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The Daemon of Socrates

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Abstract:

The enigma of Socrates is arguably contained in the enigma of Socrates' daemon, which, evidently, was no mere figure of speech, but something that suffices to be included among the charges against the philosopher himself. References to Socrates’ daimon abound in Plato’s dialogues. Socrates himself thought that, if something made a difference for him and if something made him distinct from others, it was this strange philosophical spirit, new Eros. In The Republic, he says with reference to the same Theages: “Then there remains, Adeimantus, only a very small group who consort with philosophy in a way that’s worthy of her. … A very few might be drawn to philosophy from other crafts … And some might be held back by the bridle that restrains our friend Theages—for he’s in every way qualified to be tempted away from philosophy, but his physical illness restrains him by keeping him out of politics. Finally, my own case is hardly worth mentioning—my daemonic sign—because it has happened to no one before me, or to only a very few.” (496 b-c) His daimon was evidently included among the capital charges raised against Socrates at the trial: “Socrates does injustice … by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel [24b-c] … [and] by teaching [the youth] not to believe in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel … [26b].”

Then, in the Symposium, we have a chance to meet this new Socratic daimon—Socrates’ Eros and to see how others see this one as well as the other Eros. In my view, The Symposium, however, presents the fullest and longest account of Socrates’ famous daimon, which arguably offers a master key not only to Socrates’ notorious paradoxical statement that he “knows nothing,” but also to the enigma of Socrates’ wisdom.

In my paper, I would, therefore, like to examine the meaning of Socrates's daemon not only on the basis of two classic treatments of this phenomenon by Apuleius and Plutarch and through Nietzsche’s own dramatic indictment in The Birth of Tragedy, but, importantly, on the basis of the accounts offered by Plato himself.

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socrat (151), one (104), soul (82), daimon (61), know (57), noth (56), life (46), also (44), tr (37), thing (37), new (34), death (33), ero (33), god (32), philosoph (31), mean (29), love (27), true (25), mani (24), nietzsch (24), say (24),
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Association:
Name: Northeastern Political Science Association
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http://www.northeasternpsa.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p276331_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Suchan, Vladimir. "The Daemon of Socrates" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association, Omni Parker House, Boston, MA, Nov 13, 2008 <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p276331_index.html>

APA Citation:

Suchan, V. , 2008-11-13 "The Daemon of Socrates" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association, Omni Parker House, Boston, MA Online <PDF>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p276331_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The enigma of Socrates is arguably contained in the enigma of Socrates' daemon, which, evidently, was no mere figure of speech, but something that suffices to be included among the charges against the philosopher himself. References to Socrates’ daimon abound in Plato’s dialogues. Socrates himself thought that, if something made a difference for him and if something made him distinct from others, it was this strange philosophical spirit, new Eros. In The Republic, he says with reference to the same Theages: “Then there remains, Adeimantus, only a very small group who consort with philosophy in a way that’s worthy of her. … A very few might be drawn to philosophy from other crafts … And some might be held back by the bridle that restrains our friend Theages—for he’s in every way qualified to be tempted away from philosophy, but his physical illness restrains him by keeping him out of politics. Finally, my own case is hardly worth mentioning—my daemonic sign—because it has happened to no one before me, or to only a very few.” (496 b-c) His daimon was evidently included among the capital charges raised against Socrates at the trial: “Socrates does injustice … by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel [24b-c] … [and] by teaching [the youth] not to believe in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel … [26b].”

Then, in the Symposium, we have a chance to meet this new Socratic daimon—Socrates’ Eros and to see how others see this one as well as the other Eros. In my view, The Symposium, however, presents the fullest and longest account of Socrates’ famous daimon, which arguably offers a master key not only to Socrates’ notorious paradoxical statement that he “knows nothing,” but also to the enigma of Socrates’ wisdom.

In my paper, I would, therefore, like to examine the meaning of Socrates's daemon not only on the basis of two classic treatments of this phenomenon by Apuleius and Plutarch and through Nietzsche’s own dramatic indictment in The Birth of Tragedy, but, importantly, on the basis of the accounts offered by Plato himself.


Similar Titles:
On the Poet's Soul in Plato's Republic: The Philosopher's Contribution to Political Life

Plato's Philosophic Vision: Heroism and the Socratic Life

Socratic Ignorance in Plato's Apology: Defending Conversion to the Philosophic Way of Life

Socrates and Achilles: Heroic Virtue and the Philosophic Life in Plato's Lesser Hippias


 
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