IF the dialogues are to be used in this way in order to extract Plato's philosophy from them, it becomes of the first importance to discover the order in which they were written. It would be of the greatest help and interest if we could discover also some definite dates for the composition of the more important dialogues. But that is not so essential as a knowledge of the order. It follows, also, if the dialogues are as described, that we cannot hope to work out a logical order of the development of the thought contained in them, and then apply this as a proof of the chronological order. Since the dialogues were not written as a connected exposition of a system of philosophy, it stands to reason that they cannot give us the information necessary for such an arrangement. And earlier scholars who attempted to work out an order by this method alone revealed its impotence by the startlingly divergent results at which they arrived.1 It is indeed a method which is foredoomed to failure. For it involves not merely trying to impose a system on Plato, but each one of us trying to impose his own system. On the other hand, it is clear that, if we could arrive on other grounds at an ordering of the dialogues, our results would receive a welcome confirmation if they provided a reasonable picture of the logical development of Plato's thought.