Plato's Hippias Major has usually been taken to be a comic dialogue, and rightly so. Its main theme is the καλόν, but what is primarily targeted and harshly mocked throughout the dialogue is Hippias’ pretence of having σοφία, which should allow him to define what the καλόν consists in. Yet, καλόν is an ambiguous term since, besides its aesthetic meaning, it also usually means the ‘morally right’. Not being able to define what καλόν is therefore also amounts to being unable to define what the right is. And indeed, the genuine σοφία, as Plato will tell us explicitly, is the σοφία that helps people, especially the youth, to become morally better (see especially 283c4, where Socrates has Hippias wholeheartedly admitting that his σοφία is supposed to aim at εἰς ἀρετὴν βελτίους ποιεῖν). Thus, the serious conclusion Plato wants his reader to draw is, first, that the well-known sophist Hippias (and perhaps all the sophists, more generally) have no real σοφία despite their very name, and second, and most importantly, that they cannot help anyone become virtuous, and that therefore their claim of educating people in moral goodness proves to be specious.
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