Socrates Vs Ralph Waldo Emerson

1061 Words5 Pages
At one point or another everyone encounters a situation where their morals are put into question. What is right and what is wrong? Which action should I take? Should I stay the course that I believe is right or should I compromise? These questions can stem from trivial daily matters to life and death scenarios. How one proceeds in that situation depends on their own moral code and that differentiates from person to person. In the 19th century Ralph Waldo Emerson published Self Reliance, an essay where he entails his own set of beliefs on how one should conduct their life. In the essay Emerson describes that a person should rely solely on their own beliefs and convictions, not to compromise for any reason. Emerson is speaking in large part about…show more content…
Throughout the four dialogues that make up Socrates’ story, we see clear parallels to Emerson’s self reliant doctrine. There are clear instances when Socrates is seemingly following Emerson’s writings to the letter, specifically in the second and third dialogues. By comparing the way of life that Emerson proclaimed and Socrates practiced, we see an underlying stance on integrity permeate in the works. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance we see how his stance on life is mirrored by Socrates’ integrity and actions in Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates. When looking at the ways in which Emerson’s essay defines self reliance, one aspect that is continually brought up is the idea of nonconformity. Emerson believed quite strongly that the…show more content…
After being wrongly sentenced to death Socrates waits to be executed in a cell. There he is given the chance to escape and be free by a man named name Crito, yet he continually denies himself freedom. Socrates’ denial of freedom is both a statement on his strong integrity and extension of Emerson’s self reliance because it highlights another aspect of Emerson’s philosophy, virtue. In Emerson’s essay he saw that each man should be at one with his virtues. That to be self reliant one must hold themselves to their highest standard to be satisfied with life, “My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady” (Emerson 22). To be content in your own way is the basis for happiness in Emerson’s self reliant philosophy and it is one that Socrates reverberates while incarcerated. Socrates’ uncompromising integrity does not allow him to give into the primal need of preserving his life and escaping his execution because of the fact that it would be an internal betrayal. Even when condemned by the fallacy of society Socrates acts in a self reliant fashion and saying that if one in his position were to flee then, “You are behaving like the lowest slave, trying to run away in spite of the contracts and undertakings by which you agreed to act as a member of our state” (Plato 93). Socrates is not

    More about Socrates Vs Ralph Waldo Emerson

      Open Document