englischCritics have shown an interest in the subject of techné in the Platonic dialogues, treating it on the one hand as a concept for the history of techniques, and, on the other, as a concept within Plato's philosophy, mainly with regard to Socratic method and moral theory (the craft analogy). Yet both groups of critics confuse the concept of techné with the modern concept of 'craft' (or technique), that is, a rational and explicable process resulting in a separate object. This misconception justifies a new analysis of the vocabulary of techné in Plato's dialogues. Techné means 'liberal arts' as well as 'crafts'. That the structure of the vocabulary bears the mark of its Sophistic use also implies a new approach to the problem at hand. First, the craft-analogy is not constitutive of Socrates' moral theory, for the craft of virtue is part of the elenchos as long as sophistry is refuted. Second, some Platonic features (the techné of politics in the Politicus, the division of labour in the Republic, the Demiurge in the Timaeus) can best be understood as rewritings of Sophistic concepts.
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