Kapitan to employ ‘Platonic Socratic Dialogue for Our Time’ to explore modern ‘war on terror’

Presidential Teaching Professor Seminar set for Wednesday, Feb. 27

Tomis Kapitan

Tomis Kapitan

When one considers what the practice of philosophy involves, one thing that springs to mind is its employment of the Socratic method of instruction, so brilliantly illustrated in Plato’s dialogues.

Many people have a rudimentary notion that this method is intended to enhance understanding through dialogue. A more complete description recognizes that the Socratic method proceeds by way of refutation (elenchus) with the aim of stimulating an individual’s desire for acquiring wisdom.

By challenging deeply held moral, social, political and other normative convictions in this way, use of the method may stir passions, generate controversy and even create enemies. Yet, recalling Plato’s dictum that “refutation is the greatest of all purifications,” the method is intended not only to educate, but to promote an individual’s moral improvement.

So says Tomis Kapitan, a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the NIU Department of Philosophy.

Kapitan’s upcoming Presidential Teaching Professor Seminar, “A Platonic Socratic Dialogue for Our Time,” will take place at noon Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center.

His presentation will illustrate the Socratic method in considering certain aspects of contemporary American foreign policy, notably the so-called “war on terror.”

Refreshments will be served at 11:30 a.m. The seminar is open to all; no registration is required.

Kapitan, who won the PTP in 2007, focuses his research on issues in metaphysics, the philosophy of language and international ethics. He has also taught at Indiana State University, Birzeit University (Palestine), East Carolina University, the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) and Boĝaziçi University (Turkey).

The Feb. 27 presentation is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. For more information, call (815) 753-0595 or email facdev@niu.edu.

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