Vol. 38 No. 1 (2018): Back to Ancient Questions? / Tornare alle domande degli Antichi?

Socrates and the <em>Ti Esti</em> Question

Kenneth Seeskin
Northwestern University

Published 2018-07-23


  • Socrates,
  • virtue,
  • ti esti,
  • immoralism,
  • knowledge,
  • ...More

How to Cite

Seeskin, K. (2018). Socrates and the <em>Ti Esti</em> Question. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 38(1), 9–21. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v38i1.27


Socrates is frequently identified with the well-known question is ti esti? (What is it?). Most of his interlocutors are deceived by the extreme simplicity of this question and his detractors believe he does not know what an arête is. To this Socrates replies that he not only does not know what it is arête, but he has never met anyone who has done it. Using a term in ordinary speech does not insure that one has the kind of knowledge Socrates is seeking. The problem is not that arête is a technical or unfamiliar term but that as Socrates’ discussion with Meno soon reveals, it is a disputed one.