Socrates and self-confidence

A presentation by Alain de Botton.

On April 12th, I introduced to you, dear reader, the philosopher, Alain de Botton. I promised that I would soon give you more.

On Top Documentary Films, there are links to all six parts of a series on philosophy presented by this popular British philosopher  featuring six thinkers who have influenced history, and their ideas about the pursuit of the happy life.

The first part is about Socrates; Socrates and self-confidence.  But before linking to that specific programme, a little about this enigmatic man, Socrates, who lived about 2,500 years ago (469–399 B.C.E).  Here’s an extract from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

The philosopher Socrates remains, as he was in his lifetime (469–399 B.C.E.), an enigma, an inscrutable individual who, despite having written nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. All our information about him is second-hand and most of it vigorously disputed, but his trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy is nevertheless the founding myth of the academic discipline of philosophy, and his influence has been felt far beyond philosophy itself, and in every age. Because his life is widely considered paradigmatic for the philosophic life and, more generally, for how anyone ought to live, Socrates has been encumbered with the admiration and emulation normally reserved for founders of religious sects—Jesus or Buddha—strange for someone who tried so hard to make others do their own thinking, and for someone convicted and executed on the charge of irreverence toward the gods. Certainly he was impressive, so impressive that many others were moved to write about him, all of whom found him strange by the conventions of fifth-century Athens: in his appearance, personality, and behavior, as well as in his views and methods.

Full entry may be read here, and very interesting it is, by the way.

Anyway, back to the programme from Alain de Botton.  The part on Socrates is introduced thus,

Why do so many people go along with the crowd and fail to stand up for what they truly believe? Partly because they are too easily swayed by other people’s opinions and partly because they don’t know when to have confidence in their own.

You can either watch the video by clicking here, or view it as three sections from YouTube, as follows.

3 thoughts on “Socrates and self-confidence

  1. arrh pity… these video’s are blocked here in the UK due to copyright laws.. from Channel 4.
    Many I think go along with the crowd for they are affraid to stand up and be themselves.Sooner being and molding themselves into that which they think others wish them to be..
    Its far easier to blend with your mates and agree, than to stand up for a belief and be different..

    It took me along while to understand that I was slightly different.. and an even longer time to Admit that to those I worked along side… But once one is Honest with yourself.. you will see there is really Nothing one has to fear…
    The biggest Fear is in Doubting yourself… Once you have over come that…
    We Fly…………… 🙂


  2. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all pro-fascist. pro-plutocratic philosophers, hence their enduring popularity with the oligarchies. They may have contributed just enough, with their evil influence on the Athenian oligarchy, to cause the fall of (Athenian) democracy. Nothing to admire too much. Moreover, Socrates died, apparently considering life was a disease, or his own mind was sick, he should be thankful to the appropriate god.

    Preceding and following Socrates were much deeper thinkers, who also knew how to write (not the case of the vagabond leech…).


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