Death of Socrates

Stephanie asks:

  1. Pick a famous death.
  2. Pick a philosopher: either Camus, Locke, Epicurus or Plato.
  3. Why did you choose the philosopher you did? What is you initial feeling about what they would say about the famous death.

Answer by Craig Skinner

I’ll be brief, and quick since you ask for my initial (not my considered) feelings.

1. Socrates.

2. Plato.

3 (a) most famous and greatest of the four and pupil of Socrates.

(b) Camus: would say it was an admirable death. Socrates was authentic (existentialists like this); and Camus liked suicide as an option.

 Locke: disagreed with Socrates’ implicit social contract and elite rulers, preferring his own explicit contract and majority rule. Would have said Socrates should have taken the chance when he had it to escape death, go abroad and keep his head down.

 Epicurus: agreed with Socrates that death was not to be feared, although Epicurus thought death was annihilation, Socrates thought it a blessing.

 Plato: the death was pretty much murder by the state (Socrates was outspoken and made enemies), plus Socrates was honourable, accepting the city’s judgment, but refusing to stop his philosophical dialogues in public places.

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