The Educators

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The Educators

Answer of Question No. 2

Most of what we think we know about Socrates comes from a student of his over forty years his junior, Plato. Socrates himself wrote--so far as we know--nothing. Plato (427 to 347 B.C.E) is especially important to our understanding of the trial of Socrates because he, along with Xenophon, wrote the only two surviving accounts of the defense (or apology) of Socrates. Of the two authors, Plato's account is generally given more attention by scholars because he, unlike Xenophon, actually attended the one-day trial of Socrates in Athens in 399 B.C.E.

Plato's metaphysics and epistemology appear to have been originally influenced by Presocratic thinkers. As a young man, however, Plato became a student of Socrates and turned his attention to the question of what constitutes a virtuous life.

Almost all of Plato's writings date from after Socrates's trial and execution. Although Plato earlier showed an interest in politics, Socrates' death sentence and disillusionment with the behavior of an oligarchy known as the Thirty Tyrants that assumed power in 404 seem to have caused Plato to turn to a life of philsophical reflection and writing. (Plato is often closely identified with the discredited eight-month rule of the Thirty Tyrants because of the large role played in that government by his mother's uncle, Critias, and a lesser role payed by his mother's brother, Charmides. During their brief hold on power, the oligarchy practiced widespread executions of political opponents and confiscated the property of wealthy Athenians.)

Answer of Question No. 3

Anthropology literally means “the study of man”: and the unit favored by anthropological study, in contrast to other man-oriented disciplines, is culture, which Margaret Mead roughly defined as “that system of learned, transmissible and modifiable behavior.” Thus, culture is not just manners, politics, history, and artistic expression, but the sum total of concepts, skills, arts, institutions, etc. of a given people at a given time—everything in a civilization that is not biologically inherited and yet imposed upon most, if not all, of its members. Anthropology customarily deals with the scholar's first-hand observations of primitive peoples; for unlike the historian who researches largely in libraries, the anthropologist goes to live among his subjects, literally immersing himself in their culture, as a “participant observer,” as much as possible—for several months, if not years. The discipline's American and European founders, Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski respectively, set the professional example by going to live, again ...
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