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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 12 April 2024

p. 503. Socrateslocked

p. 503. Socrateslocked

  • Frederick Rosen


This chapter examines some of Socrates' key political ideas. Socrates was the first philosopher to see the connections and the potential opposition between the search for truth and the world of politics. Among Socrates' most important ideas are the so-called Socratic paradoxes, the method of question and answer (the elenchus), and the use of craft analogies. The chapter first provides a biographical background on Socrates and some information about him before discussing the Socratic paradoxes and the elenchus. It then describes the trial of Socrates through Plato's dialogues Apology and Crito. Socrates shows how the quest for wisdom challenges the acknowledged experts and leaders in society, but at the same time looks for points of reconciliation so that politics will not be wholly devoid of contact with truth and justice. The chapter also considers Socrates' political philosophy and concludes with an assessment of his attachment to Athenian democracy.

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