In this course we will study Plato's ancient art of blowing up your beliefs as you go, to make sure they're built to last. We spend six weeks studying three Platonic dialogues, then two more weeks pondering a pair of footnotes to Plato; that is, we will consider some contemporary manifestations of issues Plato discusses. Our focus will be: moral theory and moral psychology.

"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” – A. N. Whitehead

It turns out: the more you blow up your beliefs as you go, the more they stay the same.

Why ‘Reason and Persuasion’? The title is generic, and indicates that the course will be - if this is what you are looking for - a general, introduction to philosophy, as it tends to be taught at the university level. But the title also points to a specific problem: reason without persuasion is useless; persuasion without reason is dangerous. Plato worried about it. So will we.

The course will be of interest to a wide variety of students. There are a variety of reasons why you might want to know at least a little about what Plato thought and wrote. I will do my best to teach in a way that accommodates as wide a range of likely interests in the subject as i can manage.

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Jan 12th 2015
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