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Socrates' Ideas Today Essay

1886 words - 8 pages

Ideas are the foundation of society and invention. Without them we would forever be held in a state of stagnation. There are many people in our society today who's ideas would have been considered radical, impossible, and unpractical twenty-five hundred years ago. During this time period there was another thinker named Socrates. His ideas and values were seen as contradicting to the culture he lived in.His culture was based on relativism. The major group that preached this idea were the Sophists. Socrates felt that they had no insights in to what really mattered in life. He wanted to ask questions about the overall idea of life, rather than personal achievement and advancement in society. He ...view middle of the document...

That would anger the Greek gods which affected their everyday lives.Also in Greece:Worshiping the god of the city remained a requiredact of patriotism, to which Greeks unfailingly adhered.Thus, the religious-mythical tradition never died inGreece but existed side by side with a growingrationalism... (Perry, 46)"An act of patriotism". From that it would be understood that Socrates was being unpatriotic to his home city, Athens. This was most likely the main reason I feelSocrates was executed. Worshiping the god of your city was a widespread idea that symbolized respect and patriotism. Socrates indirectly tried to nullify this worshiping. He said that the gods could not change some things known as universal truths. Now the government and all of the Greeks whole-heartilybelieved that worshiping the gods was essential to their city's well being. In his ideas, Socrates went against this, which was a direct insult to everyone who believed in the majority's ideas. It must have been seen as an attack on their culture that they held closely.Socrates' end should have served as a fearful mark in history for all those who dared to speak out against the hegemony. Fortunately, this didn't stop people. In 1751, during the time of the Enlightenment, a twenty-eight volume book collection was published. This book entitled "Encyclopedia" was collected and edited by a man named Denis Diderot. Similar to Socrates, this book focused new ideas dealing with government, philosophy, and religion (Ellis, 458).The "Encyclopedia" experienced an identical situation to Socrates'. This collection:... denounced slavery, praised freedom of expression,and urged education for all. They attacked divine-righttheory and traditional religions. (Ellis, 458)All of these ideas' opposites were widely accepted at the time. Diderot stepped forward, as did Socrates, and spoke out against the current cultural mindset. While there were many attempts to ban the "Encyclopedia", over 20,000 copieswere printed and it was also translated in to many languages (Ellis, 458). This helped to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment all over Europe.The reason why this was not destroyed as quickly as Socrates was is because it was easily accepted by many people. Socrates' new ways of thinking required some small changes that did not directly benefit that many people. Diderot's "Encyclopedia" broadcast ideas through Europe that would help benefit millions of people. With the support of many slaves and censored people, the "Encyclopedia" spread and had its ideas adapted over time.The Enlightenment was a turning point for these ideas. While they were not entirely accepted by all people they were set out for all to see and people were thinking about them. The most major of these ideas in relation to Socrates is "freedom of expression". It took many years for this to idea to truly set in and find it's way in to law.In 1789, the Constitution of the United States, which was written two years earlier, became law....

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