SOCRATIC DIALOGUE ASSIGNMENT
Write a 2-3 page, single-spaced “Socratic dialogue” focusing on ONE important question. (You may skip lines between each speaker’s statements.)
[ OR: You may propose to me by Friday 4/11 an alternative idea for a paper. ]
(1) Choose a topic to write about which has real value or importance to you. Think about what the essence of that topic or question is. What is most importantabout that topic? Formulate a related “what is” question to write about in your dialogue. For example: “What is pleasure?” “What is efficiency?” “What is…?” The goal of the dialogue should be to inquire into this question through a question-answer, dialogue format.
(2) One character should be a “questioner,” like Socrates “imaginary friend” in the Greater Hippias. The other could be a naïve inquirer, a friendly person, a mean-spirited person, a Sophist, a Presocratic, or a family member, etc.
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(3) Incorporate at least one “Socratic Refutation” into the discussion. This is a refutation of a character’s beliefs/definitions which occurs because the character him- or herself AGREES TO and BELIEVES IN THE TRUTH OF a set of INCONSISTENT (i.e. contradictory) statements. (NOTE: I highly recommend that you MARK the place in your dialogue where you implement a Socratic refutation so that you do not forget to employ it.)
(4) Incorporate at least 1 additional element of a Socratic dialogue, e.g.:
– themes pertaining to the difference between “what X is” and “what X appears to be”
– themes pertaining to the difference between “examples” and “forms”
– one vs. many problems
– arrogant sophist vs. character willing to learn
– appetites/pleasures vs. reason
– the principle of non-contradiction
– use of mathematics, etc.
The assignment will be graded according to a 3-fold standard:
1. Does the writing employ Socratic elements of dialogue—in particular, does it use a Socratic refutation and does it seriously exhibit inquiry into the question at hand through the question and answer format? [ = 10 ]
2. Does the student display a creative interestin the assignment? Does the student use new or interesting examples to make the thinkers’ ideas relevant and exciting? [ = 10 ]
3. Does the student write generally well or poorly? [ = 5 ]