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With Agnes Callard


Carrie Welsh

This is Ethics & Education. I’m Carrie Welsh. I actually got to do this interview with Agnes Callard, in person, in Chicago.

Agnes Callard  00:06

Hi, I’m Agnes Callard. I’m a philosopher at the University of Chicago. My work is on ancient philosophy, so on Plato and Aristotle, and on contemporary ethics as well.

Carrie Welsh

I went to her very colorful office at the end of a rainy summer day, and we had a conversation about conversation. And also stolen lecture notes, talking to ancient ghosts, and the secret to asking a good question.

Agnes Callard  00:25

I’ve been thinking about, actually, a kind of like a paradox about conversation, or about conversational learning. So I think a lot of us, me included, think that conversation provides a really distinctive learning experience. There are things you can learn by talking to other people that you couldn’t learn any other way, or at the very least, by interacting with other people somehow, like that, if you were just to sit alone, you would just never learn the things you could learn from other people.

Agnes Callard  00:54

But the paradox is, if you take the things that you learned from other people, either they follow in some logical way from the things that you already believed before talking to those people, or they don’t. Those are two possibilities, right? Now, suppose they follow from the things you already believed. Then it looks like you didn’t actually need the people, like you could have just sat there in the room by yourself and like, worked it out. Right? And maybe the other people made it faster, who knows? Maybe they made it slower, right, because you had to do all these pleasantries. All this Hello, and How are you and whatever that you wouldn’t have to do if you were sitting by yourself in the room, right? So it’s not obvious that they would make it faster. So that’s the one horn of the dilemma.

Agnes Callard  01:31

And the other horn of the dilemma is, assume that they don’t follow. So assume that the things that you get from other people are just like, unrelated to the beliefs you have, then why did you accept them? Like, then it looks like what happens is that other people sort of indoctrinated you into their worldviews that you accepted, kind of for no reason or for no good reason, right. So it looks like either you don’t learn anything from other people, which is to say the other people don’t play an essential role, you could have figured it out more on your own, or you don’t learn from other people, which is to say, you may acquire beliefs from them, but not in a way that’s like, rationally responsible. So it’s a kind of puzzle or paradox for anyone like me who thinks actually, you really do learn from other people.

Carrie Welsh  02:13

So how do you work with the paradox?

Agnes Callard  02:17

So yeah, so I think this is like, I mean, maybe the first thing to say like, it’s a really big problem, like more people need to be working on this problem. Here’s my current, I’ve struggled with it now for years, here’s where my current thinking is about it. My current thinking is that when you’re sitting by yourself, thinking, it’s actually really, really hard to tell what it is that you’re doing.

So like, here’s one way to maybe, if I can use sort of an analogy that I like to use from this is from Emmanuel Kant, from the from his first critique in his discussion of causation, he talks about a distinction that we can draw between, like, if you were looking at a window, and you saw a boat going by, like along a river, and you see the boat, you know, in one position, and then you see it a little further on, and then you see it a little further on, right at the three different times you were watching the boat progress, versus if you were just looking at the floor of your house, and then you looked at the wall, and then you looked at the ceiling, those are three different views, but they’re not in that order, right. So in the second case, in the case of the room, there’s a psychological progression, right of floor, then wall and ceiling. But that doesn’t mark anything in the world. There’s no sense in which the floor comes first before the wall, it’s just you looked at it first, right? Whereas with the boat, the first position did come first, right. And so there’s this question, how do you tell the difference in those two cases? Like when you’re looking around the world? How can you tell whether you’re in a boat case or in a floor-wall-ceiling case, right?

Agnes Callard  03:54

And Kant thought, this is like, a really deep puzzle. And in a way, what he thinks is that the concept of causation is required to get at the difference between those two, because in the, in the, in the floor, wall ceiling case, there’s just a merely psychological progression. So there’s a progression of mental states in your mind that don’t correspond to anything out in the world, right? There’s no sense in which the floor is first. The floor isn’t making the wall happen, right? There’s no causal relation between the things that you’re experiencing in your mind, but in the boat case, there are these causal relations, like the boats being at the first position is part of what brings about the boats being at the second position.

Agnes Callard  04:35

Okay, so this is this is kind of an analogy for what I think happens with thinking, which is that there are two different ways that you can think a series of thoughts. One way is you can think one thought and then the next thought follows from the first and then the next that follows from the second, right, that’s like the boat, or you can just think one thing and then think another thing and then think a third thing, and they’re totally unrelated to each other–that’s like the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. What I’m starting to think is that other people are the only way to tell the difference in those two things. So you actually, the problem is like, if you could just tell which things followed from which in your head, you could just work it all out on your own, at least for certain sorts of topics, right, topics that were a priori reasoning, reasoning, sort of without experience as possible. But because we are so opaque to ourselves, our thinking is so opaque, we actually can’t tell whether something follows from something else except by talking to other people.

Carrie Welsh

So, so far, the first ingredient in a good conversation, or any conversation, is someone else, another person. You can sit there and think on your own, but it’s hard to have authentic argument with yourself.

Agnes Callard  06:12

So I think that it’s really important that the other person serve as a kind of reality against which you check your own ideas, right, like, so. Like, there’s a great line in Plato, it shows up in the Theaetetus Platonic dialogue. And then also in the Sophist, another Platonic dialogue, where he says, “thinking is the soul having a conversation with itself.” And the soul asks questions, and then the soul answers the questions, right. And I think he’s right about that.

Agnes Callard  06:44

But it’s also like, yeah, but the soul can be kind of a yes man. So it’s like, when I’m having a conversation with myself, I just keep saying yes to myself, I’m like, “Yes, Agnes. Oh, you’re right. Again, good job.” And now so the question is, that other person, the job of that other person is to be part of that conversation, but not be a yes man, right. And I think the easiest way for that to happen is for that person to actually be in front of you, and be able to interrupt you, for example, and say, ‘wait, I didn’t understand,’ right, which in a lot of those other examples you gave, they can’t interrupt you.

Agnes Callard  07:16

But I think that sort of, the more of this you do, the more you become able to do things like internalize the perspective of somebody who’s been dead for thousands of years and imagine them as your interlocutor and think what would Plato say does argument that I just made right? Where that’s like a kind of conversation that I’m having. But that’s like, that’s like advanced conversation. And even there, like quite often, I will do that. And I will say, here’s what Aristotle would say to this or whatever. And then I’ll talk to some of my colleagues, right who work on Aristotle, and they’re like, ‘No, my Aristotle wouldn’t say that,’ you know, and like, ‘You made Aristotle say that, you turned him into a yes-man. You made him say what you wanted him to say.’ Right? So there’s that danger is always present. And the safest case, I think, is to have an actual other person in front of you to talk to.

Carrie Welsh

I love this idea of conversation as magical realism. Talking to an ancient philosopher in your head is not really talking, but it’s not just thinking, either, is it? And talking to someone in-person opens you up to this playful feeling of, this can go anywhere. You can write a script in your head of how you think a conversation should go, but it will never, ever go that way. In a good conversation, if you’re open to it, you can almost feel yourself being changed by it.

Agnes Callard  09:51

Yes, I think there are these great moments in the Socratic dialogues where the interlocutors accuse him of like being some kind of a wizard. You know, like Meno says, ‘Socrates, you have some kind of magic and you can like sting people.’ And Euthryphro says, ‘you’re moving my words around, like, you’re making me say stuff that I don’t usually say.’ And Alcibiades in the Symposium says something like, ‘when I’m with Socrates, like, he makes my soul cry out against me,’ right? So he like he turns my soul into a witness for the prosecution against me almost right? So there’s this thing that can happen where you talk to other people.

Agnes Callard  10:32

And it’s not just that what they say changes your mind, it’s that you say…things come out of your mouth that surprise you, right. I used to I had a teacher here at the University of Chicago when I was a student, who would sometimes, you’d say something and she’d say, “another sentence.” And you just you had to say one more sentence. And like, your first thought was always, ‘wait, I already said everything, you know, I don’t have another sentence,’ right. But somehow, magically, every time she said, “another sentence,” people would come out with another sentence, and that that sentence would be like the perfect one. And they didn’t know they had it in them until she asked for it.

Agnes Callard  11:28

And I think, I think that people are incredibly responsive to questions and requests, especially to requests that are in effect questions like, Can you say another sentence, right? I’ve discovered that there’s like, a trick that you can use on me, like, no matter how angry I am at someone, no matter how, like how, how deeply, we’ve dug ourselves into some kind of toxic dynamic of suspicion, and, you know, bad faith and all of that, if they just asked me a question. Like, I will feel like I have to respond. So I think there’s something really powerful about somebody wanting to know something, where there’s stuff in you, there are forces in you that are keeping you from saying a bunch of stuff and keeping you from touching a bunch of topics. But the force of somebody wanting to know something is easily strong enough to overcome that. But your own thinking isn’t, I think.

Carrie Welsh

So at this point, I really wanted to know, well, how do you ask a good question? This is something I think about a lot. And I actually asked this question to someone else earlier this summer, and he gave a very Socratic answer. This is eight-year-old Sol Miller.

Carrie: How do you know what’s a good question to ask someone?

Sol: Just by, like, where I met them. Like if I meet someone at a ballpark who works at the ballpark, I’d ask them all questions about the ballpark. And someone who worked at the coffee shop, like, what kind of coffee do you like.

Carrie: How do you know what to ask them?

Sol: Well, just the type of people they are.

Carrie Welsh

And of course, I asked him, well, how do you know what kind of person someone is. And he said, sometimes it’s about where they work, sometimes it’s just the kind of person they are.

Carrie: So what kinds of questions would you ask me, now?

Sol: Why do you have such cool recording equipment?

Carrie Welsh

So back to Agnes and Chicago.

Carrie Welsh  13:44

How do you ask a good question?

Agnes Callard  13:47

I, you know, it’s funny, because I’ve seen stuff written online about this, and all different kinds of tips and stuff. And I think that my own experience with teaching is that there’s exactly one thing that you need for a good question, which is that you need to actually want to know the answer.

Carrie Welsh

Actually wanting to know the answer to something seems like a pretty basic recipe for a good question. But how does that work in the classroom? Teachers often ask the type of question that has a right answer, like a regurgitated comprehension quiz.

Agnes I think I do this, I think every teacher does it, but it really annoys me when I notice it in myself that sometimes I ask students questions where I already know the answer, but I’m like, just trying to get them to say it. It’s like a kind of ventriloquism or something, you know, like, why am I trying to get them to say it if I already know what it is, right? And they can immediately tell that that’s what’s going on. And like sometimes they’ll just humor me. But that never really works in terms of getting a conversation going. And so, like when I’m you know, if I’m teaching Hamlet or something, which I’ve taught a bunch of times, I have to like reread it and be like, ‘what puzzled me about it this time, what were like the questions I had this time?’ If I even ask the questions from last time, they’ll be sort of stale and they’ll not be the thing that like I’m actually asking because I think I asked it in like a different voice or something.

A good question is something you can’t really fake.

Agnes Callard  15:00

And, I mean, this is one of the other things that I think is a really big difference with in-person versus any kind of virtual format, be it Twitter, or whatever, is that we’re really good at reading faces and at reading sort of tone and whatever, we’re getting a lot of information. And so, for example, like, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of anger online. So like on Twitter and stuff, right, lots and lots of expressions of anger. Now, I think a lot of it is fake, in the sense that I think that if you put heart rate monitors on those people, when they were typing, it like wouldn’t go up. And that means they’re not actually angry, right? They’re pretending to be angry. Because for like, good reasons, like, anger sort of plays well in a social media format, where people have a hard time telling whether you’re really a human or not. And anger is a very human emotion. So it’s like a way of playing a human is to be angry. So I don’t fault them for it. But the point is, we actually have a really hard time telling on Twitter whether the person is really angry or just faking anger, it’s, it’s pretty much impossible to tell. I think they’re mostly faking it. But it’s, it’s really hard to tell. But if we were in real life with those people, it would be so easy to tell, right? You would just be looking at their face. I mean, maybe a very trained actor could fake anger, but most of us can’t fake anger, real anger, right?

Agnes Callard  16:15

So now take the same thing with the question, right? If I’m standing there in front of my students, asking them a question, they can tell whether I actually want to know the answer to the question or just by looking at my face. And by how I’m sort of saying the question and the words that I’m couching it with, and my body language and all of that, if I were in some other environment, there might be no way for them to tell. And I could give them a list of questions. And I could use the same ones every year. And I could be indifferent about the answers. And but they wouldn’t be able to tell between the two different cases, right. So I think that’s another thing that you get. You know, in a way, they’re both pluses and minuses, right? You might want to reuse the questions. And so you might actually prefer the more virtual environment because it disguises this fact. Right. But in any case, I think in a in a live environment, like the good question is just going to be the one where you actually want to know the answer. Because finding questions to which you actually want to know the answer is going to be a lot easier than learning how to fake wanting to know answers to questions that you don’t actually want to know answers to.

Agnes Callard  17:43

So I have a great story about that. So in my first year teaching here, I taught intro to ancient philosophy, right, it was my first time teaching that course. And so of course, I worked really hard, prepared, wrote up these lectures for each text, right. And then the next year, I was teaching the same course. And I’m like, Well, good, it’ll be at least easier because I have have the lectures written up. But in the, during the summer, it was a summer, someone came and broke into my office and stole not only stole my computer, but stole another computer that I had hidden on the side of my desk. And so, and I hadn’t saved any of this to like the cloud or anything. So I didn’t have my lecture notes. And so I went into the next year, and I’m like, Okay, I’ll just have to start over, right. And I did, and it was fine. Um, but then meanwhile, like, after the first or second lecture, I had this thought, ‘Wait a minute, I had these students in that class who took really, really good notes, I could email them and ask them for their notes.’ And so then they sent me notes. And in fact, their notes were excellent. Their notes were as good as if I’d had the lecture notes, right. But I didn’t get them for all the lectures, I had them like for some. And so like a couple lectures in, I gave a lecture from one of my old nets, right. And this is having done a few from that. And it was like, way worse. And I did the next one from the notes. And it was way worse. And then I did another one without the notes. And it was suddenly way better. And I was like, wow, this is weird. I would think it would be better because I, you know, worked through these notes, right. But it turns out that what happens is that I had had some way of thinking about the text, you know, that was based on the reading that I did, then that was like, live for me in my mind then and like trying to redo that. Like it was just sort of canned and like, I wasn’t like the way that I had had of framing the argument. You know, I had written out the skeleton of it in my notes, but I didn’t have the like rich background, even though I had reread the text, of course. But if I had had to frame it that time, I would have done it slightly differently, right. But I was like forcing myself into the mold of my previous way of like, putting the argument and two premise conclusion form. And so ever since then, every year, I just throw out my notes and start over again the next year. Because I’ve just found like, yeah, I need to You know, I’m not gonna, I’m not going to be perfecting the lecture notes year after year and getting them improving the ones from the previous year, it just works better if I have however it is I’m approaching the text that year guide, like how I’m going to frame it to the students.

Agnes Callard  20:15

And I think that the, you know, the ultimate reason for that is that there’s a kind of interaction that you can have with someone where your part of the thinking is very separate from their part of the thinking, right, where it’s like, I’ll do my part, and then you’ll do your part. And then there’s another kind of interaction where you’re really trying to think together with them about something. And I think that, in order to do that second sort of thing, it has to be kind of a live thing for you, you can’t be instant, in a sense presenting the thought you had a year ago, you have to be presenting a thought you’re having right now in order to be thinking with them. And so I think it’s that it’s that kind of cooperativeness that falls away, when you try to have your part be done, you know, a year earlier. I feel like I’m so grateful to that person who’s done my computer, because I don’t know that I would have ever done this, you know, like, I would probably have just never even tried and I wouldn’t have noticed, I think, that it got worse.

Carrie Welsh

I like thinking about teaching as a cooperative practice, forcing you to be present and interactive with things as they are in the moment you’re teaching, not based on some script you wrote the year before. Actually, it sounds a lot like learning.

In education, we hear people talk a lot about the Socratic method as a generative way to teach discussion. What is that, though? What do we mean when we talk about the Socratic method?

Agnes Callard  22:06

I think that the Socratic method is a way for people to think together. Maybe Socrates would have said, “a way for people to think,” that is, the thing you’re doing by yourself isn’t even thinking. And what makes that possible is that people behave intellectually in certain ways that have now become almost like cliches, right? Like, don’t strawman your interlocutor, be gracious, when somebody is arguing with you, they’re not trying to hurt you. You know, counter arguments can improve your opinion, your side, it’s not a contest. The person who’s trying to show you that you’re wrong is not trying to hurt you. These are all things Socrates actually has to say explicitly to his interlocutors, because they don’t know them, because the thing he’s doing doesn’t exist yet. Right? Like the thing that we’re sort of, in a way so comfortable with, which is kind of abstract intellectual exchange, that is not something like the law courts, like you’re not contesting for something. And that is not a competition. And that is not designed to humiliate anyone that didn’t exist before Socrates.

Agnes Callard  23:32

So the Socratic method, in a way is like, is intellectual conversation, as we know it, it’s not anything rarefied (it was rarified back then). Now, it’s so normal, but you know, everything is that almost I mean, in a certain kind of context. I think, though, that one thing is like, that’s maybe different nowadays is that people are inclined, at least somewhat inclined, like to put it in the form of even certain kinds of rules. Like, you know, give people credit when they’ve made a good point. Right. And I think that, Socrates, it’s like when you’re first getting something started, you haven’t formalized yet. You haven’t made rules, right. And so it’s like, he discovered a new kind of game, and he would sort of explained his interlocutors like, I’m not trying to hurt you here. We’re actually looking for the truth. This is how you do it, right. But he didn’t really lay down any rules. And I think he just tried to be very gracious and polite, kind of so polite, so unbelievably polite, that it’s sometimes read by commentators as irony or sarcasm or joking, but I think it was just a really, you know, how do you do something that the other person is going to read as adversarial but make them understand that it’s not adversarial is like you’re hyper polite. So I think that, you know, what he was trying to do is put on the table a certain kind of activity.

Agnes Callard  25:03

And you know, one of the distinctive features of that activity as Socrates conducted it was that it was he focused on a specific set of topics. That is he wasn’t just talking about anything. He was he was looking for his interlocutors’ sore spots, in the sense that all of us have, like, some things in our lives that we’re deeply committed to, and that we don’t want to question. And he always wanted to question those things for the whatever whoever the person was, right? And he had like a, maybe his greatest talent was that he had a nose for finding what that was for each person pretty quickly, almost immediately after he would meet them. Right? And so, what’s the thing? What’s the topic that’s gonna make this person uncomfortable to talk about? Right?

Agnes Callard  25:50

And so it could be you know, he runs into a priest on the steps of the courthouse, and the priest is about to prosecute his own father for murder of a servant who themselves had murdered a slave. And so what’s Socrates talked to this guy about is, what is piety? Right? So like, does this priest even know what piety is, like, as he’s embarking on this incredibly weird project, this lawsuit that could easily strike you as being envious. But you know, if he runs into, like, Lysis, okay, this kid and his friend, he asks him, ‘do your parents really love you? Do they let you drive the chariot’ I mean, if they really loved you, wouldn’t they let you drive the chariot?’ So it’s like, you know that that’s what you talk to Lysis about.

Agnes Callard  26:41

Charmides is, okay, Charmides is kind of a teenage heartthrob, right? And Socrates wants to talk to him about like moderation, like sexual moderation, right? Are you in comedies is like embarrassed? Right? It’s like, that’s the topic you want to talk about with comedies? Is what kind of like, you know, Is he sleeping around? Like? Or is he does he understand what it would mean to be kind of self restrained? You know, if he’s talking to Callicles, or Thrasymachus, or Alcibiades, who all want to rule the world, basically, right, he wants to talk to them about like, what makes you think you can like you would know how to rule the world, the world would be better off with you ruling it? Do you have any kind of these are all people who think they have some big theory or some big approach to like, how to have power over others. And Socrates shows and they don’t even know what they mean by the word power. Right?

Agnes Callard  27:29

So he’s finding the weak points in everyone’s sort of larger worldview. And that is itself going to add to the feeling of attack on the part of his interlocutor, right? And so he will often get into a situation…at the end of the, the Euthyphro, with the priest, the priest is basically running away. And Socrates is like, I want to keep talking. And Euthyphro’s like, I gotta go, you know, the, in the end of the Gorgias, he’s basically just, he’s dragging Callicles along, and Callicles is like, fine, I’ll just pretend like I’m here but I’m not really here, you know. And he’s very, very grumpy and kind of just playing along because he’s so annoyed at Socrates for having refuted him. Alcibiades, at the end of the Alcibiades is like, has basically fallen in love with Socrates and is like, “I’ll follow you everywhere you go, Socrates!” because he’s so impressed that Socrates was able to turn the tables on him in this way. Right? So he has this really, like emotional and transformative effect on the people that he talks to not always for the better. But that’s because his conversations are in some important way not purely intellectual, right?

Agnes Callard  28:31

They’re personal. They’re asking people to philosophize about themselves.

Carrie Welsh

Personal conversations, asking people to philosophize about themselves–that’s a lot like Sol’s idea from earlier. To ask a good question, you’ve gotta know what kind of person they are. Of course, Sol isn’t quite as exacting as Socrates. He’s not out there picking out the most vulnerable parts of your character and using those as fodder for conversation. But I think conversation does have to come from an authentic curiosity.

Think about the last in-person conversation you had. Who was it with? What did you talk about?

Agnes Callard  30:18

Maybe I can say this, I think something that’s distinctive–at the very least, about Socratic conversations–you might think that there are two aspects to any conversation. There is a kind of conceptual content engagement, like where I’m telling you some ideas, you’re deciding whether or not you agree with him, you’re posing back responses, right? So there’s the sort of content of the conversation. And then there’s a kind of almost social element of a kind of bonding and interaction, right, a kind of human element. And I think that what Socrates, you know, people do different things in terms of the balance of those two things. I think that most conversations that actually happen between people emphasize the human element and the bonding, and there’s actually relatively little by way of conceptual content, like little information was transferred, etc, right? I think there are certain kinds of intellectual interactions that really emphasize the content part. And sort of, there’s no space for the bonding, like, it’s all just intellectual.

Agnes Callard  31:26

And I think what Socrates tried to do was to sort of integrate those two things. So that, in effect, the conversation was always going to be about something like, ‘what is the principle of our interaction?’ And like, what, how does this contribute to your living of your life, actually, in a kind of practical way, like he’s interrogating the person on the things that matter most to them, right. And so the conversation in a way is very personal. And there’s always this fear of it’s like, going wrong, in effect of its breaking up of the person wanting to leave. And that fear is usually realized at some point. So it’s not like an empty fear. People walk away from Socrates. Right. So like, there’s a way in which the bonding element–He’s doing less of it than we’re doing. But in another way, he’s doing more of it, he is doing more to try to hold on to that bond. But it’s like, at the risk of failing all the time. Because he’s, it’s kind of a high wire act, right, where he’s trying to have a conversation with them in which a certain mood of getting along has been dispensed with, like, there’s a way we have of getting along with people where there’s like a background conceit, that we’re going to be sort of supportive of one another. And we’re going to stay away from controversial issues. And we’re going to, we’re going to interact in a way that allows us to hold on to that interaction very easily for as long as you want or something and like Socrates wasn’t doing that.

Agnes Callard  33:03

He was like, you know, pushing it into that territory, where if it breaks, if the conversation ends, it won’t be because like somebody had an appointment, it will be because somebody got offended. And that’s, you know, a number of times sort of how they end. So he’s sort of risking something. And, but that’s because that allows the sort of the content of the conversation to draw its energy from the interaction in a certain way that I think of as being quite distinctive.

Agnes Callard  33:29

A way to think about what Socrates was doing is like, a lot of the stuff that we might now do with either rules or structure, he just had to do on the fly with like, he would ask a question, and they would be like, Well, obviously, this, you know, and then he’d have to say, the next thing that’s going to draw them out, right? And you’d have to figure out and every time it goes differently, they really go very differently. Like, sometimes they end up in some geometrical demonstration, one time they end up in a poetry analysis. You know, sometimes they switch interlocutors, like, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like this.

Agnes Callard  34:04

Like, for me, one of the things that it sort of ways in which it impugns the thing that I do is like in a classroom, like, it was never that much question about what’s going to happen, you know, like, there’s never going to be a thing where we all jump up and start dancing or something, you know, we’re not going to, like, walk outside in the middle of the class, we’re not going to get pretty clear, like, what, there’s these constraints, there’s the structure, right? And those are just not there in a Socratic conversation. They might go for a walk at some point, you know, they, it might turn into a drinking party, like that happens once. Anything might happen, and he has to, in some sense, like, in real time, in a real world situation, just create an intellectual environment out of nothing with no resources with no, you know, structure and, in a way, the thing Plato wanted to show you is like, and that can be done, which isn’t to say anyone can do it, and certainly, it’s good to have these sort of tools, right? But the tools are, you know, ways of trying to capture this thing that, I think, it is nice to see that it has a kind of independent reality and doesn’t need, you know, you can sort of see by looking at the way Socrates did it that isn’t some kind of game. It doesn’t have to be understood as kind of game. It doesn’t have to have any particular rules. It can sort of spring up out of nothing. Just by getting people…talking to them in this in the right sort of way where they start to care about what’s true.

Carrie Welsh

Thanks for listening. Now go out and have a Socratic conversation with somebody.

Agnes Callard  35:33

That was great. It was really fun. I’m so glad we did it in person. It makes such a difference.

Carrie Welsh

At the Center for Ethics & Education, we’re committed to encouraging philosophical reflection on contemporary issues in education, so in addition to this podcast, we make study guides for undergrad and grad classes in education, philosophy, and sociology. They’re available for free on our website.