Ask Strong Questions
Mon, Aug 24
How do you decide what to believe? You might think that you should only believe something if you know why it is true. Socrates thought that we should question absolutely everything and not rest until we know our beliefs lie on a secure foundation. In this class, we'll consider Socrates' approach to the good life. And we'll debate whether there are some beliefs we shouldn't question at the risk of destabilizing ourselves, our relationships... maybe even our form of government.
By the end of class, you will
- Know what "Socratic Ignorance" is and why Socrates thought it was a virtue.
- Understand the Socratic Method (elenchus) and be able to perform the method on others.
- Articulate the role that you think pursuit of the truth should play in the good life.
- Reflect on how Plato wrote an apology for Socrates and apologies as a genre of argumentative writing.
We will also practice skills you need to complete the Stronger Questions and Stronger Reasons Problem Set.
Complete these steps before you come to class
- Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
- Socrates say that the unexamined life is not worth living. What does this mean? Do you think it is true that the unexamined life is not worth living? In the spirit of Socrates, can you think of counterexamples -- unexamined lives that are good? Examined lives that aren't good?
- Take the following closed weak/question: "Should Facebook and Twitter block misleading information?" How would you make this question more open-ended, more likely to lead to an interesting discussion in the dining hall, and more likely to reveal a philosophical belief of someone you ask it to? Find a better version of the question and then ask it to someone. Report back on what you find!
- Feeling brave? Draft a strong question like the one in 3 in response to a controversial current event. Ask your question on a comment section of a news source. See what you learn if others respond. (Bring your question in and share it with us in class or in dialogue group).
- Optional: test yourself by taking a practice comprehension check.