Review - “The Last Days of Socrates”

The story of Socrates is both comforting and distressing to me. In “The Last Days of Socrates,” Plato tells of a figure that is absorbed in and committed to a life of reflection and thinking. He is a person in pursuit of the most everlasting gift: wisdom. He sometimes waivers between being humble and pompous; and he certainly doesn’t get everything right. But perhaps what I respect most about Socrates is this facet of his personality and thought — that he would and does admit his ignorance and unashamedly. He is genuinely concerned with the most profound and rewarding of activities: the exploration of thought itself as a means to finding truth. Anyone interested in such ways of life, I believe, as did Socrates, must maintain a disposition of not fearing one’s ignorance or errors in thinking but understanding the relationship between such frustrations with respect to pursuing wisdom and truth. I find it comforting that others, such as Socrates, have walked this Earth. The distressing aspect of Socrates’s story is his death. I suppose I am like many of his followers in that this distress is my own but not his, despite his willingness to discuss his reasons for greeting his death sentence with joy not sorrow. Perhaps there is a wisdom in his reasoning, but it has yet to bring me an assured sense of relief from the troubling pattern of man’s willingness and need to murder the heretical thinker whose goal of thinking is most surely for the benefit of the human soul. I find this truth — that man seeks to silence those who seek truth about existence — when he fails to understand what is sought and found, one of the most troubling and terrifying aspects of the nature of the human condition.

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