Founders

#252 Socrates: A Man for Our Times

Episode Summary

What I learned from reading Socrates: A Man for Our Times by Paul Johnson.

Episode Notes

What I learned from reading Socrates: A Man for Our Times by Paul Johnson.

[0:54] I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates. — Steve Jobs In His Own Words by George Beahm. (Founders #249)

[1:20] Churchill by Paul Johnson. (Founders #225)

Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson. (Founders #226)

Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson. (Founders #240)

[2:07] It’s fascinating how great entrepreneurs would arrive at similar conclusions even though they lived at different times in history, they lived in different parts of the world, and they worked in different industries.

[3:43] It was Confucius's view that education was the key to everything.

[4:57] Socrates was in no doubt that education was the surest road to happiness.

[7:05] Alexander the Great: The Brief Life and Towering Exploits of History's Greatest Conqueror--As Told By His Original Biographers by Arrian, Plutarch, and Quintus Curtius Rufus (Founders #232)

[8:43] It is immoral to play at earning one's living. —Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie (Founders #199)

[9:40] Socrates was never a bore—far from it.

[11:12] Excellence is the capacity to take pain. —Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp. (Founders #184)

[11:25] No discomfort seemed to dismay him.

[12:36] A healthy body is the greatest of blessings.

[14:50] Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Commonwealth and its empire last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. —Winston Churchill

[15:18] An incredible paragraph: It was Pericles' gift to transmute Athenian optimism into a spirit of constructive energy and practical dynamism that swept through this city like a controlled whirlwind. Pericles believed that Athenians were capable of turning their brains and hands to anything of which human ingenuity was capable-running a city and an empire, soldiering, naval warfare, founding a colony, drama, sculpture, painting, music, law, philosophy, poetry, oratory, education, science and do it better than anyone else.

[16:26] Robber barons like Henry Flagler (Founders #247) and Rockefeller (#248) believed you could be a master of fate too.

[18:41] Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership by Edward Larson. (Founders #251)

[21:20] His deepest instinct was to interrogate. The dynamic impulse within him was to ask and then use the answer to frame another question.

[22:27] I don’t want to skip over how important that sentence is: He made the people he questioned feel important.

[22:39] Mary Kay would teach her salespeople that everyone goes through life with an invisible sign hanging around his or her neck reading, “make me feel important.” —Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer. (Founders #20)

[25:18] He was extremely interested in how things were done by experts. Craftsmanship fascinated him. He accumulated a good deal of information concerning products and processes.

[27:48] There's just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. —Steve Jobs

[28:21] He wants to show that on almost any topic the received opinion is nearly always faulty and often wholly wrong. Socrates was always suspicious of the obvious. The truth is very rarely obvious.

[29:39] Be suspicious of the obvious.

[29:47] What is particularly liberating about Socrates is his hostility to the very idea of there being a right answer.

[30:21] This denial of independent thought by individuals was exactly the kind of mentality he spent his life in resisting.

[39:10] Intense competition generated artistic and cerebral innovation on a scale never before seen in history, but also envy, spite, personal jealousies, and vendettas.

[42:14] We have to accept that Socrates was a curious mixture of genuine humility and obstinate pride.

[44:42] Socrates in prison, about to die for the right to express his opinions, is an image of philosophy for all time.

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