Question Everything

Mon, Feb 21

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

  1. Know what "Socratic Ignorance" is and why Socrates thought it was a virtue.
  2. Understand the Socratic Method (elenchus) and be able to perform the method on others.
  3. Articulate the role that you think pursuit of the truth should play in the good life.

Read This:


Interactive Essay: The Apology Of Socrates (Plato)

APPLICATION ARTICLES (Access on "Perusall" via Canvas):

Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds (The New Yorker)

Do This:

Complete these steps before you come to class

  1. Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
    1. Socrates say that the unexamined life is not worth living. What does this mean? Do you think it is true? (Can you think of examples of unexamined lives that are good, or examined lives that aren't good?)
    2. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the power of reasoned arguments to change minds? Even if arguments don't typically (always) change minds, are there other rational ways to change minds?

After you've finished today's reading, make sure you complete the reading quiz, which you can access through your section's Canvas page.

Watch This: