Socrates, Alcibiades, and ‘The Quest for Character,’ with Massimo Pigliucci

In his book The Quest for Character, Massimo Pigliucci asks: can good character be taught?

Through an exploration of Greek and Roman philosophy, and especially the interaction of Socrates and Alcibiades, Pigliucci helps us understand what makes a good leader, and how we can educate others, and ourselves, to be better people and citizens.

“In order to live a good life,” Pigliucci writes, “we need a society where people act virtuously.” Socrates was the first Western thinker to think seriously about whether virtue can be taught—and, more basically, to consider what virtue and good character actually are. Over time and across traditions, there has come to be broad agreement about six “core virtues” that make up good character: courage, justice, humanity, temperance, wisdom, and transcendence.

But how do we teach these virtues, which are so crucial for a well-functioning civil society? Join us for a discussion of this and other questions.

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About the Speaker

Massimo Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience, and practical philosophies like Stoicism and New Skepticism. He is the author or editor of 16 books, including the best selling How to Be A Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Liam Julian | Moderator

Liam Julian is director of public policy for the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy. He was previously managing editor of Policy Review magazine in Washington, D.C. His writing and commentary on public policy topics has appeared in a variety of publications such as The Washington Post, The Atlantic, City Journal, and National Review and on programs such as NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Mr. Julian also spent time working with the College Board, where he oversaw development of Advanced Placement curricula, including the redesign of the AP U.S. Government and Politics course. From 2006 to 2013, he was a Hoover Institution research fellow at Stanford University.