24 episodes

Join us as we explore the world of Greek classics and philosophy, and their relevance to modern life. Episodes published bi-weekly, featuring interviews with renowned authors and academics in the fields of philosophy and classics. Show hosted by Plato's Academy Centre, a nonprofit organization based in Athens, Greece.

platosacademycentre.substack.com

Philosophy and Classics The Plato's Academy Centre

    • History
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

Join us as we explore the world of Greek classics and philosophy, and their relevance to modern life. Episodes published bi-weekly, featuring interviews with renowned authors and academics in the fields of philosophy and classics. Show hosted by Plato's Academy Centre, a nonprofit organization based in Athens, Greece.

platosacademycentre.substack.com

    Spencer Klavan: Civic Friendship & Politics as an Act of Love

    Spencer Klavan: Civic Friendship & Politics as an Act of Love

    Spencer Klavan is the author of How to Save the West: Ancient Wisdom for 5 Modern Crises and assistant editor of The Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind at the Claremont Institute. With a PhD in Classics, Klavan's literary expertise is aided by his knowledge of many languages, including Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. As a scholar who enjoys exploring how great works of literature provide valuable insights into today's world, Klavan hosts Young Heretics every Tuesday.
    Highlights
    * Rational discourse is a team sport, a shared pursuit for the wisdom we both seek about the thing and the effort we make at getting it
    * Seeking excellence, moral virtue, and flourishing is the first step, the atomic building block, for living well together—seeking mutual good in the form of community and relationships
    * Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 9.8
    * Fundamentally, when we form political community, we do so because we collectively agree that there is such a thing as justice
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    • 22 min
    Ward Farnsworth: The Socratic Method

    Ward Farnsworth: The Socratic Method

    Ward Farnsworth is Dean and John Jeffers Research Chair at the University of Texas School of Law. He formerly was Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the Boston University Law School. He’s the author of The Socratic Method and The Practicing Stoic.
    Highlights
    * The Socratic method as an orientation of mind, is different from the orientation of mind that we use by default and therefore challenging. It's a humbler, more inquisitive frame of mind, a path toward intelligence.
    * “A life, a good life is a life with pleasure.”
    Socrates would ask, “What if a life had a lot of pleasure in it, but it was only obtained by doing horrible things to other people? Would you consider that a good life?”
    “Well, no, of course not.”
    “Maybe revise what you said.”
    * Socrates always finds or suggests contradictions between different things the person believes. This sounds modest and unassuming, this little process, but it has many uses, many payoffs.
    * You're really just asking questions about the premises. The major premise behind what people think is in the foreground. And most people are much clearer on what they think in the foreground than they are in the deep reasons for it.


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    • 28 min
    Double Ignorance and Socratic Irony

    Double Ignorance and Socratic Irony

    This episode is the final part of the Plato’s Academy Centre course on the Socratic Method. In this lesson, we will be learning about the positive philosophy of Socrates and his use of irony. If you've enjoyed it, please check out these simple ways you can support the Plato's Academy Centre.
    Socrates' fellow Athenians were frustrated and fascinated by him in equal measures. Right down to the present day, students of philosophy have shared a similar experience when reading Plato's dialogues. Socrates was a complex character. We'll conclude by discussing one of the enduring puzzles about him: his notorious profession of ignorance, which scholars call "Socratic irony".
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    Did Socrates Have Two Philosophies?
    Socrates was well-known for claiming that he knew nothing, or at least nothing of much importance about the most important things in life.
    He used to say that [...] he knew nothing except just the fact of his ignorance. – Diogenes Laertius
    This aspect of his philosophy is clearly methodological – it helped Socrates to engage in his question and answer approach more freely. On the other hand, it doesn't seem entirely sincere, or entirely true, for him to say he knows nothing about such matters as wisdom and virtue.
    Sometimes he merely hints at these beliefs but at other times he states them quite clearly.

    Socrates often seems to have an agenda and to be working toward certain conclusions, which are often quite simple but paradoxical in nature. Sometimes he merely hints at these beliefs but at other times he states them quite clearly. For example:
    For I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul, as I say to you: “Wealth does not bring about excellence, but excellence makes wealth and everything else good for men, both individually and collectively.” – Socrates in Plato's Apology, 30b
    The Stoics focused on Socrates' positive doctrines about virtue ethics, viewing him as a predecessor of their own school of philosophy in this regard. By contrast, the ancient Greek philosophers known as Skeptics developed a system inspired by Socrates' methodological doubt. Although the Stoics and Skeptics were both influenced by him they chose to focus on different aspects of Socrates' teachings.
    Socratic Irony
    For the purposes of this short course, we'll focus on Socrates' claim to lack wisdom because it's characteristic of his question and answer style of reasoning. The name "Sophist", Sophistes in Greek, means "expert" or one who claims to possess wisdom. The Sophists claimed to be wise and virtuous, and they charged high fees for teaching wisdom and virtue to others. In contrast, Socrates refused to accept fees, casting himself more in the role of student than teacher.
    I share the poverty of my fellow countrymen in this respect, and confess to my shame that I have no knowledge about virtue at all. – Socrates in Plato's Meno, 71b
    Through his repeated disavowal of any special knowledge, Socrates is able to focus on asking questions. In a sense, that helps him to keep an open mind, as we would say today.
    Plato says that ignorance may be divided into two sorts: "simple ignorance" and "double ignorance". Simple ignorance is less serious. Double ignorance "is accompanied by a conceit of wisdom; and he who is under the influence of the latter fancies that he knows all about matters of which he knows nothing" (Laws, 863cd). Socrates viewed his method as a cure for double ignorance.
    The Socratic Method undermines the intellectual conceit, or double ignorance, of the person being questioned by exposing contradictions in their thinking. At the same time, though, the questioner is modelling awareness of his own ignorance. It's as though the questioner is demonstrating the benefit of having subject

    • 5 min
    Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living Audiobook

    Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living Audiobook

    Above is an audiobook excerpt from David Fideler’s Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living. Special thanks to W. W. Norton & Company and Tantor Media & HighBridge Audio.
    In Breakfast with Seneca, philosopher David Fideler mines Seneca's classic works in a series of focused chapters, clearly explaining Seneca's ideas without oversimplifying them. Best enjoyed as a daily ritual, like an energizing cup of coffee, Seneca's wisdom provides us with a steady stream of time-tested advice about the human condition - which, as it turns out, hasn't changed much over the past 2,000 years.
    The most companionable of the new Stoic books.
    —Molly Young, New York Times
    David Fideler is an esteemed guest speaker at our upcoming virtual event, On Seneca: Anger, Fear, and Sadness on Saturday, August 19th @ 12 pm EDT. Registration is free or you may donate an amount of your choosing. Your generosity keeps us hosting these events. Donations also go towards funding a PAC on-site location near the original Plato’s Academy in Akadimia Platonos, Athens. No need to worry if you are unavailable on the day. A recording will be sent to all registrants post event.
    Also, all attendees are eligible to win a paperback copy of David’s acclaimed Breakfast with Seneca! A form will be sent to registrants post event for entry. Then, three lucky winners will be selected.


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    • 29 min
    Spotting Common Fallacies

    Spotting Common Fallacies

    This episode is part of the Plato’s Academy Centre course on the Socratic Method. In this lesson, we will be learning about how cognitive therapists spot common cognitive distortions and how these compare to common logical fallacies.
    In the previous lesson, we looked at how cognitive therapists use Socratic Questioning today to help clients evaluate their beliefs in terms of evidence and helpfulness. They also help clients examine the "logic" of their beliefs. This is a slightly trickier approach, although closer in some regards to what Socrates and other philosophers were doing.
    Plato's Academy Centre Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

    We're talking about informal logic here, i.e., whether our thinking is broadly rational and consistent or not. One of the most direct questions we might ask ourselves is therefore simply: Is that belief logical? People often find that hard to answer, though, without having some examples of ways in which their reasoning might be flawed.
    Our thinking is definitely irrational if it is based upon a set of beliefs that contradict one another.

    Logical Contradictions
    First of all, like Socrates, we might look for contradictions. Our thinking is definitely irrational if it is based upon a set of beliefs that contradict one another. One of the most basic principles of logic, indeed, is called the Law of Noncontradiction. If two statements are contradictory they're not necessarily both false, but at least one of them must be. They cannot both be true, that is, but they could both be false.
    Spotting contradictory beliefs can require effort and rigorous honesty but it can also be very powerful because most (but not all) of us do feel a strong urge to change our thinking when forced to admit that our own beliefs are in conflict with one another.
    Cognitive Distortions
    Beck and other cognitive therapists have often found it's helpful to teach their clients the names of typical "cognitive distortions", colloquially known as "thinking errors". There are many studies showing that different cognitive distortions or biases are more common when people are depressed, anxious, or very angry. The cognitive therapist, David Burns, for instance, has a list of about ten common "thinking errors" in his bestselling book Feeling Good. Other therapists use slightly different lists but they generally have a lot in common. Some basic examples are:
    * Overgeneralization, or making sweeping statements that go well beyond the known facts.Example: "Nobody likes me" versus "Some people don't like me."
    * Catastrophizing, or exaggerating how severe a threat is likely to be.Example: "What if my wife leaves me? I won't be able to cope!" versus "My wife probably won't leave me and even if she did it might be really bad but not the end of the world; I would survive and carry on."
    * Discounting, or trivializing information that should cause us to change our behaviourExample: "Pete said he likes me but he's just being nice" versus "Pete said he likes me, and for all I know he's telling the truth, so I shouldn't dismiss that as if it doesn't count."
    * Mind-reading, or assuming what other people think without checking – a problem especially common in severe social anxiety.Example: "Everyone at work thinks I'm an idiot and I don't deserve my job" versus "I don't know what people think until I ask them, so I should find good ways to get feedback from my colleagues."
    There are many more cognitive biases and distortions. As we'll see, they often resemble what philosophers call informal logical fallacies. For example, the cognitive distortion which psychologists call "overgeneralization" is basically the same as the informal fallacy philosophers refer to as making a "faulty generalization".
    Informal Fallacies
    Logical fallacies are arguments that are generally understood to be illogical – they're "wrong moves" in reasoning. Often people si

    • 8 min
    Virtuous Leadership: Dr. Sean Lyons

    Virtuous Leadership: Dr. Sean Lyons

    Dr. Sean Lyons is Professor of Leadership and Management and Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies at the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph. Dr. Lyons’s main area of research concerns intergenerational differences and their impacts on workplace dynamics and managing people. He is co-author of the book Generational Career Shifts: How Matures, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials View Work and co-editor of Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation.
    His research on generations has been featured in a number of media outlets, including Time Magazine, the Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Daily Mirror (UK), Macleans magazine, as well as on CBC’s The National, CTV News Channel, the Business News Network and CBC Radio’s The Current. Dr. Lyons works frequently with private and public sector organizations to identify and address inter-generational issues.
    Highlights
    * “Unlike heroic theories of leadership that focus on the leader as a heroic figure—who are somehow gifted with unique traits or skills—modern leadership focus on leadership as interpersonal processes that unfold within a group that focus on the leader as an symbol to help them find the right motivation and meaning in their own actions.”
    * Leadership is a process of influencing others to achieve a common goal. (Northouse, 2022; 6)
    * Virtuous Leadership is distinguishing right from wrong in one’s leadership role, taking steps to ensure justice and honesty, influencing and enabling others to pursue righteous and moral goals. …and helping others connect to a higher purpose. (Pearce et al., 2006; 62)
    * Practical Wisdom (phronesis)—seeing the naked truth and knowing what is good, not good, and indifferent
    * The Disciplines of Desire, Action, and Assent


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    • 11 min

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