Most Plato scholarship characterizes Socrates's dialectic as cooperative, reciprocal, and open ended. This orthodoxy echoes Socrates's characterizations of it, but the dialectic's dramatizations rarely confirm it. Commentators recognizing this seek to protect the dialectic's image by maligning Socrates's interlocutors. Francisco Gonzalez's description of the Protagoras's “central crisis” exemplifies this approach. When a dispute over how to conduct the discussion threatens its dissolution, Gonzalez blames Protagoras, claiming that relativism forecloses conversation and community. I argue that Gonzalez elides alternative forms of community supported by other discursive practices and that Socrates's refusal to answer legitimate concerns about his methodological demands turns the dialectic into the “external, nondialogical, absolute standard” Gonzalez says it lacks.

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