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How can we settle questions of morality or ethics? This free course, Plato on tradition and belief, explores Plato's dialogue, the Laches, to discover why Plato thought that we should look to reason, rather than tradition, to decide how we should live and what it means to be courageous.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- recognise some of the skills involved in studying philosophy, including reading a philosophical text, recognising a philosophical question, and analysing and evaluating a deductive argument
- understand some of Plato’s philosophical views – in particular, his views concerning the value of traditional beliefs.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- What is a traditional belief?
- Plato and Socrates in Athens
- Plato’s Socrates
- Introducing the Laches
- Laches and Greek tradition
- Is courage endurance? Socrates’ argument
- Is courage endurance? Introducing deductive arguments
- Is courage endurance? The case of the foolish fire-fighter
- Nicias defines courage
- Is courage the whole of virtue?
- The puzzle of the Laches
- Knowledge, opinion and the statues of Daedalus
- Why Socrates does not know the answers (and why Plato will not tell us what they are)
- Why does Plato reject tradition?
- The Socratic method, teaching and learning
- Keep on learning
- Further reading
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Plato on tradition and belief
In this course, we shall read some extracts from the Laches, a dialogue written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427–347 bce) (see Figure 1). One of our aims in reading these extracts is to discover how Plato uses philosophical argument to question traditional beliefs.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 15th January 2016
Last updated on: Friday, 15th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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