The Socratic turn in Plato’s Phaedo: an introduction to classical philosophy

  • Taught by Martin Black in collaboration with the Independent School of Philosophy.
  • Suitable for beginners and continuing students
  • Six weekly small-group sessions


Starting 6.30 pm Tuesday 5 September 2023 in Carlton (+online)


Plato chose his depiction of Socrates’ last day to provide his most revealing exposition of Socrates’ approach to philosophy. In Phaedo 96-101, Socrates sets out his critique of earlier philosophy and natural science and why he invented the hypothesis of the forms, which became a crucial aspect for all classical philosophy since, from Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle onwards.

This course will introduce Plato, his peculiar manner of writing and the Phaedo as a whole. Our focus will be a line-by-line reading of the pages in the Phaedo in which Socrates sets out his critique of materialism and teleology before introducing his own approach to philosophical dialogue.

Comparative criticisms of the Socratic teaching from a variety of thinkers from Russell, Popper, Descartes, and Heidegger, will also be introduced.