New thread: Socrates

800px-UWASocrates_gobeirne

The Hannibal Blog is kicking off yet another series, this one on Socrates.

You’ve encountered Socrates before on this blog, as when he represented the “left leg” in this body metaphor of the Western tradition, or when discussing irony. He came up only indirectly, via Plato, in my series on the world’s greatest thinkers, of which he is of course one.

So why now an entire series? Because he deserves it. And because of an oddly serendipitous string of events:

  1. I have been thinking for a while about writing my second book about a theme illustrated by Socrates, rather as the theme of success/failure is illustrated by Hannibal in my first book–even though it’s not even out yet.
  2. Even though I haven’t told anybody about this, several people, indeed several readers of The Hannibal Blog, have been sending me ideas and links and recommendations that have to do with Socrates. (More about those soon.)

Hannibal embodies more than one theme in our lives, although any good story needs one theme for focus, with the others appearing along the way.

For Socrates, too, I have one theme in our lives in mind. But it’s way, way too early to get into that. For the rest of this blog thread, let’s just start counting all the other ways in which Socrates, like Hannibal, is relevant to us, today. There are so many.

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10 thoughts on “New thread: Socrates

  1. Socrates appreciated the question even if he didn’t know the answer.

    In current conversation at Peet’s Coffee, he would be at a table, listening to his students instead of lecturing.

    He will forever be known as one of the greatest teachers.

    Relevance today? In world politics, it seems we humans have reached a fevered pitch in our screaming at each other. On television, on the radio, in casual conversation–we thrust our opinions at each other and while our friends are sharing theirs, we are thinking of our response.

    Socrates would have us step back, be quiet, and listen for a while.

    • Amen.

      That said, the book I’m reading at the moment (which you recommended) has me thinking more critically about whether Socrates was indeed the listener he was cracked up to be….

      But that’s the ideal!

  2. Andreas – its impressive that you are even thinking about (though I suspect you’ve done more than just think) your next book. A couple of my friends who’ve published books have been exhausted by the process…

    Cheri – re relevance today… I once used the following line in an online personal ad – ‘seeking a Socratic not Platonic relationship’ – needless to say that did not prove effective – and required more explanation than any joke (no matter how small) can survive.

  3. A contestant, Sally, on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ had reached the final plateau. If she answered the next question correctly, she would win $1,000,000. If she answered incorrectly, she would pocket only the $25,000 milestone money. And as she suspected the Million Dollar Question was no pushover.

    It was, ‘Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds?

    Is it:
    A) The condor

    B) The buzzard

    C) The cuckoo

    D) The vulture

    The woman was on the spot. She did not know the answer. She had used up her 50/50 Lifeline and her Ask the Audience Lifeline.

    All that remained was her Phone-a-Friend Lifeline.

    She hoped she would not have to use it because….Well, her friend was, well, a blonde. But she had no alternative.

    She called her friend and gave her the question and the four choices. The blonde responded unhesitatingly: ‘That’s easy. The answer is C: the cuckoo.’

    The contestant had to make a decision and make it fast… She considered employing a reverse strategy and giving any answer except the one that
    her friend had given her. And considering her friend was a blonde that would seem to be the logical thing to do. But her friend had responded
    with such confidence, such certitude, that the contestant could not help but be convinced.

    Crossing her fingers, the contestant said, ‘C: The cuckoo.’

    ‘Is that your final answer?’

    ‘Yes, that is my final answer.’

    ‘That answer is absolutely correct! You are now a millionaire!’

    Three days later, the contestant hosted a party for her family and friends, including the blonde who had helped her win the million dollars.

    ‘Jeni, I just do not know how to thank you, ‘ said the contestant.

    ‘How did you happen to know the right answer?’

    ‘Oh, come on,’ said the blonde ‘Everybody knows that cuckoos don’t build nests. They live in clocks.’

    Sally fainted.

  4. Homosexual love is such an issue today, particularly its physical aspects. Does The Symposium succeed in raising the sublime from the sordid, whatever the gender?

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