Socrates notes


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Socrates notes

  1. 1. Notes on Socrates (F.Long 3/12/2012) 1. Distinguish between the historical Socrates and the character named in Plato’s Dialogues as ‘Socrates’ 2. Plato’s early dialogues are reportedly closer to presenting the historical Socrates than the later dialogues. The dialogues that interest us are early dialogues like Charmides, Ion, Alcibiades and Laches. Even though each of these names refer to historical characters, I use italics to refer to the Dialogue by that name. 3. Consider these four historical characters: a. Charmides was about 17 and not sure of who he was, what he stood for and where he would go in life. Historic ally he would be he uncle of Plato and a leader in the botched form of tyranny which in 404BCE led to Sparta winning the Peloponnesian war with Sparta. Socratic questioning is used to prod Charmides forward and give him a sense of his own identity. b. Ion was already an accomplished actor (rhapsode) who enthralled many with his public performances of Homer’s poetry. It transpired that he only liked Homer and no other poet. Socratic questioning asks whether it is possible to understand Homer but to dislike all other poetry. Socrates suggests that Ion lacks depth of knowledge. c. Alcibiades was a beautiful, rich and talented youth who had no sense of moral responsibility. His considerable military and political ability meant that he soon became a leader in Athenian society and eventually one of the 30 tyrants. Socratic questioning challenged him continually on the point of his moral vacuity but Socrates never succeeded in developing any moral sense in him. d. Laches was a famous general who had fought in several wars. The dialogue Laches is principally about the concern of two parents, Lysimachus and Melesias who fear for their children. They seek out either the proper education or knowledge for their sons that might guarantee that they would act courageously in battle and therefore ‘come to something’ in Athenian eyes. 4. Did Socrates’ manner of interrogation undermine the values of Athenian society? Did it encourage anarchy and rebellion? What role do educators have as disruptors of tradition or conservatives of tradition? 5. Consider the characters in the Laches: Laches Nicias Socrates Lysimachus Melesias
  2. 2. Thucydides Aristides6. What might give their sons courage? a. Learning strategies of combat? (Laches 182c) b. Learning the use of weapons? c. Learning to be good (Laches 186c), living courageously on a daily basis Query: The ‘time-now’ skill of standing firm on a battlefield, in what was does this resemble presentation on X-factor?7. The parents do not find any guaranteed answer8. Meaning of courage today a. The courage to stand up on the battlefield and to face death b. The courage to face difficulties Sickness Unemployment Emigration and separation Disappointment To be encouraged, not discouraged To gather yourself up when the time comes To see the positive side To become positive about yourself To project this outwards in various ways To become present in the world