Socrates Quotes

The Ancients subjected themselves to a fierce discipline of detachment from public opinion. Although they inevitably had to try to influence political life in their favor, they never seriously thought of themselves as founders or lawgivers. The mixture of unwise power and powerless wisdom, in the ancients view, would always end up with power strengthened and wisdom compromised. He who flirts with power, Socrates said, will be compelled to lie with it.

Allan David Bloom

Pythagoras, Locke, Socrates -- but pages might be filled up, as vainly as before, with the sad usage of all sorts of sages, who in his life-time, each was deemed a bore! The loftiest minds outrun their tardy ages.

Lord Byron

Thrasymachus sees that Socrates does not respect the city. He sees the truth about Socrates, but he cannot, at least in the beginning, appreciate him. The others appreciate him, but partly because they are blind to what is most important to him.

Allan David Bloom

In humility imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Benjamin Franklin

A Californian who I had recently the pleasure of meeting observed that if the philosophers had lived among your mountains, their systems would have been different from what they are. Certainly very different from what those systems are which the European genteel tradition has handed down since Socrates; for these systems are egotistical; directly or indirectly they are anthropocentric, and inspired by the conceited notion the man, or human reason, or the human distinction between good and evil, is the center and pivot of the universe. That is what the mountains and the woods should make you at last ashamed to assert.

George Santayana

Evolution is the law of policies: Darwin said it, Socrates endorsed it, Cuvier proved it and established it for all time in his paper on ''The Survival of the Fittest.'' These are illustrious names, this is a mighty doctrine: nothing can ever remove it from its firm base, nothing dissolve it, but evolution.

Mark Twain

Socrates had a student named Plato, Plato had a student named Aristotle, and Aristotle had a student named Alexander the Great.

Tom Morris

Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected.

Unknown

I really do not know, Socrates, how to express what I mean. For somehow or other our arguments, on whatever ground we rest them, seem to turn round and walk away from us.

Plato

In order to know such an amorphous being as man, Rousseau himself and his particular history are, in his view, more important than is Socrates quest for man in general or man in himself.

Allan David Bloom

Socrates too thought that living according to the opinions of others was an illness. But he did not urge men to look for a source for producing their own unique opinions, or criticize them for being conformists. His measure of health was not sincerity, authenticity or any of the other necessarily vague criteria for distinguishing a healthy self. The truth is the one thing most needful; and conforming to nature is quite different from conforming to law, convention or opinion.

Allan David Bloom

The highest activities are always essentially lonely and private, and these men had a robust sense of their independence and the ultimate self-sufficiency of the mind. In this they were just like Socrates. The only change they operated was to bring philosophy out of the closet into the open, instead of seeking protection behind a little wall like men in a storm. Of course, in so doing they made philosophy, on the one hand, more vulnerable to the public if the hopes of controlling the public are not fulfilled, and, on the other, put at risk that inner intransigence which is the necessary condition of the quest for truth. Not only the rewards but the new responsibilities might prove irresistible temptations to compromise.

Allan David Bloom

In the new order a Locke was freewith almost no danger of being interfered withto think his sublime thoughts, to seek the first causes of all things, to understand the nature of things. He could talk with his friends and teach the young. And there was money enough. The academies and universities satisfied Socrates demand to be fed in the prytaneum.

Allan David Bloom

I am now even more persuaded of the urgent need to study why Socrates was accused. The dislike of philosophy is perennial, and the seeds of the condemnation of Socrates are present at all times, not in the bosoms of pleasure-seekers, who dont give a damn, but in those of high-minded and idealistic persons who do not want to submit the aspirations to examination.

Allan David Bloom

Socrates way of life is the consequence of his recognition that we can know what it is that we do not know about the most important things and that we are by nature obliged to seek that knowledge.

Allan David Bloom

The university began in spirit from Socrates contemptuous and insolent distancing of himself from the Athenian people, his refusal to accept any command from them to cease asking, What is justice? What is knowledge? What is a god? and hence doubting the common opinions about such questions.

Allan David Bloom

The world men incline to see is full of benevolent and malevolent deities who take their cases seriously. Poetry to succeed must speak to these passions, which are more powerful than reason in almost all men. Because poetry needs an audience it is, in Socrates view, too friendly to the enemies of reason. The philosopher has less need to enter into the wishes of the many or, as the wise of our time would put it, into the drama of history, or to be engag. This is why Socrates heightens the enmity between philosophy and poetry.

Allan David Bloom

What happens to poetic imagination when the soul has been subjected to a rigorous discipline that resists poetrys greatest charms? The Enlightenment thinkers were very clear on this point. There is no discontinuity in the tradition about it. They were simply solving the problem to the advantage of reason, as Socrates wished it could be solved but thought it could not.

Allan David Bloom

It is Enlightenment that was intent on philosophers ruling, taking Socrates ironies seriously. If they did not have the title of king, their political schemes were, all the same, designed to be put into practice. And they were put into practice, not by begging princes to listen to them but by philosophys generating sufficient power to force princes to give way.

Allan David Bloom

Practically everyone wants reason to rule, and no one thinks a man like Socrates should be ruled by inferiors or have to adjust what he thinks to them. What the Republic actually teaches is that none of this is possible and that our situation requires both much compromise and much intransigence, great risks and few hopes. The important thing is not speaking ones own mind, but finding a way to have ones own mind.

Allan David Bloom

Socrates never suggests that the nature of the cave could be altered or that a civil society, a people, a demos, could do without false opinions. The philosophers who returned to the cave would recognize that what others take to be reality is only image, but they could not make any but the happy few able to see the beings as they really are. ... Or to put it in another way, the unwise could not recognize the wise. Men like Bacon and Descartes, by contrast, thought that it was possible to make all men reasonable, to change what had always and everywhere been the case. Enlightenment meant to shine the light of being in the cave and forever to dim the images on the wall. Then there would be unity between the people and the philosopher. The whole issue turns on whether the cave is intractable, as Plato thought, or can be changed by a new kind of education, as the greatest philosophic figures of the seventeenth and eighteenth century taught.

Allan David Bloom

Machiavelli follows Callicles in Platos Gorgias, who ridicules Socrates for being unable to defend himself, to avert insults or slaps in the face. The vulnerability of the philosopher would seem to be the starting place for the new reflection and the renewal of philosophy. Machiavelli, the inspirer of the great philosophical systems of modernity, starts from this vulnerability of reason within the political order and makes it his business to correct it.

Allan David Bloom

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