Short introduction

Reading about Socrates I found he was more or less Orphic in his beliefs.

He believed in the indestructibility of mind or life after dead. Also in certain ascetic life. On the other hand, Socrates disbelieved about rituals of purification that the Orphics used to practice.


What were the beliefs of Socrates in the above sense?


The book where I took information is 'history of Western philosophy ' by Bertrand Russell.

1 Answer 1


Too little is known about the philosophical and religious beliefs of the historical Socrates, which are known to us mainly through the writings of Xenophon and Plato, to assign Orphic origins to any of his beliefs.

It is widely thought that the early Socratic dialogues of Plato reflect the historical Socrates' actual views or something very close to them but even this is unprovable. We don't know what Socrates believed except insofar as these views are refracted through the lens of a philosophical genius, Plato, and the intellectually pedestrian figure of Xenophon. (Which is not to dismiss Xenophon as a worthless witness.)

Russell at his best was a philosopher of immense greatness. Russell as a historian of Western philosophy is no safe guide. Try C.C.W. Taylor, 'Socrates - A Very Short Introduction', Oxford, 2000. This at least is the work of a philosopher, historian and Greek scholar. Our knowledge of Socrates is too frail a web to be handled by Russell's rough fingers.

  • Even what you say was said by Russell also. But the book seems quite interesting. Thanks for the answer.
    – user29573
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 23:29

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