Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Socrates (c. 470-399 B.C.): One of the most important Greek philosophers, executed by the Athenians on the charge of corrupting youth with his philosophy of undermining the religion of the city by refusing to recognize its gods and introducing new ones. Socrates wrote nothing himself, but he has exercised an incalculable influence on the history of philosophy through his depiction by Plato in a series of dialogues. In daily conversations with Athenians, Socrates challenged and questioned prevailing wisdom, holding that he was wiser than his contemporaries only in recognizing that he knew nothing. True wisdom, said Socrates, was a possession of the gods. He regarded his philosophical work as a divine calling and refused to cease his activity even to save his life. The critical Socrates is regarded as a hero by contemporary secular philosophy, but the religious Socrates (who apparently heard voices and was confident that “nothing can harm a good man in life and death” because “the gods are not indifferent to his fortunes”) is not so widely hailed.1
1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), pp. 108-109.