Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pappas - Destree and Smith's 'Socrates' Divine Sign: Religion, Practice and Value in Socratic Philosophy'

"The Socrates depicted in Plato's dialogues spoke of a daimonion signal that came to him. That word daimonion is an adjective meaning "daimôn-ish" -- divine, or maybe what the English of earlier centuries called "weird."

Anyway the sign came as some kind of voice and Socrates claimed to have heard it since childhood. It was apotreptic rather than protreptic, never commanding Socrates to act some way but only making sure he heard the discouraging word whenever he chanced to embark on a harmful action (Apology 31d).

Xenophon's Socrates heard a somewhat different voice, one that did not hesitate to endorse one action over another. Plato consistently presents an inhibiting divine agent.

Xenophon and Plato agree however that the divine sign of Socrates needs specially to be discussed in connection with the trial at which Socrates defended himself with such famous unsuccess. In Plato's account of the trial, Socrates remarks on having heard no spooky peep that day either on his way to the courts or during his (impromptu, haughty) defense speech. He accepts the news of his death sentence with equanimity and even good cheer on the grounds that since the daimonion did not stop him, the death that will follow his behavior must not be a bad thing (Apology 40a-c)." - NDPR.

Possibly relevant for those writting papers on Socrates at present ...

1 comment:

michael said...

in defence of Dr Mintoff

He actaully has discussed this in the lectures.