In 2012, as the crisis in Syria deepens, there is a need for the wisdom and the dialogue of Socrates.

Ref: Karen Armstrong, “The Case for God”  (Chapter 3, Reason)

Socrates was essentially a “lover of wisdom”. He yearned for wisdom precisely because he realised that he lacked it. 

He was primarily interested in “goodness” which he refused to define.  Instead of analysing the concept of virtue, he wanted to live a virtuous life.  When asked for a definition of justice, for example, Socrates replied: “Instead of speaking it, I make it understood in my acts.”  It was only when a person chose to behave justly that he could form any idea of a wholly just existence. 

Socrates’ mission was to awaken genuine self-knowledge in the people who came to talk to him.  He had invented what is known as dialectic, a rigorous discipline designed to expose false beliefs and elicit truth.

The Socrates dialogue led people to the shocking realisation of the profundity of their ignorance. ..Socrates did not see this unknowing as a handicap. People must interrogate their most fundamental prejudices or they would live superficial, expedient lives. As he explained to the court that condemned him to death: “It is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Socrates was a living summons to the paramount duty of stringent self-examination. He described himself as a gadfly, perpetually stinging people into awareness, forcing them to wake up to themselves, question their every opinion and attend to their spiritual progress. The important thing was not the solution to the problem, but the path that people travelled in search of it.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aLWHGJLN7s  Karen Armstrong speaks on Bringing the Wisdom of Socrates to Modern Dialogue

Editor:  Susan Dirgham ESL teacher

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