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The assignment for this class is supposed to be an interpretation of the relevant text(s) based on your careful reading of those texts. You defend your interpretation by providing the relevant textual evidence and analyzing it in order to build up a logical case for your interpretation. You should not use secondary sources (i.e. sources other than the philosophical text we are reading), and the assignment must not have any extraneous material in them, for example, praise of the author and his importance to western philosophy, or historical examples that buttress the argument. Your assignment are not supposed to be opinion pieces or personal philosophical statements. The goal of  assignments is for you to think critically about the arguments of the author in question based on your own reading of the text.

Assignment: Write a 1000 word  (= 3-4 pages, double-spaced) on the following topic:

Examine Callicles’ attack against Socrates and the philosophical life in Plato’s Gorgias. What is Socrates’ defense against this argument, and why does he continue to engage in philosophy even at great risk to himself? 

Things to consider when forming your argument:

  • You should use quotes from the Gorgias as evidence to support your argumentative claims 
  • Briefly discuss Callicles’ claims about philosophy? Why is practicing philosophy a problem for Callicles?
  • When does Socrates think a person should engage in philosophy? In politics? 
  • What, in Socrates’ opinion, are the consequences of not examining one’s life?
  • Think about Socrates’ argument in the Gorgias in defense of philosophy overall. How does he address Callicles’ attack on philosophy?
  • Is Socrates’ defense adequate (e.g. does he win the argument using philosophy or must he resort to other tactics)?


  1. Give a clear statement of your argument at the beginning.
  2. Unify with a single argument with a logical development from one step of the argument to the next.  Do not make a collection of separate points or examples.
  3. Every time you state that the author states or argues something you should have evidence to support your statement, either in the form of a quotation or a specific textual reference. Only quote what you need for your purposes.  Try to look at your quotations as something more than mere evidence, and instead as material that you can analyze (break down into its parts in order to interpret it) in order to make your argument.

Book to use;

Title : The Trial and Death of Socrates (Third Edition)Authors : Plato, George Maximilian Anthony Grube, John Madison CooperPublisher : 

Hackett Publishing

Publish Date : 

Dec 1999

Title : 


Authors : PlatoPublisher : Cornell University Press, Dec-1997Publish Date : Dec-1997ISBN 10 : 0801485274ISBN 13 : 9780801485275

Title : 

The Prince

Authors : 

Niccolo Machiavelli

Publisher : 

University of Chicago Press



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