Socrates’ Demonic Sign
Indiana Philosophical Association Fall Meeting
Earlham College, Indiana
In Plato’s texts, and especially in the Apology, the Platonic Socrates refers to a daimonion, or daimonion sēmeion (demonic sign) that appears only to contradict Socrates in some course of action on which he is about to embark. Socrates infers, as well, that its not interfering is a sign that what he is doing is right. I argue that the Socrates’ daimonion is not a divine spirit in its own right, i.e., the Greek daimōn. Daimonion is used in an adjectival or diminutive sense, describing Socrates’ sign; it is a human reflection of a divinity, the divine in the human, the culmination of Socrates’ participation in the reasoning (logismos) of the divine. As a “demonic man”, Socrates maintains a relation to the divine, having become habituated to the same reasoning.
Charlene Elsby (2015).
Socrates’ Demonic Sign. Presented at Indiana Philosophical Association Fall Meeting, Earlham College, Indiana.