English 84

Sophomore Seminar: Socrates as a Cultural Icon

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2007 Coolidge, John S.
Coolidge, John
T 2-4 108 Wheeler

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Four Texts on Socrates


Socrates has often been compared to Jesus, an enigmatic yet somehow unmistakable figure who left nothing in writing yet decisively influenced the mind of his own and later ages. We will read Aristophanes? comic send-up of Socrates in Clouds and the Platonic dialogues purporting to tell the story of Socrates? trial and death, Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito, and selections from Phaedo attempting to trace the construction of the Socratic icon and assess its relevance to issues in our contemporary ?culture wars,? e.g.: identity, freedom of speech, elitism, science and religion, ?know thyself?, the aims of education, authority, male chauvinism, virtue, anti-intellectualism, academic freedom, family, civil disobedience, ?spin,? body and soul, self-esteem, anomie, patriarchy, individualism, relativism, reductionism, self-ownership, conscience, reason etc. Links to Wikipedia and other on-line resources on these topics are provided in the syllabus. To get discussion going, each meeting (after the second) will begin with a brief (5-10 minute) individual or panel presentation on one or another such issue, assigned on a volunteer basis at the conclusion of the previous meeting and prepared in office-hour consultation with the instructor.

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