Socrates & Aristotle:

The Role of Ancient Philosophers in the Self-Understanding of Desisting Prisoners


Kirstine Szifris


This article argues that providing a forum for philosophical conversation within prison education is relevant to the self-understanding and desistance of prisoners. Semi-structured interviews with 20 participants of an in-prison philosophy class in Scotland investigated the personal relevance of engaging in philosophical dialogue. Findings 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 forum 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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