Plato's Socrates as Educator

SUNY Press
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Despite his ceaseless efforts to purge his fellow citizens of their unfounded opinions and to bring them to care for what he believes to be the most important things, Plato’s Socrates rarely succeeds in his pedagogical project with the characters he encounters. This is in striking contrast to the historical Socrates, who spawned the careers of Plato, Xenophon, and other authors of Socratic dialogues. Through an examination of Socratic pedagogy under its most propitious conditions, focusing on a narrow class of dialogues featuring Lysis and Alcibiades, this book answers the question: “why does Plato portray his divinely appointed gadfly as such a dramatic failure?”
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About the author

Gary Alan Scott is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Saint Peter’s College.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
251
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ISBN
9780791491928
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / Greece
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Although "the Socratic method" is commonly understood as a style of pedagogy involving cross-questioning between teacher and student, there has long been debate among scholars of ancient philosophy about how this method as attributed to Socrates should be defined or, indeed, whether Socrates can be said to have used any single, uniform method at all distinctive to his way of philosophizing. This volume brings together essays by classicists and philosophers examining this controversy anew.

The point of departure for many of those engaged in the debate has been the identification of Socratic method with "the elenchus" as a technique of logical argumentation aimed at refuting an interlocutor, which Gregory Vlastos highlighted in an influential article in 1983. The essays in this volume look again at many of the issues to which Vlastos drew attention but also seek to broaden the discussion well beyond the limits of his formulation.

Some contributors question the suitability of the elenchus as a general description of how Socrates engages his interlocutors; others trace the historical origins of the kinds of argumentation Socrates employs; others explore methods in addition to the elenchus that Socrates uses; several propose new ways of thinking about Socratic practices. Eight essays focus on specific dialogues, each examining why Plato has Socrates use the particular methods he does in the context defined by the dialogue. Overall, representing a wide range of approaches in Platonic scholarship, the volume aims to enliven and reorient the debate over Socratic method so as to set a new agenda for future research.

Contributors are Hayden W. Ausland, Hugh H. Benson, Thomas C. Brickhouse, Michelle Carpenter, John M. Carvalho, Lloyd P. Gerson, Francisco J. Gonzalez, James H. Lesher, Mark McPherran, Ronald M. Polansky, Gerald A. Press, François Renaud, and W. Thomas Schmid, Nicholas D. Smith, P. Christopher Smith, Harold Tarrant, Joanne B. Waugh, and Charles M. Young.

Household Interests is one of the first books to explore in-depth the nature of the Greek household (oikos) in classical Athens. Whereas the oikos traditionally has been defined as the household of the nuclear family in Greece, Cheryl Anne Cox reveals it as a much more fluid structure, taking care to distinguish between the concepts of "household" and "family." The legal basis of the typical elite household emerges as Cox describes marriage patterns or strategies among the families represented in Attic orations and funerary inscriptions: property interests were a strong motivating force, with the elite marrying within their kin, primarily through paternal lines in which property was transferred. The author ultimately shows that the household was not limited to "family" or kinspeople. Friends, neighbors, concubines or prostitutes, and slaves also shared in property interests and all could have a profound influence on the household.

After first examining marriage patterns, Cox turns to inter-family relationships. Using anthropological sources and historical studies of European societies, she shows how property interest shaped often conflicted relations between parents and their children and among brothers, and yet it encouraged male charity toward sisters. Cox next considers how property transfer through adoption, guardianship, and remarriage, and the intervention of friends, concubines, and slaves, all contributed to expanding the boundaries of the household beyond kin.

Originally published in 1998.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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