Seducing Minds With the Socratic Method | Interview with Peter Kreeft | Valerie Schmalz | November 28, 2005
What if you could sit down for a chat to talk with some of the modern philosophers who have most influenced the thought and action of Western civilization? What if you could talk with those philosophers through the prism of the world-view of one of the greatest philosophers to ever walk the earthSocrates?
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College who uses that dialog format in a series published by Ignatius Press, called "Socrates Meets..." So far, Dr. Kreeft has written Philosophy 101 by Socrates, Socrates Meets Marx, Socrates Meets Machiavelli and Socrates Meets Sartre.
Dr. Kreeft has written more than forty books, including C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium, Fundamentals of the Faith, Catholic Christianity, Back to Virtue, and Three Approaches to Abortion. His most recent Ignatius Press books include You Can Understand the Bible, The God Who Loves You, and The Philosophy of Tolkien. (A complete list of Ignatius Press books by Kreeft can be viewed on his IgnatiusInsight.com author page.)
IgnatiusInsight.com's Valerie Schmalz recently spoke with Kreeft about his "Socrates Meets..." books.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What is the goal of the "Socrates Meets" series?
Kreeft: The goal of the series is to seduce minds into falling in love with philosophy via the Socratic method, and to show that this method is just as useful for students in the 21st century who want to read the Great Books of our past and Socrates' future as it was for students of Socrates in the in the 4th century BC who could only overhear him.
It also seeks to show students that philosophy is not an esoteric, specialized, scholarly, technical, and dull affair but rather a thing so natural and so universal and so important that it is one of the fundamental purposes we were created for: "the love of wisdom."
IgnatiusInsight.com: Why is philosophy important to the average person?
Kreeft: Philosophy is important to every person because philosophy is about the meaning of the life of every person, and about the right conduct of the life of every person.
IgnatiusInsight.com: What is the purpose of the dialogue format and what is its history?
Kreeft: The purpose of the dialog format is to be human. And divine: even God is a dialog, or rather a trialog, a family, a society, a conversation. We are made in God's image; that is why we become ourselves only through dialog with others. And that, at least unconsciously, is why we are drawn to it.
IgnatiusInsight.com: Why did you choose Socrates as your protagonist?
Kreeft: Socrates got under my hat and has not left, thank God. He is the philosopher I should be, the philosopher we all should be. But no one is. Socrates was the greatest philosopher; that's why he wrote nothing. He didn't need to. He lived his words. We think Socrates couldn't have been the greatest philosopher because he was the first; that's as silly as thinking God could not be the greatest being because He is the First. As Heidegger says, "What is great can only begin great."
Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is an alumnus of Calvin College (AB 1959) and Fordham University (MA 1961, Ph.D., 1965). He taught at Villanova University from 1962-1965, and has been at Boston College since 1965.
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