Oct 1, 2013

            Philosophy is important in a democracy. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates knew that, and defended democracy even while the Athenian democratic regime under which he lived had him executed.

            That idea is at the heart of research presented last month by University of Scranton Philosophy Professor Richard J. Klonoski, Ph.D., at the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy. His paper was among scores of presentations by scholars from around the world, who traveled to Athens, Greece for the Congress, held only every five years in a different city.

            In “Plato’s Invisible Hero of Democracy: Socrates in the ‘Republic’ and ‘Crito,’” Dr. Klonoski argues that Socrates was in fact a proponent of democracy as a political regime, as opposed to previous scholarship arguing he was a thoroughgoing critic of democracy.

            “The takeaway point from my paper was that he is actually a defender of democracy, one of the reasons being that democracy is the only form of government in which a philosopher can exist,” Dr. Klonoski said. “He was sort of an invisible hero of democracy – his invisibility as a hero of democracy evinced by his trial, conviction and execution for being an enemy of Athens.”

            Philosophy remains important for democracy, Dr. Klonoski said, because it raises important issues for the democracy itself, while being vigilantly critical of it.

             “The relevance today would be that democracy, whether in the United States or in a newly democratic nation, will open the door to public philosophical debate, criticism and discussion of the government of that nation because of the freedom and equality democracy promotes.”

            Emerging democracies like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, among others, continue to struggle with the intellectual dissent and philosophical debate and criticism that true democracy both invites and indeed requires for its own preservation, Dr. Klonoski said.

            He will present on the topics of this paper again in November at a political science conference in Philadelphia.

            Dr. Klonoski has been a member of the philosophy department since 1981 and served two periods (1989-1991 and 2004-2007) as department chairperson. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from The University of Scranton, a master’s degree in philosophy from Kent State University and a doctorate in philosophy from Duquesne University.

            In 2011, he received the University’s Magis award for Excellence in Adapting Classical Principles of Jesuit Pedagogy into the Curriculum. In 1998, the University’s graduating class voted him “Teacher of the Year.”




Back to Top