What is Stand Up Philosophy

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This blog charts my attempts, in whatever way I can, and whenever I can, and as honestly as possible, to stand up for thinking - real thinking, whether in philosophy or politics, or maths - Because thinking needs standing up for!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Socrates' Trial - Or Making philosophy for everyone

The Trial of Socrates is the moment in philosophy - the moment it became what it was, the moment if you like, thst Philosophy stopped being a disparate and marginal series of discussions, and became, in the light of Socrates' death, a true subject, distinct in its own right. The questions, the problems, the issues which the trial raised, about the nature of enquiry, and the relationship of thinking with freedom and morality, have remained the mainstays of philosophy, and its legacy. And yet there is of course a barb here. Philosophy in becoming 'a discipline' started the long road to becoming 'too difficult' and so more and more marginalised. One had to become a philosopher, and that took more time, and money, as well as concentration, than most people could ever hope to afford. The Trial of Socrates is the essential story in which philosophy for good or ill is born. But this role as philosophy's 'founding legend' gives it a unique power to reach beyond the normal audience for either philosophy or more widely, performance art. It has a lyrical and dramatic quality all of its own. It was this power that the performance below is trying to get at. A power that meant that even though the performance was at the end of a local Respect Festival, just as people were starting going home and in indifferent weather, it still reached out and built an audience. People who had never heard of Socrates, or only of his name, or wondered where and when western philosophy (and eventually scientific method and democracy) started, stopped and listened, and were caught by the drama that has lost none of its power, and poignancy after well over two thousand years...

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