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.
Edited by David Boucher and Paul Kelly
Political Thinkers is an introduction to Western political thought. This third edition provides an introduction to the canon of great theorists, from Socrates and the Sophists to contemporary thinkers such as John Rawls and Hannah Arendt. Each chapter begins with a chapter guide, a biographical sketch of the thinker, a list of their key texts, and their key ideas. Scholastic commentary enables readers to understand the social and political contexts that inspired political thinkers. This edition features two new chapters on Arendt, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and Hugo Grotius, whose work on just war continues to inform international law today. Following an introduction, the work is structured into five sections.
David Boucher and Paul Kelly
This volume introduces a canon of major political thinkers from ancient Greece to the present, including Socrates and the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Hugo Grotius, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Hannah Arendt, John Rawls, and Michel Foucault. The text focuses on the ways that these thinkers have shaped the intellectual architecture of our modern conceptions of the scope of politics and its place in social life. This introductory chapter discusses the origins of the study of political thought as a distinct activity and describes four sets of considerations that shape approaches to the study of political thought and help answer the question of why we should study it. It also analyses the problem of so-called perennial questions and the attempt to explain and defend what it is that makes a book a ‘classic’ text.