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“It is the greatest good for a man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others…” Socrates, The Apology

Philosophers can get a bad rap—among other things for discussing issues far removed from the exigencies of daily life. This is not surprising, given that many recent philosophers have given up the project of addressing life’s fundamental questions.

Not so with Socrates. He had an uncanny focus on the essential, and a striking combination of boldness and humility. Confident that the fundamental questions can be answered, he was never satisfied with the answers he had. So he kept looking and considering, and this especially by discussing.

Socrates’ discussion of virtue was not academic. It had the urgency of a discussion about how to earn a daily wage, or how to find the way home when lost. All else paled in face of the challenge of how to become the man he knew he should be. And he knew he couldn’t figure it out on his own; or if he ever stopped asking the same questions.

We could expect no more of Socrates than this fidelity in making inquiry into the most burning questions. And even if our daily schedules are more challenging than his, perhaps we should expect no less of ourselves.

The thought of Socrates (c. 469 B.C.-399 B.C.) is known primarily through the writings of his great student Plato. Plato’s Apology gives an account of the trial in which Socrates was condemned to death by an Athenian jury.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

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John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.