LIFE PORN: [SYMPOSIUM + THE DEATH OF SOCRATES]

1258421

PLATO’s: SYMPOSIUM AND THE DEATH OF SOCRATES…

…is quite simply the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Never has a piece of literature been so inarguably explorative and open.

I first came across Plato’s writings of Socrates aged 16, when studying for my philosophy A-Level. I found it so enlightening even then and intensely questioning. It encouraged me to seek deeper within myself and the universe to explore new ideas and keep my mind wide open.

Unfortunately however, the teachers could not see my long brewing passion for philosophy and were more interested in me shutting up and learning how to pass the necessary exams. As a result of my questioning I was kicked off the philosophy course. Funny that, seeing as philosophy is all about asking questions?!

7 years later however, I rediscovered these wonderful writings in Shoreditch’s “Paper and Cup”, a coffee shop run by the local treatment centre for addicts, which sells second hand books.

A few months down the line of dipping in and out of reading on the tube, car journey’s, ibiza beaches and an excursion to the alps I have finally come to the end of this incredible book.

Symposium and the death of Socrates is split into several parts:

The first being Symposium, involving a discussion around a meal between seven people including Socrates in which ideas of Love, gender and sexuality are explored. It is so incredibly refreshing to hear open minded ideas around these subjects being explored free of any prejudice and discrimination. The acceptance around each others preferences and ideas back then forces me to ask why we are so closed minded and prudish in our modern society. If it was ok to be Gay, Bi, Trans or whatever you felt like in ancient Athens, then at which point did we become so intolerant and hateful?

Furthermore, the way they discuss these ideas; one at a time around a table without interrupting each other, can teach us lessons on how to patiently listen to one another’s ideas, taking time to fully hear and digest them. Symposium inadvertently teaches us to be emotionally tuned in whilst not cutting into another’s argument with an intrusively emotional reaction; but instead to process our feelings around another’s thoughts and respond thoughtfully providing a questioning and emotionally thorough response.

To me this is like looking into a dream. A world in which we are taught to listen, to question and to accept each other for our differences. Perhaps this would help us to live more harmoniously together. Politics would perhaps be less about, media, money and quick fixes and more about taking the time to truthfully help people.

The rest of the sections: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo take us from Socrates being accused of “Corrupting the youth” through his trial, the days leading up to his death and his last moments.

“Apology” is a real highlight for me, as Socrates manages to continually disprove the opposition in a calm and contained manner while basically saying “sorry not sorry”. He then accepts the fate given to him by the court saying something along the lines of “I don’t blame you for sentencing me to death because I’m not gonna stop what I’m doing anyways”. It is reminiscent of today in so many ways and shows that often people would rather shoot the messenger than actually address their problems. The actions of the closed minded were and still are so incredibly destructive.

During Socrates final days in which his friends frequently visit, He and his friends discuss subjects such as: Immortality, Suicide, The Soul, Learning and Nature. The ability of Socrates and his friends to discuss, oppose, move on and re-open arguments is again refreshing to me. There is no judgement, ignorance, unproductive stubbornness or anger; just passion, inquisition and acceptance. Reading this book has proved to me what I have so often felt, which is that questioning is NOT WRONG, it does not harm us unless we are unprepared to open our minds. And if we are not prepared to open our minds how do we ever hope to move in a positive integrated humanistic direction?

In his final day, Socrates explains to his friends why he is not afraid to die but also a convincing argument as to why people (including myself), should perhaps not commit suicide, however miserable we become.

In so many ways this book has been a hugely positive experience and inspiring read. It has helped me through dark patches, increased my own acceptance around my own sexuality and has given me insight into so many subjects beyond anything I have experienced before.

This has been my bible, but one free from rules and expectations, but still incredibly in depth.

I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone! Particularly if they are feeling a little lost or in need of some answers. Not that they will be answered necessarily, but they will most definitely be discussed.

Written and Recommended by Ted Rogers “Artpornblog”

xXx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s