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PHIL lecture, sept. 20.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Peter King

Socrates: The Apology (Lecture on the Trial and Death of Socrates) • WHY DID PHILOSOPHY START IN GREECE? o There were many impressive civilizations at the time o BUT they were mainly authoritarian governments  One “Big Boss”  Put there by God • 6 -7 century B.C., someone realized that there were other ways to form a government and civilization, rather than authoritarian o Small states started popping up with these new forms of government  First ones seemed to sound like the heroic fables such that you would hear in Odyssey and Iliad  Sparta essentially made every man (every citizen) a part of the army  Athens created DEMOCRACY • Gave power to the citizens • In some ways, take it more seriously than we do now • People realized that you could make money and gain power by participating in the government • By sounding intelligent, being fluent and ‘wise,’ you can climb the social ladder o Therefore, sophists came to be  Taught people how to speak, how to argue, how to think  For a price • What made Socrates distinctive, unlike any of the Sages or Sophists or others around? According to ancient testimonies, he was distinctive in at least seven ways 1. Socrates was notorious for pressing the “What-is-X?” question, specifically to inquire into the nature of moral virtue (usually a particular moral virtue) o What is justice? o What is courage? o Go to the heart of value systems 2. Socrates’s approach, the ‘Socratic Method’ (elenchus), was to cross- examine his interlocutors about their beliefs, usually on moral matters, to judge their soundness. Typically meant to to be a cooperative venture, it often ended without definitive resolution o Does this in the Apology (the defense)
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