Purification through emotions: The role of shame in Plato's Sophist 230b4-e5

Laura Candiotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article proposes an analysis of Plato’s Sophist (230b4–e5) that underlines the bond between the logical and the emotional components of the Socratic elenchus, with the aim of depicting the social valence of this philosophical practice. The use of emotions characterizing the ‘elenctic’ method described by Plato is crucial in influencing the audience and is introduced at the very moment in which the interlocutor attempts to protect his social image by concealing his shame at being refuted. The audience, thanks to Plato’s literary strategy, realizes the failures of the interlocutor even as he refuses to accept them. As a result, his social image becomes tarnished. Purification through shame reveals how the medium is strictly related to the endorsement of specific ethical and political goals, making the Platonic dialogs the tools for the constitution of a new paideia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Early online date6 Sep 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2017


  • Plato
  • dialog
  • shame
  • elenchus
  • katharsis


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