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Socrates

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 27 September 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek philosopher Socrates, acknowledged as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Born in 469 BC into the golden age of the city of Athens, he has profoundly influenced philosophy ever since. In fact, his impact is so profound that all the thinkers who went before are simply known as pre-Socratic.

In person Socrates was deliberately irritating, he was funny and he was rude; he didn’t like democracy very much and spent quite a lot of time in shoe shops. He claimed he was on a mission from God to educate his fellow Athenians but has left us nothing in his own hand because he refused to write anything down.

With Angie Hobbs, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Warwick University; David Sedley, Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Cambridge University; Paul Millett, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge.

  • Further Reading

    ANCIENT SOURCES:

    The Dialogues of Plato (any edition), especially Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, Charmides, Laches, Protagoras

    Xenophon (any edition): Apology, Symposium, Memorabilia

    Cicero (any edition): Tusculan Disputations

  • .

    MODERN SOURCES:

    Kraut, R., Socrates and the State (1984, Princeton University Press)

    Montaigne, Essays (especially On Physiognomy) (any edition)

    Nehamas, A., The Art of Living: Socratic reflections from Plato to Foucault (1998, University of California Press)

    Nietzsche, especially The Birth of Tragedy, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greek, Twilight of the Idols (any edition)

    Vlastos, G., Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher (1991, Cambridge University Press)

    CCW Taylor, Socrates: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 1998)

    CDC Reeve, The Trials of Socrates: six classic texts (Indianapolis 2002)

    I.F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates (London, 1988 - recently reprinted)

    M.I. Finley, Socrates and Athens in his Aspects of Antiquity pp.58-72 (London, 1968 - but in print very recently)

    Hobbs, A., Female Imagery in Plato in 'Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception' (edd. J. Lesher, D. Nails and F. Sheffield). (2006, Center for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University Press) (This paper discusses, amongst other things, Socrates' depiction of himself as a midwife)

    Emily Wilson, The Death of Socrates – Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint (Profile Books, London, July 2007)

    Burnyeat, M., Socratic Midwifery, Platonic Inspiration in the 'Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies' (1977, University of London) 24:7-15.

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