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Back to Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato by National University of Singapore

239 ratings
73 reviews

About the Course

In this course we study the ancient, Socratic art of blowing up your beliefs as you go, to make sure they're built to last. We spend six weeks studying three Platonic dialogues - "Euthyphro", "Meno", "Republic" Book I - then two weeks pondering a pair of footnotes to Plato: contemporary moral theory and moral psychology. Platonic? Socratic? Socrates was the teacher, but he said he never did. Plato was the student who put words in his teacher's mouth. You'll get a feel for it. We have a book: the new 4th edition of "Reason and Persuasion", by the instructor (and his wife, Belle Waring, the translator.) It contains the Plato you need, plus introductory material and in-depth, chapter-length commentaries. (Don't worry! John Holbo knows better than to read his book to the camera. The videos cover the same material, but the presentation is different.) The book is offered free in PDF form - the whole thing, and individual chapter slices. It is also available in print and other e-editions. See the course content for links and information. The course is suitable for beginning students of Plato and philosophy, but is intended to offer something to more advanced students as well. We seek new, odd angles on old, basic angles. Tricky! The strategy is to make a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary approach. Lots of contemporary connections, to make the weird bits intuitive; plus plenty of ancient color, still bright after all these years. So: arguments and ideas, new possibilities, old stories, fun facts. Plus cartoons. The results can get elaborate (some book chapters and some lesson videos run long.) But each video comes with a brief summary of its contents. The lessons progress. I put them in this order for reasons. But there's no reason you can't skip over and around to find whatever seems most interesting. There are any number of self-contained mini-courses contained in this 8-week course. You are welcome to them. Plato has meant different things to different people. He's got his own ideas, no doubt. (Also, his own Ideas.) But these have, over the centuries, been worn into crossing paths for other feet; been built up into new platforms for projecting other voices. (Plato did it to Socrates, so fair is fair.) So your learning outcome should be: arrival somewhere interesting, in your head, where you haven't been before. I wouldn't presume to dictate more exactly....

Top reviews


Feb 03, 2017

Very interesting. The questions were rather challenging. The book clarifies a lot, and porf. Holbroke has a nice way of teaching. The videos were rather enticing and very informative.


Oct 28, 2016

I wish the course was longer! The Professor did a fantastic job of making the content fascinating and engaging. Please please please make another MOOC!

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51 - 70 of 70 Reviews for Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato

By Charles A M

Nov 22, 2016

I was blown away by Professor Holbo's content, use of the Coursera tools, and the fusion of Plato' s and more modern thinkers' philosophies. For the course itself, I would give more than five stars if it could. I gave 4 stars because it was very difficult to engage in a substantial discussion concerning the concepts.

I hope to have the opportunity to take other courses created by Professor Holbo in the future.

By Wendie K

Sep 16, 2016

John Holbo is a very good narrator, I liked his book and videos very much. He made it more easy to get through the material, which sometimes is challenging (especially if english is not your native tongue)


Feb 08, 2018

Original technique for teaching and deep capacity to search, find and expose essence of such complex matter as are this Dialogues By Plato. Funny lecture stile without loosing academy rigor.

By Paula H

Oct 03, 2018

I learned that you don't want to have a discussion with Socrates. He will talk you in circles and give you a headache. Good class. Breaks down fairly dense reading into manageable chunks.


Jun 28, 2018

Jon Holbo was an amazing lecturer. He kept me engaged and curious throughout each week!

By Pramila K

Jul 09, 2020

Course content is good. I have completed the course,please provide a certificate

By Wilfredo E

Apr 21, 2019

Great course but I didn't have time to complete.

By Jonathan J

Aug 20, 2020

Mindwracking experience but very nice readings.

By Benjamin A O

Dec 01, 2017

c'était cool

By Roman K

Aug 16, 2018


By Amanpreet S

Jun 13, 2018

My introduction to plato. Good course would have not read or gone through plato on my own. Now this course gives me confidence to further explore dialogues of Socrates and Plato.Course is overall good, not too concentrated and lightweight. Professor adds quite a lot of humor and tries to make subject more clear by explaining in multiple ways. Personally it was a little diluted for my taste hence felt that videos as well as book commentary could have been more concentrated.But surely recommend trying out this course to see if this something for you. Certainly course adds value and clears your understanding of these dialogues.

By Caelyn M

Aug 26, 2016

Interesting and enjoyable; but I was looking for more of a rigorous introduction to Plato. The professor goes to a great deal of effort to make what otherwise might be a dry material engaging; but I sometimes felt like I was watching one of those science programs for children where they sell how great science with fun graphics.

By Greg G

Aug 09, 2016

The professor's view of Plato is unique and interesting. I would not recommend this as a first look at the Dialogues, however. Also, it was difficult to see how the lectures connected to the remit of the course, to teach "reason and persuasion", in Plato's view. The course was more of a "modern take on ancient questions".

By Sunita d

May 20, 2018

its good to join course and vedios are all helping but less is ellevorated about the flow means story. There are good reason and justified persuasion but without the base of complete stody its hard to understand them.


Jun 20, 2017

Good course, but the quizzes don't follow the logic of the exposition. Think they should explore the insights of the teacher.

By Syed A Q

Jun 10, 2020

I felt the videos were dragged and filled with content that is not relevant to the Plato dialogues. Could have been simpler and objective.

By Amanda K

Mar 24, 2017

Had I taken this course without prior knowledge of the subject, without a doubt I would have quit the course after the first lesson. As it is, I gladly clicked the unenroll button after 5 mins into the start of the instructor's week three video. I honestly don't know why I bothered to continue torturing myself as long as I did.

John Holbo makes grasping Plato more complicated than it needs to be. In fact, his lessons are nothing more than useless 'white noise' and ill attempts at humour.

I recommend NOT taking this course. It does not offer any enlightenment, but will only obfuscate and turn people off from wanting to understand Plato.

By Basil G

May 16, 2020

It is obvious, for anyone who has studied Plato's dialogues for years, that the person teaching this course lacks the ability to really understand what the ancient text says and he draws his own arbitrary conclusions, which he asks his students to accept. The tests are a real joke, very funny, really "out of space" compared with the real meaning of the Plato's writtings. I can easily understand now why Socrates was sentenced to death... they misinterpeted his sayings... just like here!

By Fernando A L A

Sep 20, 2020

Incroyable non, 12 questionnaires et il n'y a pas de certificat!!!

By marco g

Oct 31, 2017