Author Topic: Agnosticism and the socratic method  (Read 7010 times)

Kai

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2009, 04:49:51 pm »
First and foremost, the feedback is greatly appreciated.  My understanding of absurdism goes no further than having read The Myth of Sisyphus.  I may actually be using the term absurdism inapropriately here if I'm mistaken, but the general idea I wanted to get across was that my personal "meaning" came from the rebellion that emerges when one chooses life with full understanding that it is essentially meaningless.  But I do, now, take into consideration what you've said about absurdism, I just kind of wanted to clarify on what I had said in the writing earlier.  If it was already clear then my apologies for reiterating. =P

And no undergrad degree, I haven't had the finances to attend college.  Thank you for the compliment, however.   :)

In that case I give you major props for being well spoken and self educated. :mittens:

Sisyphus does come to mind when I consider absurdism. To push a rock up a hill for all eternity is the sort of life that breeds absurdity. Where is the meaning there, so obscured it cannot be seen, heard or touched? At that point you have to find it for yourself.

 Some might say that Sisyphus wasn't unsatisfied either. :)
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Cain

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2009, 01:31:53 pm »
OK, comments upon the first post.

Its worth noting that the Sophists were, for a while, the pre-eminent philosophical force in Athens.  Much of Plato's attacks on them stems from this.  They also acted as philosophers for hire, often selling expertise in argument, rhetorical skill and law-writing to the highest bidder.  That said, there are more than a few commonalities between Socrates and the Sophists, not least the challenges they made towards traditional Greek culture, belief in the Gods, etc, but there are also significant differences, at least through the prism of Plato, Aristophanes and Xenephon.  For instance, we know Socrates never commercialized his teachings in the way the Sophists did, which might indicate a more radical break with their outlook.

It is also worth noting that one of Socrates' students was Critias, a ringleader of the Thirty Tyrants, that overthrew Athenian democracy and forced hundreds to execution through drinking hemlock, and exiled thousands of others, while reducing the rights of a massive porportion of the population.  It is claimed, by Plato, that Socrates defied the Thirty Tyrants (in Apology), and we know Plato himself was no fan of the regime, equating Critias' arguments concerning power and justice with those of the Sophists (ie that power, and justice, are a matter of convention, that there is no "real" metaphysical condition called justice we can point to).

Its also worth noting that, according to his chroniclers Socrates did come to definite conclusions using the Socratic Method which, contrary to its name, was not unique to him or his own invention.  It was designed, and used, as a method of hypothesis negation, removing ideas which did not stand up to scrutiny and leaving only those that did, in an effort to find knowledge through proving ignorance.  The Sophists, on the other hand, believed that knowledge was impossible, and relied on a rheotical method that often confused a reader or listener by proceeding from simple to complex questions through implicit argument, referral and inference, pairing opposites in the hope a listener or reader would make up their own minds, through realizing that all propositions can be challenged and are open to criticism.

I guess, in short, I'm saying that the Sophists have a better claim than Socrates to being Think For Yourself type characters.  This probably doesn't really undermine any of the following posts, but I did want to put that in there, because I have a soft spot for the Sophists and feel they have been unfairly maligned and neglected by history.  I doubt most people, even those with a deep interest in philosophy or history, could name a Sophist, and that is quite sad.

Ratonderio

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2009, 07:01:01 pm »
I appreciate all of the feedback.  Who would think agents of chaos could be so kind?   :wink:

To Cain:  All the points you've made are quite new to me; the farthest I've been with Socrates and the Sophists (band name idea?) is general textbook history and the Socratic method.  Just a question to assure the veracity of my first post, if I could.

"Soon, Sophists had adopted the Socratic method for their own uses due to it's ability to shed light on beliefs that people regarded as true without having previously inspected."

Should this portion be removed?  As for the rest I think that I said what I wanted to say, though you make a good point that the Sophists might be better suited for my needs than Socrates.  I feel that the Socratic method still stands, however, because it was mainly used to demonstrate ignorance and I think that it fits well with the argument.  I appreciate your feedback.

Edit: Just a side note...  Has anyone ever noticed that people get addicted to certain phrases when writing?  I think I used "I appreciate your feedback" or variations of three or more times so far.  Cain has "it's worth noting" and "it is also worth noting" and "it's also worth nothing" to start each paragraph.  I just thought it was worth noting.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2009, 07:23:00 pm by Ratonderio »

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2009, 08:41:01 pm »
Edit: Just a side note...  Has anyone ever noticed that people get addicted to certain phrases when writing?  I think I used "I appreciate your feedback" or variations of three or more times so far.  Cain has "it's worth noting" and "it is also worth noting" and "it's also worth nothing" to start each paragraph.  I just thought it was worth noting.

I find myself falling into this pretty frequently.  I just observed in another thread how I kept saying "I'd like to add" or "I'd also like to add".  I wouldn't say that one person consistently uses the same one over a long period of time, but sometimes phrases just slip into your writing for a while.  A few weeks ago I found myself saying "par for the course" continuously in conversation, thereafter dropping only after a concerted effort.
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Cain

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2009, 04:06:59 pm »
Yeah, I'm totally guilty of that, as if evidence was needed.  Normally its when I have to revise something, or get interrupted, or am writing really quickly and don't have time to edit (all three, in this case).

Ratonderio,

strictly speaking, that sentence is incorrect, yes.  At least as far as my research suggests, since the technique has been, via ancient sources, attributed to others who existed before Socrates, and may have taught him (Socrates allegedly helped run a Sophist school for a while, its entirely possible he was previously a student there, and then left after the gaps between his philosophy and theirs became wider).

And yes, your point was made with clarity and excellence.  Socrates was mostly incidental to the thinking you were putting forward, which is what really matters.  I'm just a stickler for historical accuracy, plus my general sympathy for Sophism made me want to speak out.  A minor correction, in the grand scheme of things.

While its not an entirely correct analogy, Sophists were in many ways the postmodernists of their day.  In fact, there is an amusing parallel between the rivalry of the Straussians and conservative political theorists of now (who tend to venerate Plato and Xenophon) and postmodernist political theorists of now, and the anti-Sophist and Sophist philosophers of the past - with the former denouncing the latter as "the dark side" and claiming they have a pernicious, relativistic influence on morality and culture.  There is the making of a philosophical thriller in that, IMO.  And, of course, makes them all the more worth reading.

Edit: I will get around to reading the rest of these later on.  Just lots on my plate right now.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2009, 04:11:09 pm by Cain »

Ratonderio

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Re: Agnosticism and the socratic method
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2009, 09:30:56 pm »
http://people.uncw.edu/puente/sperry/sperrypapers/60s/125-1966.pdf
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