The Religion of Socrates
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996 - 353 sivua
This study argues that to understand Socrates we must uncover and analyze his religious views, since his philosophical and religious views are part of one seamless whole. Mark McPherran provides a close analysis of the relevant Socratic texts, an analysis that yields a comprehensive and original account of Socrates' commitments to religion (e.g., the nature of the gods, the immortality of the soul).
McPherran finds that Socrates was not only a rational philosopher of the first rank, but a figure with a profoundly religious nature as well, believing in the existence of gods vastly superior to ourselves in power and wisdom and sharing other traditional religious commitments with his contemporaries. However, Socrates was just as much a sensitive critic and rational reformer of both the religious tradition he inherited and the new cultic incursions he encountered. McPherran contends that Socrates saw his religious commitments as integral to his philosophical mission of moral examination and, in turn, used the rationally derived convictions underlying that mission to reshape the religious conventions of his time. As a result, Socrates made important contributions to the rational reformation of Greek religion, contributions that incited and informed the theology of his brilliant pupil, Plato.
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Nonetheless, taking the time and place of his philosophical mission into account,
and the important conceptual shifts he helped to initiate and achieve, our high
regard for Socrates should only be enriched — not diminished — by the
These arguments are in themselves important and revealing, and I shall touch on
them later. But for the purposes of determining Socrates' relation to popular
religious conceptions, I turn straight to his defense against the other charges.
How important is this business? More important, says Socrates, than even the
task of securing the standard human goods of leisure, family life, and money.
Others whose happiness is contributed to by the pursuit of such things must also
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