What are the Platonic dialogues?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Platonic dialogues are the writings in which Plato lays out his philosophy.  They are called dialogues because they are written as a series of conversations as opposed to simple treatises on philosophy.

In these dialogues, Plato himself is never "present."  Instead, the dialogues feature some teacher (typically Socrates) is having a discussion with some person about a particular philosophical issue.  Because of this, we do not really know how the extent to which the ideas presented in the dialogues are those of Plato.  They may well be a mix of Plato's own ideas and those of Socrates or others.

The Platonic dialogues, then, are a series of philosophical works written in the form of dialogues between two or more people.