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Socrates in 90 Minutes

(Philosophers in 90 Minutes)

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  404 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Just a century after it had begun, philosophy entered its greatest age with the appearance of Socrates, who spent so much of his time talking about philosophy on the streets of Athens that he never got around to writing anything down. His method of aggressive questioning, called dialectic, was the forerunner of logic; he used it to cut through the twaddle of his ...more
Paperback, 89 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher
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Joseph Spuckler
May 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Listened to this book on Audible Channels at work. The book is more of a history of how and why Greece was in the position to separate philosophy and science from religion. Nothing new on Socrates and that is not too surprising. Socrates never wrote anything down and we have to rely on differing accounts of Plato and Xenophon to put together an accurate life story. A good introduction, but no where as good as Confucius in 90 Minutes.

And thanks to Bill and Ted, my mind automatically thinks
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
An okay review of Socrates. (Obviously not in depth - it is supposed only take 90 minutes of your time.) The thing that bugged me is that Strathern could not seem to just present facts to let me make up my own mind about Socrates and philosophy. I realize that it is impossible for a person to be completely unbiased. We all see the world through our own lens of experience and belief. But I felt like Strathern could at least have been a LITTLE better at presenting information without his own bias ...more
Bob Nichols
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Early on, Strathern dares the reader to be skeptical of Socrates' standing at the foundation of Western philosophy. Strathern writes that Parmenides' view that this world was an illusion "had a negative effect on Socrates and his successor Plato" and that the "unscientific - indeed, antiscientific - attitude that developed wtih Socrates was to cast a blight on philosophy for centuries to come."

Then Strathern switches direction and argues that Socrates' method of analyzing a subject was the first
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
I learned nothing new about Socrates here while being constantly harangued by the author's dislike of religion, including at one point claiming human sacrifice is the product of advanced religion. I was planning on listening to a few more of these 90 Minutes booklets, but maybe I won't. The author's biases and his style are just too off-putting.
Valerie Kyriosity
Obviously, by a title like that, one might reasonably judge that the book does not contain high intellectual content, and by the fact that I have read it, one might reasonably judge that neither does my brain. But I figure that although a little knowledge is dangerous, it's only by little bits that one is likely to acquire much more. So I'm content, especially in my superannuated state, to take my feeble little steps forward. I kind of like Socrates -- his independence, his humor, his courage, ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
if strathern could just leave out his opinions and give his reader the substance of the life and works of his subjects this series would have been consistent and worthy. as it is, i still recommend reading these summary books; value can be found within; but keep the salt shaker handy for drying out the writer's opinions and world view from the details about the subjects works/life.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Better than most of the XYZ in 90 Minutes books, but still barely touches the surface and has quite a lot of bias that's unbecoming to a philosophy text meant to be accessible to all. It's also interesting that the audiobooks are like 60-80 minutes, usually about 75. The A Short Introduction to XYZ books are WAY better than these are. For instance, this book pretty much only talks about forms and The Apology--not The Republic, which is such a cornerstone of Plato's dialogues, it's kind of ...more
As I launch back into Aristotle to prepare for my rhetoric class, I happened upon this short witty summary of philosophic thought originating with the pre- socratics and moving through the German metaphysical thinkers of Hegel and Wittgenstein — all through the lens of their start in Socrates.

Author denigrates Socrates and Plato for the focus on the abstract world and its separation from “science” defined as the things we see in the world around us. Even Aristotle, founder of Logic, is too
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the field of philosophy Socrates was a heavyweight who essentially ushered in it greatest age. Unfortunately he spent most of his time talking about philosophy and never wrote anything down. We only know of it through his students. He developed arguments that would later be called logic and placed philosophy on the sound basis of reason. He was described by others as ugly, stubborn, physically strong, and he tended to rub the wrong people the wrong way. But unlike others who fled when they ...more
David Harlan
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I like this series. I am trying to round out my education a bit and have found myself short on philosophy. These books have a summary of the major elements of each philosopher, some biography, and some notable quotations. I find them a good introduction and several, including this volume on Socrates, have made me want to delve deeper.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
The title of this book should be "Why Socrates and ancient philosophers were idiots". The obvious bias the author has against ancient philosophers for being "unscientific" and for having "woolly" views of reality make this book extremely hard to read.
Adriana Restrepo Leon
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brief, concise, entire... perfect
Tells what we need to know
William O. Perez
Interesting primer

This book was precisely what I was looking for as a complement to some online courses I am taking on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I love these quick little philosophy reads/refreshers. Although, they do add some humor, I could do without some of the snarkiness of Mr. Strathern's opinions.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoying this series. The writing is engaging but also educative, obviously you don't become an expert but you grasp the philosopher's main ideas through their life story.
Derek Neighbors
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good history of Socrates and the surrounding times of thought. Enjoyed, but wished it were a deeper examination of his philosophy. Great 101 introduction to Greek philosophy.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook. Thought I knew a thing or two about Socrates. Turns out I didn't, really. A fun gap-filler to my overall education.
María Clara
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoying this series. The writing is engaging but also educative. Obviously, you don't become an expert but you grasp the philosopher's main ideas through their life story.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Socrates in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern
The unexamined life is not worth living

Socrates was declared the “Wisest man „by the oracle of Delphi.
And that raises a question, which I did not find explained anywhere:
Why did they still kill him, in spite of such a serious, respectable pronouncement, coming from a sacred “being”??
To me, it feels like the court accused Socrates of contempt, while at the same time, disrespecting the oracle and his judgment. Being in other words guilty of the same charge
Jonathas Soares
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
"The unexamined life is not worth living."

Socrates, the father of Western philosophy, is also known for having been named the wisest man (on Earth?) by the oracle of Delphi. Incredulous at first, he visits other men deemed wise, only to think them dumbasses. He, at last, accepts this epithet, realising that, at least, unlike the others, he knew that he didn't know anything.

Paul Strathern talks about how Socrates' dictum "the unexamined life is not worth living" could only be uttered by a snob
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable short listen

Published by Blackstone Audio in 2009.
Read by Robert Whitfield
Duration: 90 minutes

This unabridged lecture on Socrates (469-399 B.C.) covers all of the major aspects of the life of the famed Ancient Greek philosopher including his personal life, his military career (he served with distinction as a hoplite, the Athenian equivalent of a buck private), the sordid story of his execution by the government of Athens, his influences, who he influenced, his impact, both good
Timothy McNeil
Strathern goes off-topic a few times to let the reader know he has a problem with psychiatry. He also doesn't go into much depth with Socrates' particular contributions, but there is the understandable problem (and I believe Strathern covers it well) of how to do as much when Socrates the philosopher is so heavily tied to Socrates the character (as written by Plato).
It is a good, quick read. Not as funny as Heidegger, but not dismissive like Kant. It is becoming clear that Strathern has some
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
For all of you that love to sit there and think about life and question existence and can get really depressing like coughmecough, this is the book for you!It is about Socrates a man of many words and wondrous thoughts and ideas. He was brilliant but it got him in trouble from time to time. Ironically as smart as he was he talked so much he never wrote any of it down but he is known through all the people he taught and inspired.
Cynthia Egbert
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-and-read
I have read a number of the books in the Strathern series and he does a good job of giving an overview of the ideas attributed to each philosopher but he does bring a lot of his personal biases into what he writes and one has to be aware of this and pay little attention to his editorializing of what a philosopher believes and those belief's effect on society and the world.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
The introduction to this one is probably my favorite portion of any of these books thus far.

Well written, but I wish there was more record of Socrates' life from which to pull source material. Still, he did a great thorough job with little direct historical material.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A good quick summation of Socrates and his philosophy (at least what we know of it). Paul does a good job detailing his life and his outlook on life and philosophy, as well as the backdrop to his times. There's a fair bit of sardonic wit as well that makes it an entertaining brief read.
May 25, 2011 added it
Shelves: biography
Listened to audiobook. Worth listening to once...
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
reading this is similiar to hearing a favorite philosphy professor expound on Socates over beers
Apr 05, 2010 added it
Great. clear and concise.
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Paul Strathern (born 1940) is a British writer and academic. He was born in London, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he served in the Merchant Navy over a period of two years. He then lived on a Greek island. In 1966 he travelled overland to India and the Himalayas. His novel A Season in Abyssinia won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1972.

Besides five novels, he has also written

Other books in the series

Philosophers in 90 Minutes (1 - 10 of 28 books)
  • Aristotle in 90 Minutes
  • Berkeley in 90 Minutes
  • Bertrand Russell in 90 Minutes  (Philosophers in 90 Minutes)
  • Confucius in 90 Minutes
  • Derrida in 90 Minutes
  • Descartes in 90 Minutes
  • Dewey in 90 Minutes
  • Foucault in 90 Minutes
  • Hegel in 90 Minutes
  • Heidegger in 90 Minutes