The article asks the question, "Why did Plato not write his 'unwritten doctrines'?", and finds the answer in the combination of two obstacles. The first derives from the limitations of the episteme available to an embodied soul about such subjects as the essence of the good. Even if the dialectician has access to a kind of knowledge, the lack of fit between the unchanging essences and the precarious logoi which aim to identify them (and allow others some measure of access to them) could never be fully overcome. At most, Socrates (or Plato] can lead souls only to an incomplete account of them: even to the most expert dialectician, only a claim to knowledge but no unsurpassable certainty may be available. An even greater obstacle lies in the audience or readership itself: no short cut to understanding is possible, and yet a mere written presentation, which is all they have, is just a short cut, and so holds out an empty promise.