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Reflections on Socrates

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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I always teach lots of Plato early in my Intro course, and this term I’ve been thinking in particular of how contemporary philosophers revere Socrates.  It is funny that nearly everyone from all different philosophical stripes claim Socrates as their forebearer.  For instance, Huenemann will discuss skepticism, point to Socrates and say ‘See, just like Socrates!’.  I’ll make appeals to moral realism and our orientation toward transcendence, point to Socrates and say ‘See, just like Socrates!’.

To try to make this into a question (or a series of questions):  Why is it that two philosophers who disagree on everything else can agree that Socrates is the model philosopher?  When they agree on that, are they referring to the same Socrates?  Is Socrates the sort of figure that can be fashioned to fit anyone’s needs, such that Socrates becomes no one because he is everyone?  Or has everyone gotten Socrates a bit right, and (like all people only more so) he is just impossible to reduce?


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