Socrates’ life, his character, and his intellectual activity in Athens have been the subject of comment from antiquity until the present day.1 Among philosophers and intellectuals in the West he has become the symbol of philosophic activity—of a lifelong commitment to the search for truth and of an uncompromising critical stance to accepted beliefs and attitudes. His trial and execution in 399 BC for impiety and for engaging in activities liable to corrupt the Athenian youth, has also made Socrates a kind of cultural hero: a good and just man, a sharp wit, and an outstanding intelligence, who stands up to the uncritical attitudes of his contemporaries. Out of this confrontation with his fellow Athenians, Socrates emerges as the reflective individual, resolutely refusing to compromise his search for the rational foundations of morality and human excellence. The resulting image, partly due to the manner Plato presents Socrates in the ‘early’ dialogues, is that of the exemplary courage, wisdom and self-control required by those who will pit an ‘intellectualist’ conception of morality to one bound by custom and tradition—a lesson, and a warning, to all those who find the Socratic ideal seductive.2
KeywordsAssimilation Defend Stake Ethos Haplos
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