Conversaciones erísticas (Coventry)

06 Mar

In the Euthydemus, the eristic brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus are represented form the outset as indifferent to the truth: their skill lies in refuting any statement, true as well as false (272a8-b1). Their lack of concern for their respondents is epitomized in Euthydemus’ dissociation of himself from Socrates at 296. (…) Typical of the brothers’ combative approach to argument (Socrates’ initial description of them, at 271c-272b, is rich in words of conflict and compatitiveness [1]), this dissociation and opposition excludes the adaptation to a particular interlocutor’s needs and abilities which Socrates demands from dialectic.

Dionysodorus manifests the twofold indifference of the eristics in a particularly telling way as he and his brother begin to demonstrate their skill by questioning the young Cleinias. Whatever answer the boy makes to Euthydemus’ first question, Dionysodorus predicts to Socrates, he will be refuted (275e5-6). Cleinias is trated here with the lack of concern for his beliefs and understanding from which Socrates also suffers later as the sophists’ respondent. Euthydemus insists that Socrates should answer the questions put to him without ensuring that he understands them, or understands them in the same sense as the questioner (295b-c). (…) The brothers’ failure to recognize the search for truth as a purpose in argument beyond that of victory over an opponent is of a piece with their lack of interest in the identity of their respondent and his understanding of the issues.

Lucinda Coventry, “The role of the interlocutor in Plato’s dialogues”, en: Ch. Pelling (ed.), Characterization and individuality in Greek literature, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990, pp. 176-177.


[1] La autora remite en nota a Eutidemo 271-2, destacando como términos combativos: pagkratiastaí, pammákho, mákhesthai, mákhen, agonísasathai, antârai.

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