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Socrates and Aristotle: The Role of Ancient Philosophers in the Self-Understanding of Desisting Prisoners

Szifris, Kirstine (2017) Socrates and Aristotle: The Role of Ancient Philosophers in the Self-Understanding of Desisting Prisoners. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 56 (4). pp. 419-436. ISSN 0265-5527

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Abstract

This article argues that providing a forum for philosophical conversation within prison education is relevant to the self-understanding and desistance of prison- ers. Semi-structured interviews with 20 participants of an in-prison philosophy class in Scotland investigated the personal relevance of engaging in philosophical dialogue. Find- ings demonstrated that philosophical dialogue develops participants’ self-understanding, providing vocabulary for alternative self-definition. The philosophy class achieved this by encouraging self-reflection, developing communication skills, and providing a fo- rum for positive prosocial interaction with peers. These skills are essential in reframing self-understanding which is, in turn, essential to desistance.

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