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By Debra Nails

Agora, Academy, and the behavior of Philosophy bargains tremendous cautious and targeted criticisms of a few of the main very important assumptions students have delivered to undergo in starting the means of (Platonic) interpretation. It is going directly to provide a brand new method to team the dialogues, according to vital evidence within the lives and philosophical practices of Socrates - the most speaker in such a lot of Plato's dialogues - and of Plato himself. either side of Debra Nails's arguments deserve shut cognizance: the adverse facet, which exposes loads of variety in a box that regularly claims to have completed a consensus; and the confident aspect, which insists that we needs to attend to what we all know of those philosophers' lives and practices, if we're to make a major try and comprehend why Plato wrote the best way he did, and why his writings appear to depict assorted philosophies or even diversified ways to philosophizing.
From the Preface via Nicholas D. Smith.

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P. Lynch and Martin Ostwald (CAH: "Isocrates" [I3(a)II(b)]) present the difference between the sophists and Socrates as one of seeking external rewards such as wealth and fame on the one hand, vs. the seeking of the moral life for itself on the other. Isocrates bestrides the two extremes in their account because he deliberately prepares his students for an active political life. They point out, among other things, that although Isocrates took fees for teaching, he may have taken about one tenth the rate charged by famous sophists of his day; although he wrote speeches for the law courts as a young man, he later regretted having done so; and he had a number of upstanding students who contributed to the preservation of Greek culture through what they wrote.

Because I am committed to the notion that Socrates's practice was to tailor his approach to fit the needs of his students (on which more below), I do not find it problematic that he serves as a wellspring of homespun advice for a man of Xenophon's qualities. Plato only rarely illustrates Socrates in conversation with a decent but theory-blind man like Xenophon-though Crito is perhaps such a man-so I take Xenophon's texts as a boon to our overall picture. Xenophon's Socrates is, however, ultimately too commonplace to have inspired a literary genre and a clutch of comedians, so I am forced to imagine that Xenophon's experience of Socrates was a limited one intellectually.

Education as a discipline has become debased and, to its detriment, has only the most paltry connection to philosophy any longer. Although practically all contemporary philosophers are professors of the subject, teaching in the university today simply lacks the patina associated with writing. Yet Socrates and Plato were both intimately involved in philosophic education-the conduct of philosophy itself was, in the fifth and fourth centuries, largely a project in education, and Plato was the first philosopher to illustrate methods of philosophical education.

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Agora, Academy, and the Conduct of Philosophy by Debra Nails


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