Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Socrates' Progeny: Krauthammer

A footnote from the estimable humanist, Fr. James Schall, SJ.

Krauthammer speculates on the reason why he was invited. ...If someone of that journalist’s stature were there (Krauthammer also holds a medical degree from Harvard), it would cast an aura of legitimacy over this most dubious presidential decree.

And as we all know, Krauthammer decided not to go to the ceremony.

Krauthammer’s dissection of the White House’s calculation is something that particularly drew my interest. As I thought about it, the scene reminded me of something. Of course, it was the famous case in the “Apology of Socrates.”

...The local rulers commanded Socrates to cross to the island of Salamis to pick up a certain Leon, an admiral. He was to be returned and executed for failing his duty in a naval battle.
Athenian law required that bodies of the dead (they were not interested in stem cells in those days) were to be returned for proper burial. The episode has a kind of prophetic import. By commanding Socrates and four other gentlemen to go over to pick up Leon, the authorities sought to implicate them in the executions. Socrates’ participation would implicitly make the act seem moral.

Socrates thought the trial that had condemned Leon was illegal. Athenian citizens had to be tried individually, not in a group, as had happened in this case. When the other four came to collect him to go over to grab Leon, Socrates told them to go on. In a famous phrase, he tells us that instead “he went home.”

That is, Socrates would not participate in such an illegal act. ...

A bit of knowledge which is trivia, but NOT 'trivial.'

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