Philosophy and Socratic Dialogue (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Alessandro Stavru
Alessandro Stavru
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2B dal Apr 14, 2021 al May 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding 1. To know and understand the structural relation between the character of Socrates and the practice of maieutic dialogue. 2. To know and understand the pedagogical relevance of the classical "paideia", in particular the how it is described and practiced by Socrates in the Platonic dialogues and in the Socratic literature. 3. Knowing and understanding several fundamental elements of the Socratic dialogue: the search for meaning, irony, refutation, paradox, the exhortation to self-care and to the value of life within the "polis". Applying knowledge and understanding 1. Understanding the theoretical meaning of the Socratic dialogue in the contemporary ways of communication, focusing on issues of both continuity and discontinuity ad to the problems involved. 2. Rethinking and reformulating the educational dialogue, as a commonly understood today, in the light of the Socratic practice of dialogue, as presented in the Platonic dialogues and in the Socratic literature. 3. Rethinking the professional profile and lifestyle of the educator and pedagogist by looking at the way Socrates thinks and acts in the Platonic dialogues and the Socratic literature.


Title and content of the course: "Paideia and Socratic dialogue".

The course tackles the educational strategies implied in the Socratic dialogue (questioning, examination, refutation, care of the self, irony, maieutics, logic, and dialectics) in the first-generation Socratics (especially in Plato, but also in Aristippus, Aeschines, Phaedo, and Xenophon). We will investigate the lines of continuity and discontinuity between the dialogue practiced by Socrates and the Greek notion of Paideia, with particular reference not only to the life of the Athenian polis, but also to the reception and application of the Socratic dialogue in contemporary educational practices such as the Philosophy for Children, the Cooperative Learning and the Problem-Based Learning.
The course will provide a shared reading of dialogical units drawn from Socratic literature: students will be involved in discussing the positions held by the characters in the text and, where possible, in applying the educational tenets of the Socratic dialogue to concrete situations.

A) L. Napolitano, Il dialogo socratico, Milano, Mimesis 2018 (the student will choose one modern author in the first part of the book; the second part of the book should be read entirely).
B) Course reserve:
1. Dialogical units of the first-generation Socratics Aristippus, Aeschines, Phaedo, and Xenophon.
2. W. Jaeger, chapter on 'Socrates' included in Id., Paideia, vol. III (Bompiani, Milano 2003).
3. L. Mortari, Conoscere se stessi per aver cura di sé, in: "Studi sulla formazione," 2 (2008), pp. 45-58.
The course reserve is available at the copy shop ateneo æmme edizioni, Lungadige Porta Vittoria, 37.

Non-attending students will bring the same texts as attending students, except for the volume by L. Napolitano "Il dialogo socratico," which will be read in its entirety.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Luigina Mortari Conoscere se stessi per aver cura di sé Firenze University Press 2008
Francesca Pentassuglio Eschine di Sfetto. Tutte le testimonianze Brepols 2018 978-2-503-57774-6
Linda M. Napolitano Valditara Il dialogo socratico. Fra tradizione storica e pratica filosofica per la cura di sé (Edizione 1) Mimesis 2018 978-88-5755-065-7
Werner Jaeger Paideia. La formazione dell'uomo greco Bompiani 2003
Livio Rossetti Ricerche sui dialoghi socratici di Fedone e di Euclide Hermes 108 1980
Gabriele Giannantoni Socrate. Tutte le testimonianze da Aristofane e Senofonte ai Padri Cristiani Laterza 1986 978-8-842-02771-3
Livio Rossetti, Alessandro Stavru Socratica 2005. Studi sulla letteratura socratica antica presentati alle Giornate di studio di Senigallia Levante 2008 9788879494960

Assessment methods and criteria

Teaching method: The course will be held in accordance with the provisions on COVID-19 issued by the University of Verona. The course includes lessons and seminars in which texts will be read and discussed. Attendance is therefore useful, but not mandatory. Given the unpredictability of the health emergency, lessons will be recorded via panopto/e-learning/zoom and uploaded on the Moodle platform. In case of specific provisions issued by the University of Verona, these lessons may eventually replace the teaching in presence.

Office hour: Throughout the academic year, the instructor is available either in his room, or via e-mail, or via Zoom/Skype.

Evaluation method: The student will be interviewed orally or via Zoom (depending on the developments of the health emergency). Students can choose a topic from which they can start their exam (such choice must be communicated to the teacher by e-mail at least one week before the date of the exam).