Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Socrates

I'm still at the beginning of _Sophie's World_, mainly because I spend so little time reading. Perhaps I should blog less and do more reading? Anyway, while reading this book I feel as though I am looking at things again through the curious eyes of a young girl. It is such a rejuvinating experience to be reading this book! I've always enjoyed learning, but Mr. Gaarder takes an educational subject and makes it fun to explore. He makes me think. Ah! How I've missed really thinking!

I wonder if I am anything like Socrates? As you well know, Socrates was a great philosopher. If you don't remember him, you can probably at least remember him by the tragic way he died, being poisoned to death by Hemlock because he stood by what he believed all the way to the very end. Not many people would do that. I'm not saying I would have the courage to do such a thing. That is not how I am like him. But, I do feel as if I know so little and that does trouble me, so much so that I'm constantly seeking answers. That was how Socrates lived. As it says in _Sophie's World_, "A philosopher is someone who recognizes that there is a lot he does not understand, and is troubled by it." In that sense I can say I'm like Socrates. Of course I'm not as great as he was, and I probably won't be remembered thousands of years after my death like he was. Actually, the spirit of Socrates is in many of us. Those who look at life with great curiosity and seek answers have his spirit.

Can you see him now? Socrates, the portly bearded man wandering around the city square of Athens engaging his latest victim in a discussion of philosophy.... But what made him different from the Sophists of the day? He didn't pretend to know everything. He didn't lecture or preach or even teach for that matter. He simply helped others form reasonable conclusions on their own through their discussion with him.

I've run into many Sophists in my time, but I am lucky to have run into a few Socrateses, too. Those are the ones who cause me to think.

9 comments:

utenzi said...

Plato was a great philosopher, Stacey. It's difficult to know just what Socrates was. A gadfly for certain. Most of what we know about him came from Plato, and Plato idolized Socrates so he was somewhat biased.

Sophia said...

It's funny you'd mention that he was a "gadfly". In _Sophie's World_, the philosopher asks Sophie, "What do we do with gadflies, Sophie?"

Poor Socrates. :(

utenzi said...

Exactly. Poor Socrates found out what they did in Classical Athens to gadflies.

I picked up Sophie's World at the UNC library yesterday and hope to start reading it late this weekend. It sounds like you like it a lot. Enjoy!

Castor said...

"A philosopher is someone who recognizes that there is a lot he does not understand, and is troubled by it."
This is very good thought except the troubled part.
J. Krishnamurti is sometimes referred to as the Socrates of the East. But he was not troubled by the unknown. And neither should you or I.

Sophia said...

Utenzi,

I'm so happy that you've picked it up! Someone else can join me in my excitement and see what it is I'm talking about.

It approaches philosophy without boring the reader. It's mysterious. :) And I like mystery. Anything to stir the curiosity.

Sophia said...

Castor,

Maybe it's true that I shouldn't be troubled by it, but it comes naturally for me to be troubled. If I weren't troubled, I wouldn't have the motivation to delve deeper into these mysteries. In other words, it's being troubled that motivates me. Some people may not be troubled and therefore are satisfied with just living. But I have to know things. And if I can't know them, I at least have to work on finding them out.

Castor said...

Good thinking!

utenzi said...

There's probably also a East/West divide in the approach to philosophy. In the East there's a more holistic and somewhat religious approach. Starting in Greece and spreading west, our version of philosophy is much more rational and apart from our spiritual being. Witness Descartes' mind body conundrum.

Sophia said...

Utenzi,

I haven't quite made it to the Descartes section of the book, and I know little about his philisophical side. However, I did study a little bit of him in my math courses.