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Socrates and Dialectic

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Abstract

Early in the Seventh Letter Plato discusses the trial of Socrates, saying that it was simply corrupt, since the real reason for arresting the older man was his refusal to ally himself with the Thirty. Socrates was charged with impiety and this was ‘sacrilegious’, as he was in fact exceedingly pious. Plato seems to lack subtlety here, for we might expect him to see that in the sense used by the accusers Socrates was ‘impious’ — or something of the sort. The God of Socrates was an entirely new measure of all things, so that Socrates’ proper performance of his religious duties — his piety — was nevertheless steadily undermined. The accusers may have dimly recognised that the life of Socrates had brought a new God into the world, and a new doctrine, specifically a virtuous type of individualism. For some reason modern thinkers have not paid much attention to this God, perhaps associating him a little too readily with the God of Christianity.

Keywords

Human Race Dialectical Thought Religious Duty Dialectical Reason Creative Adaptation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, translated , with commentary, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1967). (BT and CW). BT, 13, p. 94.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nietzsche, Friedrich, Human, All Too Human A Book for Free Spirits, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, introduction by Erich Heller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) (HAH). ‘The Wanderer and His Shadow’, No. 86, p. 332.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Gay Science, translated with commentary, by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), No. 340, p. 272 (GS).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Nietzsche, Friedrich, Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, translated, with an introduction and commentary by R, J. Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968) (TI and AC).Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Plato, The Collected Dialogues, edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntingdon Cairns, Bollingen Series LXXI (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985), Theaetetus, 176a (Cornford’s translation).Google Scholar
  6. 25.
    Kaufmann, Walter, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1974) First published 1950. Part IV, Chapter 13, ‘Nietzsche’s Attitude toward Socrates’.Google Scholar

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© Keith M. May 1993

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