For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Socrates and Jesus: The Dialogue that Shaped Western Civilization
  • Michael E. Hattersley
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Socrates and Jesus: The Dialogue that Shaped Western Civilization.
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This book argues that the uniquely dynamic and propulsive character of Western Civilization, for better and worse, has been generated by a creative argument between the Socratic Greek rationalist tradition and the Judeo Christian tradition best personified by Jesus.Socrates and Jesus both promoted a disinterest in material things, attempted to define the moral life, and died martyrs. But this essay analyzes their opposing definitions of the ultimate or the divine, their radically conflicting views of love and reason, their understanding of civil society and the role of laws, their epistemology (how we know) and eschatology (the ultimate purpose of the universe), and their fundamental understanding of how humankind could progress.

About the Author

Michael Hattersley received his doctorate in 1976 from Yale University and has taught literature and communications at a variety of institutions including the Harvard Business School.

He has previously published a volume of poetry, Cape Cod Light, a standard textbook, Management Communication, and scores of articles on literature, communication, and western cultural history.

About the Book
Socrates and Jesus provides an overview of Western cultural development from the ancient Greeks to the current time. It opens with chapters on the historical Socrates and Jesus, then discusses how their legends developed and went into competition...
Socrates and Jesus provides an overview of Western cultural development from the ancient Greeks to the current time. It opens with chapters on the historical Socrates and Jesus, then discusses how their legends developed and went into competition for control of the ancient world. It examines subsequent Western history the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Romantic era, and the modern period and finds that the contrasting visions of Socrates and Jesus about how to pursue moral and scientific truth alternately clashed and compromised with each other, the apparent triumph of one always leading to the resurgence of the other. It identifies this dynamic as the engine of western history, distinguishing it in terms of energy, inquisitiveness, individuality, and a propensity towards mass democracy, from equally great but more static and hierarchical civilizations.Thus the book offers a comprehensive but concise theory of Western history, grounded in scholarly examination of the West's greatest intellects but written in a lively narrative style accessible to a broad range of educated readers. Many books have been written comparing Socrates and Jesus, but virtually all of these have either stressed their similarities (Paul Gouch's Reflections on Jesus and Socrates), used them in service of theological arguments (Nygren's Agape and Eros) or both. This book uniquely sticks to the historical evidence, emphasizes Socrates' and Jesus' creative conflict, and maintains that their dialogue was the dynamic that drove the historical development of Western civilization.Bestseller lists tend to be dominated by thrillers and mysteries while other genres are squeezed out, but biographies and historical surveys also make a strong showing. Jared Diamond's and Camille Paglia's, arguments between atheism and faith bring an examination of our past to bear on our present and future. Like those, this book, because of its balanced approach, should appeal to the educated general reader as well as teachers who assign supplementary college texts.
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Pages 200
Year: 2009
LC Classification: B317.H38
Dewey code: 909'.09821' dc22
BISAC: PHI005000 PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
BISAC: PHI022000 PHILOSOPHY / Religious
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-729-8
Price: USD 23.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-730-4
Price: USD 33.95
Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-731-1
Price: USD 33.95
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