1st Edition

Reconceptualizing Plato’s Socrates at the Limit of Education A Socratic Curriculum Grounded in Finite Human Transcendence

By James M. Magrini Copyright 2017
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    Bridging the gap between interpretations of "Third Way" Platonic scholarship and "phenomenological-ontological" scholarship, this book argues for a unique ontological-hermeneutic interpretation of Plato and Plato’s Socrates. Reconceptualizing Plato’s Socrates at the Limit of Education offers a re-reading of Plato and Plato’s Socrates in terms of interpreting the practice of education as care for the soul through the conceptual lenses of phenomenology, philosophical hermeneutics, and ontological inquiry.

    Magrini contrasts his re-reading with the views of Plato and Plato’s Socrates that dominate contemporary education, which, for the most part, emerge through the rigid and reductive categorization of Plato as both a "realist" and "idealist" in philosophical foundations texts (teacher education programs). This view also presents what he terms the questionable "Socrates-as-teacher" model, which grounds such contemporary educational movements as the Paideia Project, which claims to incorporate, through a "scripted-curriculum" with "Socratic lesson plans," the so-called "Socratic Method" into the Common Core State Standards Curriculum as a "technical" skill that can be taught and learned as part of the students’ "critical thinking" skills. After a careful reading incorporating what might be termed a "Third Way" of reading Plato and Plato’s Socrates, following scholars from the Continental tradition, Magrini concludes that a so-called "Socratic education" would be nearly impossible to achieve and enact in the current educational milieu of standardization or neo-Taylorism (Social Efficiency). However, despite this, he argues in the affirmative that there is much educators can and must learn from this "non-doctrinal" re-reading and re-characterization of Plato and Plato’s Socrates.

    Introduction: Plato’s Socrates: Learning and Education in the Dialogues

    Chapter One: The Programmatic Curriculum of Plato’s Republic: Re-Conceiving the Role of the Dialectic in the Education of Philosopher Rulers

    Chapter Two: Understanding Plato as a Non-Doctrinal Philosopher: Re-Conceiving Plato’s Socrates in Education Through "Third Way" Scholarship

    Chapter Three: Socrates’ Protreptic Philosophical Practice: The Ontology of the Zetetic Quest to Understand the Virtues

    Chapter Four: The Difficult Practice of the Elenchus-Dialectic: The Ethical "Character" of Learning and the "Politics" of the Soul

    Chapter Five: The Dialectic and Dialogue of Plato’s Socrates: Learning Through the Hermeneutic Understanding of Virtue

    Epilogue: Socratic Resonations: At the Limit of Education


    James M. Magrini is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, College of Dupage, USA.

    "James Magrini’s book provides an intellectually compelling and historically motivated diagnosis for the political and educational predicament of our times. It provides the reader with a vista to overcoming the atrophy of democracy when neoliberal democracy is an oxymoron at best in its attempt of a theory of everything. The reactivation of moral discourse in the spirit of Plato’s Socrates would render the spark of hope to the often tragic tale of current Western education. "  - Tero Autio, Tallinn University, Estonia


    "James M. Magrini has with his book Reconceptualizing Plato’s Socrates at the Limit of Education: A Socratic Curriculum Grounded in Finite Human Transcendence succeeded in conducting a rigorous close reading of Plato’s Dialogues that grapples with etymology and translation as well as providing a thematic analysis of Plato’s Socrates. From a phenomenological-hermeneutic perspective Magrini develops his philosophy of education by engaging the Dialogues in a critique that brings to light new ways of understanding the Socratic method of education, which have practical and theoretical implications not only for teachers and philosophers of education, but for any student of philosophy interested in Plato’s Dialogues and, specifically, Plato’s Socrates." – Elias Schwieler, Stockholm University, Sweden


    "Magrini pulls together the exegetical method of phenomenological hermeneutics and the writings of Plato, with special attention to Attic meanings, to produce a compelling and exhaustive scholarly analysis for philosophers, classicists, and educators alike."- Sam Rocha, University of British Columbia, Canada


    "Magrini rigorously proves that Socratic learning is substantiated in the routine of care for the soul, which is the advancement or alteration of the character via educational procedures. The practice of Being-educated for Socrates may be grasped in relation to enabling ethical enhancement via a curriculum configuring life’s development as a philosophical mechanism of learning, justified in the elenchus-dialectic, within occasions of finite human transcendence. Socratic learning as the routine of care for the soul is integral to the evolution of the human’s character/frame of mind, via which the virtues are articulated in the framework of the dialectic’s evolvement. Reconceptualizing Plato’s Socrates at the Limit of Education is a book of admirable breadth and complexity." - George Lazaroiu, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, New York


    "Through a keen philosophical exegesis of Plato’s Socrates and his teachings, Magrini addresses and proposes a corrective to the problematic and long-standing doctrinal interpretation of the Socratic "method." In doing so, Magrini brings back to life Socrates' original pedagogical vision and resuscitates education's long-deceased concern for the Being of its students. This text is a touchstone for all educators concerned with the ethical and ontological disposition of their students." - Dr. Matthew D. Dewar, author of Education and Well-Being: An Ontological Inquiry