An Analysis of the Results of Scholarship on the Subject of Socrates in the United States

Last Updated: 28 Feb 2023
Essay type: Scholarship
Pages: 3 Views: 87

The results of recent scholarship on the subject of Socrates seem to make more. And more imperative a fresh interpretation of his baffling and enigmatical figure. In recent years there has been a marked tendency to deal with all the great ancient thinkers in terms of a consistent pattern of development in their thought and to see them not, as it were, full grown and maturely developed but in the slow process of growth and evolution. The genetic method has been applied to Plato with marked success by generations of scholars and has culminated in the monumental work of Lutoslawski.

Prof. Werner Jaeger's book on Aristotle seems to me to establish quite clearly the validity of applying a similar method to Aristotle. It is not, therefore, surprising that a suggestion made as long ago as 1811 by Wolf in his edition of the Clouds should in recent years be revived and that there should be a fresh disposition to believe that the Socrates of the Clouds and the Socrates of the Apology represent quite different and in a sense even contradictory stages in his development as a thinker. As evidence for this tendency we need only cite the introduction to Mr. W. R. F. Hardie's Study in Plato (page 6). One of the most important contributions of Prof. A. E. Taylor to the understanding of Socrates was made in his Varia Socratica - the perception that the trial was closely bound up with the political strivings of the time.

But before an adequate explanation of the development of Socrates was possible, it was necessary to see much more clearly than has heretofore been possible, the relation of Socrates to the political struggles and social currents of his time. This could scarcely have been done until the ingenuity of a number of scholars had reconstructed the case for the prosecution as it was offered in the lost pamphlet of Polycrates. This piece of reconstruction removes much of the problem of the relation of Socrates to the politics of his times from the realm of speculation to the realm of ascertained fact.

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In addition to obligations noted at the proper time in footnotes, the authors feel conscious of a number of particular obligations. To Mr. William Kirsch and Miss Hildegard Pilger we owe the opportunity to consult the recent work done by the Russians on the subject of Greek philosophy. As if this debt were not already a sufficient one, Mr. Kirsch has read the work through in MSS. and has made one or two extremely penetrating suggestions. Prof. W. R. Agard has been unfailing in his interest and help and on several points has made important contributions. Mr. J. J. Lyons has read the work in MSS. and helped immeasurably in bringing clarity into our exposition. Mr. Edwin Minar has assisted with the proofs and made a number of valuable suggestions.

A research grant from the Special Research Fund of the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin, though given for quite a different project, has in a sense made this work possible. When my studies in Spain were interrupted by the outbreak of the civil war, it was necessary to change my plans. The preliminary studies which culminated in this work were made in Paris at that time.

Last year, feeling that the possibilities of the genetic approach to Socrates and his relations to the life of his times had been by no means sufficiently explored, I suggested to Mr. Silverberg as a thesis subject the Socrates of the Apology and the Socrates of the Clouds. The results of his work coincided amazingly with my own developing convictions, and our collaboration has resulted in this little book.

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An Analysis of the Results of Scholarship on the Subject of Socrates in the United States. (2023, Feb 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/an-analysis-of-the-results-of-scholarship-on-the-subject-of-socrates-in-the-united-states/

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