Questions on the dialogue of Socrates and Laches

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Assignment 3

Plato on Tradition and Belief

Read the passage slowly and carefully, then in no more than 600 words, answer the questions below.

  1. Towards the beginning of this passage, Socrates gets Laches to agree to a new definition of courage. What is it?

Socrates and Laches discussion over the definition of courage at this point has led Socrates to get Laches to agree that courage can be defined as “Wise Endurance”.

  1. What conclusion does Socrates and Laches reach at the end of the passage? Why might Laches be surprised by this conclusion?

The conclusion Socrates and Laches reach at the end of this passage is that courage is foolish endurance. This may have surprised Laches because they have just agreed that foolish endurance cannot be courage as it isn’t admirable. Socrates speaks of a war man who is outnumbered and out classed would be foolish to go into battle, but surely running away would show cowardice. This also goes against Laches first offering of courage in reading 1.2 being that of a military man who does not retreat.

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  1. How does Socrates argue for this conclusion?

As previously mentioned Socrates uses a basic argument for this conclusion by referring to two types of war man. The war man who has the superior knowledge, the better classed fighters who are prepared to support him and the war man who doesn’t have these. Socrates asks Laches who would be more courageous out of the two, when Laches tells him the man from the opposing camp who has no knowledge of the battle ahead neither that of his enemy would be the most courageous. Socrates then points out that surly a ...

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