Christopher Philips: Socrates in Love

Phillips, Christopher. Socrates in Love: Philosophy for a Passionate Heart (New York: WW Norton, 2007)

Christopher Phillips' Socrates in Love (which follows his Socrates Café and Six Questions of Socrates) is another highly readable--and very enjoyable--romp through philosophy's popularization. Phillips writes about the five types of love, as defined by the Greeks: eros (romantic/sexual), storge (familial), xenia (stranger), philia (communal/friendship), and agape (self-sacrificial/unconditional).

From the African National Congress to the US Army, from Shakespeare to Sun Tzu, Phillips draws from an incredible variety of sources in order to enliven his dialogues. He asks the "big questions" during a blackout in New York City, in a tent at a Billy Graham crusade, in Soweto, and in Hiroshima.

Despite the book's many pluses, though, Phillips goes astray in this passage:

A famous Quran sura stresses that the ink of scholars is more valuable than the blood of martyrs. (p. 193)

Wikiquote observes that the quotation "The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr" found neither in the Quran nor Sunni hadith, but it is found in Shia hadith. It is declared by Sunnis to be a fabricated hadith in "100 Fabricated Ahadith" by Shaikh Abdullah Faisal, and in "52 Weak Ahadith" by Ibrahim B. Syed.

Murad Hoffman's Islam: The Alternative provides this version:

On the Day of Judgement the ink of the scholars and the blood of the religious martyrs will be weighed--and the ink of the scholars will weigh more than the blood of the martyrs. (p. 30)

Hoffman sources it as follows:

Kanz al 'Ummal, Vol. 10, hadiths 28899-28902; Abdulkadir Karahan, Kirk Hadis, Istanbul 1991, Hadith 22, p. 52
I'm not about to weigh the Sunni and Shia hadith against each other, as I think this trail already leads far enough afield. (In the spirit of his "Socrates Café," I suspect that Phillips would approve.)

Phillips' website
Society for Philosophical Inquiry


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