A World Without Socrates

People say they love Socrates; that he is one of the Big Three Greek Philosophers.
And he was. But his influences were not great. Although not directly his fault, one of his student's students, Aristotle, paused progression for 2000 years. (I'll quote a book later).
(I should have wrote a world w/o Aristotle, but Socrates is fine IMO)

So what if the Greek had never been born? How would the human race be w/o him technologically-wise?
W/o Socrates, there is no Aristotle, no Alexander the Great. Would there be a Hellenistic World?

In 100 Things You're Not Supposed to Know, by Russ Kick, #61 is titled: "Aristotle Set Back Science for Around 2,000 Years".

Some quotes include
"'Aristotle's teachings were unquestioned...'"
"Aristotle didn't believe plants were divided into male and female sexes..."
"wrong about inertia"
"[heliocentric]"
"heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones"
"Aristotle wrote, "The brain is an organ of minor importance, perhaps necessary to cool the blood.'"
"But Aristotle pooh-poohed this ridiculous notion [matter is made up of atoms]"
 
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I agree with some of the points that you make, Socrates is perhaps one of the most influential figures in Western history so we will see massive changes in the development of the world. Perhaps we will more Persian and Arabic dominance at the expense of Rome (or whatever replaces it).

However, I would argue with your views on Aristotle. We forget that, though he was incorrect in many of his assumptions, he did basically invent modern scientific tradition and he is regarded (not unfairly) as the first natural
scientist. The fact that his views were treated so dogmatically would have only annoyed him IMHO.

EDIT: Changed spelling errors, f-ing iPhone keyboard!
 
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W/o Socrates, there is no Aristotle, no Alexander the Great. Would there be a Hellenistic World?
No Socrates probably means no Aristotle, but no aristotle does not necessarily mean no Alexander (although if the POD is Socrates...). Philip of Macedon could still find another teacher for his son, or his son grows up a little less hellenized.

I would agree with you that no Socrates or Aristotle would have massive repercussions. Not sure if I would agree with you on Aristotle retarding scientific progress, however. Yes, Aristotle was wrong about a lot of stuff. So were a lot of other scientific minds who we lionize today. The man was working with an understanding of the universe a few thousand years behind our own; of course he made some mistakes. That doesn't change the fact that he was one of the first natural scientists in the modern sense.
 
Bright day
Socrates did not appear in vacuum, he was a product of dynamics of Ahtenian democracy- he was one of sophists. Plato, Aristipus, Antisthenes, Alkibiades and others will just get different teacher.

And for kicks- it is not certain any Socrates even existed. Some historians and philosophers say that "Socrates" is just a label used by a generation of Athenian intellectuals :p.
 
The man was working with an understanding of the universe a few thousand years behind our own; of course he made some mistakes.
It's not that. He denounced certain scientific theories. Heliocentrism, Atoms, male/female botany, the brain (many believed it was the source of emotion, thought, and intelligence while Aristotle said it was the heart).

And the papacy considered any word against Aristotle's was heresy. No one corrected him before Galileo and actually made a difference.

But Aristotle's pupil AtG, who would be his counterpart? Would his counterpart create a massive empire as Alex did?
 
Bright day
Socrates did not appear in vacuum, he was a product of dynamics of Ahtenian democracy- he was one of sophists. Plato, Aristipus, Antisthenes, Alkibiades and others will just get different teacher.

And for kicks- it is not certain any Socrates even existed. Some historians and philosophers say that "Socrates" is just a label used by a generation of Athenian intellectuals :p.
I would call historians and philosophers who think that 'insane'. There's too much contemporary reference to Socrates as an individual for it to be nothing. And he wasn't a sophist, either. For the very first, he never charged money for his teachings. By his time, sophists taught rhetoric first and maybe some kind of philosophy second.

Without Socrates, no concept of rational doubt evolves and it may be a long time before concepts of the regress of reason and looking at philosophy as anything but metaphysics evolve. That sets Western philosophy back in a way that may be unrecoverable.

There's a reason Greek philosophy is categorized into 'pre' and 'post' Socratics. Socrates was, in a way, a one-man Enlightenment for the Greeks.
 
Admittedly not my area of expertise...but for the sake of dialog: :p

How does no Socrates change political thought? IIRC his death at the hands of the "irrational mob rule" was used as a standard anti-democratic propoganda point. Does TTL have a better chance at lasting Democracy?
 
I am pretty sure a new Socrates would pop up to fill in the space and create new philosophy and science some of which may be more or less correct than Aristotle though it could come along hundreds of years late and probably wont happen in Greece.
 
I would call historians and philosophers who think that 'insane'. There's too much contemporary reference to Socrates as an individual for it to be nothing. And he wasn't a sophist, either. For the very first, he never charged money for his teachings. By his time, sophists taught rhetoric first and maybe some kind of philosophy second.

Without Socrates, no concept of rational doubt evolves and it may be a long time before concepts of the regress of reason and looking at philosophy as anything but metaphysics evolve. That sets Western philosophy back in a way that may be unrecoverable.

There's a reason Greek philosophy is categorized into 'pre' and 'post' Socratics. Socrates was, in a way, a one-man Enlightenment for the Greeks.
What is too much contemporary reference? The only contemporary reference is from Aristophanes comedies. Plato, Xenophon, Aristippus and Antisthenes are all generation younger. And Aristippus and Antisthenes have him saying wildly differing things. Plato has him say Plato's own words. Plato says that Socrates never accepted payments- but Aristophanes has Socrates morbidly obese from gifts of his students (yes it is satire, but that also means something).

All the accomplishments you give to him, cannot be given to him without reasonable doubt. Socrates as presented through Plato is a great myth, but not a man.

PS: Thanks for calling my country's premier 20th century historian and philosopher "insane".
 

MrP

Banned
What is too much contemporary reference? The only contemporary reference is from Aristophanes comedies. Plato, Xenophon, Aristippus and Antisthenes are all generation younger. And Aristippus and Antisthenes have him saying wildly differing things. Plato has him say Plato's own words. Plato says that Socrates never accepted payments- but Aristophanes has Socrates morbidly obese from gifts of his students (yes it is satire, but that also means something).

All the accomplishments you give to him, cannot be given to him without reasonable doubt. Socrates as presented through Plato is a great myth, but not a man.

PS: Thanks for calling my country's premier 20th century historian and philosopher "insane".
Are you chaps using different definitions of contemporary? Xenophon, although not of the same generation as Socrates, is contemporary with him. To lazily steal from the Wiki entries of the three: Xenophon ca. 430 - 354 BC, Socrates c. 469 BC–399 BC, Plato 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC

There also seems to be an absence of common ground between the two of you over Socrates' existence. Gladi, it seemed initially you were suggesting (that several researchers believe) that he didn't exist at all, that he was analogous in nature to Homer (whom many regard as actually a group of lyric poets rather than a single man), but now you seem to be giving the impression that he did exist, but that we cannot be certain about his precise attributes. I'd certainly agree with this latter, since the Socrates recorded by Xenophon is certain and bold, whereas Plato's Socrates is more questioning, to take just one point of difference.* Or, as Wiki puts it -

Modern scholarship holds that, with so much of the philosopher obscured and possibly altered by Plato, it is impossible to gain a clear picture of Socrates amidst all the seeming contradictions. That both Cynicism and Stoicism, which carried heavy influence from Socratic thought, were unlike or even contrary to Platonism further illustrates this. This ambiguity and lack of reliability serves as the modern basis of criticism - that it is near impossible to know the real Socrates. Some controversy also exists about claims of Socrates exempting himself from the homosexual customs of Ancient Greece and not believing in the Olympian gods to the point of being monotheistic or if this was an attempt by later Medieval scholars to reconcile him with the morals of the era. However, it is still commonly taught and held with little exception that Socrates is the founder of modern Western philosophy, to the point that philosophers before him are referred to as pre-Socratic.
* Although insert obvious note about the division of the dialogues into their various periods which present different.
 
What is too much contemporary reference? The only contemporary reference is from Aristophanes comedies. Plato, Xenophon, Aristippus and Antisthenes are all generation younger. And Aristippus and Antisthenes have him saying wildly differing things. Plato has him say Plato's own words. Plato says that Socrates never accepted payments- but Aristophanes has Socrates morbidly obese from gifts of his students (yes it is satire, but that also means something).

All the accomplishments you give to him, cannot be given to him without reasonable doubt. Socrates as presented through Plato is a great myth, but not a man.

PS: Thanks for calling my country's premier 20th century historian and philosopher "insane".
There is a difference between Plato and Antisthenes: while the first wrote his dialogues much later, after becoming accustomed with other philosophy venues (Pythagoras, mathematics), Antisthenes was the older disciple that tried to show off the true meaning of "living like Socrates". He was also the guy that attacked Plato's Socrates for not resembling his old teacher.

The problem with Socrates is that all the older dialogues (not only Anthistenes but also several minor guys mentioned, for example, by Diogenes Laertios) are lost. In fact, it was mentioned that one of his disciples, Cleon, was an uneducated athenian that simply transcribed Socrates' words without changing a word or meaning of a phrase. It's unfortunate these works are lost... I'm the first guy that admits that Plato's Socrates has nothing to do with the real Socrates.
 
Are you chaps using different definitions of contemporary? Xenophon, although not of the same generation as Socrates, is contemporary with him. To lazily steal from the Wiki entries of the three: Xenophon ca. 430 - 354 BC, Socrates c. 469 BC–399 BC, Plato 428/427 BC – 348/347 BC

There also seems to be an absence of common ground between the two of you over Socrates' existence. Gladi, it seemed initially you were suggesting (that several researchers believe) that he didn't exist at all, that he was analogous in nature to Homer (whom many regard as actually a group of lyric poets rather than a single man), but now you seem to be giving the impression that he did exist, but that we cannot be certain about his precise attributes. I'd certainly agree with this latter, since the Socrates recorded by Xenophon is certain and bold, whereas Plato's Socrates is more questioning, to take just one point of difference.* Or, as Wiki puts it -



* Although insert obvious note about the division of the dialogues into their various periods which present different.
I meant contemporary as in written at the time of his life. Most of our information we have is reminiscence of what Socrates is supposed to be.

And indeed I was suggesting that there are some people who posit possible non-existance of Great Philospher Socrates and say that Socrates may have been only a label. If my latter post muddled this, I apologise.
 

MrP

Banned
I meant contemporary as in written at the time of his life. Most of our information we have is reminiscence of what Socrates is supposed to be.

And indeed I was suggesting that there are some people who posit possible non-existance of Great Philospher Socrates and say that Socrates may have been only a label. If my latter post muddled this, I apologise.
Thankee for the clarification, old boy. :) I must say I'm rather surprised that people seriously suggest he didn't exist at all. Then again, he's hardly the first historical figure some have decided never existed.
 
Thankee for the clarification, old boy. :) I must say I'm rather surprised that people seriously suggest he didn't exist at all. Then again, he's hardly the first historical figure some have decided never existed.
They do not mean "There never ever lived a man named Socrates, or named similarly, and he did not live in Athens, or Hellas, or Crete or...". But you do know that, right?
 

MrP

Banned
They do not mean "There never ever lived a man named Socrates, or named similarly, and he did not live in Athens, or Hellas, or Crete or...". But you do know that, right?
Er, I'm not sure now. What I took them to mean from your explanation was "There was not a philosopher called Socrates who lived in this place at this time, nor are any of the supposed characteristics and events of his life and death accurate. However, a group of philosophers who espoused a number of different viewpoints has been named Socrates by Xenophon, Plato, &c. However, there may have been a bloke called Socrates who was nothing to do with this." Do you mean it's like the Jesus thing? As in, "We know someone called Jesus/Socrates existed, but we feel the sources do not support any actual conclusions about him other than his approximate location, approximate name and approximate dates. His opinions have been so altered or misrepresented by others that to claim to know more is impossible."
 

Maur

Banned
'm the first guy that admits that Plato's Socrates has nothing to do with the real Socrates.
Yeah, i though it's kind of common knowledge that evil bastard Plato mercilessly used good old Socrates for his own goals :mad:.

Oh wait, you like Plato :D
 
Er, I'm not sure now. What I took them to mean from your explanation was "There was not a philosopher called Socrates who lived in this place at this time, nor are any of the supposed characteristics and events of his life and death accurate. However, a group of philosophers who espoused a number of different viewpoints has been named Socrates by Xenophon, Plato, &c. However, there may have been a bloke called Socrates who was nothing to do with this." Do you mean it's like the Jesus thing? As in, "We know someone called Jesus/Socrates existed, but we feel the sources do not support any actual conclusions about him other than his approximate location, approximate name and approximate dates. His opinions have been so altered or misrepresented by others that to claim to know more is impossible."
There was not a philosopher called Socrates who lived in this place at this time, nor are any of the supposed characteristics and events of his life and death accurate. However, a group of philosophers who espoused a number of different viewpoints has been named Socrates by Xenophon, Plato, &c. However, there may have been a bloke called Socrates who had a lot to do with this, but for most part his name has just been appropriated for their movement.
 
Yeah, i though it's kind of common knowledge that evil bastard Plato mercilessly used good old Socrates for his own goals :mad:.

Oh wait, you like Plato :D
I did not say I like Socrates.

In fact, he must have been a 0 as a thinker if his teachings managed to create such weird effects among his pupils. This fact alone should easily place him in the sophist category...

Another possibility is that of a counterreaction to the foreigners that made up the huge majority of intellectuals in 5th century Athens. Socrates was "one of us" which would explain his popularity and his number of disciples, a popularity he never lost. That's why, for example, I think that his death sentence is based entirely on political causes: his ex-disciples Alcibiades and Critias were in 399 enemies of the new popular regime in Athens. "Perverting the young people of Athens" was just another name for "Teaching Critias and Alcibiades how to betray the Athenian people"...

There was not a philosopher called Socrates who lived in this place at this time, nor are any of the supposed characteristics and events of his life and death accurate. However, a group of philosophers who espoused a number of different viewpoints has been named Socrates by Xenophon, Plato, &c. However, there may have been a bloke called Socrates who had a lot to do with this, but for most part his name has just been appropriated for their movement.
What we have on our hands at this moment are works written at least ten years after his death. All the earlier dialogues (Anthistenes, for example, but there are a lot of minor authors as well) are lost (and most ancient documents agree that most of them were a faithful yet lacking any literary merit document portraying the figure of real Socrates). It's a situation not unlike that of Jesus: the basic facts (descendent of Judah, born by miracle, miracles, death and resurrection), along with his sayings (the Q document) were appropriated by people that did not know him, but were happy to fill the blanks... The nice thing is that the new layers are basically just for show: the foundation was clearly more important for the evolution of Christianity than all the invented stories and parables...
 
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MrP

Banned
There was not a philosopher called Socrates who lived in this place at this time, nor are any of the supposed characteristics and events of his life and death accurate. However, a group of philosophers who espoused a number of different viewpoints has been named Socrates by Xenophon, Plato, &c. However, there may have been a bloke called Socrates who had a lot to do with this, but for most part his name has just been appropriated for their movement.
OK, cheers, I understand now! :D
 
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