Volume 40, Issue Supplement, 2015
Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy
The Socratic Phronesis Today
One can say that the historical Socrates cannot be interpreted as an “intellectualist” and an “enemy of life.” On the contrary: Socrates’s actuality lies precisely in the fact that wisdom implies knowledge of one’s own ignorance, the self-birthing and the daily improvement of myself using all the rational and irrational potentialities of life.
This conception of the ethical soul in Socrates can be compared today with the moral brain of neuroscience, which is understood in its integral unity as the locus of the body-soul in its complex unity: reason-emotion-instinct.
However, in spite of the analogies, there is a clear opposition between the Socratic encephalon and the moral brain of neurobiology. The Socratic one is free, internal, personal. The neuronal can be induced and manipulated through technology. The Socratic lesson is that virtue cannot be taught—and even less artificially provoked—from the outside. Nevertheless, in today’s world, we cannot think about ethics without both: Socrates as well as the advances in neuroethics.