3: Socrates

Lesson Objectives



Key Terms

Socratic Method

  • Read, analyze, and critique philosophical texts
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the Socratic Method and the concept of living the examined life


If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me.

I. Socrates

  • Socrates in a nutshell: clip
  • A. What we know about Socrates
    • Teachings recorded by students, Plato and Xenophon
    • Didn’t focus on nature of reality
    • Focused on the state of one’s soul, or psyche
    • Taught in the marketplace, or agora, for everyone, not the elite
  • B. Most famous teachings
    • Seeking happiness (eudemonia) through the pursuit of what is best
    • No one knowingly does evil
    • Virtue and excellence (arête) of the soul is the consequence of knowledge (episteme) and wisdom (sophia)

II. The Socratic Method

  • The Socratic Method, also called the Dialectical Method
  • Question and answer
  • Use of irony (LINK)
  • Reductio ad absurdum

III. Know Thyself

  • A. The unexamined life is not worth living
  • B. Know Thyself

IV. Socrates’ Trial

  • A. The Apology
    •  Put on trial at age 70 for corrupting the youth of Athens and not believing in the gods
    • Plato’s Apology is the account of this trial
    • Socrates compares himself to a gadfly, stinging the lazy citizens of Athens to improve
      • Picture a mosquito nipping at a horse—it makes the horse move
      • Likewise, Socrates' describes his questioning as moving Athens forward
    • Convicted and sentenced to death
      • His students offered him escape, but Socrates didn't want to break the law
      • Instead, his example stirred up the population—who quickly brought down the people who had convicted their beloved Socrates
  • B. Crito
    • 1. Socrates' last days
      • Imprisoned and sentenced to death
      • Crito argues he should escape
      • Socrates disagrees
    • 2. Crito’s Argument
      • Your friends will gladly safeguard you
      • Everyone will think your friends abandoned you and it will make us look bad if you stay
      • Your sons need you
      • The situation is unjust so by staying, you are committing an injustice too
    • 3. Socrates' Rebuttal
      • I’d be breaking the law
      • Ad Populum Fallacy: just because it’s a popular opinion doesn’t make it the correct opinion
      • One must perform right actions. Wrong actions damage the soul, and the soul is the most valuable part of the self
      • It is never right to do wrong, even if one has been wronged
      • Not violating the state’s laws is more important than other agreements
      • The laws are just, even though the application of the law due to human flaws may be wrong
      • Therefore, it would be wrong to break the laws

Logic Week 3: Modus Tollens