Sunday, January 17, 2016

Good questions all...................................

      The onset and ravages of the plague, the death of Pericles, the decline of his regime and the suspension of his cultural program, the prosecution of his leading followers, and the general malaise in Athens, had a personal effect on Socrates.  They forced him to ponder seriously his function in life.  He had always been a thinker and enjoyed talking and debating with fellow Athenians.  But he had never had a job.  Now he began to feel he had a mission.  The age of Pericles had been admirable in many ways:  It had encouraged architecture and building, painting and pottery, music and the theater, as well as manufacturing and commerce and the useful arts.  But there was something missing.  It was all very well to reiterate its slogan, "Man is the measure of all things," and to insist that human beings were not helpless playthings of the gods but masters of their fate.  But what sort of person was man?  The Pericleans were eager to improve art and technology in all their aspects, and had to a great extent succeeded in doing so.  But what about improving man?  Was it possible?  And if so, how?  It seemed to Socrates that these questions were never asked and ought to be asked?

-Paul Johnson,  Socrates:  A Man For Our Times

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