Zorba, Socrates, and the Good Life Cover Image

Zorba, Sokrat i dobar život
Zorba, Socrates, and the Good Life

Author(s): Filip Kovačević
Subject(s): Philosophy
Published by: Institut za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju
Keywords: Socrates; Zorba; the good life; the art of living; Eros.

Summary/Abstract: How should one live in order to live well? What are the defining characteristics of the good life? These questions – the perennial concern of classical scholars – have in the last 25 years become the subject of debates in contemporary social and political theory as well. Foucault (1986), Taylor (1989), Kekes (1995), Cottingham (1998) and Nehamas (1998) have all stressed the importance of the “art of living” or “caring for the self” in light of contemporary political and economic developments. This article, as my contribution to the debate, offers the analysis of two models of the “good life”: the one as presented by Plato and embodied in the literary character of Socrates, and the other as presented by Nikos Kazantzakis and embodied in the literary figure of Zorba. In general terms, Socrates advocates the rule of reason and the denigration and submission of the bodily Eros, while Zorba remains suspicious of the mind – “a careful little shopkeeper” – and stresses the significance of bodily experiences as ways of linking oneself with the rest of the uni- verse. Hence in the article I formulate an ethic of sensual Eros by focusing on Zorba’s way of life and contrast it to the Socratic ethics. I conclude that the concern and re- spect for the body, for the house in which Eros dwells, is the necessary a priori for the living of the good life. This way of life is not one that rejects reason altogether, but what it does reject is the desire of reason to monopolize the individual’s life processes.

  • Issue Year: 22/2011
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 193-206
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English