rule. Socrates tells Critias that there would be no shame in his just talking to the beautiful and popular boy, even if he were younger than he is.


Critias agrees and tells an attendant to tell Charmides to come and see the physician "iatros" about an illness that Charmides has complained about. Critias suggests that Socrates pretend to know a cure for a headache to lure the boy over. Charmides first suggests that sophrosyne is a kind of quietness b. Socrates talks him out of this, and Charmides proposes that sophrosyne is the same as modesty.

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Socrates says this can't be right because Homer whose authority they both accept on this point says that modesty is not good for all people, but it is agreed that sophrosyne is e. Charmides proposes that temperance is minding your own business. Socrates finds this particularly offensive, and tells Charmides that he must have heard this from some fool b. Socrates can tell from the uneasy look on Critias face that this was his idea, and they exchange some words.

Socrates says to him testily that at his age, Charmides can hardly be expected to understand temperance e. At this point in the argument, Critias takes up the argument with Socrates suggesting that temperance might be the same as self-knowledge. Socrates confesses as they discuss this that his motive in refuting Critias is to examine himself, that he pursues the argument for his own sake c,d.

Critias' suggestion that sophrosyne is self-knowledge spurs Socrates to a discussion of the relation between medicine and science. He says that medicine is the science of health and disease, and that a person who does not understand these things is not in a position to distinguish a real physician from a quack c. He says that if wisdom really is knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know, no one would ever make a mistake, and we would pass through life without erring. He concludes that this does not happen, and that science is impossible.

Socrates says he dreams, however, of a world in which no one pretends to be something he is not a-d. In the end, Socrates appears to have recruited a new disciple to philosophy: Charmides says he is willing to be charmed every day by Socrates, and Critias tells the boy that if he is willing to do this, he will have proof of his temperance. Charmides says that if his guardian instructs him to submit to Socrates' charms, then he would be wrong not to do it.

Plato - Charmides - A Lit Summary

Socrates' analogy, that ignorance is to the philosopher what disease is to the physician, is important and persistent in the dialogues. And everywhere, Socrates fails to effect a cure. In the Protagoras , for example, when the sophist Prodicus accuses Socrates of making a mess of their discussion, Socrates accepts the complaint and calls himself a laughable doctor geloios iatros , whose treatment not only does not cure the disease, it worsens it Protagoras e.

A Science of Science? Plato’s Charmides

A variation on the medical theme is in the Theaetetus , where Socrates compares himself to a midwife who helps boys and men give birth to their ideas. He says there that he never having conceived of a viable idea himself is barren, and has frequently had to commit the intellectual equivalent of infanticide Theaetetus e. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.