Monday, February 27, 2012

Platonic Myths

Today for my hybrid Intro course I did what is usually my most popular lecture of the term -- on Platonic myths. My ordinary Intro course had this lecture a while ago, but I had my hybrid students take a brief survey at the end, as a way to get attendance and get some feedback. We looked at four myths -- the Allegory of the Cave, the Myth of Theuth, the Myth of Atlantis (briefly), and the Myth of the Last Judgment. And one of the survey questions was which one they found most interesting. The results:

Of the following Platonic myths, which did you find most interesting?

The Allegory of the Cave (from the Republic) 40%
The Myth of Atlantis (from the Critias) 6.667%
The Last Judgment Myth (from the Gorgias) 20%
The Myth of Theuth (from the Phaedrus) 33.333%

The hybrid course is not a huge course, so the "6.667%" is actually one person. I also asked them why they picked the myth they did. Several people who picked the Allegory of the Cave said they were impressed by how relevant it was to today; one person who picked the Last Judgment said the same. Most of the people who picked the Myth of Theuth said they found it most interesting because it raised questions about what it is to understand something; a couple of people said the same about the Allegory of the Cave. And two people who picked the Last Judgment said, interestingly, that they really liked Zeus's solution to the problem with which the myth opens (which is that good people are ending up in Tartarus and bad people in Elysium because they all know when they are going to die and they are judged while alive by the living), and both of them indicated that they thought the moral message sent by the solution was an interesting one.

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