16 years in the making, this 32,000 motivational quote search engine can identify quotations by the name of the author, keyword, gender, general ethnicity, and by phrase. It’s yours to use for free. I think it is the most diverse, deep, and far-reaching quotation search engine on values, ethics, and wisdom anywhere in the Milky Way galaxy. Enjoy! – Jason
If our position on the ladder is a matter of such concern, it is because our self-conception is so dependent upon what others make of us. Rare individuals aside (Socrates, Jesus), we rely on signs of respect from the world to feel tolerable of ourselves.
Montaigne, who claimed to turn away from worldly affairs in order to think only of ‘Michel,’ appeals explicitly to Socrates as a model of what a nearly perfect human being can be.
To practice the Socratic art of living turns out, once again, to be the creation of a self that is as different from Socrates as Socrates was different from the rest of his world.
Those who claim to agree with Socrates that the rational pursuit of the knowledge of virtue is the right way to live face a hard test the moment they turn away from Plato’s early works to face the rest of their lives.
I am now even more persuaded of the urgent need to study why Socrates was accused. The dislike of philosophy is perennial, and the seeds of the condemnation of Socrates are present at all times, not in the bosoms of pleasure-seekers, who don’t give a damn, but in those of high-minded and idealistic persons who do not want to submit their aspirations to examination.
There are philosophical views – which go back at least as far as Plato – according to which the right analytical account of anything is one which correctly identifies the thing’s true nature and provides the right apologetic account of it. Thus to understand what justice is, Socrates and his friends in the Republic try to construct an image of the perfectly just state and the perfectly just soul. Likewise, he seeks to understand rhetoric in a deflationary way as a false appearance of justice, and then to seek an apologetic account of what justice is.
This is hardly the first time wisdom has been threatened with danger by the forces of evil. In olden times, too, before the time of my servant Plato, I fought many a great battle against the reckless forces of folly. And then, in Plato’s own lifetime, his master Socrates was unjustly put to death—a victorious death won with me by his side.
We are fascinated by their ability to pursue the question of life’s meaning with such unflagging seriousness, and divided between our admiration for them and our wonder at their inhuman remoteness (a source both of pathos and humor). Unlike Socrates and Jesus, we confront this question at long intervals and obliquely at best.
For the secular humanist, Socrates and Augustine are contemporaries. They and all the other great thinkers and artists of the past occupy the same changeless if quarrelsome space, endlessly debating the meaning of life in a single unbroken conversation, where new points may be scored but no answer is ever refuted — a conversation that is always alive, where every participant who has ever joined it is still actively engaged, and to which each new generation of students is introduced, meeting their ancestor face-to-face in a direct encounter regarding matters of timeless importance.
Plato is dear to me, Socrates is dear, but truth is dearer still.
Socrates' frequent discussions were often followed by his being severely handled, and he bore it all mildly. Once, for instance, where somebody kicked him, the patience with which he took the insult surprised one of his friends. "Do you think," said Socrates, "that if an ass happened to kick me that I should resent it?"
It may be that we are dreamers. It may be that we are fanatics, Mr. District Attorney. But yet so was Socrates a fanatic, who instead of acknowledging the philosophy of the aristocrats of Athens, preferred to drink the poison. And so was Jesus Christ a fanatic, who instead of acknowledging that Pilate, or that Tiberius was emperor of Rome, and instead of acknowledging his submission to all the rulers of the time and all the priest craft of the time, preferred the cross between two thieves. And so were all the philosophers and all the dreamers and all the scholars of the Middle Ages, who preferred to be burned alive by one of these very same churches concerning which you reproach me now of having said that no one of our membership should belong to them.
Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.
You heard of honest Socrates The man who never lied: They weren't so grateful as you'd think Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried And handed him the poisoned drink. How honest was the people's noble son. The world however did not wait But soon observed what followed on. It's honesty that brought him to that state. How fortunate the man with none ...
In Socrates we find a forerunner of both the Stoic and the Cynic schools of later Greek philosophy. With the Cynics he shares his lack of concern about worldly goods, with the Stoics his interest in virtue as the greatest good.
Socrates was no doubt familiar with the achievements of all the thinkers, writers and artists of Greece. But what we know is little, and as nothing when set against the infinite vastness of the unknown. Once we see this, we can truly say we know nothing.
This attitude of Socrates reminds us that the problem of divided loyalties is one of the main themes of Greek tragedy. He goes on to speak of himself as a gadfly to the state and mentions an inner voice which always guides him. It forbids, but never commands him to do something. It is this voice which stopped him from going into politics, where no one can stay honest for long.
Socrates’ attitude to the laws of Athens is set out In the “Crito”, which shows him unwilling to flee and so escape sentence. Though the laws be unjust they must be obeyed lest the rule of law fall into disrepute. He fails to see that this might happen precisely because of injustice.
Like Socrates and Plato, [Baruch] Spinoza holds ignorance to be the prime cause of all evil, and knowledge, in the sense of greater comprehension of the universe, the one condition conducive to wise and adequate action.
It is recognized quite freely by Socrates that the sum total of what a man knows is vanishingly small. What seems, in the end, more important is that one should pursue knowledge. It is disinterested inquiry that is the good.
Socrates suggests that we find happiness by creating a life in which we honor our most cherished values. Isn't that what the founding fathers meant by "the pursuit of happiness?":
When Socrates asked: What is Justice? What is courage?, and so on, he did not think of himself as asking for definitions of the words, he thought he was probing into the true nature of phenomena that existed independently of language.
We thought we knew what the self was; we end up not knowing what the self is. We thought we knew there was an external world; we don't. We thought there was free will; it turns out were not even clear about what that is. All sorts of subjects, it turns out, we are much less clear about than we thought. Well, Socrates was the person who, long ago, urged the importance of people really realizing their own ignorance; realizing the limits of their knowledge.
In the Socratic dialogues, Socrates applies a dialectical method, called elenchos, to examine knowledge in the search for truth. The method, a process of logical reasoning, essentially entails asking the question, "what is it?"
Grounded in Socrates’ teachings, Plato’s philosophical system (Platonism) is intensely concerned with the quality of human life and contains a persistent ethical thread. Plato believed in absolute values rooted in an external world. This idea distinguished him from both his predecessors and his successors.
The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don't like their rules, whose would you use?
Socrates is a gadfly in the sense of unseating the confident rider who believes he is on the flight path to truth. Socrates was well trained in the art of rhetoric and the great Sophist teachings of his time, but he goes beyond Sophism. His objective was not just to expose the ignorance of an interlocutor but to find the truth and, ultimately, defeat skepticism itself.
Why did Socrates choose suicide? Because he recognized that the rule of law is the corporate or public expression of human rationality itself. Law is the means by which the rational power of corruptible man might minimize corruption. Having devoted his life to rationality, Socrates would not abandon everything he had stood for and taught merely because his own situation was compromised.
What Socrates makes clear is that behind every experience there is room for an interpretation of the meaning of the experience. It's in the interpretation, the examination of what life amounts to, that in fact, life becomes worth living
For Socrates, it's not the sequence of passive experiences but the integration of those experiences into some intelligible whole that constitutes a form of life, and one subject to refinement through self-critical reflection.
Socrates begins with that core problem of knowledge: How do we know anything? If the skeptics are right in that we can't know anything for certain, then we certainly cannot know ourselves in any settled and certain way, and that means that one's life is uselessly examined. What would the examined life be — simply a constellation of prejudices and self-conceptions?
A one-year-old child shown the heroism of the Spartans and Thermopylae can learn nothing from it. The soul must be prepared and of the right disposition; there must be guidance.... Thus, Socrates argues that virtue cannot be taught as such. However, if knowledge attained by philosophical reflection is the necessary ingredient in virtue, this can be taught.
What is it that makes a man good? Who exemplifies the ideal in a world that lasts after power and wealth? Socrates is reminded that many seem just but are not and that the real determinants of conduct are not virtues, as such, but the fear of punishment and the expectation of reward.
We see from India to Athens a useful metaphor of the impulses of the body being like an untamed steed, pulling us in one direction. Socrates recognizes that we must have a will capable of resolving itself to follow the right course of action. The will itself cannot determine the right course of action.... How, then, do we discover the right course of action? The answer is through the supremacy of reason....
...Gyges activates the ring, makes himself disappear, goes off to the palace, rapes the queen, kills the king, and takes control of the realm. And what Glaucon and Thrasymachus and Adymontus want to make clear is this: the reason we do (or don't) do what we do is out of fear of punishment/being found out. If you could render yourself invisible, then you would see the sort of things you'd really want to want to do. ...Of course, Socrates wants to come back in this dialogue to say, 'Look, the real question is not what people do when they can make themselves disappear and all that — the question before the house is, How should we live our lives; What should we do? Not: What we do when we can conceal our identity or have the anonymity conferred by a hood, or face people in uniforms, or authoritative academic figures? The real question is, How should I conduct my life? What principles should guide my conduct?' And if you don't have clarity on that, then indeed you are very much a hostage to the context. And you become a subject whose data contribute to a theory of social behavior that has us much more in the thrall of circumstance than masters of our own fate.
We may know many things and still not 'know thyself' in the Socratic sense. But to know thyself is, minimally, to know. And so Socrates begins with that core question, that core problem: the problem of knowledge — how do we know anything? And if the skeptics are right in being skeptical about any and every knowledge claim, then they're going to be right in spades about a claim of knowing oneself.
The Athenians treasured the democratic character of the polis, and a philosopher could well expect trouble when challenging its core precepts. Socrates raised grave questions about such precepts. Suppose for argument's sake that the polis contained 11,000 people — of whom 10,994 are certifiable fools and six are wise men!
...perhaps Socrates was on the right track after all in contending that truth, beauty, and justice were not only real but, finally, the same.
Ever since Socrates, playing the sage among fools has been a dangerous business.
Socrates said, 'Those who want the fewest things are nearest to the gods.'
Socrates gave philosophy to mankind, and Aristotle gave it science. There was philosophy before Socrates, and science before Aristotle; and since Socrates and since Aristotle, philosophy and science have made immense advances. But all has been built upon the foundation which they laid.
Socrates was pronounced by the oracle of Delphi to be the wisest man in Greece, which he would turn from himself, ironically, saying there could be nothing in him to verify this oracle, except this: that he was not wise and knew it, while others were not wise and knew it not.
In meeting the accusation that he had corrupted the youth of Athens, Socrates did not for a moment assume an apologetic air, but with courageous faith in the worth of philosophy set forth the principles by which he governed his life.
When therefore we are told that health is natural, we may presume that what is meant is that it is normal; and that when we are told to pursue health as a natural end, what is implied is that the normal must be good. But is it so obvious that the normal must be good? Is it really obvious that health, for instance, is good? Was the excellence of Socrates or of Shakespeare normal? Was it not rather abnormal, extraordinary? It is, I think, obvious in the first place, that not all that is good is normal; that, on the contrary, the abnormal is often better than the normal; peculiar excellence, as well as peculiar viciousness, must obviously be not normal, but abnormal.
The difficulties associated with finding an answer to Socrates’ question, How should we live? …I came to realize that there is no single or final answer. Different stages of one’s life call for different answers; the answers of youth are not the answers of middle age, which, in turn, are not appropriate for old age. The key, at least for me, was the realization that the answers were far less important than the question itself.
There is no such thing as THE Truth. But there are truths – little ones and big ones, uncomfortable and pleasant ones, past and future ones. Where can we find them? We can only discover them, Socrates reminds us, by following an argument wherever it leads, and by examining our beliefs and values.
The acknowledgment of fallibility is a key element in the pursuit of wisdom. Never doubt that you can be wrong about how you choose to live, or about your self-knowledge, or whether you have successfully followed an argument to a successful end. It is doubt that keeps us examining our lives and beliefs. ‘The unexamined life is not worth living,’ Socrates said.
Socrates, in a classic example of Socratic irony, had to admit that he did not know what wisdom was – which was precisely why the Oracle at Delphi pronounced him the wisest in all of Athens.
I will be the first to confess that I have not always lived a life that incorporates the values that Socrates recommended. Nor have I been as compassionate as I should, and have too often turned away from the demands justice requires. These are the values for which I strive. [But, that relative failure]…is an opportunity for exercising my freedom to choose, my ability to rationally and critically examine cherished beliefs, and my capacity for self-transcendence.
Our self-consciousness allows us to make ourselves an object of our own thought. Without this capacity for self-transcendence, Socrates’ assertion about the value of examining our lives makes no sense.
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