Did Socrates really admit to being a jerk?
April 19, 2010 2:47 PM   Subscribe

According to Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols, a "foreigner told Socrates to his face that he ... harbored in himself all the worst vices and appetites. And Socrates merely answered: 'You know me, sir!'" I'd love to know where to read about this encounter if it indeed happened.
posted by ReWayne to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nietzsche takes the anecdote from Cicero, who relates it in the Tusculan Disputations Book 4, section 37, paragraph 80.
posted by Bromius at 3:01 PM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Incidentally, I'm not familiar with Nietzsche's argument here, but I would suspect he's at least tweaking the point of the story. Cicero's point is that while some people are inclined to certain emotions and their minds are thus imperfect, these imperfections can be cured, as Socrates claims to have overcome such faults through reason.
posted by Bromius at 3:07 PM on April 19, 2010

This anecdote comes from Cicero's Tusculan Disputations; you can read a translation, with discussion, of the relevant bits here.
posted by languagehat at 3:08 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Beaten to the punch!)
posted by languagehat at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2010

Here is a bit more on the supposed encounter.

Apparently the anecdote is taken from Phaedo's dialogue "Zopyrus." I can't seem to find it on-line. Incidentally Phaedo was a major character in one of Plato's dialogues and a real philosopher at the time. Unfortunately, my initial research suggests that Zopyrus may not be a authentic work of Phaedo (though it's still authentically ancient) and that the encounter may be fictional.
posted by oddman at 3:23 PM on April 19, 2010

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