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Dateline Athens: I.F. Stone Reopens The Socrates Case
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Washington, D.C.
Author: Bloom, Allan
Date: Feb 14, 1988
Start Page: x.01
Section: BOOK WORLD

Actually, in spite of the journalistic pose, [Stone] is in Greece on a mission, having had a clear view of wwat he wants to do before he went. He wants to cleanse Athens of the Socratic blood guilt. Athens is a tragic protagonist, having itself violated what it holds most dear, its sacred principle of free speech. Socrates and his propagandists, Plato and Xenophon, succeeded in making Athens look bad to all later times. Socrates poses as the disinterested seeker for the truth, the man trying to turn from the darkness of the cave to the light of the sun, brought down by the prejudice of the city. Stone turns this around: Athens sought the truth and was tricked by the duplicitous Socrates. He really did engage in a conspiracy to discredit democratic openness and succeeded in getting Athens to betray itself. Lesson: philosophic detachment is inauthentic, a snare and a delusion. The thinker must be a participant in the progressive struggle of the people against the dark forces of reaction. History is the triumph of reason; distancing oneself from it in order to be reasonable is unreasonable and merely disguises old class interests. The true philosopher is engag'e or committed. Thus Stone is Socrates' accuser, the voice of Athens now become fully self-conscious and philosophic.

HERE STONE really is an investigator, not however a reporter but an employee of the House un-Athenian Activities Committee. Mostly the suspicions turn around those young men, influenced by Socrates' anti-democratic harangues, who later turned against Athens. Stone hesitates and is unclear as to whether Socrates was organizing a pro-Sparta plot or was teaching the truth as he saw it, which resulted accidentally in the corruption of the youth. The former would be a crime; the latter a mistake, or so it would seem. Actually, it peeps through that Stone is more exercised by the possibility of philosophic detachment, thus giving unconscious witness to Socrates' assertion that that is the crime the people cannot understand or accept. Stone cannot contain his indignation at Socrates' lack of compassion and his indifference to the city's broils. He is not a good citizen (or, for that matter, a good husband).

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