Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Louis Ruprecht, Jr. - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy O'Keefe

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Lindsay


“Irony, Finitude and The Good Life,” examines the notion that Socrates, as he is portrayed in the Platonic dialogues, ought to be viewed and interpreted as a teacher. If this assertion is correct, then it is both appropriate and useful to look to the dialogues for instruction on how to live a philosophical life. This thesis will argue that to look at Socrates as a teacher, a figure who imparts knowledge to those around him on how to live a philosophical life, misses the very conception of the good life that Plato sought to personify when he created the character of Socrates. The proceeding discussion draws upon the work of Alexander Nehamas and Drew Hyland, offering an alternate interpretation of the Symposium. This interpretation argues that viewing Socrates as a teacher falsely idealizes the philosophical life, in turn neglecting Plato’s greater legacy for his character—a legacy in which true virtue lies in exposing the creative possibility inherent in living a philosophical life and prompting one’s own expression of a life inspired by the legacy of Socrates.

Included in

Philosophy Commons