References

Socrates
Garth Kemerling's insightful discussion of Socrates contains many links to concepts and people.

Who Was Socrates?
Michael S. Russo provides a clear commentary to Socrates' life and ideas.

The Apology
The mind altering depiction of the trial of Socrates. really, this work changed the world and if you read it well it will change you too.

The Apology: Study Questions
To think about and look for when reading the original text.

The Delphic Oracle
Socrates make important references to the oracle. learn about this remarkable aspect of history from Scientific American magazine.

Dr. J's Illustrated Apology
A detailed analysis of the trial of Socrates.

Socrates and The Apology
Lecture notes by Janice Siegel

 

Socrates I

He never wrote any philosophical works. He conducted philosophy by holding conversations with just about anyone who would talk with him. These conversations, as portrayed in Plato's Dialogues (Plato was his student) usually consist of Socrates asking questions that lead his conversant to further and further question their own beliefs. The self-doubt many felt after conversing with Socrates was uncomfortable enough that the Athenian assembly eventually voted to put him to death. Actually, Socrates had plenty of opportunities to escape this punishment, but choose to hold his ground on principle. He regarded cowardice and hypocrisy as fates worse than death. Socrates is as remarkable for his character and actions as he is for his ideas.

Socratic Method: Perhaps the most influential innovation that Socrates left to Western culture is the technique of question and definition (The Socratic method). He habitually started his conversations with others by asking them for an account of some concept;
     What is justice? --asked of the politicians (The Republic)
[in parenthesis is the platonic dialogue dealing with that question]
     What is piety? --asked of a young man accusing his own father in court of impiety (Euthyphro)
     What is knowledge? --asked of students (Meno, Theatetus)
     What is love? --asked of his friends (Symposium)
     What is truth? --ask of the teachers (Gorgias, Protagoras)
     What is art? --asked of the poets (Ion)
     What is courage? --asked of the generals (Laches)
The remarkable part is that almost all of the people to whom he put these questions claimed at first to know the answers. Through a process of questioning and testing hypotheses he inevitably led the other person to the inescapable conclusion that their own thinking was riddled with uncertainties and contradictions, and that they did not really know what they thought they knew at all. Most of Plato's dialogues take their titles from the main characters with whom Socrates has his discussion. Needless to say, many people were not pleased to have to admit their ignorance of the very subjects on which they were taken to be experts. Ever since Socrates, philosophers have largely identified their efforts with the inquiry that follows a question of the form "What is X?"

Next - learn about the condition of Socratic Ignorance

 


 

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