So Socrates was pretty fond of the idea of reincarnation, the soul, the inferior material objects and bodily matter around us. Would his idea of the soul fit into the theory of evolution, a theory pretty much entirely based on matter and biology? Would the soul play a part of evolution? Would Socrates agree with Darwin- but alter his theory to suit his own ideas? Socrates was not afraid of death in the Phaedo, this obviously does not fit into the animalistic instinct to thrive to survive, but what would he say to defend statements like that?

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    Evolution is not new or unique to Western science or needs only materialism to explain it. Evolution of one species into another was first explained in Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, several thousand years ago. It differs from classical Darwinian evolution as it explains evolution as the 'infilling' of nature and not a survival of the fittest. Jul 29, 2017 at 4:30
  • And would he approve of the theory?
    – Narcissus
    Jul 29, 2017 at 8:52
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    Socrates may have embraced Stoicism, a hellenistic philosophy which was ethically strongly influenced by Socrates's example and teachings, but metaphysically was naturalistic and materialist. Jul 29, 2017 at 18:49
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    It seems unlikely that Socrates was materialistic in any sense of the word, but he may have been naturalistic. I feel the swami is correct, Mutation and selection are a new idea but the principle of evolution is as old as the hills. There seems no reason why Socrates would have had to change his views in any major way to accommodate Darwin's theories. I suspect he would have choked on neo-Darwinism. .
    – user20253
    Aug 5, 2017 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


We don't know what Socrates would have said about modern evolutionary theory because he makes no real mention of about any form of evolution; it's not outside the bounds of possibility that he had made remarks on evolution but they simply weren't recorded in the dialogues by Plato (which accounts for much of what we know about Socrates philosophy) since there is a short remark by Aristotle on the notion of random change and selection in evolutionary biology - which he dismisses because of the lack of a telos.

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