Socrates’ legacy

I’ve begun reading “The Socrates Express” by Eric Weiner.

Eric Weiner’s style is to take us on a journey around the world and make us smarter about something with a healthy dose of humor along the way. In this book, that something is philosophy. Every chapter in this book is thus about a famous philosopher and their contribution to philosophy.

At the end of a chapter about Socrates, he made an interesting observation. Nearly every great philosopher made their impact by sharing powerful observations about the world and the human condition. They had their own distinct style and approach to making these observations. Some did it with a lot of emotions, others with characteristic pessimism or self deprecation, and so on.

Socrates, however, was unique in only leaving behind a method. Socrates’ legacy isn’t about what he wrote. In fact, he wrote almost nothing. Everything we know about him is thanks to his student Plato,

His legacy, instead, is defined by his approach to thoughtful conversation – the “Socratic method” that relies on questions to spur critical thinking.

It is a powerful way to think about legacy. A legacy that is defined by the how instead of the what.