Tagged: Socrates

On Having Something To Say

For the thinking individual, the paradox of writing or speaking for public consumption is that the moment you realize you have been “discovered,” which is to say that you have found some kind of audience, you will be tempted every hour by the devil who has devoured the soul of almost everyone who has ever been in this position. Why are people of...

Addendum to The Evidence

A few days ago, I returned to the issue of climate alarmism, using as my kick-off point the predictable public and media response to the recent unusually severe rainy season in Korea, where I live. As I noted then, it was all but impossible here, for a few wet weeks, to mention the rain in any context without being met immediately by a...

The Writer, The Past, and The Progressive

The writer’s primary goal is not to appeal to readers, nor even to appeal to good readers, but rather to be worthy of good readers. He cannot control whether any such readers will exist, or whether, if they do exist, they will ever discover or appreciate his writing. He must concern himself only with what he can control — though even that only...

The Unexamined Life Today

The challenge in teaching Plato’s Apology used to be overcoming the students’ incredulity and incomprehension faced with the historical fact of a supposedly democratic society rejecting the philosophic activity so stridently as to put a man’s freedom and his very life on trial, merely for asking questions that the political establishment did not like. “How unjust and intolerant the Athenian people must have...

Practicing Death

Losing an audience, with all that this entails, is a window into the personal meaning of death. From feeling deeply associated with, or embedded within, one’s human surroundings and their processes, one undergoes a gradual and involuntary detachment. Slowly, one perceives one’s increasing ineffectualness in a world where one had once perceived oneself as a cause of movement and an object of others’...

The Philosopher’s Crimes

The single most indispensable explanation of what a philosopher is comes in the context of the most famous trial in legal history. Socrates, who in Plato’s presentation of him was and remains the definitive philosopher, the embodied essence of the philosophic life, was tried, convicted, and executed on two charges: impiety and corrupting the youth. The philosopher is thus, by definition and essential...

The Question of the Body

As much as our modern temperament is inclined to demand simple reductions of everything — simple reductions being the wisdom of the common man, suitable for an egalitarian age that has elevated commonness to an ideal — there is in truth no single question that defines or epitomizes philosophical investigation. Rather, the essential questions of the philosophic pursuit may be represented as manifestations...

The Philosophic Life: A Questionnaire

Are you prepared to come to terms with the fact that they do not and will not want you, forever? Do you have the strength to accept that you will be hated, resented, or ridiculed by everyone who cannot understand what you do — while simultaneously knowing that almost no one alive will ever understand what you do? Have you overcome and dispensed...

Philosophy, Truth, and Esoteric Doctrines

For two centuries, the dominant scholarly view of the notion of esoteric or “secret” philosophic doctrines, particularly as regards the canonical thinkers, is that such a notion is simply out of the question. Though the history of philosophy is replete with direct and indirect references to public teachings which vary from private beliefs, and to the philosopher’s need for circumspection in speaking of...

Reflections On Not Being One of Them

It is standard among today’s professoriate to teach Plato’s Apology¬†with perplexity or mock-sophistication, agonizing over efforts to make sense of the charges against Socrates, seeking to persuade the students (and themselves) that those charges as recorded — impiety and corruption of youth — were “trumped up,” or perhaps merely a cover story for more immediate personal or political motives. For Athens was a...