Humanity paper!!


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Drawing from at least 3 of the readings from the course (which I will include in the attachment). write a 1,000-1,250 max word self reflexive, critical essay that examines how you previous educational experience have influenced your perceptions, actions, and roles in the world. You should consider not only formal educational experiences, but also family expectations; uncomfortable or exhilarating encounters with new people or cultures; and salient aspects of their social position and identity. In other words, this essay should serve as an opportunity for you to reflect on how your educational background has shaped your positionality. In writing this essay, you should seek to achieve a balance between autobiographical storytelling and self-reflexive analysis, with the help of different theories from the readings.

Below in the attachment will be the full prompt and the 3 articles that you need to INCLUDE and relate to when writing this paper.

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Educational Philosophy and Theory ISSN: 0013-1857 (Print) 1469-5812 (Online) Journal homepage: Peers on Socrates and Plato Jim Mackenzie To cite this article: Jim Mackenzie (2014) Peers on Socrates and Plato, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 46:7, 764-777, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2013.794690 To link to this article: Published online: 20 Aug 2013. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 245 View related articles View Crossmark data Citing articles: 1 View citing articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [San Jose State University Library] Date: 23 August 2017, At: 17:53 Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2014 Vol. 46, No. 7, 764–777, Peers on Socrates and Plato JIM MACKENZIE Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney Abstract There is more to be said about two of the topics Chris Peers addresses in his article Freud, Plato and Irigaray: A morpho-logic of teaching and learning (2012, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44, 760–774), namely the Socratic method of teaching and Plato’s stance with regard to women and feminism. My purpose in this article is to continue Peers’s discussion of these two topics. Keywords: feminism, Plato, Socrates, Socratic method In his 2012 paper, Chris Peers considers a link between a conception of learning drawn from Freud and some of his commentators, and a conception of teaching drawn from Plato’s Theaetetus. Freud’s psychoanalysis relied on startlingly few clinical cases, and his reports of these have been combed through many times both by supportive and by critical commentators.1 Peers concludes by asking whether ‘the fact that teaching is traceable to the masculine imaginary constitute [sic] a factor in the instability, the patent unreliability of the teaching machine?’ (p. 770). This conclusion echoes that of another paper by Peers, also interrogative, ‘Have we overlooked other modes of communication simply by privileging language and speech?’ (2008, p. 250).2 There is more to be said about two of the topics Peers addresses, about Socrates’ teaching (both as described in Plato’s Theaetetus and elsewhere), and about Plato’s stance with regard to women and feminism. My purpose in this article is to continue the discussion of what Peers has said on these two topics. Socrates’ Teaching There is a picture of teaching which many people regard as natural and obvious——so much so that they never question it, or perhaps even realise that they hold it. The picture is this: the teacher has some knowledge, the learner does not, and teaching is the process whereby the teacher puts the knowledge, or a copy of the knowledge, into Ó 2013 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 Peers on Socrates and Plato 765 the mind of the learner.3 Peers invokes this picture when he speaks of ‘a prevailing didactic style’ in which ‘a certain authority is both presumed and concealed in assuming the role of speaker’ (p. 761), and of ‘the authority to speak’ as ‘fundamental to the praxis of pedagogy’ (p. 760). He says that ‘The shape and form of teaching refers [sic; shape and form?] to the dominant forms by which social and political authority were (and continue to be) demonstrated, i.e. speech and language. But it [sic; the dominant forms?] also implies the hierarchy bound up in the authority to speak: didacticism makes sense as an assumption of authority’ (p. 768), ‘an educational ontology that pretends to a direct, causal relation between instruction and knowledge’ (p. 770). He describes the role of language in education and in other aspects of life thus: ‘In this way pedagogy (and all other modes of public, didactic authority) have traditionally employed a sense of language as a universal code or structure to render themselves transcendent of the body, gender-neutral, as well as sexually innocuous.’ (p. 770).4 Further, ‘The idealization of teaching bears the pretence of saying: “I am identical with myself” so that regardless of who says “I,” You are the pupil, the listener, who is submitted to my authority, my speech.’ (p. 770). Peers ascribes didactic teaching to Plato and to Socrates: ‘…the means by which this image of Socrates-as-teacher has emerged historically is through an assimilation of “teaching” with Socrates-as-didact’ (p. 766); ‘as didact he [Socrates] enables Plato to describe an ideal scenario in which questions usually get responses that provide the subject with an opportunity to speak at some length in explaining a position’ (p. 767). For his ascription, Peers cites only a single work by Plato, the translation of the Theaetetus in Cornford’s Plato’s Theory of Knowledge (1935).5 This is a very narrow textual base, and when dealing with Plato’s views on knowledge and its objects a rather unfortunate one. Cornford was avowedly defending the thesis that in the Theaetetus Plato still held the Theory of Forms as it is given in the Meno and the Republic.6 This thesis has fewer adherents today than it had three quarters of a century ago. It is hard to understand why Peers has limited himself like this when it is now so easy to consult different editions and translations.7 ‘Socratic teaching’ is commonly taken to mean a kind of teaching which does not accord with the picture of didactic teaching, which does not proceed by telling or instruction from a position of authority.8 As Aristotle said, ‘…Socrates used to ask questions and not to answer them; for he used to confess that he did not know,’ Soph.El. 34 (183b7). The Socratic teacher questions the learner from a position of real or pretended ignorance. Socrates repeatedly disclaimed having any knowledge to transmit to anybody. Indeed, he does so several times in the very dialogue Peers has chosen to discuss (Theaet. 150c–d, 157c, 161b, 189e; cf. Meno 80c–d). His method of teaching was quite different from the didactic approach.9 Socrates tells us, in Plato’s account of the speech he made at his trial, that his friend Chaerophon had asked the Delphic Oracle whether anybody was wiser than Socrates, and had been told ‘No’.10 Socrates explains that he came to understand that the god had meant that whereas other people had false and confused beliefs which they thought were knowledge, he at least knew how little he knew, and in that sense was wiser than they were (Apol. 20e–21c). His way of investigating whether other people did know as much as they claimed, what became known as the ‘Socratic Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 766 Jim Mackenzie method’, was to ask them short questions requiring short, often Yes/No, answers.11 His questions were deployed to force answerers into inconsistency (elenchus), thus exposing their ignorance, numbing them as an electric fish does (Meno 80a, 84b); for a fuller description, see Boghossian (2012). Plato represents Socrates asking questions in this way, rather than speaking didactically from a position of authority, in his elenctic dialogues, specifically the Alcibiades I, Charmides, Euthydemus, Euthyphro, Gorgias, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, Ion, Laches, Lysis, Meno, and Protagoras, and also in Book One of the Republic. The other author who knew Socrates and whose dialogues featuring him survive, Xenophon, also shows Socrates asking questions rather than telling or instructing. In his case the questions are almost always merely rhetorical, Socrates putting his (in reality, usually Xenophon’s) positive views in interrogative form. The questions are not co-ordinated with each other, what is asked does not depend on the previous answer, and they never result in the checkmate of an inconsistency. Perhaps Xenophon knew that Socrates’ teaching somehow involved asking questions, but hadn’t grasped how Socratic elenchus works (cf. Ryle, 1966, p. 122). Peers, however, does not treat Socrates as one who asks questions and traps the answerer in an inconsistency, but as one who has positive doctrines to impart and who instructs the hearer. Admittedly there are passages in the one dialogue Peers relies on, the Theaetetus, as in the Republic after Book One, in which Socrates does behave in this, for him unusual, way. In the Theaetetus Plato is reconsidering issues he had addressed in the Meno, and it is useful to compare the two. In both dialogues, Socrates asks for a definition and is given a list of examples instead. In both the model for knowledge is mathematics, and specifically the incommensurable (Waterfield, 1987, p. 139). In both, Socrates’ reputation for perplexing people is mentioned (Meno 80a, Theaetetus 149a). In both there are allusions to Socrates’ forthcoming trial (Meno 94e–5a, 99e; Theaet. 210d). And in both Plato offers analogies to explain Socrates’ unobvious, non-didactic method of teaching.12 Both analogies emphasise that, in contrast to didactic teaching, the teacher does not need to know beforehand what the student will come to learn as a result of the interaction. This is a kind of pedagogic praxis to which, pace Peers (p. 760), ‘the authority to speak’ is not ‘fundamental’. In the Meno, what Socrates does is compared to reminding someone of something forgotten, and in the Theaetetus, he compares himself to a midwife helping the learner to bring forth an idea.13 In the Meno, 82b–6a, Socrates takes a Slave Boy who clearly has no knowledge of geometry (in that he twice gives the wrong answer to the question of a theorem), and by questioning the Boy and drawing simple diagrams under his instruction, leads him to the theorem. Socrates claims that he has only questioned the Boy to find out his opinions, not told him anything (Meno 84d), and that if the Boy knows the theorem at the end he must have known it all along, even though when first questioned he appeared not to (85b, c).14 The Slave Boy episode is unusual in that Socrates’ questioning results in a positive thesis; significantly the thesis is a geometrical theorem.15 Peers says that ‘… the characteristics of such dialogue as it was practiced in Greek antiquity remain effective, to some extent’ (p. 768). They do indeed. The technique Socrates used with the Slave Boy in the Meno still works with modern university students, even though one Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 Peers on Socrates and Plato 767 might have hoped that by completing secondary school they would have had more mathematical understanding than an untaught child in ancient Greece.16 Plato’s analogy for this process in the Meno is recollection, just as in ordinary life we jog each other’s memories about such things as where someone left the keys by asking questions in an orderly way. This is a familiar example of how someone who does not know a solution can help guide another person to it. Socrates tells us his method consists, not of telling the learner something (since Socrates disclaimed authority), but of asking questions ‘in the right order’ (Meno, 82e).17 There is, however, a crucial difference between the recollecting by the key-loser and what Meno’s Slave Boy does. In recollection, the answer was once known and then forgotten. But as Meno testifies (85e), the Boy has never in his life known the theorem or studied geometry. What Socrates’ method results in is like recollection, not an example of it. Even so, Socrates mischievously pretends to believe that the Boy must have known the theorem before he was born (81b–d, 85c, and 86a–b; and see Leibniz, 1765, p. 77; Ebert, 1973), and even suggests that all learning is really recollection (81d, cf. Phaedo, 72e–77a).18 In an earlier paper Peers (2008, p. 246) docilely endorsed Dover’s image (1978, p. 202) of education as transference symbolised by phallic penetration. Yet soon after (p. 249) he quoted Colleran (1950, pp. 122–123) as saying that Socrates maintained that truth ‘resides internally within the mind’, which implies that nobody teaches or transfers it to another, and that Socrates draws that truth out of the other person, ‘delivers’ it. Plato’s use of sexual imagery as a metaphor for the relation between teachers and students (e.g. the beginnings of Laches and Charmides) is hardly unexplored (Vlastos, 1969). The didactic model of teaching does indeed lend itself to a sexual analogy: the teacher penetrates the mind of the learner, and implants knowledge there. Nevertheless, this particular metaphor is not apposite here: penetration is not at all what Socrates does to the Slave Boy’s mind with the theorem. He encourages the Boy to attempt answers, and to discover what is wrong with his attempts, until the Boy comes up with an answer, the theorem, which withstands further challenge. If this is analogous to any sexual activity, it is to a kind very different from what is suggested by Peers’s frequent references to the anatomical differences between the sexes.19 In the Theaetetus, what Socrates does is compared to the role of a midwife in childbirth (148e–151d). Though Peers says, ‘Socrates’ patients are male, not female: the exclusion is a way of ensuring that the junction between didact and respondent is secure’ (p. 768), Plato is comparing real midwifery, in which the patient is a woman and the outcome is a baby, with a kind of teaching in which the patient need not be female, and the outcome is an idea. The point about midwives in Greece being past childbearing is not (as Peers seems to think, p. 766) that Socrates is an old man, but that he does not himself give birth to ideas. And Socrates unlike a midwife not only helps the new idea (baby) into the world, but tests it to see if it is rather a false phantom.20 Most new ideas, it seems, are false phantoms and destined for destruction in an elenchus. The two analogies are somewhat different from each other. The analogy with recollection implies that all of us have the answers within us——the technique should work with anybody, even a Slave Boy——and also that the answers are right.21 The analogy 768 Jim Mackenzie with midwifery implies that the technique works only on those who are ‘pregnant’ with an idea, and also that the idea may be ‘still-born’, or incorrect (Waterfield, 1987, p. 141). Plato’s explanation in the Theaetetus of what Socrates does is a development from his account of it in the Meno, but in neither case is it didactic. Plato and Women Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 Peers says, The community in which both Socrates and Plato lived was composed of men; the kind of pleasure imagined by Socrates in relation to the dialogue is based upon a concept of the Good that was carefully and systematically confined: it could and can (still) only be maintained with respect to masculinity by giving the feminine a hierarchically subordinate status, in which women become objects of exchange among men (Irigaray, 1985b, pp. 170– 197). So Plato and Socrates would never include women in the ideal dialogue because, as the ideal form of social exchange the dialogue is a denial of a prior moment of sexual or familial exchange, in which economic roles have already been assigned. (p. 768, emphasis in original)22 This ignores Plato’s manifest lack of interest in women as ‘objects of exchange among men’ in a market-like arrangement. He was hostile to private property of any kind (Resp. iii 416d; iv 421d–3a) and advocated rather the nationalisation of the means of reproduction (Resp. v 457d–461e.23 Irigaray is implying that neither Plato nor Socrates ever included women in serious dialogue of the kind in which teaching and learning occurs.24 We need to consider the evidence for this in the case of each of them. They were Athenians, and women were more secluded in Athens than in other Greek cities (particularly Sparta), and in Greece generally more than in other Mediterranean civilisations of the time.25 We read little of other Greek thinkers engaging in educational exchanges with women. Therefore even slight evidence of such exchanges by Socrates or by Plato would be significant. Socrates did not run a school. Indeed, he is reported by Plato in several places as having been contemptuous of those who took money for teaching: All of us have the picture of Socrates, followed by his troop of upper-class young men, strolling round the bankers’ tables and the market place of Athens. Every now and then he waylays some citizen, a politician, maybe, or an orator or a rhapsode, and subjects him for an hour or two to ordeal by the Socratic Method. (Ryle, 1966, p. 175) Ryle then argues that this picture is fanciful, and that nothing like it could have happened in the reality of the market place. ‘Such interviews did not occur. They are Plato’s invention.’ (p. 178). In whatever venues Socrates engaged in conversations, it is probable that in most cases everybody present was male, simply because that was the way Athenian life was conducted. Whether or not he could have debated in the market place with men, he could not have done so with women. And women, or at least respectable women, did not attend dinner parties in ancient Greece. There Downloaded by [San Jose State University Library] at 17:53 23 August 2017 Peers on Socrates and Plato 769 were massive social barriers against Socrates ever taking women seriously in discussion. Nevertheless, we have several indications that he did precisely that. In Plato’s Symposium (210a–212b), Socrates calls the priestess Diotima of Mantinea his teacher. In the Phaedrus (235c), he praises the writings of Sappho. In the Menexenus (235e, 236b) he describes Aspasia the companion of Pericles as a teacher of rhetoric and a composer of speeches. (For whether and how this may be ironic, see Trivigno, 2009.) Xenophon presents Socrates citing Aspasia as condemning lying by matchmakers (Mem. 2, 6. 36), and as an authority on household management (Oec. 3. 14). Though we know little for sure about the historical Socrates, both our immediate sources report him acknowledging women as authorities. What evidence we have tells against the view that he required ‘sexual sameness’ as a condition for the teacher–pupil relationship. Plato himself did run a school, the Academy. Diogenes Laertius lists some of his students including two women, Lastheneia, who like Diotima came from Mantinea, and the cross-dressing Axiothea of Phlius,26 and later notes that both continued their studies under Plato’s successor Speusippus (Vitae, 3. 46 and 4. 2). There are thus several references to Socrates and to Plato conversing seriously with women and to learning resulting from these exchanges. Neither Socrates nor Plato was quite so opposed to ‘includ[ing] women in the ideal dialogue’ as Peers affirms.27 In his Oeconomicus, Xenophon describes a conversation between Socrates and Critoboulos, whom we know from Plato (Euthyd. 306d) as the elder son of Crito, the prosperous farmer who appears in Plato’s Euthydemus, Crito, and Phaedo. Plato tells us that Crito regarded arranging for the education of one’s sons as a more important contribution to their welfare than choosing a wife to be their mother or providing financial security for them, and that he hoped that his own sons would learn philosophy (Euthyd. 306d, e). By introducing Crito’s son Xenophon is playfully indicating that he is replying to some of what Plato had shown Socrates and Crito saying about the education of the young (Ste ...
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