THE THEOLOGY – THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL
AND THE MONOTHEISM OF SOCRATES
Researcher – Meditator of
History and Philosophy
The Greek intelligence since the ancient times, observed and examined with respect and awe the phenomena and the manifestations of nature, and thus with its early logic, approached and investigated the divinity, which was expressed, analysed and approached with its perfect intellectual speech . This way, through the ages, they created a superior monotheistic theology as well as a multiple expressive theology, the first for the few, the rulers and the competent ones, who would be able to comprehend and respect it, to preserve and to communicate it to the descendants, and it was represented by the officials of the Mysteries, and the second, for all the people, was deaconed and ministered periodically by he elected representatives of the state.
The Greek inquisitive spirit, the logical approach and the interpretation of all, is the reality which makes the great difference, and not the thoughtless and the so called dogmatic, apocalyptic and redeeming faith, which is expressed by a small oppressing party of clergymen and privileged representatives of god on earth.
Out of the total material that the scientific research uses, since the ancient years to this day, there are no historical facts that result about Socrates’ life and activities. The ascertained and unquestionable facts that are necessary for the establishment of the historical science are scarce. This is why Socrates’ personality always remains for the researchers, an enigma that remains to be solved.
On the other hand, we have a rich and with a great variety tradition on Socrates, and so we can easily claim that we have a legend, moulded and given to us by his admirers, especially his students, his censurers and even his prosecutors. The main reason that we do not have ascertained material, is because Socrates «ουδέν έγραψε» (wrote none).
The Theology, the Daemonium and the Immortality of the Soul, according to Socrates’ conception, have become known to us through the works of his students, since it is common knowledge that he himself, left nothing in writing, as no work of his has been found. Furthermore, no reference whatsoever is made to any written works of his, by other authors.
The students who refer to his work, are mainly Plato and Xenophon. Plato with his superb dialogs and his prosaic works, has made his master immortal and the greatest of all philosophers. The other student is the misunderstood Athenian nobleman, general, politician, writer, historian, Xenophon.
The first, has been immensely influenced by Socrates’ work, but Plato, a great philosopher himself, has on the other hand influenced Socrates’ work through some of his own, even though secondary elements, based on his theological and philosophical ideas, but in general, in his immortal works we find self-same stated, his master’s principles. This can be perceived only by those, who deeply understand and meditate on Socrates’ work.
Xenophon ascribes with greater accuracy the Socratic didascaly, because as an orator, a general, a historian and a politician, he did not develop his own philosophical theories and due to this, his works are an equally important source for the study of the life and of the whole work of Socrates.
We shall study now, some excerpts of his two students’ works, Plato’s and Xenophon’s, in which Socrates characteristically and continuously refers to the existence of one and only God, who was guiding and directing the course of his life. The significations of the “divine” and of the “immortality of the soul”, constitute the basis of the whole Socratic didascaly, on which were founded most of the philosophic systems, theories, social moves, and religions for two thousand four hundred years.
Semantically, Theology means rationality (logos-λόγος) about God or Gods, and according to Socrates, Theology has indeed a double existence (hypostasis), firstly it refers to the existence of a Supreme Creative God, and secondly it refers to the existence of many divine manifestations or divinities which act for the providence of the human world.
The distinction between one god and many gods, is fundamental throughout the whole Ancient Greek philosophy, and yet this important philosophical aspect has not been fully comprehended mostly by foreigners (not Greeks) who study philosophy, and of course this has created from time to time, serious problems of rendering and distorting the whole Socratic didascaly.
Looking back into history and searching, we are ascertained that Socrates was deeply religious, he had a very energetic spirit and he was trying to bring the best out of people, for which he was saying that he had a special command from GOD.
Xenophon writes in his memoires (A’ a, 16): «αυτός αεί περί των ανθρώπων διελέγετο σκοπων, τι Καλόν, τι Αισχρόν, τι Ευσεβές, τι Ασεβές, δι Δλίκαιον, τι Άδικον, τι Σωφροσύνη, τι Μανία, τι Ανδρεία, τι Δειλία, τι Πόλις, τι Πολιτικός, τι Αρχή Ανθρώπων, τι Αρχικός Ανθρώπων;» (he was always speaking about man’s various causes, the Good, the Vile, the Respect, the Disrespect, the Just, the Unjust, the Prudence, the Mania, the Gallantry, the Cowardice, the City, the Politician, the Primordial of man, the Commencement of Men)
According to Socrates, GOD does not philosophize because he possesses wisdom, man though philosophizes as his existence is surpassed.
He was the first to consider the soul as the real substance of man, and virtue as the matter that fulfils the human nature through the pursuit and the amelioration of the soul. These manifestations are more divine than they are god, and they can be approached by man, only through his clear MIND, which he calls divine.
So, he very correctly states that, the intellect is inferior to the Primordial Divinity, as exactly that which is united, is inferior to the ONE, and the mental to the intellect, and the living to the soul, and the most unified always precede the plain ones, while the whole series of the BEINGS, results to the same, the ONE.
Socrates through the works of Plato and of other writers, uses for the greater part the sense of the divine in the singular tense “the GOD” and he does not mean any god from the existing at the time “divinities” which man created at will, but the one Supreme Creator of the universal world, and who has n o relation of similarity with any human or other spiritual entity.
The pre-Socratic «Υλοζωισταί – Hylozoistic» philosophers, made the first serious and logical attempt to approach the divine, a fact which was accessible to the human intellect, and so they named the first and unique creative power of everything, the “God – Θεός” from the verb θέω ( theo =to see – to run at the highest speed), with various names: Anaximandros – the Infinity, Heraclitos – One Wise, Pythagoras – the Number, Xenofanis – One God, the Eleatic school – the Being, Anaxagoras – the Intellect, Embedoklis – Iera Frin / Spheros, Democritos – the Everything, Pindar – the Great Blissful, Aristotelis – The First Kinetic Stagnation.
From all the above, it is effortlessly presumed that the ancient Greek philosophy-theology, is monotheistic.
The Greeks with their intellect proved that the existence and the structure of the universal world, in order to operate, there must exist an utmost rational creative power, that governs and directs everything, that represents only the absolute Virtuous, but that it is unknown as to its substance, because it is without a beginning, infinite, timeless, unborn, immortal and perpetual, because it has no relation or relevance with the evil.
Socrates was accepting that he was teaching by the command of God, and he was phrasing it : «μαιείας ο θεός τε και εγώ αίτιος» - “God makes me help deliver the others (with the ΜΑΙΕΥΤΙΚΗ ΜΕΘΟΔΟΛΟΓΙΑ – with the obstetrics methodology), but prevented me from giving birth myself”.
A unique mission and work of his life, which according to Plato, Socrates considered it to be a will of God, and not of the various popular divinities, was to judge and to control himself and the others. He repeatedly states positively and explicitly, that with this work, he was becoming a collaborator of God, since he wished like He did, that the just and the good were always achieved.
The way he manifests it, the way he experiences it and accomplishes it, is relevant. Socrates lives and controls his thinking and the thinking of others, but the most important is that he turns his thoughts into an everyday work, which is inseparable from his way of living.
For the control and the communication with himself, he uses the internal, the living intellect, LOGOS. For the direct communication with the others, he uses the oral and the living as well as the animated intellect, but never the written form. This is the essence of the Socratic reason. Socrates reflects, discusses and debates. The control that accompanies him, always wakeful, is inspired by an ideal. To make the life of man, homologous, according to the truth, the justice and the divine. He asks and wants for the conscience to acknowledge and to always become identical to itself. For the realization of this work, he asks all the people to participate with no scruples and self-interests.
While Socrates was teaching indefatigably all his life, he was accepting the gods, those who were acknowledged by the official state, and he made sacrifices (offerings) to them, at home and at the public altars. He was praying to the gods to give the “good” because only they knew it. He was always making a point though, that he wanted to have the full and accurate sense of the Divine, the Sacred and the devoutness.
In the place of the popular and naïve faith to the mythical and anthropomorphic – human-like gods (manifestations of the phenomena and the powers of the nature), he puts through the LOGOS –reason the logic and the conscience, ONE PERFECT AND FLAWLESS GOD.
Hew did not want though to make this examination superficially and hastily, but slowly and gradually using the obstetrics methodology – μαιευτική μεθοδολογία, after his teaching had been understood and assimilated, and especially when his conversationalists were ready to follow it.
Furthermore, through his teaching, he developed and popularized the great subject of the existence and of the immortality of the soul, and his condescension regarding his death, is an actual proof of his metaphysical faith.
Socrates taught that the virtue is equal to wisdom from which flow-out all the virtues, because those are the highest good. He contrasted wisdom to all the goods that are considered to be grand in the popular conscience like beauty, wealth, power, body vigor, delight of the senses and other. The greatest proof that Socrates lived according to his teaching, is his pleas (apology) in the course of his trial, and also his behavior while in prison where he remained for thirty days.
While facing his judges he was totally philosophical, he did not beg, he did not cry as other illustrious men had done before him, he did not seek refuge in cheap defense speeches, but instead, he heroically connected his teaching with his actions, emphatically pointing out to his astounded judges, that through his entire life, he was following the command of GOD. And while he remained in prison for a whole month before he was put to death, he did not use unlawful means and ways (Kriton’s suggestion to bribe his barbarian guards, so that he would escape from his unjust condemnation). The greatest of all wise men, set the unique example for all mankind and especially to the young, that it is imperative to enforce the law, even though and unjust law, since during the course of his whole life he wished for, and pursued the perfect city-state-politia (Πολιτεία). Thus, he gave through the ages his heroic example, especially to the corrupt politicians, pointing out: It is better to be treated unjustly instead of being unjust on someone, or to be punished unjustly, instead of escaping the fair punishment.
After all the above, and judging by the total of his didascaly, the conclusion is that Socrates was in all the grandeur and the vast depth of his knowledge, a POSITIVE MONOTHEIST, rejecting indirectly and yet clearly, the beautiful world of the popular Greek faith.
A characteristic monument of the monotheistic faith and conscience of Socrates is his PRAYER, which is mentioned in the Dialogue “Phaedros” (279 b8 c4) by Plato.
«Ω φίλε Παν τέ και άλλοι όσοι τήδε θεοί, δήοιτέ, μοι καλώ γενέσθαι τάνδοθεν,
Έξωθεν δέ όσα έχω, τοίς εντός είναι μοι φίλια.
Πλούσιον δέ νομίζομοι τόν σοφόν.
Το δέ χρυσού πλήθος είη μοι όσον μήτε φέρειν μήτε άγειν δύναιτο,
Άλλος η ο σώφρων.»
“Oh cherished Pan and all you divine powers of this land, bring the beauty inside me (inside my soul) and all the obtained goods cherished in harmony within.
To consider that the wise is the wealthy. And the quantity of my wealth to be such that only a prudent man can carry.”
Here he clearly states and declares the one Pan ( ΕΝ ΤO ΠΑΝ) and the other secondary, good divine powers, that flow out, they exist and always act through the one and only creative source of PAN (ALL, EVERYTHING), the light, of the truth, of the justice of the universal law, that governs ALL (the PAN), and to which the ALL (the PAN) tends.
Athens August 2008