Socrates in America

Here is a conversation piece from the Economist year-end issue.  Pros will no doubt find enough to nit-pick over, but I’m more interested in its ‘sociological’ take on Socrates and the Athens-America parallel.  The attributed resemblance between Socrates and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is a bit rich, but if you want to think about Socrates as a contemporary talk-show host, you could do a lot worse (Charlie Rose? Not if Socratic irony counts.).  And what of ‘Socrates as American Taliban’?  Here, I think, once we wade in, we will find the waters deep indeed.  What a contemporary Socrates would criticize about American political culture might seem obvious enough, but what about our aesthetic culture?  Philosophic?  And just what would such a Socrates be for? (Islamism, in any recognizably Qutbian form seems unlikely for a number of reasons.)  With what kind of ostensibly un-democratic ideas could a present-day Socrates seduce with?  And to a socially influential audience?

(The author discusses Socrates’ putative ‘atheism’ here.)


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