The truth of the matter is this, gentlemen. Where a man has once taken up his stand, either because it seems best to him or in obedience to his orders, there I believe he is bound to remain and face the danger, taking no account of death or anything else before dishonor. -The Apology Of Socrates, Plato
Many things could be said about Socrates, many less flattering than others; he was a consummate dick. Socrates sought out the powerful and the wise of his day that he might reveal to them their own ignorance. His tactics were often dishonest, baiting and switching, moving goal posts, begging questions; almost always pressing his interviewees for yes or no answers that he could maintain his frame and control on the interaction. Eventually, having twisted and tied up his opponents in mental knots, he would prove that he in fact was the wiser by his self-righteous claim of only knowing that he was clueless. In other words Socrates would prove that whomever he spoke to was an idiot for claiming knowledge they did not possess. Social autism anyone? Is it any wonder the elite of Athens sent him hemlock on the rocks?
I doubt Socrates was disingenuous. Socrates openly and sincerely sought out the truth while seeking to disprove the Oracle at Delphi’s mirror, mirror pronouncement that he was the wisest of them all.
Socrates is the sine qua non for the beginning thinking because, even considering the underhanded nature of his part in many of Plato’s dialogue, his goal is always to seek the truth against all resistance. He would not feign repentance for the capital crime of thumbing his nose at the elite of Athens or for that equal dangerous trait of thinking outside the approved doctrine. He goes to the grave fighting, even at his trial.
Socrates attitude, if not his modus operandi, ought to be adopted. Assume nothing, question everything.
No doubt you think, gentlemen, that I have been condemned for lack of the arguments which I could have used if I had thought it right to leave nothing unsaid or undone to secure my acquittal. But that is very far from the truth. It is not a lack of arguments that has caused my condemnation, but a lack of effrontery and impudence, and the fact that I have refused to address you in the way which would give you most pleasure. You would have liked to hear me weep and wail, doing and saying all sorts of things which I regard as unworthy of myself, but which you are used to hearing from other people. But I did not think then that I ought to stoop to servility because I was in danger, and I do not regret now the way in which I pleaded my case. I would much rather die as the result of this defense than live as the result of the other sort. – The Apology of Socrates, Plato
Socrates is the first step into the pool of Western Thought, The Apology is the first step into Socrates and Plato.
For your reading pleasure: The Apology
Veritas numquam perit,