Who was this gadfly of Athens that changed the course of Western thought forever? Like other famous historical figures who left no writing of their own, we know him only as a larger-than-life legend reported by others. In this five-week class, we will try to paint a clearer portrait of Socrates by reading about him from several contemporary sources including Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes. Along the way, we will seek to discover the essence of the "Socratic method" and why it was so easily confused with the education that the sophists offered at the time. Behind all this lurks the question of religion. What do we make of his repeated appeals to a tutelary spirit that gave him warning signs? Why does Socrates turn away from questions of natural science to questions of ethics? What was he ultimately after?
- Teacher: Dr. Sheffler