Posted: December 4th, 2022
What does Socrates mean when he says in the Apology that “no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death” (41d)? Another translation says “a good man cannot be harmed in life or death”. According to Plato’s view, in what sense is a good man invulnerable to evil or harm? And how does Plato think philosophy (which he has Socrates call “the practice of death” at Phaedo 81a) help make one invulnerable? In your first couple of posts, spend some time carefully analyzing Plato’s claim. Only after getting clear on his reasoning should you begin to critique it. Is Plato right about his claim? Are good people actually invulnerable to harm? And does philosophy actually help make us invulnerable?
Plato. (n.d.). Selections from The Phaedo (H. Tredennick,Trans.). Retrieved fromhttp://www2.hawaii.edu/~freeman/courses/phil100/06.%20Phaedo.pdf
· This dialogue represents the execution of thephilosopher Socrates. In it Plato (the author) uses thecharacter of Socrates to explore the possibility of theafterlife, as well as the nature of philosophy, and themeaning of life and death. This may be the mostdifficult reading in the course. It will definitely stretchyou and help build your thinking muscles.
· The Apology is Plato’s fictional account ofSocrates’s defense speech during his trial for“corrupting the youth.” The word “apology” meansdefense. The dialogue is not just Socrates’s defenseof himself, it is also Plato’s defense of Socrates (sinceit was written after his death, as an attempt torehabilitate Socrates’s reputation), and Plato’sdefense of philosophy itself. Plato wants to convinceyou that “the unexamined life is not worth living”(Apology 38a).
· Horowitz teaches philosophy to inmates at SanQuentin State Prison in California. In his TED Talk, heillustrates how philosophy can be relevant to theeveryday lives of all people, even those serving life inprison. He also perfectly captures the essence ofSocratic philosophy. Transcript available.
· This video discusses the 1787 painting “The Deathof Socrates,” by French artist Jacques-Louis David,which depicts one of the scenes from Plato’s Phaedoin this week’s required reading. Seeing the way Davidillustrates Plato’s philosophical ideas in his paintingwill help students understand Phaedo better whilealso learning a bit about 18th Century art.
Žižek, Slavoj. (n.d.) The purpose of philosophy is to askthe right questions [Video file]. Retrieved fromhttp://bigthink.com/videos/the-purpose-of-philosophy-is-to-ask-the-right-questions
· Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is perhaps themost famous philosopher alive today. He is one of thefew contemporary philosophers to practice the sort of“public philosophy” Socrates believed in. Instead ofhiding away in his university, Žižek writes and speaksfor a general audience. In this short video clip, Žižekargues that we can’t solve a problem unless we learnto ask the right questions about it, and philosophyhelps us learn to ask the right questions
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