The Last Days of Socrates and Siddhartha are sources that reveal information about religious or philosophical ideas in the cultures that they focus on. While vast differences exist between the Greek and Indian values that shape their philosophies, they make similar assumptions as they attempt to make sense of the world. Understanding the dichotomous relationship of the soul and the body is integral to grasping the similarities and differences between the classical Greek and Indian paths because the way in which these concepts are understood defines the very nature of truth.
Socrates, the main character in The Last Days of Socrates, and Siddhartha, the central figure in Siddhartha, are both portrayed as learned men searching for truth. The author of The Last Days of Socrates, Plato, conceived the document as a representation of Socrates' method of inquiry. Although it is a primary source from the period (429-347 B.C.E.), the reader must consider that The Last Days of Socrates is a re-creation of events that may have happened, not a verbatim account. Siddhartha is a secondary source that explains an Indian philosophical journey through the perspective of a twentieth century German author. Thus, one must consider the author's bias towards his subject and remember that the ideas presented are one scholar's interpretation of the legend. By attempting to compare and contrast both sources' approaches to truth, one can make some observations about the way Greek and Indian cultures view truth; keeping in mind that the sources each merely represent one account of the historical events and ideas.
Intrinsic to Siddhartha and Socrates' searche...
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...th. By becoming aware of the separation of the soul and the body, the indestructible and immortal nature of the soul, and the impossibility of the soul understanding truth while bound to the body, one can begin to understand how this dichotomy has shaped Indian and ancient Greek philosophy.
Baumer, Franz. Hermann Hesse. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1970.
Field, G.W. Hermann Hesse. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1970.
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Dover Publications, 1998.
Plato, The Last Days of Socrates. Trans. Hugh Tredennick and Harold Tarrant. London: Penguin, 1993.
Welch, Carolyn Roberts. Cliff's Notes on Hesse's Steppenwolf and Siddhartha. Lincoln: Cliff's Notes Inc., 1973.
Ziolkowski, Theodore. The Novels of Hermann Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965.
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