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PHILOSOPHY OF SOCRATES Course #: 01:090:269:01 Title: The Philosophy of Socrates Brett Hall Wed 4:30-7:30pm Although he left no philosophical writings at all, Socrates was a pivotal thinker in ancient Greek culture in general and philosophy in particular. Using a short question and answer method of dialectical inquiry he would examine the ethical beliefs of anybody who claimed to have knowledge, and typically would undermine such claims by showing how the internal inconsistency of his respondent's moral beliefs. Plato wrote a number of fairly short dialogues that represent Socrates carrying about his characteristic activity, and from them we can learn the key features of Socratic method. Socrates was the first to turn his attention to the problem of giving general definitions of moral concepts with an eye to using them as a basis for knowledge, and yet famously he professed ignorance. In addition these dialogues introduce us to some of the fundamental themes of ancient Greek moral psychology, including the idea that virtue (or excellence of character) always contributes to happiness and the Socratic paradoxes that virtue is knowledge, that all wronging is involuntary, and that human virtue is so unified that it is impossible to possess one virtue with possessing them all. In this seminar we will read most of the so-called 'Socratic' dialogues of Plato (Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, Laches, Protagoras, Meno, Hippias Minor, Charmides and Lysis) as well as some of the current secondary literature on the above topics. As new topics are introduced we will have short presentations by students followed by in depth examinations of the accompanying philosophy. In consultation with the instructor each student will pick a seminar topic. Towards the end of the seminar each student will give a brief presentation to the class on their topic, and will then write a final version to submit at the end of the course. Possible seminar topics include: The unity of virtue, the possibility of knowing the better and doing the worse, no one errs willingly, Socratic dialectic (the unexamined life is not worth living), civil disobedience, the definition and moral knowledge, objective standards and moral relativism. No previous knowledge of philosophy or ancient Greek culture will be presupposed. This course should serve both as an introduction to ancient Greek ethics and to some of the perennial issues in moral philosophy. TEXT: Plato Complete Works , edited by John M. Coope r and D. S. Hutchinson (Hackett Pub Co ) PHILOSOPHY OF SOCRATES ?? SEPTEMBER FIRST
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Foucault said that knowledge is not made for understanding, it is made for cutting. I think knowledge is a false regime of classification that is strategic not objective, and I think that is why Socrates claimed to have none of it. Socrates Disavowal of Knowledge
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