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Greek Philosopher Non-fiction Article
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”- Socrates
Socrates (c. 469-399 B.C.) (Greek name : Sokratis – Σωκράτης) , perhaps the most noble and wisest
Athenian to have ever lived. In his use of critical reasoning, by his unwavering commitment to truth, and
through the vivid example of his own life, fifth-century Athenian Socrates set the standard for all
subsequent Western philosophy.
Our best sources of information about Socrates’s philosophical views are the early dialogues of his
student Plato, who attempted there to provide a faithful picture of the methods and teachings of the
Philosophers descend on Athens
Habermas and Eco among those expected for the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy
Socrates a major theme in this year's Congress of Philosophy.
26 Jul 2013
Emma Goulding
In a fitting tribute to the Greek origins of modern philosophical thought, the 23rd World
Congress of Philosophy will be held in Athens from August 4 to August 10.
The congresses are held every five years by the International Federation of Philosophical
Societies in collaboration with one of its member societies. This year's congress focuses on the
theme 'Philosophy as Inquiry and Way of Life' that deals with Socrates' declaration that an
unexamined life is not worth living.
Sponsored by the Hellenic Organising Committee, founded by the Greek Philosophical Society,
the one-week congress will see over 2,000 philosophers from 105 countries convene in the
birthplace of classical philosophy.
Among them, leading minds such as Juergen Habermas, Umberto Eco, Tomas Calvo and
Georgios Anagnostopoulos will be discussing a variety of topics including classical Greek
philosophy, Buddhist philosophy and metaphysics.
The event also hopes to revisit the classical roots of philosophy while addressing modern-day
issues that engage our society in the 21st century - be they religious, economical, political or
Professor of Modern Greek at the University of Sydney, Vrasidas Karalis is in Athens at the
moment to attend the conference, and says modern day crises have made activists new forms of
"The philosopher today is not the lonely individual contemplating the destiny of humanity," he
tells Neos Kosmos.
"Today, the philosopher is an activist who brings ideas and people together, who gathers them
together in the act of articulating suggestions and propositions about what is to be done and what
new ideas can be articulated."
Professor Karalis says a philosopher today isn't restricted to a border, rather they are part of a
global phenomenon that arises both in times of prosperity and in times of crisis.
The conference will aim to fill gaps in philosophical awareness associated with other disciplines
including political, religious, social and economic areas. It will be a chance to reflect on public
discourse about global issues affecting the world today.
Most of the sessions will be held at the philosophy school of the University of Athens.
The highlight of the 2013 Congress will be its Four Special Philosophical Sessions, a series of
meetings which will be held in four historical and philosophically important sites of Athens: the
site of Plato's Academy; the Lyceum as the school of Aristotle; the Pnyx (the hill near the
Acropolis where citizens gathered to host assemblies as early as 507 BC); and Hagia Photine
church on the Ilisus river, where Plato's Phaedrus dialogue took place.
Professor Karalis says ancient Greek philosophy is just as relevant now as it was in its
beginnings and is still a strong influence on modern day philosophers.
"As for contemporary philosophy, nobody can understand how Heidegger, Habermas, Vattimo,
Gadamer and so many other philosophers, think without reference to the ancient Greek
tradition," he says.
"Ancient Greek philosophy still contributes, with its diversity and multiplicity, to the continuous
renewal of thinking all over the world".
Socrates' unexamined life
The conference's theme, Socrates' unexamined life, has much to show about our current way of
The ancient philosopher urged his students to seek a greater meaning to their lives that went
beyond the pursuit of goals such as wealth, material possessions, success and pleasure.
As society has progressed, championing the western ideal of consumerism, Socrates' lesson
seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
"I don't know if any government can ever implement Socrates' declaration," says Professor
"The examined life is a fundamental strategy for emancipation and freedom.
"However, [it] is the only asset that citizens have (or may develop) in order to mobilise
themselves through projects of innovative action and new strategies for self-definition."
A consequence of the Greek crisis has been the so-called brain drain. Many young educated
Greeks have decided to flee the country to find better opportunities in more stable economies,
leaving Greece with a potential lack of future innovation. That could be another reason why the
conference has been chosen to be held in Greece.
"The fact that the conference takes place in Athens is highly symbolic," Professor Karalis
"It shows that in moments of crisis we must always revisit our origins in order to regain our
strength, indeed, our creativity and cultural imaginary."