Socrates As A Teacher -- By: William S. Tyler

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:37 (Jan 1853)
Article: Socrates As A Teacher
Author: William S. Tyler


Socrates As A Teacher

William S. Tyler

Socrates was one of those few men of genius, who, endowed in large measure with all the faculties proper to man, can do almost anything, and do it well. There were in him materials enough — with such a full and unwithdrawing hand did nature pour her bounties forth”—to form several men, and those quite extraordinary. Contemplative as Plato, observing as Aristotle, practical as Xenophon, and devout as Plutarch, he superadded to these high endowments a personal courage and a moral heroism wholly his own. Hence all these men were proud to call him master. And modern authors, as great and as unlike in their greatness, Butler and Paley and others not a few, have been happy to tread in his footsteps. Formed alike for speculation and for action, he united oriental mysticism and occidental energy; German transcendentalism and English (we had almost said Yankee) common sense in one harmonious whole, and subjected them all to the superior control of a sovereign conscience and an inflexible will. Hence, like the myriad-minded Shakspeare, he has been equally admired by Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon minds.

The question has been much controverted and is still sub judice, whether Plato or Xenophon has given the more true and just account of Socrates. The true answer seems to us to be, that neither of them

has given us the whole man. Neither of them could appreciate or understand his entire character. Of course neither of them, by himself, could draw a perfect likeness of him. But each has sketched a true picture, so fat as it goes. Each has brought out certain favorite features in a strong light, while others are thrown into the shade. And the features in the foreground of the one answer to those in the background of the other; for all belong to the same man, just as the Christ of John’s Gospel is manifestly the same person, though seen in a very different light, as the Christ of the synoptical gospels; We must combine the accounts of Xenophon and Plato, together with scattered notices by Aristotle, before we gain a complete view of Socrates; just as the partial representations, made by John and the other Evangelists, must be combined, if we would form a full and just conception of Jesus of Nazareth.

Engaged in several different pursuits in the course of his long and eventful life, he failed in none; he proved equal to whatever he undertook. Nil tetigit, quod non ornavit. The son of a statuary and a midwife, he followed, at different times, the profession of each of his parents; that of his father in forming statues of the habited Graces, which long attested his taste and skill in the Athenian Acropolis;You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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