Nicholas D. SMITH and Paul B. WOODRUFF : Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy

Publication Information : Book Title : Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy. Contributors : Nicholas D. Smith – editor, Paul B. Woodruff – editor. Publisher : Oxford US. Place of Publication : New York. Publication Year : 2000.


In the Fall of 1996, the editors convened a workshop at the University of Texas at Austin entitled « Reason and Religion in Fifth-Century Greece. » Scholars presented papers on various topics in ancient Greek religion, but the subject that drew the most attention was Socrates, both as an historical figure and as the philosopher we know from Plato. Three of the essays we include in this collection are revisions of presentations at the conference — those by McPherran, Reeve, and White. Three others came to our attention at about the same time, and we invited their authors to contribute them to this volume : one by Richard Kraut, whose Socrates and the State ( 1984) continues to be one of the most widely read books on Socrates ; one by a younger scholar who has now published a number of papers on Socrates, Asli Gocer ; and one by Paul Woodruff, which grew as a response to ideas presented at the workshop. These three essays, and those by McPherran, Reeve, and White from the conference appear for the first time in this collection.

We are supplementing these new essays with selections from three previously published books that represent recent scholarship on the topic. Gregory Vlastos set the agenda for much of the recent discussion of Socrates and religion in chapter 6 of his Socrates : Ironist and Moral Philosopher (1991). Robert Parker’s magisterial overview of historical issues should be required reading for any philosopher venturing on this ground ; it is chapter 10 of his Athenian Religion ( 1996). Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith have taken an influential position in chapter 6 of their Plato’s Socrates ( 1994), and this provides important context for the new essays.

We include also an edited version of a four-way correspondence recently collected in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, which has never been published. It represents scholars who have published wellknown work on Socrates and religion — Vlastos, McPherran, Brickhouse and Smith — but who have not published the detailed arguments that appear here on the importance to Socrates of his daimonion or inner voice.

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