Reflections on Socrates

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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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

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