Socrates: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
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Socrates is regarded as the founder of Western philosophical inquiry. Yet he left no writings and claimed to know 'nothing fine or worthy.' he spent his life perplexing those who encountered him and is as important and perplexing now as he was 2500 years ago. Drawing on the various competing sources for Socrates that are available, Socrates: A Guide for the Perplexed guides the reader through the main themes and ideas of Socrates' thought. Taking into account the puzzles surrounding his trial and death, the philosophical methods and ethical positions associated with him, and his lasting influence, Sara Ahbel-Rappe presents a concise and accessible introduction. She concludes by suggesting that it is in fact the Socratic insistence on self-knowledge that makes Socrates at once so pivotal and so elusive for the student of philosophy.
preliminary survey of Plato’s Socrates. Before concluding this overview of some of the features of the aporetic dialogues and the philosophical commitments, or at least interest, of Socrates that they perhaps reveal (to the extent that they may or may not be reflections of the historical Socrates), we return again to the developmental hypothesis, and in particular to the merits of isolating these dialogues as more genuinely Socratic. Consider the Socratic assumption that the common good for all
youthful Socrates (Plato makes the narrator say, ‘Socrates was then quite young’) has with the famous philosopher Parmenides of Elea. Parmenides asks Socrates: Tell me. Have you yourself distinguished as separate, in the way you mention, certain forms themselves, and also as separate the things that partake of them? And do you think that likeness itself is something, separate from the likeness we have? (130b2–5) It is in passages such as the one from the Phaedo and the one from the Parmenides
guard over Socrates’ silence, lest he be convicted of appropriating Socrates; instead, Kierkegaard evidently will try to make Socrates appropriate him. No doubt Kierkegaard’s Socrates is someone who simply succeeds in being himself, an utterly unique individual who, in his very contingency, then, reminds the speculative philosopher of what he has forgotten. Life must be lived by individual human beings. Kierkegaard writes that on his epitaph he should like to see written, ‘I was that individual
Rather, it is because our encounter with Socrates has left our perplexity intact that we can be sure we have not transgressed beyond the boundary of Socratic wisdom into thinking that we know what we do not. And thus we are decidedly better off. 156 NOTES CHAPTER ONE: SOCRATES: THE MAN AND THE MYTH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Cf. Nails 2002 under Socrates for a judicious treatment of the facts. Cf. Phillips 2001. Phillips, a former journalist, describes his adventures bringing what he calls
Indices 157 166 177 v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author would like to thank Sarah Campbell, editor of the Guides for the Perplexed, as well as Tom Crick for his help with the project. Thanks also to James I. Porter for his singular work on Nietzsche and Socrates. I would also like to thank my teachers in graduate school, A. A. Long, G. R. F. Ferrari and Gregory Vlastos, midwife par excellence. Thanks, as well, to all of the contributors to the Blackwell Companion to Socrates, whose original