Wisdom Books: Confucius and Socrates: Teaching Wisdom by Sanderson Beck

This detailed study of the lives and teachings of Confucius and Socrates compares how and what they taught in order to help others to become wiser. The appendix includes English translations of ancient texts describing their teaching in action.


An excerpt taken from the introduction of the book Confucius and Socrates: Teaching Wisdom:

Confucius and Socrates were outstanding examples in humanistic education, and by studying their lives and pedagogy in detail, we may gain a greater understanding of what good humanistic pedagogy is. Because there was no known influence between Chinese and Hellenic culture before 400 BC, these can be treated as independent case studies. Both of these men spent their lives learning and seeking wisdom and the good life. What was wisdom and goodness for Confucius and Socrates, and how did they attempt to realize them themselves and help others to achieve them also? By examining the actions, manner, methods, and subjects of discussion for each of them, it will then be possible to compare them to each other and to formulate key principles and techniques which were successful for them. Many of these may be applicable today by formal teachers and informal seekers of greater wisdom and a better life. An underlying assumption is that human nature has not changed too much in the last 2500 years. In spite of the accumulation of culture and the advance of technology, the fundamental ethical problems of right and wrong, justice, goodness, self-knowledge, and the improvement of character still persist.

Both Confucius and Socrates used a conversational style, and with the recent increase of leisure time and the advent of radio and television interviews, which for many people are beginning to replace some of the burden of reading, dialogs are as important today as ever. As to the importance of this study, what could be more valuable than to learn how to improve one’s life? Confucius and Socrates have inspired countless men and women over two dozen centuries; a description of what they were doing may not only be able to inspire readers today to pursue a better life, but it may give some perceptive readers tools they can use to stimulate and assist others to greater wisdom.

 

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