Thursday, September 2, 2010

Does that still hold, or not?

My meager justification for another blog . . .

Joshua Martin

Dr. Carlton



What did Socrates consider to be his mission as a philosopher?

In his book, Solomon comments that Socrates sought the most important thing in life—living well, as opposed to living some kind of vacuous and unexamined existence (4). In addition, Socrates insisted that adhering to one’s standards was just as critical as the standards themselves, for continuity in what is right (when one knows what is right) maintains the very standards and precepts that person has deemed worthy and just. This is why Socrates denied escape from death when it was openly offered to him. Socrates maintained that if one were to ever enact change, said change must ensue arguments of logic. He advocated submission to authorities on these grounds, knowing that a rebellion brought about by haste or emotion would bring about much chaos and little, if any, resolve (7). Understandably, Socrates solidified his mission in the face of his own mortality. Solomon writes that he understood that the willingness to die for some thing or idea gave a person “considerable advantage” when paired with someone “for whom life is everything” (9). In the given dialogue, Socrates says, “’I am the kind of man who listens only to the argument that on reflection seems best to me. I cannot, now that this fate has come upon me, discard the arguments I used; they seem to me much the same.”’ (5). Socrates believed the same and so, when presented with an opportunity to avoid his own death, acted according to the standards he maintained before his conviction. Solomon also tells us that Socrates broke the mold of the pomposity and egoism, never aligning with the men who, standing on their own egos, considered themselves to be great thinkers (1). Arguably, when one considers himself to be great, he can quite easily become blind to his own failings. Socrates rejected pomp and pretense and very readily accepted his own limitations, knowing that humility was the only true gateway by which one could access a serious philosophy. As such, he was dejected and humiliated by many of his era, and was considered to be bothersome and unrealistic. His mission, therefore, was a combination of ‘living well’ (adhering to an intricate and well-considered worldview) and exuding the type of genteel humility, openness, and innocent inquisitiveness (even in light of an abject society), which engenders questions and permits answers.

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