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Sociology - Essay Example

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The core question of De Botton’s essay is finding truth about people’s functioning in the modern society. He finds truth by walking through parallel worlds of the past and present times and reaches at his final decisions, which is appropriate for the lives of everyone. …
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Sociology The core question of De Botton’s essay is finding truth about people’s functioning in the modern society. He finds truth by walking through parallel worlds of the past and present times and reaches at his final decisions, which is appropriate for the lives of everyone. Every individual is unique and he should be proud of it. De Botton opens his essay with a bright contrasting of weather and his state of the soul, when he entered the Metropolitan Museum in London. A canvas, which is discussed from the very beginning of the essay, was painted by Jacques Louis David, where Socrates is depicted. The author of the essay provides the readers with the details of the historical background of painting. Socrates had to be subjected to death penalty, because he did not respect ancient gods. Death of Socrates was positioned as the landmark of the eighteenth century. De Botton tries to penetrate in the depths of philosophical ideas of the ancient times. He refers to Socrates and Plato, but, to my mind, his ideas are vague, because it is impossible to reveal the secret of philosophy, because philosophy is a secret of life. From time to time we can see between the lines of the essay glimpses of the Socrates’ life. He tries to show to the readers that philosophy was borne as love to wisdom. So, De Botton starts looking for the philosophical truth… In the second chapter the author discusses the values of the society. Again, it looks like he does not want to discuss these values, but comes across historical books in the second hand bookshop in Bloomsbury. Greek society is interesting for de Botton again. He considers about their clothes, customs, and their military and religious traditions. These traditions were not comprehensible for Socrates. At his times people lived another life. In the ancient world Socrates showed more tolerance. He was well-known for his habit of approaching Athenians of every class, age and occupation. A personality of Socrates is rather controversial and intriguing, so de Botton does everything right, when he provides the readers with a lot of different episodes from Socrates’ life. De Botton outlines some basic moments in the life of Socrates and in his philosophical teachings. First of all, he discusses the rule of common sense. The most intriguing sentence in this paragraph for me is the following one: “Contrary to what Aristophanes hoped, it seemed that those Socrates spoke to barely knew they were talking about.” It is really so and de Botton follows these ideas of Socrates, when he intends to focus on different things and rushes from one piece of discussion to another. In the discussion of courage with a general, Socrates comes to the conclusion that courage is not only associated with a feeling of enduring an enemy or being brave to kill him, this feeling is much broader for sure. A masterful ability of Socrates to persuade Meno that financial good is not virtue. A lacking of logic was the most scaring thing in the lives of people, as Socrates thought. Furthermore, de Botton is focused on the art of pottery in the ancient Athens. This activity required good thinking skills and this example illustrates two basic ideas of Socrates: our world is more flexible than it seems and “the established views have frequently emerged not through a process of faultless reasoning, but through centuries of intellectual muddle. There may be no good reason for things to be the way they are. ” This is an apt expression too. I liked it very much. It seems to be a logical thread of the whole essay, because the author tries to put things together, which are different in their essence, but either in direct or indirect way concern Socrates and his basic ideas. The influence of Socrates on Plato is a well-known fact, but de Botton talks about it incidentally. There are many other attempts of the author to confuse the readers. To my mind, it is a kind of a wrong logical thread, but what is interesting for me is that he returns to his initial theme of Socrates’ death. It is difficult for the author to talk about that and he tries to make a scene of a tragic death of the philosopher even more pitiful. He provides the readers with the image of the Elephant Man. Finally, he comes to the conclusion and we can read what all these things were about: we all are strangers in the society. A great and horrible feeling of Estrangement is everywhere. Modern processes of globalization have blurred many limits. There is no modern Socrates, who will make people to see the things they are from his perspective. The great philosopher changed the moods of the Athenians after his death. It means that every person should think about himself in a broader context. “Local juries” are bad judges and they are not the bodies of the last authority. Unpopularity is not as tragic as it may seem. An action is valid not because of its popularity, but because of its logic. Public opinion, in accordance with Socrates, can be avoided and it is possible to act in spite of the fact whether your actions are approved or not. To my mind, this expression by De Botton is too critical, but sometimes it works. Public prejudices and perverted moral and behavioral norms very often prevent people from a normal functioning in the society. De Botton’s chapter about Socrates reminds me of a tunnel with light in the end of it. References De Botton “” pp. 3-42. Read More
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