After almost 5 years without posting on this blog, let´s restart in a big style with no one smaller than the father of philosophy Socrates! So what is his connection to Gran Canaria? Probably none except for the fact, that the ancient Greeks knew about the existence of the Canary Islands. No wonder they included the islands in many mysterious legends.
I have always had a need of believing in some higher spiritual principles. When I hit my forties and observed the worldwide events that occurred since 2020 this need became higher than ever. I started to feel like the 21st-century hedonistic style of life doesn´t represent me much. I found refuge in hiking, observing nature, alternative medicines, a healthy lifestyle, my guitar and reading historical books.
Then somehow my intuition drove me to the library of Gáldar in Gran Canaria and I ended up with 6 books about Socrates. I realized how timeless his teaching was and how much we can still learn from him. Unfortunately, there are no books written by Socrates himself but we can get some idea about his teaching from the books of his disciples such as Platón.
Socrates grew up during ancient Athens’s best splendour of the reign of Pericles. He was lucky enough to be born into a well-positioned family, so he didn´t have to work and could dedicate himself to studying and spreading out his thoughts. He loved to speak to the Athenians in the agora and forced them to reflect on things by asking well-thought questions.
Now let me share with you some of his ideas that I strongly identify with. The most important one is his eternal search for the truth, wisdom, the good life and being a good human. No wonder one of his most-known quotes is: “I know that I know nothing”. So let’s regain this blog trying to search for the truth, learning about Gran Canaria, philosophy and about the good life. As he said, we shall be trying to be the best humans we can possibly be.
Another Socrates idea I can´t agree more with is his thought about democracy. In short, he resumed democracy as a system where inexperienced people vote for rulers and these rulers are inexperienced in ruling. Do you think 2400 years later we have learnt from that one?
Socrates lived a very modest life in a small house equipped with the most basic things only. He dressed always in the same old dress and walked barefoot. My favourite historian, Bettany Hughes reveals Socrates’ commentary about the city market: “So many things I don´t need.” Well, we don´t have to go to such an extreme. But in these times of doubtful ecological religions, I think minimalism could make much more difference.
Nevertheless, Socrates’ search for the truth actually brought him death. At the end of his life, Athens was not living the best times. His teaching became undesirable for the new government. I guess if Socrates lived in the 21st century and was a social media influencer, he would be most probably censored or cancelled. He started to be uncomfortable, especially for his impact on young men from wealthy families who loved to attend his lectures. 399 BC he was condemned to death or exile. In those times Athenians thought that living out of Athens was worse than death. So in his reach for truth and honesty, he chose the first option and became one of the first ideological martyrs.
To finish this article about Socrates and his relevance to nowadays life I will use the words of Professor Bettany Hughes again. “The unexamined life is not worth living for a man” he once said. We always have to interrogate who we are, what we are saying and HOW WE LIVE!
Who would like to find out more about Socrates, I recommend hearing the complete speech of Bettany Hughes on Youtube. See you guys in Gran Canaria on my Across the Island Tour and we can discuss more about Socrates 🙂