Milton Konvitz American Ideals Lectures

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Socrates believed that essences were discoverable by inductive reasoning. The Socratic Method emphasized understanding the essence of things and abstract concepts such as truth and beauty. His theory of inductive reasoning led to the postulating and testing of hypotheses. Inductive reasoning was a key to the scientific method and educational methods (the seminar method). The effect of knowledge cannot be the monopoly of any one class. Obedience to the dictates of the soul sometimes would come in conflict with civil law, which could lead logically to civil disobedience. Socrates accepted that the consequence of knowingly transgressing civil law rightly was punishment. He accepted the right of society to establish laws and enforce them. He also believed in a higher law involving an individual’s right not to commit an unjust act himself nor act against his conscience. Such individuals, however, should be prepared to take the consequences of their acts if they defend civil law. In his own actions, which lead to his execution by the state, Socrates defined principles of civil disobedience that are still used in our times. Professor Konvitz explains these principles in depth.

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