Steve Cooke

measuring the boundaries of our nation by the sun

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Socrates and Plato

PlatoBack to a bit of philosophical history today. I’ve spent the week reading Kant, and had a thoroughly good time writing the first draft of a paper on extending Kant’s cosmopolitan duty of hospitality to non-human animals. Now I fancy a bit of Socrates and Plato, so it’s back to the Routeledge Companion to Ethics and a chapter on the two by Richard Kraut.

One of the things I like about Plato is the method of teaching philosophy through dialogue. Most people in academia accept the received wisdom that lectures are a pretty poor way to teach people, but engaging them in a conversation is a very good way. Much of Plato’s writing on philosophy is written in the form of discussion – it’s a bit like reading a philosophical play. In Plato’s dialogues, Socrates (his teacher) plays the main part. In fact, most of what we know of Socrates’s thought comes not from his own writings, but from Plato and his fellow student of Socrates, Xenophon.

Kraut’s chapter is interesting and easy reading – whilst I’ve read some Plato (the Republic (what politics student hasn’t?), Euthyphro, Crito (go read it), and Phaedo), I hadn’t realised just how big his body of preserved work is. Having read it, I’m definitely spurred to read more Plato, although I should probably re-read the Republic and Crito as well.

Anyone got a favourite dialogue I should read?