Discuss the artistry of The Symposium: how are its tone, sequence of arguments, and contrasting character portrayals designed to celebrate Socrates’ life and beliefs? Is the work an artistic unity?
What are features of Plato’s view of love in The Symposium? How does Socrates’ definition of love compare and contrast with that of Phaedrus, Pausanius, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon?
What attitudes towards women, sexual attachment and family ties seem implicit in the Platonic dialogues you have read? How may these have reflected Athenian social conditions?
What are some of Socrates’ methods of argumentation in The Symposium? Are they necessary to the effectiveness or persuasiveness of his conclusions?
How does the homoeroticism of Socrates and his disciples affect the nature of their view of love, and vice versa?
What do you consider the merits and limitations of Socrates’ view of love, as expressed by Plato in The Symposium?
How is the “Apology” designed as a defense of Socrates’ life? Against what charges does it defend him and what values does it seek to uphold?
Do the arguments of the “Apology” seem to indicate that Socrates desired to escape death? Is there evidence that, under the circumstances, he may have preferred to die?
What do the accounts of the “Crito” and “Phaedo” reveal about Socrates’ character? Do you think he lived a consistent life?
What are some parallels between the life and teachings of Socrates and those of Jesus? How do you explain these parallels, if any?
What are Socrates’ view of the gods, death, the underworld, and the afterlife, as revealed in the “Apology,” “Crito” and “Phaedo”? What seem to be some of its most significant features?
How convincing are Socrates’ arguments for the immortality of the soul? Why does Socrates feel the need to argue as he does? What do his arguments reveal about his conceptions of identity, mental processes, and the nature of wisdom?
What does Socrates mean by the life of philosophy, and why does he believe its practice to be an obligation and ideal?
What beliefs about the nature of ideal government and the limitations of real ones are expressed throughout these dialogues?
Which of Socrates ideas/methods of thought do you think are still valuable in the present?
What arguments does Crito use to attempt to persuade Socrates to escape? (he has been wrongly accused) Do you think they are valid ones?
How does Socrates reply to each?
What are some of Socrates’ reasons for preferring death to exile?
On what grounds does he believe he owes allegiance to the state?
Do you agree that by remaining in Athens Socrates has tacitly made a contract to accept the judgments of its courts? What consequences would this have if this principle were applied to our own legal system?
What evil consequences does Socrates believe would result from his flight?
What are his final reasons for accepting death? Do you believe that according to his criteria, his was the best and inevitable choice? In the same circumstances, would you do likewise?
Why does Socrates send Xantippe away? Do you think his motives were compassionate or heedless?
According to Socrates, why is suicide wrong?
According to this account, why does Socrates believe death is desirable?
What does Socrates believe is the best preparation for death? How does this preparation resemble a religious initiation?
What are some of Socrates’ arguments for the existence of the soul after death? Do you find any/all of them plausible? On what grounds might they be defended?
According to Socrates, why should we not fear death?
What does Socrates believe happens to the soul after death?
What is Socrates’ conception of the geographical arrangement of the earth and the afterlife? What are the fates of the various kinds of persons after death? How will the good person spend his/her time in the afterlife?
What are some parallels between Socrates’ death and that of the biblical Christ?
What do you consider noteworthy features of Socrates’ last mintutes before death?
Is Plato’s account of Socrates’ last words well told? What renders it effective?