Department of Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series Thursday 7 November
Department of Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series
Plato’s Conception of Philosophy and the Problem of Understanding Morality
Stephen Gaukroger | Emeritus Professor History of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Sydney
Plato provided a model for what philosophy was in the classical world, but just what this model was requires some reconstruction. By comparing pre-philosophical thought with philosophical enquiry in Plato, we can see that the use of reason is not the distinguishing feature. One of the crucial features of genuinely philosophical discourse is its second-order approach: rather than engaging issues directly on their own level, it abstracts from them, raising everything to a panoramic metalevel. This helps resolve some immediate problems, such as the moral conventionalism of the sophists, but it generates other far more profound ones, raising the question whether philosophy has intrinsic limits, evident in its failure to deal adequately with morality.
About the seminar series
Papers are usually held in the Conference Room of the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia, in the Madsen Building on Eastern Ave (at the City Road end), in the University’s Camperdown Campus. Click here for map. Seminars are followed by light refreshments.
For further information, please contact Tamara Neal.