Re: thoughts on origin of religions

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 09:57:59 MST

Jacques Du Pasquier wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote (27.2.2002/10:03) :
> >
> > Why? Because the so-called "Socratic dialogues" were written by Plato? I'm
> > not talking about Plato's fictional mouthpiece; I'm talking about the
> > original Socrates.
> You already know my next question ("Did you know him personnally?"),
> so why not including an answer to it in advance? This is so
> Socrates-like for Parmenides' sake.
> You're not going to tell me about Xenophon or Aristophanes, so what do
> you mean?

Of course historical information about Socrates is terribly spotty, and most
of mine is secondhand, so I can't cite specific sources. Nonetheless, my
secondhand understanding is that - for example - Socrates himself never
claimed to know what happens after death (a reasonable belief in that age,
when nobody knew what the heck was going on), while Plato makes him to
argue, using various blatantly spurious analogies, for a knowable life after
death. This is what I mean by pointing out the difference between Plato's
"Socrates" and the real Socrates. I think I would have liked to meet the
real Socrates, who argued for progress in knowledge through doubt and
questioning, and defended objective truth against the assaults of the
Sophists. A terrible pity that Plato stole his name and reputation.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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