Mark Vernon

Psychotherapist and writer, London

Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist and writer, and works with the research group Perspectiva. He has a PhD in ancient Greek philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. He is the author of A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling, and the Evolution of Consciousness (2019), and his latest book, Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey, is forthcoming from Angelico Press in September 2021. He lives in London.

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Was the real Socrates more worldly and amorous than we knew?

Mark Vernon

I’m all for complicating the image of Socrates, though mostly because the image that Plato presents is itself full of contradiction, nuance and complication. So, Plato’s is also the Socrates who is rendered speechless by a sexy youth, confesses he doesn’t know much and a priestess he met knew a lot more, and was as tricksterish as a satyr. Modern western intepretators are far too inclined to present a single uniform image of Socrates, though in my view that says more about what the modern western mind seeks than what ancient philosophers were about.

What Plato is doing, I’d say, is using Socrates as a transitional object (to borrow a bit of psychotherapy jargon) - a figure who can ...

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