Socrates was born about 470 B.C.E. in the midst of the golden age of the most famous city that ever was, Athens, and he lived through its greatest triumphs to its ultimate tragedy. His birth came a decade after an Athenian-led coalition of Greek city-states repulsed an invasion by the mightiest empire of its time, that of Persia. The Athens of his time was not only a great naval power and commercial hub, but the center of the most fascinating combination of political and cultural experimentation the world had ever seen.

More… “Dead Philosopher Walking”

Robert Zaller is a Distinguished University Professor of History at Drexel University.


David Hume turns 300 on May 7. It is fitting, I suppose, that a man so resolutely mortal should be enjoying such immortality. Most of Hume’s contemporaries are long forgotten. Hume, somehow, endures. His old pal Adam Smith (author of The Wealth of Nations), relates that in Hume’s dying days he told his friends, “I have done every thing of consequence which I ever meant to do, and I could at no time expect to leave my relations and friends in a better situation than that in which I am likely to leave them: I therefore have all reason to die contented.”


It was that ancient and ugly Greek, Socrates, who first made the claim that philosophy is a preparation for death. He said it just before taking his hemlock, so we can assume that he was being… More…