The Socratic Problem

I’m not suggesting that Jesus and Socrates were the same person even if they did both have beards and wore sandals (compelling evidence, I know). Instead, let’s consider how both were remembered through what was written about them after their deaths.

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Socrates’ ideas survived through dialogues predominantly written by Plato, but also explored by Xenophon and Aristotle while the image of Jesus as a divine, selfless messiah was painted through the gospels of the New Testament, whose authorship are widely believed to be unknown. There we have our vital information: both men’s lives were recounted after their death by friends, or friends of friends.

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Plato was known to insert his own philosophies through his writing about Socrates, making it difficult to differentiate between the ideals of the two. Not only this, but we know that those who wrote about Socrates idealised him. They thought he was the best. And so we have the Socratic Problem; what information that we have about Socrates is really true? Did he reject payment for instilling his knowledge? Did he really calmly lecture his students about the nature of death before he sipped the poison he was condemned to drink? Because that’s fucking boss.

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This brings us to Jesus.

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Previous Chapter – Beard and Sandals      Next Chapter – Jesus, Probably a Human

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