Garth Kemerling's insightful
discussion of Socrates contains many links to concepts and people.
Michael S. Russo provides
a clear commentary to Socrates' life and ideas.
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.
Apology: Study Questions
To think about and look for when reading the original
Socrates make important references to the oracle.
learn about this remarkable aspect of history from Scientific American
J's Illustrated Apology
A detailed analysis of the trial of Socrates.
and The Apology
Lecture notes by Janice Siegel
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,
What is love?
--asked of his friends (Symposium)
What is truth?
--ask of the teachers (Gorgias,
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