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Exam Date: 4/25/03



A. Socrates (469-399 BCE) and Socratic Method in the Euthyphro
Anthropological, ethical, and pedagogical focus of Socrates’ philosophical project
Socrates’ divine mission:

  • Proclamation of the Delphic oracle: Socrates is wisest among men
  • Cross-examination (Greek: elenchus) of “the wise”: politicians, poets, and artisans
  • Wisdom/ignorance distinction and relationship
  • Socratic midwifery and enlightenment (awareness of ignorance, “Know thyself”)

“What is value?” exercise: inductive reasoning, abstract generality, types of value, etc.

Socratic Method
Historical testimony on Socratic method: Aristotle, Mill, and Schopenhauer
General traits of Socratic definition:

  • Dialectic
  • Irony and ignorance
  • Cross-examination (elenchus) as method of enlightenment (awareness of ignorance)
  • Methodical correspondence between Socratic irony and the interlocutor’s intellectual arrogance
  • Confusion with Sophists
  • Maieutic: intellectual midwifery (i.e., assisting in the intellectual birth of his interlocutors through dialectical cross-examination (elenchus)

Logical Requirements and Characteristics of Socratic Definition:

  • Conceptual, general, formal, or universal (i.e., not a particular example, instance, or case)
  • Principle of self-identity and the logical exclusion of opposites
  • Essentiality = real, independent, objective, essential common characteristic (eidos)
  • Distinction between real/nominal types of definitions
  • Relation to the general Greek philosophical problem of the One and the Many
  • Aims of Socratic definition: theoretical (definition of essence), practical (standard for judgment)
  • Inductive reasoning (epagōgē): searching for the universal concept on the basis of particular instances

Euthyphro (the dialogue):

  • Model definitional dialogue: What is X?
  • Aporetic: without resolution; no satisfactory definition (Greek = aporia)
  • First three (3) definitions of piety: violation of logical requirements, dialectical correction of definitions
  • Third definition: relation between the gods’ love and piety: issue of cause or effect, essential character or secondary quality, metaphysical independence or dependence, arbitrary authority or rational justification

(the character in the dialogue of the same name):

  • Self-deluded and arrogant expert on the gods, myth, and piety
  • Represents the mythical mindset: authoritarianism, literalism, traditionalism, conservatism

II) Format
1) 10 T/F questions (20 points)
2) 25 multiple-choice questions (50 points)
3) 4 short answer questions (20 points)
4) 1 essay question (10 points)
5) Extra credit?