Friday, September 02, 2005

A great man called Socrates

This is an attempt to define why this strange man who lived in Greece some 2400 years ago is so popular among philosophers and philosophers-wannabe.

"The only thing I know is.... I know nothing"

How strange from someone whose goal was to uncover the truth on any issues! He always started by saying that he knows nothing.
This was not a joke. He was just aware that any individuals had a very limited perspective: We can only experience a very tiny portion of all the events taking place in this world. How can we dare to say that we know already the truth when we start to discuss something with someone?
This awareness of people's ignorance is actually the basis for learning more in the process. It's a tool against complacency. It's also the reason why encouraging debates is vital.

Questioning prejudice:

The socratic method seeks to lay the emphasis on our illusions of truth. By questioning endlessly the proofs and the logic of a statement, a form of deeper knowledge emerge from the debate. This "irritating" form of sceptism is vital in any scientific method.

Devotion to truth:

For Socrates, a life spent away from "truth" is not worth living. Finding truth gives meaning and purpose to those who makes the effort to search it.

Dispassionate reason:

After being sentenced to death (for corrupting the minds of the youth), Socrates remains calm and claims that he believes in "reason" against "passion". These last words summarize well his life of enquiry and endless debates.
Only with a calm attitude can we challenge our deepest prejudice and illusions.

Evil comes from ignorance

He came to believe any well-informed person would not be able of commiting "evil" acts.
There is more than enough evidence that a low education level is correlated with violence. Even though this belief seems naive, it's a good thing to question "evil-doers" ignorance before wishing their death.

Socrates heritage is less a "philosophy" than a philosophical method.
Socrates didn't believe in imposing his own personal conceptions of truth, he was just helping others uncover how wrong can be their believes when confronted to "contradictions".


Sources in the internet:


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