This two-day workshop will introduce students with an interest in civic participation and leadership to aspects of democracy, one of the ancient world’s most lasting legacies. Working with Professors Norman Sandridge (Howard University) and Kenny Morrell (Rhodes College), the participants will focus on the type of democracy that the Athenians developed and practiced during the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. No prior knowledge of the ancient world is required.
This year we will focus on the figure of Socrates, whom the Athenians found guilty of impiety and corrupting the youth and consequently executed. Socrates, on the other hand, claimed otherwise (at least in Plato’s version of his defense), suggesting that his public critique of ignorance among the Athenians served the interests of the community and was worthy of the same honors accorded to Olympic victors. Thanks in no small part to Plato’s influence, this latter view has come to predominate popular opinion today. So, for example, Scott Samuelson asserts in his book, The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction to Philosophy for Everyone: “I put myself in that long line of philosophers who believe Socrates the wisest, most happy, most just man who ever lived. What Mozart is to music, Socrates is to being human.”
Through a careful reading of three short texts (Plato’s Symposium and Apology and Xenophon’s Apology), we will consider whether the Socrates depicted in those texts was guilty as charged and a threat to society or someone worth emulating in pursuit of a fulfilling life—or a person somewhere in between.
Application Deadline: July 13
To apply for this seminar, and view the schedule of the two-day workshop, visit the CHS website.