Can Virtue Be Taught? – a short reading from Plato’s Meno

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“Once more, I suspect, friend Anytus, that virtue is not a thing which can be taught?” Introduction This week’s reading is about whether virtue can be taught. Now you may have noticed that there are some good people, or as Socrates would say, virtuous people, and there are some not so good people, or as I would say, arseholes. So we might ask: how did the good or virtuous people become virtuous? One possibility was that they were born that way; they’re just naturally good. Another possibility is that they …

On Our Obligation to Obey the Law – a short reading from Plato’s Crito

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“Do you imagine that a state can subsist and not be overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, but are set aside and trampled upon by individuals?” Introduction In the year 399 B.C., in Athens, Socrates was brought to trial on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. He was found guilty and condemned to death. The Crito, written by Plato, is a dialogue between Socrates and his good friend Crito. It is set in Socrates’ jail cell the day before he is due to be executed. …

Misanthropy and Misology: The Hatred of Mankind and the Hatred of Rational Discourse – a short reading from Plato’s Phaedo

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“For as there are misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of the world.” Introduction In 399 B.C., Socrates was sentenced to death after being found guilty of impiety and corrupting the youth. The Phaedo, written by Plato, is an account of Socrates’ last hours and his death in the jail at Athens. Socrates spends his final hours discussing the nature of the soul, the relationship between the soul and the body, and the …

Why We Shouldn’t Trust the Opinion of the Majority – a short reading from Plato’s Crito

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“Then, my friend, we must not regard what the many say of us; but what he, the one man who has understanding of just and unjust, will say, and what the truth will say.” Introduction In the year 399 B.C., in Athens, Socrates was brought to trial on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. He was found guilty and condemned to death. The Crito, written by Plato, is a dialogue between Socrates and his good friend Crito. It is set in Socrates’ jail cell the day before he is …

Socrates on the Examined Life – a short reading from Plato’s Apology

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“And if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me.” Introduction In the year 399 B.C., in Athens, Socrates was brought to trial on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. He was found guilty and condemned to death. The Apology, written by Plato, is an account Socrates’ defense speech at the …