Reasons and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogue by Plato


This is a course conducted by AP John Holbo from local university National University of Singapore.

AP Holbo is a humourous speaker, and his lectures are filled with caricatures which made attending the very difficult course somewhat easier, although not simpler. As someone new to Philosophy (although I have taken a Philosophy MOOC course with U of Edinburgh), this is my first introduction to Socrates and his student Plato. These lectures are extracted from AP Holbo’s Book of the same title.

The main lectures are based on three philosophical dialogues written by Plato, on the encounters between his teacher Socrates and various people.

In Euthyphro, Socrates debates holiness with a priest names Euthyphro who wants to prosecute his father for letting a servant die;

In Meno, Socrates argues with Meno about the nature of virtue; and finally, in Republic, Socrates debate on Justice.

And in all the dialogues, Socrates is thought to have practiced a so called ‘negative method’ – meaning he asked, he didn’t answer. This method is called elenchus, meaning refutation. Refutation is when you ask a question, and ask a follow up question when you get an answer and so on repeatedly until you get a contradiction.

If you hope, like I did, that you would learn a magical formula or the skill from Socrates after this course, you are mistaken. I got as confused as as the poor chap subjected to Socrates’ repeated questioning. It takes a sharp mind to really follow the logic.

But it gets you to sharpen your critical thinking skill after you are put into a spot.

AP Holbo is a generous man and the the certificate is easily obtainable even when you fail to submit your essay, as I did. The answers to the quizzes, which give you 100 chances each to get the six questions correct are provided. My average number of tries is three per quiz.

I really enjoyed the course, although I admit at the end of it, I am none the wiser towards the topics posed. Perhaps I need to repeat the course.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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