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PHIL 1F91 Lecture Notes - Late Period Of Ancient Egypt, Peloponnesian War, Irony

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Brian Lightbody

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PHIL 1F91 October 12th 2012
Lecture Six: Plato and the Apology
There are Three Periods in Plato‟s Writing:
- The Early Period (the Apology, The Euthyphro etc…)
- The Middle Period (the Phaedo, The Republic, The Symposium etc…)
- The Late Period (the Parmenides, The Laws etc…)
The Historical Background and Context of Socrates before the Apology
- Socrates was a citizen of Athens – a Polis or city-state. He served as a soldier in many battles in
the Peloponnesian war (431-404 BC)
- Socrates‟ mother was a mid-wife and Socrates uses this image to understand his own
philosophical method: he helps others give birth to their ideas
- Socrates lived a life of poverty by choice
More about Socrates
- Socrates was extremely ugly. He was describes as a „monster‟, a crab, pug-nosed. Socrates could
only train one eye on a person; (the other eye looked in the opposite direction).
- What does Socrates „ugliness‟ have to do with his philosophy
- For the Greeks, beauty and intelligence were linked. An excellent (Arete) man was excellent in all
areas of his character
Socrates‟ Daimon
- Finally, Socrates has what he calls a daimon – an inner voice that guided his thought and actions
- What exactly was this daimon?
Finally We Have the Sophists
- At this time, there were groups of teachers that went around Greek cities to teach the young, noble
Greeks how to speak, act and to influence other people – these men were called Sophists
- One famous Sophist called Gorgias claimed that the Protagoras claimed that “all knowledge was
relative to each individual.” Such “teachers” were clearly not interested in truth and thus were
reviled for this very reason. But many of the elite recognized that the Sophists did teach valuable
skills: Oratory and rhetoric.
Socrates in Historical Context
- After Athens lost the Peloponnesian war to Sparta, many of the politicians and citizens of Athens
wanted a scapegoat: someone they could blame for their defeat. Socrates was an easy target
- Socrates has also angered and embarrassed many important Athenians
- Finally, Sparta was anti-democratic. Socrates, in many ways, was the very icon of democratic
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