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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Massimo Pigliucci

  • K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York
  • 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