[SydPhil] FW: Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger - Plato’s Conception of Philosophy and the Problem of Understanding Morality

Debbie Castle debbie.castle at sydney.edu.au
Tue Nov 5 14:05:33 AEDT 2019

4.15pm 7th November 2019
CCANESA Meeting Room
Madsen Building
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.
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