Paper Topic for Western Civ 1
The Western Civilization (“Socrates: A Man for Our Time”)
Scholars have argued that it is almost impossible for one to publish a book that nearly addresses every individual perceptions and expectation. This scenario can get witnessed in “Socrates: A Man for Our Time” that was written by Paul Jonson that entirely reveals the individual of the stature of Socrates’ life. Such scholars argue so since there are minimal sources that support the work of Socrates that are manifested today and that his contemporaries only portray his work. However, Paul in his book, “Socrates: A Man for Our Time”, project a masterful work about the Socrates and gives a brief insight about his entire life and the contributions that Socrates made.
APPROPRIATENESS OF THE TITLE “SOCRATES A MAN FOR OUR TIME.”
As indicated above, some scholar has attempted to criticize the title of Johnson’s book taking into account the impact or the contribution of the Socrates that to them seems to be baseless and have limited resources to support. However, when critically analyzed, one get to realize that the title is valid. This claim can get drawn from the ideal life of Socrates where Paul analyzed those facts and aspects that touch on the life of the man of today (Socrates). Johnson tends to shed light in the attempt to analyze the historical dilemmas that took place in Athens, and that shows the worst and best ethical decision making during his time.
According to Johnson (83), Socrates plays a critical role in manipulating the wrong decision that the Athenians had made (Johnson, 68). For instance, Johnson argues that Socrates played a vital role during the scene at the Athenian Assembly where democratic decisions were made to manslaughter the city of Mytilene. The ship had already been dispatched to carry out genocide in this town. The author argues that it was through Socrates that the Athenians decided to change their decisions towards the attack. Socrates had to send a faster ship that, fortunately, arrived in time and prevented the slaughter. This scenario depicts that indeed Socrates remains the man for our period even though this decision was contrary to the democratic rights of the Athenians. He employed the philosophical truth that eventually had effects in the whole of Athens.
“Socrates’ position is that morality is both a personal and public issue” as postulated by Johnson. Socrates attempts to interpret such philosophical quotes shows that the state models the behaviors of his citizens. What is clear is the fact that Socrates demonstrate his greatest achievements while in contact with the Athenians. He socializes with the Athenian, advising them to engage their minds so as to understand the morality, philosophical description of justice, and to attain excellence in their life. However, the author projected such following the existing conditions in Athens after the defeat of Sparta in the Peloponnesian war from which there was the need for victimization of Socrates. Socrates got victimized to death for having been corrupted the minds of Athenian Youths. From the standpoint of the Plato’s dialogue, the author argues that the death of Socrates was portrayed as a hero nor a martyr, but all that one must acknowledge is the fact that his contributions are manifested with all the good things that were seen in Athens (Johnson, 147-158). As a man of the future, he decides to face the judgment so as people could live to think about their spiritual and moral future lives.
Notably, Johnson demonstrates that Socrates “was the first Great Question Maker” (78). This context shows further why philosophy is grounded so much in Socrates work. At the introduction when Johnsons assessed the life of Socrates as a starter, one gets to learn the philosophical ideas that “an unexamined life is a life not worth living” (Johnson, 98-99). In this way, Plato demonstrates that Socrates is a living, thinking, breathing and is a real man. However, in Platonic later writings, he condemns this by postulating that “Socrates is just a mere man that do not voice his philosophy but Plato’s” (96), a notion that to me is not correct. From his moral teaching and the poetry, he impacts citizens of Athens with a broader way of thinking about their future life.
The title project that Socrates stood against the wrong ruling of his days, and he maintained his efforts as being patriotic and a civic leader that is cynical of war. Again Socrates is depicted as a man who never dreamt of doing away with the traditional institutions that to him he believes are the essential ingredients that institute the man’s way of life. Interestingly, chapter four of the book portrays Socrates as the philosophical genius, in this context he is very fundamental in giving the insight when one want to begin delving his life and the society.
Borrowing from the first chapter of the book, Johnson quotes on Socrates specialist (Gregory Vlastos) defines the ten ways through which the real Socrates gets pictured, and his difference with the artificial created labeled Socrates that is figured in Plato’s work of writing. As a result of such, Socrates ideas about the search for knowledge are the epicenter of the western civilizations.
Again the title suits since the man embraced not only his feature life but the even the meaning of our future life. According to the book, his biographers (Plato and Xenophon) acknowledged him as the man who first oversaw the problems of the contemporary world and had a lot of the philosophical sayings about how we perceive the life nowadays. The title can also be supported by an outstanding achievement of Socrates where Johnson noted that he made numerous radical inventions about ethical philosophy.
Ethical philosophy of Socrates dealt with the critical study of human moral predicaments. His view got based on the human society and way of life but not academics. Ideally his political, ethical and artistic contributions have impacted a lot in the modern civilization as witnessed today. For this fact, the title stands a better chance to be appreciated and a lovely phrase to ponder (Johnson, 98-134). I, therefore, stand a chance to recommend that indeed “Socrates: A Man for Our Time.”
Political and moral philosophy of Socrates: Johnson projected Socrates as a man who was ahead and devoted his time to manipulate the thinking of other men to the better. However at some points Socrates is seen to misunderstand the concepts and do not acknowledge other people’s views. For instance, the author postulates that at certain points, Socrates was suspected as being sophist and opportunistic. At some points, his contemporaries see him as an immoral and suicidal man.
Socrates possess both the social and philosophical beliefs. His moral, political and intellectual way of thinking was very fundamental in shaping the life of the Athenians. For instance while he was on trial for having corrupted the youths mind’s, Socrates proposed to the Athenians that as much as they value their families and careers, they opt to be considerate for their souls welfare. As a moral leader, he believes that virtue can only be taught. This philosophy bases on his erroneous doctrine on the love of truth that help to liberate citizens from the ties of social norms.
Socrates believes that moral excellence is as a result of the divine gift rather than parental upbringing and the environment that nurtures an individual (Johnson, 93). To my opinion and with Johnson’s, he was a moral philosopher. Socrates was curious about the general human life. This aspect makes him appear wise, unlike the intellectual Pluto, who tended to analyzes issues from an eyebrow upwards.
Morally Socrates impacted Athenian with the idea that there are eternal life and immortality of an individual soul. These were the themes that the old man chanted at the Dionysian theater. He made it possible for the thriving of philosophical ideas on the salvation of souls even to other civilized societies especially in Egypt around the fifth century B.C. Johnson, (92) portrays Socrates as an old man in love with the poetry. His poetic work also inspires the Hebrews to improve a form of Drama known as the book of Job. This practice is an aspect of civilization.
Politically I can argue that in as much as he was loyal to the people of Athens, he never tolerated democracy (Johnson, 98). His in depth attitude to defend the truth made him clashed with the then trending Athenian political system and societal norms. For instances, the scholars have argued that he could have avoided his death if he were to refrain from his ideology philosophy and mind his life. While living among the Athenians Socrates carried out opened philosophical discussions. These forums were used by the great man to criticize the trending traditional system of life. This aspect shows that to some extent, Socrates is not liberal minded or politically conscious but rather tends to question all that encompasses human life. Socrates embraced the idea that politics, public morality, ethics, and private morality are quite inseparable.
His political philosophy was not grounded in the achievements and power holding but rather to make men better people than he had found them. His application of rhetoric and persuasive discourse was to advise men to study perfection in their way of life and to make them real state men.
Ideally, when one tends to analyze the current advancements/civilization in Greeks and Athens, lots of contributions results from the philosophical work of Socrates and his Student Plato, who later came to put the ideas in writing.
Johnson, Paul. Socrates: A Man for Our Times. New York: Classic Penguin, 2013. Print.