Appeared in Spring 1990, Vol. XVI, No. 1
Three widely differing modern interpretations of Socrates are analyzed together with a failure common to all three. Had the Marxist F. Stone, the rationalist K.R. Popper, and the Catholic R. Guardini paid attention to the true nature of Socrates’ argumentation in Phaedo, they would have noticed his historic mistake. It was to throw out the baby (science) with the bathwater (mechanistic philosophy). The mistake became corrected in a culture steeped in the cult of the Babe born in Bethlehem.
Jesus and Socrates
That every book is autobiographical is the substance of a longer observation in Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, a spiritual biography in spite of its title. The remark has some applicability even to the four canonical biographies of the Word made Flesh. The young man who in Mark’s Gospel lets his nightgown be grabbed by Jesus’ captors and runs away naked is very likely Mark himself. Had Luke not been a physician, he might not have paid special attention to the miraculous healings performed by Jesus.
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