“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…” Socrates, The Apology
Philosophers can get a bad rap—among other things for discussing issues far removed from the exigencies of daily life. This is not surprising, given that many recent philosophers have given up the project of addressing life’s fundamental questions.
Not so with Socrates. He had an uncanny focus on the essential, and a striking combination of boldness and humility. Confident that the fundamental questions can be answered, he was never satisfied with the answers he had. So he kept looking and considering, and this especially by discussing.
Socrates’ discussion of virtue was not academic. It had the urgency of a discussion about how to earn a daily wage, or how to find the way home when lost. All else paled in face of the challenge of how to become the man he knew he should be. And he knew he couldn’t figure it out on his own; or if he ever stopped asking the same questions.
We could expect no more of Socrates than this fidelity in making inquiry into the most burning questions. And even if our daily schedules are more challenging than his, perhaps we should expect no less of ourselves.
The thought of Socrates (c. 469 B.C.-399 B.C.) is known primarily through the writings of his great student Plato. Plato’s Apology gives an account of the trial in which Socrates was condemned to death by an Athenian jury.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
“Of the art of acquisition [of food] then there is one kind which by nature is a part of the management of a household, in so far as the art of household management must either find ready to hand, or itself provide, such things necessary to life…” Aristotle, Politics...read more
“The hand is a tool of tools.” Aristotle, On the Soul Recently I was watching a blacksmith work. I was mesmerized. There is something so satisfying and so fitting—indeed, so human—about the ability to do that kind of work. What most struck me is how glad he must be to...read more
“Some men are thought to be obsequious, namely, those who to give pleasure praise everything and never oppose.” “And while for its own sake he [the man virtuous in social interaction] chooses to contribute pleasure, and avoids the giving of pain, he will be guided...read more
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. Bacon from Acorns springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.