University of Oslo – The role of dialogue and moral theory in European Bioethics
Why did Plato write dialogues? This question is a recurrent theme among Plato scholars past and present. Historically speaking, however, the question is a very naïve one since the dialogue form Plato used in his philosophical writings was the ‘form norm’ of his day. That is, Plato lived in a culture where poets and their texts - epic, lyric, tragic, and comic poetry, where considered the most prominent teachers and sources of ethical wisdom. Second, the kind of philosophical prose we are familiar with from Aristotle on, and which we take for granted as the paradigmatic form of text for ethical argumentation and reasoning were at the time of Plato still practically non-existing.
The aim of the Oslo part of the GLEUBE project is threefold:
• to investigate the didactic assets and strengths of the dialogue form compared to the use of the philosophical prose form in teaching ethics to students of Medicine, Psychology, Biology, Law and other branches of the basic and applied sciences,
• to investige how teachers of ethics should proceed didactically to make students benefit morally from their teaching.
• to investigate what kind of material could be used to promote a kind of moral learning that is not confined to providing students with knowledge about ethical theories and principles, but engages their moral appetites, beliefs, emotions and desires as well.
Thus, the present project represents in some sense a blue copy of Plato’s own project, namely to move students morally through the use of a medium that displays moral discourse as something taking place not betwen fixed arguments set up accoring to the logic of syllogism, but as a discourse going on between living human beings and which engage us on all levels, i.e intellectually, esthetically, emotionally as well as somatically.
Plato took his inspiration from the forum to which the citizens of Athens went when they wanted to watch moral conflicts displayed in vivo, i.e. the ancient Greek theater. The present project will turn its attention not only to the different forms of moral dialogue displayed in Plato’s dialogues and in the ancient Greek theater but also to the kind of forum most people visit today when they want to experience and be moved by lived morality; i.e. to the cinema.