Celebrity Spotlight: Socrates

As I was waiting in line at Javas Cafe down Gibbs street, I wondered what it would be like if I had a chat with Socrates.

First of all, I know I would be interrogated greatly by Socrates about everything. Something that struck out to me though, was Socrates’s explanation that he was not the wisest man.

“What ever is the god saying,
and what riddle is he posing? For I am conscious that I am not at all
wise, either much or little. So what ever is he saying when he
claims that I am wisest? Surely he is not saying something false, at
least; for that is not sanctioned for him.” (The Apology, 21b)

Like the majority of the Athenians, this was taken by surprise that Socrates’s, the man who can easily bash and interrogate and argue with any kind of subject of life disagrees with the oracle of Delphi  statement that he is not the wisest man, and being Socrates, he goes and interrogates men who were highly esteemed of wisdom-first the politicians, then poets then craftsmen, and concludes that none of them have knowledge but rather that their “wisdom” is not in fact wisdom but came from some sort of inspiration. Socrates agrees that possibly he is the wisest because he knows he is not the wisest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qob4Rg6sJZk This video gives a good summary of Socrates’s  point of view.

This part of the Apology caught my attention because Socrates is basically a ancient greek celebrity. Although he didn’t have the most appropriate attitude most of the time, and back then his wisdom basically put him to death, we still study about Socrates and his life and his knowledge. But why do we study about someone who isn’t really a hero or the typical “great” man that everyone looks up to?

Even though Socrates was hated so much it’s hard to deny that he wasn’t clever. He most definitely was. So if I were to ask Socrates. “why are we studying about your wisdom in school?” What would he say?

I can imagine him take a sip of his black coffee, and mention that he knows he is not the wisest man, and that he doesn’t even know why we are learning about him. But that every idea mentioned about society and politics are in fact true, even after 2,500 years. Our society today just proves Socrates ideas, and we are the examples of Socrates’s ideas of society, politics, knowledge, virtue etc. Although not everything is in fact as planned by some of his ideas, Socrates would say it’s because there are those who have corrupted society by not learning and practicing philosophy, as he takes another sip of his bitter coffee. No sugar, no cream. “It’s simple”, he would say, “as long as you stop playing cello and continue learning about philosophy, you can live your life with the highest value of life.” That, is where I dismiss myself containing my annoyance and walk out. He takes another sip of his coffee in peace.

 

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3 Responses to Celebrity Spotlight: Socrates

  1. sarahbrgr says:

    I really like the topic of this post. It’s [somewhat] easy to read about Socrates having a conversation with another person, but it would be so difficult to actually converse with him. It would feel like an interrogation and perhaps an invasive one at that. That aside, I definitely saw Socrates as a celebrity at first, especially when we read Oedipus the King/Antigone. He seemed almost infallible to me, probably because his writings are so well known, and it made me outraged that he was sentenced to death. However, after reading his dialogues, I realized that Socrates was a total ass. I now feel a little less sympathy towards him and his fate. To me, at least, he is less of a celebrity and more of a political figure. Nobody particularly idolized him at his time, but perhaps now he has more followers and more people who study under his philosophy. As a side note, I definitely agree that he’d drink black coffee.

  2. jgraef2 says:

    I like the format of your blog a lot! It is a very interesting concept that I hadn’t thought of until I saw your post. I often learn about historical figures and never think about what it would be like to actually converse with them. I’m not sure that I would want to have a chat with Socrates though; I think it would just be more of an interview of me and I would just leave feeling stupid. I do think it would be really interesting to hear about Socratic thinking and how he comes to his conclusions and have him explain them to me in person. I would be pretty interested in finding out how he came to his conclusions and ideals through his study and what type of ideals he started out with and how he then expanded and improved upon them through his study. I would be interested to know if he thinks society and government have improved at all in the 2,000 years since he was alive.

  3. slee192 says:

    Like you had said, it would definitely be quit intriguing talking to a person with so much knowledge. I would definitely want to see what he could come up with whenever I try to make an argument. I feel like whatever he says will be unbeatable. It’s just so interesting how a person can find a way so easily and quickly to argue another’s points. It surprised me whenever someone had said something in the Republic, he was able to answer them back so quickly with such assurance, leaving them flabbergasted. I feel like Socrates is the type of man who could see through your soul. He would be able to get every single answer he wants from you just by using his brilliant and spontaneous questions. If I were to talk to him, I would feel every need to watch out for what I say just in case he pulls something bad out of me. Nonetheless, it would be cool to talk to someone so wise.

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