Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Two talks on Ancient Philosophy at Koc University: Nicholas D. Smith (Lewis & Clark College) and Stelios C. Zyglidopoulos (University of Cambridge) [22/04/2013 & 24/04/2013]

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Nicholas D. Smith (Lewis & Clark College)

‘Socrates on Practical Deliberation’

Monday 22 April 15.30-17.00, room CAS B34, sponsored by CSSH

An argument has recently been made for the claim that Socratic philosophy leaves little room for practical deliberation. The gist of this argument is both simple and powerful: Socrates appears to regard any decision-making that is done in ignorance to be unjustified. Contemptuous, for example, of the opinions of those he calls “the many,” Socrates seems only to offer, as an alternative, only the exhortation to “lead the examined life.” But this advice can hardly serve to tell anyone (for example Euthyphro, as he considers whether to prosecute his father) what they should do in any given case. In this paper, I offer an explanation of how Socratic philosophy can actually support a wide range of practical deliberation—even for those who, like Socrates, recognize that they are ignorant of “the most important things.”


Stelios C. Zyglidopoulos (University of Cambridge)

‘The ability to rule versus the ability to become a ruler in Plato’

Wednesday 24 April, 12.30-14.00, room CAS 124, co-sponsored by GSSSH, CASE, and GSB

ABSTRACT: In this paper, I argue that there are more subtle reasons behind Plato’s pessimism that reside within the philosopher herself and the training that she has to undertake in order to become a philosopher. In particular, I argue that Plato had three additional reasons behind his belief in the incompatibility, within the same person, of the abilities to rule and the abilities to become a ruler. First, physical limitations would most likely prevent one from becoming a philosopher while still having enough time to train and engage in the ways of conventional politics, needed in becoming a ruler. In the terms of the ship of state simile (Republic, 488a-489c) there is not enough time in one’s life to both learn to read the stars and the winds, and learn how to get the ship owner drunk and flatter the crew. Second, for psychological reasons, a philosopher most likely cannot compete for political power without having a disadvantage in such a competition. Third, the two abilities, ruling and becoming a ruler, are, according to Plato, as incompatible with one another as are the abilities of the cook and the doctor (Gorgias 465b) or more to the point the rhetorician and the philosopher, who is trained in dialectic.


Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

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