Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons (showing us what we do not know, but not what we do know). Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates' robust conversational inquiry.
Bitter Knowledge includes Eisele's detailed readings of Socrates' teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, Protagoras, Meno, and Theaetetus, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education.
"This book is original, fresh, and of very high quality, opening up these Platonic texts, central to Western culture, in new ways. In addition, it establishes a method that others can use and apply to the other dialogues. It would be a wonderful text to assign in courses in philosophy, basic humanities, education, and law." --James Boyd White, University of Michigan
"Through his thoughtful and incisive readings of Plato, Thomas Eisele puts Socrates in a new light. In Eisele's hands, Socrates offers us a method not simply for philosophy but for the challenges of life and mind. This superb book builds on the great readings of Plato, adding to the richness of our understanding of the enigmatic figure of Socrates. These are profound readings of Plato." --Dennis Patterson, Rutgers University School of Law
"Eisele's book is much more than an erudite, seductive, and imaginative exploration of three central Platonic dialogues. It is also a fine general treatment of philosophy, discussing the kind of finality or closure to which philosophical questions are susceptible and the appropriate stance of the inquirer. It considers the pedagogy of philosophy and law brilliantly." --Thomas Morawetz, University of Connecticut School of Law