American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy

Volume 2, 2016

Teaching Plato

Carla A. H. Johnson
Pages 44-62

Finding Philosophy in Plato’s Apology

Students in introductory philosophy courses bring with them varied preconceptions about philosophy and its place in their education and their lives. Rather than assuming we all agree on what it is we are doing when we do philosophy, it can be effective to problematize the discussion from the start. Plato’s Apology of Socrates is a useful tool for this. While interpreted by some philosophers as not particularly philosophical, recent approaches by Sellars and Peterson suggest that the Apology is rich with philosophy. Here Plato’s Socrates reveals much about himself and his own understanding of the love of wisdom. By engaging in a process of mutual disclosure and active discovery of what matters to Socrates, we give students an excellent opportunity to find philosophy for themselves. As a result, students not only retain an understanding of key themes from Plato but also develop skills and attitudes well-suited to life-long philosophical engagement.