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Has Science Discovered God?
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God in the Cosmos
The Socratic Method
Socrates (470-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher who, despite being considered one of the greatest and most important philosophers who ever lived, left no writings at all. Most of what we know about his life and work comes from the writings of his disciples, Xenophon and Plato. He lived during a period of transition in the Greek empire, and after the Peloponnesian War, he was tried, convicted, and executed for corrupting the young. Socrates engaged in questioning of his students in an unending search for truth. He sought to get to the foundations of his students' and colleagues' views by asking continual questions until a contradiction was exposed, thus proving the fallacy of the initial assumption. This became known as the Socratic Method, and may be Socrates' most enduring contribution to philosophy.
- University of Chicago Law School
The Socratic Method is well-known among students of American law schools as it is the means law professors employ of which I can attest from my three years at the University of Michigan Law School.
- Theary C. Seng
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Plato's most famous work and one of the most important books ever written on the subject of philosophy and political theory, "The Republic" is a fictional dialogue between Socrates and other various Athenians and foreigners which examines the meaning of justice.
Written in approximately 380 BC [+ 2015 = 2,395 years ago!], "The Republic" also discusses Plato's "Theory of Forms", the nature of the philosopher, the conflict between philosophy and poetry, and the immortality of the soul.
An essential read for any student of philosophy or political science, "The Republic" is a monumental work of antiquity, which forms the foundation for much of our modern policy.
Several reasons lead me now to share my thoughts on and recommendation for this classic The Republic by Plato.
First, at a recent regional conference, I met a very amiable high-ranking official who with contained enthusiasm showed me the stack of political science books in the English language he had purchased en route at the airport bookstore. "I always make a point of purchasing books related to politics whenever I travel." In his post, he travels often.
His English proficiency came from his one-year study in Australia on scholarship given out by the embassy based in Phnom Penh.
Second, surrounding the July 2013 elections, many conversations abuzzed and numerous local articles in the Khmer language quoted politicians quoting and referencing a "Sam Kok" character from a Chinese film series dubbed in Khmer shown on television as their political model.
Third, over the years of living in Cambodia and even growing up with my Cambodian relatives in the United States, I picked up countless philosophical musings offered by Cambodians as profound new concepts that no one but they, as Cambodians who have lived through a certain number of experiences of particular endurance, can possibly understand.
No matter that I am also a Cambodian who has endured a certain number and length of experiences. And no matter, that I have read broadly and even more intensely in my formal education on these subject matters.
In all, I am reminded of Solomon's wisdom, that there's nothing new under the sun and that many wise men and women have come before us who have thought deeply, systematically about and articulated these ideas of which our immature musings are dusty, dim, grainy reflections, oftentimes incoherent.
I first encountered The Republic in 1991, my first year at Georgetown University's Philosophy 101 course (24 years ago!).
We will go through the 10 books which make up The Republic, book by book each Saturday (beginning today, this Monday!)
Here, to whet your appetite, we start with the famous Allegory of the Cave. (Do read both versions.)
- Theary Seng, 26 October 2015
In The Republic, Plato, speaking through his teacher Socrates, sets out to answer two questions. What is justice? Why should we be just? Book I sets up these challenges. The interlocutors engage in a Socratic dialogue* similar to that found in Plato’s earlier works. While among a group of both friends and enemies, Socrates poses the question, “What is justice?” He proceeds to refute every suggestion offered, showing how each harbors hidden contradictions. Yet he offers no definition of his own, and the discussion ends in aporia—a deadlock, where no further progress is possible and the interlocutors feel less sure of their beliefs than they had at the start of the conversation. In Plato’s early dialogues, aporia usually spells the end. The Republic moves beyond this deadlock. Nine more books follow, and Socrates develops a rich and complex theory of justice.
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Wall Street Journal | 15 October 2015
Picture the scene: An Anglo-Saxon monk is hunched over his desk, copying a manuscript character by painstaking character. It’s a tedious, unrelenting task to decipher the unspaced, uncapitalized, underpunctuated text, made worse by the fact that the Latin before him is little better than an archaic, half-remembered second language. He mumbles aloud to extract the syllables and words, as readers have done for the past thousand years...
This is where the first section of “Making a Point,” David Crystal’s engaging history of punctuation, picks up, sprinting from eighth-century Britain to the modern world in less than 100 pages. There is more to the birth of punctuation, certainly, than monks and manuscripts—the Greeks had first marked pauses with tiny, inky dots more than a thousand years earlier—but Mr. Crystal treats his chosen period with enthusiasm and insight.
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The Guardian | 17 September 2015
Making a Point is this prolific popular linguist’s entry into the same, or a similar, market. Truss’s book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, was energised by her furious certainties about the incorrect use of all these little marks. Crystal’s is a soberer and, actually, more useful affair: he puts Truss’s apostrophe-rage in its sociolinguistic context, considers the evolution of modern usages, and gently encourages the reader to think in a nuanced way about how marks work rather than imagining that some Platonic style guide, if only it could be accessed, would sort all punctuation decisions into boxes marked “literate” and “illiterate”. (Or literate and illiterate, if you prefer.)
As Crystal writes, scribes started to punctuate in order to make manuscripts easier to read aloud: they were signalling pauses and intonational effects. Grammarians and, later, printers adopted the marks, and tried to systematise them, as aids to semantic understanding on the page. The marks continue to serve both purposes.
Commentary by Ms. Theary C. Seng, The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Aug. 2011
Commentary by Ms. Theary C. Seng, The Phnom Penh Post, 17 Aug. 2012
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One country, two systems