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Socrates
469 - 399 B.C.
 



The Greek philosopher and logician Socrates was an important formative influence on Plato and had a profound effect on ancient philosophy.
 

 

Socrates was the son of Sophroniscus, an Athenian stone mason and sculptor. He learned his father's craft and apparently practiced it for many years before devoting his time almost completely to intellectual interests. Details of his early life are scanty, although he appears to have had no more than an ordinary Greek education. He did, however, take a keen interest in the works of the natural philosophers, and Plato (Parmenides, 127C) records the fact that Socrates met Zeno of Elea and Parmenides on their trip to Athens, which probably took place about 450 B.C. Socrates wrote nothing; therefore evidence for his life and activities must come from the writings of Plato and Xenophon. It is likely that neither of these presents a completely accurate picture of him, but Plato's Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Symposium contain details which must be close to fact.

From the Apology we learn that Socrates was well known around Athens, that uncritical thinkers linked him with the rest of the Sophists, that he fought in at least three military campaigns for the city, and that he attracted to his circle large numbers of young men who delighted in seeing their pretentious elders refuted by Socrates. His notoriety in Athens was sufficient for the Athenian comic poet Aristophanes to lampoon him in The Clouds, although the Socrates who appears there bears little resemblance to the dialectician in Plato's writings. His endurance and prowess in military campaigns are attested by Alcibiades in the Symposium. He tells of Socrates's valor in battle, which allowed Alcibiades to escape when he was in a perilous situation. He also recounts an incident which reveals Socrates's habit of falling into a kind of trance while thinking. One morning Socrates wandered a short distance off from the other men to concentrate on a problem. By noon a small crowd had gathered, and by evening a group had come with their bedding to spend the night watching him. At the break of day, he offered up a prayer to the sun and went about his usual activities.

In addition to these anecdotes about Socrates's peculiar character, the Symposium provides details regarding his physical appearance. He was short and Silenus-like, quite the opposite of what was considered graceful and beautiful in the Athens of his time. He was also poor and had only the barest necessities of life. He was not ascetic, however, for he accepted the lavish hospitality of the wealthy on occasion (Agathon, the successful tragic poet, was host to the illustrious group in the Symposium) and proved himself capable of besting the others not only at their esoteric and sophistic sport of making impromptu speeches on the god Eros but also in holding his wine. Socrates's physical ugliness was no bar to his appeal. Alcibiades asserts in the same dialogue that Socrates made him feel deep shame and humiliation over his failure to live up to the high standards of justice and truth. He had this same effect on countless others.


His Thought

There was a strong religious side to Socrates's character and thought which constantly revealed itself in spite of his penchant for exposing the ridiculous conclusions to which uncritical acceptance of the ancient myths might lead. His words and actions in the Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Symposium reveal a deep reverence for Athenian religious customs and a sincere regard for divinity. Indeed, it was a divine voice which Socrates claimed to hear within himself on important occasions in his life. It was not a voice which gave him positive instructions, but instead warned him when he was about to go astray. He recounts, in his defense before the Athenian court, the story of his friend Chaerephon, who was told by the Delphic Oracle that Socrates was the wisest of men. That statement puzzled Socrates, he says, for no one was more aware of the extent of his own ignorance than he himself, but he determined to see the truth of the god's words. After questioning those who had a reputation for wisdom and who considered themselves, wise, he concluded that he was wiser than they because he could recognize his ignorance while they, who were equally ignorant, thought themselves wise. He thus confirmed the truth of the god's statement.

Socrates was famous for his method of argumentation. His "irony" was an important part of that method and surely helped account for the appeal which he had for the young and the disfavor in which he was held by many Athenians. An example comes from the Apology. Meletus had accused Socrates of corrupting the youth. Socrates begins by asking if Meletus considers the improvement of youth important. He replies that he does, whereupon Socrates asks who is capable of improving the young. The laws, says Meletus, and Socrates asks him to name a person who knows the laws. Meletus responds that the judges there present know the laws, whereupon Socrates asks if all who are present are able to instruct and improve youth or whether only a few can. Meletus replies that all of them are capable of such a task, which forces Meletus to confess that other groups of Athenians, such as the Senate and the Assembly, and indeed all Athenians are capable of instructing and improving the youth. All except Socrates, that is. Socrates then starts a parallel set of questions regarding the instruction and improvement of horses and other animals. Is it true that all men are capable of training horses, or only those men with special qualifications and experience? Meletus, realizing the absurdity of his position, does not answer, but Socrates answers for him and asserts that if he does not care enough about the youth of Athens to have given adequate thought to who might instruct and improve them, he has no right to accuse Socrates of corrupting them.

Thus the Socratic method of argumentation begins with commonplace questions which lead the opponent to believe that the questioner is a simpleton, but ends in a complete reversal. It is a method not calculated to win friends, especially when used in public.

Socrates's true contributions to the development of ancient thought are difficult to assess. Plato's dialogues, although they are our single most important source, are not entirely reliable because Socrates is used, especially in the later dialogues, merely as a mouthpiece. It is probable, however, that the Socrates we find in the Apology Crito, and a few of the other early dialogues represents a fair approximation of the man and his thinking. Thus his chief contributions lie not in the construction of an elaborate system but in clearing away the false common beliefs and in leading men to an awareness of their own ignorance, from which position they may begin to discover the truth. Socrates's contribution, then, was primarily the negative one of exposing fallacies, but equally important was the magnetism of his personality and the effect which he had on the people he met. It was his unique combination of dialectical skill and magnetic attractiveness to the youth of Athens which gave his opponents their opportunity to bring him to trial in 399 B.C.


His Death

Meletus, Lycon, and Anytus charged Socrates with impiety and with corrupting the youth of the city. Since prosecution and defense speeches were made by the principals in Athenian legal practice, Socrates spoke in his own behalf. It is uncertain if the charges were the result of his associations with the Thirty or resulted from personal pique. Callias, Plato's uncle, had been the leader of the unpopular Thirty, but it is difficult to imagine that Socrates could have been considered a collaborator when in fact he risked death by refusing to be implicated in their crimes. He had, however, made a great number of enemies for himself over the years through his self-appointed role as the "gadfly" of Athens, and it is probable that popular misunderstanding and animosity toward his activities helped lead to his conviction. His defense speech was not in the least conciliatory. After taking up the charges and showing how they were false, he proposed that the city should honour him as it did Olympic victors. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Plato's Crito tells of Crito's attempts to persuade Socrates to flee the prison (Crito had bribed the jailer, as was customary), but Socrates, in an allegorical dialogue between himself and the Laws of Athens, reveals his devotion to the city and his obligation to obey its decrees even if they lead to his death. In the Phaedo, Plato recounts Socrates's discussion of the immortality of the soul; and at the end of that dialogue, one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in ancient literature, Socrates takes the hemlock prepared for him while his friends sit helplessly by. He died reminding Crito that he owes a cock to Aesculapius.

Socrates was the most colourful figure in the history of ancient philosophy. His fame was widespread in his own time, and his name soon became a household word although he professed no extraordinary wisdom, constructed no philosophical system, established no school, and founded no sect. His influence on the course of ancient philosophy, through Plato, the Cynics, and less directly, Aristotle, is incalculable.
 


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Socrates was a Classical Greek philosopher. The most reliable source of information concerning Socrates is Plato. However, classical scholars disagree as to whether a historically accurate portrayal of Socrates can be extracted from any of the sources. Even Plato is alleged to create an incompatible portrayal of Socrates: his dialogues portray Socrates as a teacher who denies having disciples, as a man of reason who obeys a divine voice in his head, and a pious man who is executed for the state's own expediency; Socrates disparages the pleasures of the senses, yet is excited by beauty; he is devoted to the education of the citizens of Athens, yet indifferent to his own sons.


Life

Details about Socrates are derived from three contemporary sources: the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon (associates or students of Socrates), and the plays of Aristophanes. There is no evidence that Socrates himself published any writings. He has been depicted by some scholars, including Eric Havelock and Walter Ong, as a champion of oral modes of communication, standing up at the dawn of writing against its haphazard diffusion.

Aristophanes' play The Clouds portrays Socrates as a clown who teaches his students how to bamboozle their way out of debt. Most of Aristophanes' works, however, function as parodies. Thus, one should not take his portrayal of Socrates at face value.

According to Plato, Socrates' father was Sophroniscus and his mother Phaenarete, a midwife. Socrates married Xanthippe, who was much younger than her husband. She bore him three sons, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus and Menexenus. His friend Crito criticized him for abandoning his sons when he refused to try to escape before his execution.

It is unclear how Socrates earned a living. According to Timon of Phlius and later sources, Socrates took over the profession of stonemasonry from his father. There was a tradition in antiquity, not credited by modern scholarship, that Socrates crafted the statues of the Three Graces, which stood near the Acropolis until the second century AD. There is evidence which indicates that Socrates never engaged in a profession: In Xenophon's Symposium, Socrates is reported as saying he devotes himself only to what he regards as the most important art or occupation: discussing philosophy. Aristophanes portrays Socrates as accepting payment for teaching and running a sophist school with Chaerephon, in The Clouds, while in Plato's Apology and Symposium and in Xenophon's accounts, Socrates explicitly denies accepting payment for teaching. More specifically, in the Apology Socrates cites his poverty as proof that he is not a teacher.

Several of Plato's dialogues refer to Socrates' military service. Socrates says he served in the Athenian army during three campaigns: at Potidaea, Amphipolis, and Delium. In the Symposium Alcibiades describes Socrates' valor in the battles of Potidaea and Delium, recounting how Socrates saved his life in the former battle, although killing many of his troops in the process. Socrates' exceptional service at Delium is also mentioned in the Laches, by the general the dialogue is named after. In the Apology Socrates compares his military service to his courtroom troubles, and says that anyone on the jury who thinks he ought to retreat from philosophy must also think that soldiers should retreat when it looks like they will be killed in battle.

The trial and execution of Socrates was the climax of his career and a central event in the dialogues of Plato.

Socrates admits in this series of dialogues that he could have avoided the trial by abandoning philosophy and going home to mind his own business. After his conviction, he could have avoided the death penalty by escaping with the help of his friends. The reason for his cooperation with the state's mandate forms a valuable philosophical insight in its own right, and is best articulated by the dialogues themselves, especially in his dialogue with Crito.

Socrates lived during the time of the transition from the height of the Athenian Hegemony to its decline with the defeat by Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian War. At a time when Athens was seeking to stabilize and recover from its humiliating defeat, the Athenian public may have been entertaining doubts about democracy as an efficient form of government. Socrates appears to have been a critic of democracy, and his trial is interpreted by some scholars to be an expression of political infighting.

Despite claiming death-defying loyalty to his city, Socrates' pursuit of virtue and his strict adherence to truth clashed with the current course of Athenian politics and society. Here it is telling to refer to Thucydides: "Applause, in a word, went to one who got in first with some evil act, and to him who cheered on another to attempt some crime that he was not thinking of." He praises Sparta, arch rival to Athens, directly and indirectly in various dialogs. But perhaps the most historically accurate of Socrates' offences to the city was his position as a social and moral critic. Rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of immorality within his region, Socrates worked to undermine the collective notion of "might makes right" so common to Greece during this period. Plato refers to Socrates as the gadfly of the state, insofar as he irritated the establishment with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness. His attempts to improve the Athenian's sense of justice may have been the source of his execution.

According to Plato's Apology, Socrates' life as the "gadfly" of Athens began when his friend Chaerephon asked the oracle at Delphi if anyone was wiser than Socrates; the Oracle responded that none was wiser than Socrates. Socrates believed that what the Oracle had said was a riddle, considering there is no record of the oracle ever giving individuals praise for their achievements or knowledge. He proceeded to test the riddle through approaching men who were considered to be wise by the people of Athens. He questioned the men of Athens about their knowledge of good, beauty, and virtue. Finding that they knew nothing and yet believed themselves to know much, Socrates came to the conclusion that he was wise only insofar as "that what I don't know, I don't think I know." Socrates' paradoxical wisdom made the prominent Athenians he publicly questioned look foolish, turning them against him and leading to accusations of wrongdoing. Socrates defended his role as a gadfly until the end: at his trial, when Socrates is asked to propose his own punishment, he suggests a wage paid by the government instead, to finance the time he spends as Athens' benefactor.

He was nevertheless found guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and sentenced to death by drinking a mix of the poisonous hemlock. Socrates' death is described at the end of Plato's Phaedo. Socrates turned down the pleas of Crito to attempt an escape from prison. After drinking the poison, he was instructed to walk around until his limbs felt heavy. After he lay down, the man who administered the poison pinched his foot. Socrates could no longer feel his legs. The numbness slowly crept up his body until it reached his heart. Shortly before dying, Socrates spoke his last words to Crito saying, "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Please, don't forget to pay the debt." Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness, and it is likely that Socrates' last words were implied to mean that death is the cure, and freedom, of the soul from the body. The Roman philosopher Seneca attempted to emulate Socrates' death by hemlock when forced to commit suicide by the Emperor Nero.

According to Xenophon and Plato, Socrates had an opportunity to escape, as his followers were able to bribe the prison guards. After escaping, Socrates would have had to flee from Athens. However, Socrates refused to escape for several reasons. 1. He believed that such a flight would indicate a fear of death, which he believed no true philosopher has. 2. Even if he did leave, he, and his teaching, would fare no better in another country. 3. Having knowingly agreed to live under the city's laws, he implicitly subjected himself to the possibility of being accused of crimes by its citizens and judged guilty by its jury. To do otherwise would have caused him to break his 'contract' with the state, and by so doing harming it, an act contrary to Socratic principle. The full reasoning behind his refusal to flee is the main subject of the Crito.

According to Xenophon's story of Socrates' defense to the jury, Socrates purposefully gives a defiant defense to the jury because "he believed he would be better off dead." Xenophon's explanation goes on to describe a defense by Socrates that explains the rigors of old age, and how Socrates will be glad to circumvent these by being sentenced to death. It is also understood that Socrates not only wished to avoid the pains of old age, but also to die because he "actually believed the right time had come for him to die."


Philosophy

Socratic method

Perhaps his most important contribution to Western thought is his dialectic method of inquiry, known as the Socratic Method or method of elenchos, which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good and Justice. It was first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. To solve a problem, you would ask a question and when finding the answer, you would also have an answer to your problem. This led to the beginning of the Scientific Method, in which the first step says to name the problem in the form of a question. For this, Socrates is customarily regarded as the father of political philosophy and ethics or moral philosophy, and as a fountainhead of all the main themes in Western philosophy in general. (The method may have been suggested by Zeno of Elea, but Socrates refined it and applied it to ethical problems.)

In this method, a series of questions are posed to help a person or group to determine their underlying beliefs and the extent of their knowledge. The Socratic method is a negative method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those which lead to contradictions. It was designed to force one to examine one's own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs. In fact, Socrates once said, "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others."


Philosophical beliefs

The beliefs of Socrates, as opposed to those of Plato, are difficult to discern. Little in the way of concrete evidence demarcates the two. The lengthy theories given in most of the dialogues are those of Plato, and it is thought that Plato so adapted the Socratic style as to make the literary character and the philosopher himself impossible to distinguish. Others argue that he did have his own theories and beliefs, but there is much controversy over what these might have been, owing to the difficulty of separating Socrates from Plato and the difficulty of interpreting even the dramatic writings concerning Socrates. Consequently, distinguishing the philosophical beliefs of Socrates from those of Plato and Xenophon is not easy and it must be remembered that what is attributed to Socrates might more closely reflect the specific concerns of these thinkers.

If anything in general can be said about the philosophical beliefs of Socrates, it is that he was morally, intellectually, and politically at odds with his fellow Athenians. When he is on trial for heresy and corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens, he uses his method of elenchos to demonstrate to the jurors that their moral values are wrong-headed. He tells them that they are concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities when they ought to be worried about the "welfare of their souls." Socrates's belief in the immortality of the soul, and his conviction that the gods had singled him out as a divine emissary seemed to provoke if not annoyance, at least ridicule. Socrates also questioned the Sophistic doctrine that arete (that is, virtue) can be taught. He liked to observe that successful fathers (such as the prominent military general Pericles) did not produce sons of their own quality. Socrates argued that moral excellence was more a matter of divine bequest than parental nurture. This belief may have contributed to his lack of anxiety about the future of his own sons.

Socrates frequently says that his ideas are not his own, but his teachers'. He mentions several influences: Prodicus the rhetor and Anaxagoras the scientist. Perhaps surprisingly, Socrates claims to have been deeply influenced by two women besides his mother. He says that Diotima, a witch and priestess from Mantinea taught him all he knows about eros, or love, and that Aspasia, the mistress of Pericles, taught him the art of funeral orations. John Burnet argued that his principal teacher was the Anaxagorean Archelaus but that his ideas were as Plato described them; Eric A. Havelock, on the other hand, considered Socrates' association with the Anaxagoreans to be evidence of Plato's philosophical separation from Socrates.


Knowledge

Socrates seems to have often said that his wisdom was limited to an awareness of his own ignorance. Socrates may have believed that wrongdoing was a consequence of ignorance, that those who did wrong knew no better. The one thing Socrates consistently claimed to have knowledge of was "the art of love" which he connected with the concept of "the love of wisdom", i.e., philosophy. He never actually claimed to be wise, only to understand the path that a lover of wisdom must take in pursuing it. It is debatable whether Socrates believed that humans (as opposed to gods like Apollo) could actually become wise. On the one hand, he drew a clear line between human ignorance and ideal knowledge; on the other, Plato's Symposium (Diotima's Speech) and Republic (Allegory of the Cave) describe a method for ascending to wisdom.

In Plato's Theaetetus Socrates compares himself to a true matchmaker, as distinguished from a panderer. This distinction is echoed in Xenophon's Symposium, when Socrates jokes about his certainty of being able to make a fortune, if he chose to practice the art of pandering. For his part as a philosophical interlocutor, he leads his respondent to a clearer conception of wisdom, although he claims that he is not himself a teacher (Apology). His role, he claims, is more properly to be understood as analogous to a midwife. Socrates explains that he is himself barren of theories, but knows how to bring the theories of others to birth and determine whether they are worthy or mere "wind eggs". Perhaps significantly, he points out that midwives are barren due to age, and women who have never given birth are unable to become midwives; a truly barren woman would have no experience or knowledge of birth and would be unable to separate the worthy infants from those that should be left on the hillside to be exposed. To judge this, the midwife must have experience and knowledge of what she is judging.


Virtue

Socrates believed that the best way for people to live was to focus on self-development rather than the pursuit of material wealth. He always invited others to try to concentrate more on friendships and a sense of true community, for Socrates felt that this was the best way for people to grow together as a populace. His actions lived up to this: in the end, Socrates accepted his death sentence when most thought he would simply leave Athens, as he felt he could not run away from or go against the will of his community; as mentioned above, his reputation for valour on the battlefield was without reproach.

The idea that humans possessed certain virtues formed a common thread in Socrates' teachings. These virtues represented the most important qualities for a person to have, foremost of which were the philosophical or intellectual virtues. Socrates stressed that "virtue was the most valuable of all possessions; the ideal life was spent in search of the Good. Truth lies beneath the shadows of existence, and that it is the job of the philosopher to show the rest how little they really know." Ultimately, virtue relates to the form of the Good; to truly be good and not just act with "right opinion"; one must come to know the unchanging Good in itself. In the Republic, he describes the "divided line", a continuum of ignorance to knowledge with the Good on top of it all; only at the top of this line do we find true good and the knowledge of such.


Politics

It is often argued that Socrates believed "ideals belong in a world that only the wise man can understand", making the philosopher the only type of person suitable to govern others. According to Plato's account, Socrates was in no way subtle about his particular beliefs on government. He openly objected to the democracy that ran Athens during his adult life. It was not only Athenian democracy: Socrates objected to any form of government that did not conform to his ideal of a perfect republic led by philosophers, and Athenian government was far from that. It is, however, possible that Plato's account is coloured here by his own views. During the last years of Socrates' life, Athens was in continual flux due to political upheaval. Democracy was at last overthrown by a junta known as the Thirty Tyrants, led by Plato's relative, Critias, who had been a student of Socrates. The Tyrants ruled for about a year before the Athenian democracy was reinstated, at which point it declared an amnesty for all recent events. Four years later, it acted to silence the voice of Socrates.

This argument is often denied, and the question is one of the biggest philosophical debates when trying to determine what, exactly, it was that Socrates believed. The strongest argument of those who claim that Socrates did not actually believe in the idea of philosopher kings is Socrates' constant refusal to enter into politics or participate in government of any sort; he often stated that he could not look into other's matters or tell people how to live their lives when he did not yet understand how to live his own. He believed he was a philosopher engaged in the pursuit of Truth, and did not claim to know it fully. Socrates' acceptance of his death sentence, after his conviction by the Boule (Senate), can also be seen to support this view. It is often claimed that much of the anti-democratic leanings are from Plato, who was never able to overcome his disgust at what was done to his teacher. In any case, it is clear that Socrates thought that the rule of the Thirty Tyrants was at least as objectionable as democracy; when called before them to assist in the arrest of a fellow Athenian, Socrates refused and narrowly escaped death before the Tyrants were overthrown. He did however fulfill his duty to serve as prytanis when a trial of a group of generals who presided over a disastrous naval campaign were judged; even then he maintained an uncompromising attitude, being one of those who refused to proceed in a manner not supported by the laws, despite intense pressure. Judging by his actions, he considered the rule of the Thirty Tyrants less legitimate than that of the democratic senate who sentenced him to death.


Mysticism

In the dialogues of Plato, Socrates often seems to purport a mystical side, discussing reincarnation and the mystery religions; however, this is generally attributed to Plato. Regardless, this cannot be dismissed out of hand, as we cannot be sure of the differences between the views of Plato and Socrates; in addition, there seem to be some corollaries in the works of Xenophon. In the culmination of the philosophic path as discussed in Plato's Symposium and Republic, one comes to the Sea of Beauty or to the sight of the form of the Good in an experience akin to mystical revelation; only then can one become wise. (In the Symposium, Socrates credits his speech on the philosophic path to his teacher, the priestess Diotima, who is not even sure if Socrates is capable of reaching the highest mysteries.) In the Meno, he refers to the Eleusinian Mysteries, telling Meno he would understand Socrates' answers better if only he could stay for the initiations next week. Further confusions result from the nature of these sources, insofar as the Platonic dialogues are arguably the work of an artist-philosopher, whose meaning does not volunteer itself to the passive reader nor again the lifelong scholar. Plato himself was a playwright before taking up the study of philosophy. His works are, indeed, dialogues; Plato's choice of this, the medium of Sophocles, Euripides, and the fictions of theatre, may reflect the interpretable nature of his writings. What is more, the first word of nearly all Plato's works is a, or the, significant term for that respective study, and is used with the commonly approved definition in mind. Finally, the Phaedrus and the Symposium each allude to Socrates' coy delivery of philosophic truths in conversation; the Socrates of the Phaedrus goes so far as to demand such dissembling and mystery in all writing. The mysticism we often find in Plato, appearing here and there and couched in some enigmatic tract of symbol and irony, is often at odds with the mysticism that Plato's Socrates expounds in some other dialogue. These mystical resolutions to thitherto rigorous inquiries and analyses fail to satisfy caring readers, without fail. Whether they would fail to satisfy readers who understood them is another question, and will not, in all probability, ever be resolved.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of this is Socrates' reliance on what the Greeks called his "daemonic sign", an averting inner voice that Socrates heard only when he was about to make a mistake. It was this sign that prevented Socrates from entering into politics. In the Phaedrus, we are told Socrates considered this to be a form of "divine madness", the sort of insanity that is a gift from the gods and gives us poetry, mysticism, love, and even philosophy itself. Alternately, the sign is often taken to be what we would call "intuition"; however, Socrates' characterization of the phenomenon as "daemonic" suggests that its origin is divine, mysterious, and independent of his own thoughts.

An Ahmadiyyah Scholar, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, (the Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyyat Movement in Islam) argues that Socrates experienced what can be called a prophetic revelation. He writes in his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth, that "Socrates seems to have a very personalized and intense relationship with the Supreme Being. His very personality is built on the pattern of the messengers of God."


 

 

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