There appears to be an unnatural and unfounded fascination with the alleged “works” of Socrates. Perhaps that it is simply that the absolutist ideals of philosophers such as Plato and Socrates do not appeal to the post-modern, politically correct, wishy washy, materialistic reader. It is more likely, however, that the problems posed by the philosophy itself and its surrounding circumstances outweigh the insight and philosophical ingenuity. The world of forms is a creation in the mind of Socrates that contains within it multiple ironies. Socrates claims to be closer to the real and Truth than any other man in the history of the world.
Socrates claims that he has achieved this level of higher understanding through a lifetime in passionate pursuit of his personal idealTruth. Yet this Greek philosoph is the sole propounder of the viewpoint, which holds that there is one true example of all objects (a singular definition and model of a table or a chair). The craftsman and idea smith of new theories cannot claim them as fact, for in similar situations, great thinkers have claimed that the world is flat, that the planets, the sun and all the heavens revolve around the Earth, and that Asia and the East Indies lie only 1100 miles west of the European continent.
All of these conceptions of reality were later proved to be false, and, indeed, now seem ridiculous to the modern scholar. Anyone who is even slightly educated knows that this planet (and, in fact, all known planets) is spherical; the Earth and the rest of the planets in this solar system revolve around the sun, which is, incidentally, a relatively minor star; and there is an entire continent between Europe and Columbus’s Asian objective, the continent, in fact, on which we live. The theories proposed by Socrates are similar.
It is difficult for the modern reader to believe that there is one quintessential automobile or television set. Just as there is no singular true representation of an object, these articles do not even necessarily have a solitary purpose. The world’s most perfect stick, the one that exists in the world of forms, also makes a dandy measuring device. According to Socrates, there is only one illustration of each object and one and only one definition of the article’s purpose. However, it cannot be denied that a stick can also be used to measure, and a flashlight could also be used as a weapon.
After all, we, using the English measurement system, have been using a substitute for an English kings foot as a way in which to divine length for hundreds of years. For any item, there are a plethora of uses and a multitude of definitions. The world defies such concrete and categorical description. It is virtually impossible to state that any given item has one intended purpose. The human imagination is far too inventive for that. Socrates is asking his disciples and all others who partake of his absolutist philosophy to ignore their instinct for ingenuity.
This is one of the qualities that makes the human race so wonderful. It is the reason that we have survived for so long in a Darwinian sense; we have an incredible ability to adapt. Socrates is attempting to suppress instinctual responses by telling the world that there is only one table and only one purpose for that table. The basis of reality for many people is that this is an ever changing world with new uses for a plethora of seemingly static objects arising constantly. Due to this fact, it is problematical for the modern reader to accept the tenants of Socrates’s philosophical innovations.
Throughout time, Plato has been deemed a great thinker, but in terms of the readings presented in this book and discussed in this course, Plato did not have a single original thought in his life. If he did, they are not recorded in any case. This could be one of the greatest examples of plagiarism in the history of the world. Socrates came up with an entire philosophical conception of the world, and Plato got to put his name on it. It is obvious that he recognizes Socrates within the work, yet he comes up with no thinking of his own, and still, his name is on the cover.
Plato’s name is known throughout the world, and why? Simply because he knew Socrates. Socrates is recognized as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He formulated an entire system of thought. Unfortunately, however, his philosophy is seriously flawed. Socrates concocted the world of forms, which holds that there is one archetype for each item within the world and each archetype has one definition and intended purpose. This idea is nearly impossible for the modern reader to believe because everyday, people are surrounded by objects with multiple uses.
Like great intellectuals and explorers after him, Socrates produced multiple theories that, though innovative at the time, seem ludicrous to future generations. It is simply because we, as intelligent, innovative, adaptable, resourceful human beings, cannot logically accept that life and the world is so concrete and unwavering. Because we are who and what we are, we cannot accept Socrates’s theories of the universe and how people should live. The philosophy is not adequate for modern life, and it is dubious that it was any more satisfactory for life in ancient Greece.