I’m sure you’ll remember a recent entry in which I explained that I’ll be doing some challenges on this blog. Well, it seems that, most likely, the challenge about planets will not happen, but, the philosophers one will, and so this is the first!
Since Socrates is so often called the father of western philosophy, I decided I would tell you a little about him first. Interestingly, he isn’t known to have written anything of his own, instead all information about him comes from his contemporaries. But, basically, this is what’s known about the life of Socrates: he would teach various young people about his philosophical ideas (most notably Plato), and this ‘corruption’ of the youth is what lead to his eventual execution (because his ideas contradicted those of the current religion). He was also known to have rather poor personal hygiene (even by standards of the past) and to have a rather poor relationship with his wife. When he was executed, they handed him a cup of hemlock and gave him the option of either apologising and having no further punishment, or drinking it and dying… He chose the latter. He was, supposedly, so sure of his belief in the afterlife, that he didn’t fear death at all.
But of course, that’s all biographical information; I guess I should talk about his beliefs… But that’s tricky. Since he didn’t write for himself, we can only trust what Plato and Xenophon wrote about him. However, Plato at least, is known to have used Socrates as a mouth piece for his own views, and so it’s hard to distinguish between what Plato believes and what Socrates believes. Something very definitely Socrates-linked, is his method of getting people to reach the correct conclusions, not by telling them, but asking them questions which will get them there themselves. I quite like that. He also gave the argument that it’s better to be good, because then good men are your ally and bad men are your enemy, than it is to be bad, because then both good and bad men are your enemy, but that may have been Plato. What’s also interesting is that certain groups in some religions (I.E. Islam and Christianity) see him as a prophet.
But yes, that’s Socrates, and this has been the first of my entries on philosophers. Plato might come next…