Book Review: Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

philosophy101
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 10, 2017

My introduction to Peter Kreeft’s work took place via his magnum opus Socratic Logic A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, And Aristotelian Principles Edition 3.1With that book Kreeft set the bar extremely high for his own work given the phenomenal job he did in the creation of that book.  Thankfully, that type of high quality standard travels with him to this other book.

Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft PhD is an indispensable introduction into the realm of Philosophy.

Although notably not as long as Kreeft’s book cited initially, this book still packs a punch.  The author creates what one may call a ‘user-friendly’ guide to Philosophy.

Given its length, the book can be read rather quickly.  Additionally, Philosophy 101 by Socrates is distilled to serve as a jump-off point for the reader/learner to venture forth into other philosophical topics.  Not only is it possible to use this book as a portable classroom, but it can be useful for homeschooling and even college classrooms.

Arguably the main strength of the Kreeft thesis is that philosophy takes no prisoners.  It questions everything.  Like a curious kid asking why in their nascent stage, it seeks truth – not belief – within every crevice it dares to delve into.  This may be problematic for individuals that do not want their beliefs question.

Kreeft shows how Socrates ‘philosophy operates in the following passage:

“Socrates is the apostle of reason.  He demands that we give logical reasons, grounds for beliefs, and follow the logical consequences of our beliefs, taken as premises or hypotheses, to their logical conclusions through a number of logically compelling steps.”[1]

Such incisiveness will undoubtedly get to the core of the issue far more often than not if employed correctly.

And yet, as Kreeft implies, philosophy isn’t an antithesis to certain disciplines, such as religion.  In fact, Kreeft goes to show how faith and reason can coexist if used trenchantly:

“One of the main functions of philosophy as practiced by Socrates is a critique of religion, finding reasons for (or against) faith.  These reasons often claim only probability rather than certainty; and even when they claim certainty, they may be mistaken) for man is not God and infallible); but it is surely a gain to use binocular vision, reason and faith, and to make at least somewhat clearer and/or more reasonable the ideas most people find the most important in their lives.”[2]

As an introduction to philosophy and Socrates simultaneously, one would be hard-pressed to find a better book than this.  In that Kreeft does an exceptional job in showing how Philosophy and Socrates interweave, especially given how Socrates planted many of the seeds for this whole discipline with his life’s work.

Using Plato’s Apology as a jump-off point, Kreeft undertakes the task to show the reader many of the ways philosophy can be understood by using forty different descriptions of the subject.  It was particularly interesting seeing the range of descriptions that Kreeft was able to come up with – some of it which might shock the reader – and how he was able to seamlessly show how apt those descriptions were to the act of philosophizing.

Subsequent to that Kreeft gives readers a cursory analysis of parts of the Euthyphro, as well as Phaedo, which are both dialogues by Plato, the latter of which details Socrates’ last days.  There are various purposes for the dialogues and the commentary that follows, and these merge swiftly with the overview of philosophy that Kreeft undertook.

One of the main strengths of this book is its ability to narrow complex topics into practical – but not overly simplified – gems of information that the reader can glean.  By contrast, many other philosophy books tend to overcomplicate philosophy, which turn readers off, or to oversimplify philosophy, which ends up not showcasing the latitude that philosophy can employ when used trenchantly.

This practical primer of philosophy also helps readers realize the importance of the art of cross-examination, which Socrates is the father of.  Coupled with that, and more importantly, by its very precision cross-examination employs in philosophy, Kreeft helps readers gain an understanding of the thorough depth which philosophy will go to in search for truth.  This journey in search for Wisdom will percolate into all disciplines, and can only strengthen an individual’s repertoire.

Drawing on all the data above, the book should be an integral component in education.  What the book offers is a template for what’s possible by philosophy’s employment, and not having these skills/knowledge in life emblematic of a surgeon at the operating room without a scalpel.

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Sources & References:

[1] Peter Kreeft Ph.D., Philosophy 101 By Socrates – An Introduction To Plato’s Apology, p. 104.
[2] Ibid., p. 141.

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Book Review: Words To The Wise – A Practical Guide To Esoteric Sciences by Manly P. Hall

wordstothewise

“Wherever a man desires to know, that is the place proper for his education; whenever he desires to know, that is the time proper for his instruction.”
– Socrates

BreakawayConsciousness
Zy Marquiez
December 29, 2015

In Words To The Wise, A Practical Guide To The Esoteric Sciences, Manly P. Hall gives a detailed examination of knowledge descending from the ancient mystery schools.

Hall delves into the finer strands of all that is metaphysics, religion and spirituality in a way that’s easy to comprehend for a novice, and yet sophisticated in depth for people that have interested in the subject for quite a while and are searching for more substantial information.

Beginning with the true and false paths to wisdom, Hall picks apart many of the aspects that can be confusing for people given how much information is out there. Keep in mind, the original version of this book was published in 1936, with the updated version revised in 1963.

That being said, the information is still quite pertinent given the unfortunately slow [spiritual] development of most of society at our current moment.

Hall speaks of the importance of learning from the ancient teachers – the upper echelons of ‘an unbroken metaphysical tradition’. Teachers such as, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Plutarch, Pythagoras, Proclus, and many many more. He even mentions some books which are vital to sift through and learn from that should be part of any student/researcher’s library.

Throughout the length of the book, Manly P. Hall talks about the importance to be able to hone in much of the misinformation/disinformation that is prevalent in this field, and he even gives thorough advice as to how to go about doing that.

Hall analyzes the seven requisites for a person of character, and thence goes into how to go about seeing what type of mystery schools are out there.

Ultimately, Hall goes into the importance for the individual to work on [spiritual] self-mastery above all. This notion is harpooned from countless angles and highly cautioned upon given the fact that the modern world religions, so called ascended masters, and even modern mystery schools, all attempt to tell you what to think, and not how to think. This is why Hall focuses so much on being discerning in this particular abstruse field.

Many great things have been said about this book, and for good reason. It offers valuable information that can save you a lot of precious time that can be used incisively elsewhere.

If you are familiar with Manly P. Hall’s work, then you know the realize the high quality of his information. And if you don’t, you really ought to take a gander at it. It will be well worth your time.

To finalize, will leave you all with a snippet of the author’s mentality:

“Philosophy elevates man to the level of truth, creating within him the capacity to sense and to realize, to visualize and to comprehend.”
– Manly P. Hall