Philosophy essay

If you choose this option, you will need to read Chapter One in “Does the Center Hold?” and then choose one of the three quotes below, all from the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates:

From Xenophon’s dialogue Symposium, on why he spend so much time talking to people who dislike and disagree with him, and so little talking to his friends and followers:
“It is the example of the rider who wishes to become an expert: ‘None of your docile animals for me’ he says . . . in the belief, no doubt, if he can manage such an animal, it will be easy enough to deal with every other horse besides.”

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From Plato’s dialogue Republic, explaining the difference between knowledge and true belief:
“Anyone who holds a true belief without logical understanding is like a blind man on the correct road.”

From Plato’s dialogue Apology, describing to the jury what he has learned from his many debates with other philosophers:
“I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I know anything.”

First, present the quote you chose (no need to cite that) and describe in your own words what you think Socrates means by it. You can try reading the dialogue or other authors’ interpretations of it if you wish (cite them, if you do), but I recommend you do this merely by reflecting on the quote itself and what you’ve already learned about Socrates in Chapter One of your textbook and in my lectures.

Next, present an argument that Socrates is correct. This argument should SUPPORT the interpretation of the quote you provided in the first paragraph, arguing that Socrates’ meaning is a good and true one. Again, you might find such arguments within the original text or by reading others’ interpretations of it, but I recommend you just imagine yourself as a friend of Socrates, and try to defend the statement.

Finally, present an argument that Socrates is NOT correct. This argument should ATTACK the argument you just provided in the second paragraph, arguing that Socrates is incorrect or mistaken in some way, and should reconsider his position, either by attempting to demonstrate an error in what Socrates said, or by presenting a strong counterargument to Socrates (i.e., what you might say to Socrates to change his mind). Again, you might find such arguments within the original text (every one of them contains a character who disagrees with Socrates, and thus argues against him) or by reading others’ interpretations of it, but I again recommend you just imagine yourself as one of Socrates’ opponents, and try to attack the statement.

If you wish, you may present a Personal Critique section in which you say whether you personally agree or disagree with Socrates, and why. Whichever you choose, support your position with arguments. If you choose not to do this last part, or do it badly, it will not affect your grade. HOWEVER, if you do this part and do it well, I will consider the good arguments presented here to make up for bad arguments presented earlier.

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