Originally posted by whodey
...both were martyred for their pursuit of truth. They exposed to many truths, asked to many questions, and help to bring to light the darkness within man's soul.
Have you considered the Socratic problem? Did Socrates actually say all these things written down in the dialogues? Or were they Plato's words? It's probable, since Socrates never wrote his own work down, his teachings has been coloured by Plato's own teachings.
Plato's dialogues are also now being questioned by scholars as being spurious (with the possible exception of the seventh letter). That
leaves another question hanging in the air. How may Plato have used Socrates teachings to fit them to a certain style, making for interesting literature?
Another thing, more to the point, that strikes me when I think about all these things, is the similarity between how their stories were preserved for prosperity. Everything we know about christ (almost) comes from the bible, written and compiled way after he actually lived. We have the same problem here that we have with Socrates. Is it really the teaching of christ being conveyed in the new testament, or is it the work of those whom followed christ? If so, how much stood as it were by christ, and how much are adaptations or loose influences?
The funny thing about us humans is that if we actually sit down and write thousands of lines of text for descendants to read, we tend to want to get our own point of view across. It's really, really
hard to write without having your own ideas influence the work. Even when we think
we're giving the story accurately as it were, we tend to colour it with our own thoughts. Also, it's really, really
hard to actually understand everything that another person says (just think about all the misunderstandings we have in everyday life, and then imagine trying to understand complex philosophies exactly the same as another person). So, even though I'm your disciple and I listen to everything you say, I may not fully understand you. Which will reflect in my writing later on.
I should think that there's actually many other historical characters, dying for their cause and then having their teachings plotted down by followers. This is nothing extraordinary in itself, and I really don't find it interesting (other than maybe in a psychological or sociological sense). What always arises my curiousity is this question: How much of their original teachings is actually there for me to read?
Alas, their teachings are forever obscured from our view through the dissipating coherence of history and what we know are the words as written by their followers.
Which brings on a realisation. Aren't those who wrote down those ideas, thoughts and principles really much more interesting than the mentors whom supposedly spoke them? And is it possible that they portrayed their mentors in a light, excluding all the bad things and focusing on specific parts of their teachings, that would help them tell their own stories?