Socrates Versus Nelson Mandela Essay

1785 words - 7 pages

As an Athenian philosopher, Socrates spent his life in constant pursuit of insight. He loved engaging in conversations that helped him derive philosophical views on a number of different issues. The birth of ideas through critical reasoning can be credited back to his method of teaching, which is now known as the Socratic Method. Although widely respected today, many of his teachings were found controversial in Athenian times. Socrates was placed on trial and put to death soon after because of the disapproval of his ideas.
Even with the anticipation of death linguring in his path, Socrates remained composed and curious. During his defense, he made it clear that death was nothing to fear, but rather an accepted inevitability of life. “Those of us who think that death is an evil are in error”(Plato, 39). Instead of viewing his sentence as a burden, Socrates regarded it as a potential opportunity. If death was the soul's journey to another place, the possibilities could be endless. He could obtain a considerable amount of knowledge by conversing with those who had already passed on. He could discuss virtue with victims who had also suffered death through injustice. Socrates would be able to reveal his philosophical views without having to fear for his life, which to him could be the greatest gift attainable. His uncertainty of death left him with one other view, if not a journey, then death was simply a state of nothingness. It would be an eternal resting period free of any and all disturbances, like a peaceful sleep where even dreams were absent. As Socrates saw it, either alternative was just an advancement of the soul and nothing to be uneasy over.
Socrates spent time carefully challenging the true meaning of wisdom. He told the story of his good friend, Chaerephon, who visited the Oracle at Delphi, “he asked the oracle to tell him whether there was any one wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser” (Plato, 22). Socrates, in skepticism, began a search for those with a reputation of wisdom. After studying men and their knowledge, he reasoned that the only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing. Although one may have extensive understanding in one area, there is way too much knowledge in the world to be contained by one man. Socrates stated, “I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish, and that some inferior men were really wiser and better” (Plato, 23). Those who believed that they knew it all could not be more ignorant, and those who admitted ignorance achieved the highest wisdom attainable on earth. Socrates accepted the idea that he, just like all men, contained very little or no wisdom at all. He was content with knowing this, and upon meeting others that lacked this philosophy, felt he was superior to them. He was unsure of the limitations the afterlife had on wisdom, but he was aware of it’s constraints on earth. This self...

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