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DISCUSSION QUESTION:

This week I would like you to discuss Plato’s Apology and Phaedo. We are shifting to a week on philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom and focuses on reasoning and argumentation. You should explain passages that you found important and those that you did not understand. Work together to try to understand the texts and what Plato/Socrates is arguing for in the texts. As you read through the week, bring up new texts that you found meaningful and interact in a conversation-like style with your classmates in relation to the text that they mention. Some guiding questions (do not answer all of these) are:

Was Socrates guilty? Why or why not? 

How does Socrates view his purpose in life and in education? 

How does Plato argue for the existence of the soul? What does Plato say about death and the afterlife?

Explain why you agree or disagree with Plato’s arguments.

 

Required Resources

Readings

Plato. (n.d.). Selections from The Phaedo (Links to an external site.) (H. Tredennick, Trans.). Retrieved from http://www2.hawaii.edu/~freeman/courses/phil100/06.%20Phaedo.pdf

  • This dialogue represents the execution of the philosopher Socrates. In it Plato (the author) uses the character of Socrates to explore the possibility of the afterlife, as well as the nature of philosophy, and the meaning of life and death. This may be the most difficult reading in the course. It will definitely stretch you and help build your thinking muscles.
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Plato. (n.d.). Apology (Links to an external site.) (B. Jowett, Trans.). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20171219202911/http://socrates.clarke.edu/aplg0100.htm

  • The Apology is Plato’s fictional account of Socrates’s defense speech during his trial for “corrupting the youth.” The word “apology” means defense. The dialogue is not just Socrates’s defense of himself, it is also Plato’s defense of Socrates (since it was written after his death, as an attempt to rehabilitate Socrates’s reputation), and Plato’s defense of philosophy itself. Plato wants to convince you that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology 38a). Accessibility Statement does not exist. Privacy Policy does not exist.

Multimedia

Horowitz, Damon. (2011). Philosophy in prison (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/damon_horowitz_philosophy_in_prison

  • Horowitz teaches philosophy to inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California. In his TED Talk, he illustrates how philosophy can be relevant to the everyday lives of all people, even those serving life in prison. He also perfectly captures the essence of Socratic philosophy. Transcript available.
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Puschak. E. [Nerdwriter1]. (2015). Understanding art: The death of Socrates (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKhfFBbVtFg

Žižek, Slavoj. (n.d.) The purpose of philosophy is to ask the right questions (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://bigthink.com/videos/the-purpose-of-philosophy-is-to-ask-the-right-questions

  • Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is perhaps the most famous philosopher alive today. He is one of the few contemporary philosophers to practice the sort of “public philosophy” Socrates believed in. Instead of hiding away in his university, Žižek writes and speaks for a general audience. In this short video clip, Žižek argues that we can’t solve a problem unless we learn to ask the right questions about it, and philosophy helps us learn to ask the right questions. Transcript available.
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Recommended Resources

Multimedia

Taylor, A. [Director] (2008) Examined life – Cornel West (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfD3X3f5C_w

  • These are all the scenes with Cornel West from Examined Life, a full-length documentary featuring interviews with contemporary philosophers. In part, West discusses Plato’s Apology and Phaedo from this week’s Required Reading.

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