“It would be better for me… that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself.”
~ Socrates (via Plato’s dialogue ‘Gorgias’)
We tend to be swayed too easily by the views & authority of others. Whether it is in real life, on social media, in the news or otherwise – we believe too easily before we doubt. And I think this is a major problem that needs to be curbed.
A society which is too trusting of its fellow man, especially considering how biased we can be, is not a good thing. Likewise, a society that is too doubtful is also not favourable. What we need is a fair bit of questioning coupled with faith in humans where reasonable.
Socrates was an Ancient Greek philosopher belonging to the 5th century. He was not merely a man of great words but one who lived by them. In fact, he lived his entire life in pursuit of the Truth.
In order to reach this goal, he maintained a sceptical attitude towards the various beliefs present at the time. And because of this, he was accused of supposedly corrupting the youth and not recognising the Gods the city acknowledged.
After being voted guilty by the jurors, he was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning. Without hesitation, he accepted this condemnation. He was dutiful towards the State and respected its verdict. And as such, not only did he live by the Truth but also died by it.
I think a significant lesson we need to draw from this great man’s life is that of questioning. Socrates questioned the prominent ideas of the time, even when it dealt with religion. And he usually found that so-called wise men didn’t really know why they believed something so much, in the end.
He used what is called the ‘Socratic method’. It is a form of dialogue in which there is a continuous exchange of question and answer. Through this, Socrates would help individuals analyse their own attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and logic and help them find its shortcomings on their own.
He believed that the knowledge and understanding was already present in the individual. You simply needed to ask the right questions, activate their critical thinking and let them find out the answers for themselves.
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