Socrates

Choosing a Patron Philosopher of Debate: A Fable

By |2019-12-03T13:59:51-06:00December 3rd, 2019|Categories: Education, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Socrates|

I’ve been coaching debate for five years now, and as I’ve taught students how to play the game, the benefits of debate become obvious. At the same time, a danger lurks. Could debate inherently be an activity devoted to sophistry? Back from summer break, the varsity debate team gathers to determine an important part [...]

Pre-Socratics or First Philosophers?

By |2019-11-25T23:33:00-06:00November 25th, 2019|Categories: Classics, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, Heraclitus, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Socrates, St. John's College|

The Pre-Socratics may be thought of as deficient, lacking something, primitive in the derogatory sense. But there is also the opposite perspective: These men were not primitive, without sophistication, but primeval, deeper, more receptive to origins. Think how peculiar this appellation is: “Pre-Socratics.” A whole slew of thinkers, poetical, aphoristic, prosaic—condemned to be known as [...]

Image, Being, and Form in the Platonic Dialogues

By |2019-09-09T16:01:00-06:00September 9th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Jacob Klein, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College|

Modernity is best apprehended as being in a ruptured continuum with Greek antiquity—a continuum insofar as the terms persist, ruptured insofar as they take on new meanings and missions. That perspective makes those who hold it avid participants in the present. Jacob Klein was in the last year of his nine-year tenure as dean [...]

Converting the Cosmos of the Mind

By |2019-08-19T22:06:59-06:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Plato, Quotation, Senior Contributors, Socrates, St. John's College|

At every moment of this present life, our readiness to learn was, and is now, up to us, was and is our responsibility, and on every day our life breaks around the before and after of a life-changing choice… though all the past choices ease or obstruct the present one. Our cosmos, the place [...]

Socrates on Statesmanship: The Actual Intention

By |2019-07-18T13:46:22-06:00August 12th, 2019|Categories: Civil Society, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Philosophy, Plato, Politics, Senior Contributors, Socrates, St. John's College|

Statesmanship is the craft of setting up a civic framework, a loom upon which the citizens of various temperaments, here the warp and woof, are interwoven into a cloak-like texture, which represents at once the body politic and its protective cover, as if to say that a well-interlaced citizenry will wrap itself in its own [...]

Plato’s Theory of Ideas

By |2019-08-05T21:25:16-06:00August 5th, 2019|Categories: Beauty, E.B., Eva Brann, Great Books, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Plato, Reason, Senior Contributors, Socrates, Truth|

Socrates’ own chief word is ‘eidos.’ Like the word ‘idea,’ it is built on the simple past stem of the word ‘to see,’ which signifies the act of seeing once done and completed. The ‘eidos’ is knowable, but it is not knowledge. It confronts the soul and is not of it. To put it [...]

Socrates and Free Government

By |2019-07-10T15:49:10-06:00July 10th, 2019|Categories: Apology, Gleaves Whitney, History, Plato, Socrates, Stephen Tonsor series, Timeless Essays|

A free government is only sustainable if citizens can govern themselves. Socrates patiently revealed, through conversations that held a mirror up to fellow citizens, that they did not sufficiently understand such basic concepts as justice, piety, virtue, truth, and goodness when applied to themselves. Yet they presumed to govern others? Today’s offering in our [...]

The Importance of Learning to Argue: From Ancient Greece Through the Present

By |2019-06-26T22:48:36-06:00June 26th, 2019|Categories: Civilization, Education, Great Books, Liberal Learning, Socrates, St. John's College|

Perhaps more than ever, we have a need for education of a particular kind: an education that trains one in the habits of exchanging ideas. Not a forum for the debate of settled opinions, where victory is the end, but an education that is the forge and working house of thought itself. In order [...]

The Dispassionate Study of the Passions

By |2019-06-14T17:02:37-06:00June 10th, 2019|Categories: Apology, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College|

Ancient pathos, passion, was an affect emanating from an object; the object elicited the responsive affect, from the outside in. Modern emotion comes from inside out; it emphasizes expression; subject prevails over object. It is the Romantic worm eating its way out of the Enlightened apple... Plato’s dialogue Gorgias ends with a long speech culminating [...]

Professors Must Teach the Truth

By |2019-10-10T13:07:59-06:00May 17th, 2019|Categories: Education, Great Books, Josef Pieper, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, Truth|

Only fools would send their children to school to listen to some teacher’s opinions, unless, of course, those opinions also happen to be true. Discussing St. Thomas Aquinas’s love of teaching, Josef Pieper writes: Teaching does not consist in a man’s making public talks on the results of his meditations, even if he does [...]

Fit for the World

By |2019-06-06T02:33:40-06:00May 5th, 2019|Categories: Antigone, Apology, Christopher B. Nelson, Essential, Great Books, Humanities, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College|

  The mysteries of the human heart, and of the soul within you, are every bit as wondrous as the mysteries of the political and the natural worlds. And so you have asked questions of the world, in part because it is your nature to wish to know, in part because you wish to [...]

Socrates & the Un-Willed Life

By |2019-03-05T12:07:03-06:00March 4th, 2019|Categories: Books, E.B., Eva Brann, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Liberal Learning, Plato, Socrates, St. John's College, Wisdom|

For Socrates choices are of a life-pattern. Decisions, which are the deliberated choices that a particular occasion calls for, are not his mode, even at a crucial moment. Such choice, decision occasioned by the moment, will become the pivot of action. It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative, to catch, as it were, non-being [...]

The Beauty Contest

By |2019-02-25T09:23:38-06:00February 22nd, 2019|Categories: Beauty, In Honor of Eva Brann at 90 Series, Philosophy, Socrates, St. John's College, Virtue, Wisdom|

The beauty contest illustrates the difficulty with the term for and maybe the very idea of gentlemanliness—are good and beautiful two criteria or one? If they are two, how are they related? Could the beautiful be whatever compellingly attracts? Furthermore, what is truly and justly compelling? Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a series dedicated [...]