Socrates: A Man for Our Times
Socrates was undeniably one of the greatest thinkers of all time, yet he wrote nothing. Throughout his life, and indeed until his very last moment alive, Socrates fully embodied his philosophy in thought and deed. It is through the story of his life that we can fully grasp his powerful actions and i...more
Holy Contortions, Batman!
Paul Johnson has made up his mind. Need I say more?
In his earlier writings Plato presented Socrates as a living, breathing, thinking person, a real man. But as Plato’s ideas took shape, demanding propagation, poor Socrates, whose actual death Plato had so lamented, was killed a second time, so that he became a mere wooden man, a ventriloquist’s doll, to voice not his own philosophy but Plato’s. Being an intellectual, Plato thought that to spread his ideas was far more...more
Many reviewers are hard on Johnson. Maybe they think he should have written a different book, but I'm OK with the one he did write. I think it's OK for a historian to insert his own views into the work. The references to more modern events and times are meant to illuminate Socrates' ideas for modern readers. If you're looking for an in-depth description and analysis of So ...more
"When Socrates was at his most devout, he always refers to 'god' or 'the god,' not 'the gods.' He was a monotheist." 107
So, you can be sure that if Socrates mentions "gods" in the plural, he is not being very devout.
A similar reasoning comes into play when Johnson discusses Plato. If Johnson likes the Socrates that Plat ...more
I have never read a ...more
It’s good at providing general insight and for synthesizing multiple sources. However, it’s not really giving me much more besides that.
Also, it goes off on the tangent of Socrates’ negative views on homosexuality that the author himself admits is hard to prove but he persists. He also equates homosexuality to the pedophilic power dynamics in Athens and like...that ain’t it, chief.
Johnson rebukes Plato for using Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own id ...more
Thus it is with Johnson's biography of Socrates, the first and perhaps still the greatest of the moral philosophers. Rather than a dry recitation of what we know of Socrates's life and works, Johnson looks at ...more
Sadly, due to nothing being written by Socrates we have to take a lot from Xenophon, Plato, and others. And Plato tended to ...more
And of course his fa ...more
1) Why does the author, who holds Socrates up as an ideal thinker for recognizing his own want of knowledge, seem so sure about so many statements? Ancient Athens existed a long time ago, should we be so sure about everything?
2) If the purpose of an analogy is to bring a reader a clearer understanding, why refer to out of reach anecdotes about British history like Gladstone's farewell to his cabinet? Who's to benefit from this? ...more
I do agree with some reviewers that I'm skeptical concerning some of Johnson's in ...more
Because it was horrible and written by an equally horrible man.
I was biased before I read this book. I picked it up at a used book shop, thinking it would be an interesting biography on Socrates, a figure I find to be funny and interesting. After finally deciding to read it, I see in other Goodreads reviews that the man who wrote it makes Socrates out to be a homophobic pre-Christian patriot. That prompted me to Google who Paul Johnson was -- ...more
Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl ...more