I'm having trouble understanding why Did Jesus try to copy Socrates? got closed. I read it as a question about the influence of a philosopher on 'something else' (and that 'something else' is sometimes described as a philosopher, e.g. by Thomas Jefferson). We have had other questions that asked about philosophy's influence on other developments, for example How was the rationale for Nazism built up in the academia (especially the philosophy departments)? and What is Kant's effect on modern culture, beyond philosophy?.

Conifold's comment on the question we talk about now, "How is this a question about philosophy?" received three upvotes but does not explain the issue. I replied to it:

[I]t asks about the influence on a philosopher on something. The something is considered a philosopher by some as well (thinking of the Jefferson bible, for example). But I agree that it is borderline.

Sure, there are several things you may have to say about the question, but how it is off-topic I don't see. Thoughts?

  • (All aspects of the debate about this question that has been going on aside) Personally I voted to close it because I believe that there's no way there can be even a soft objective answer to the question. Are all of the people whose names appear as people who voted to close the ones who voted for that specific close reason? I feel like I voted to close for the 'subjective' reason and if I voted to close for it being off-topic that was a mistake.
    – Not_Here
    May 5, 2017 at 8:37
  • Only the most-voted reason is shown, I have always found that a pity. Thank you for your explanation. I personally believe a lot can be said using text criticism, although unless there has already been research into this it would be too broad...
    – user2953
    May 5, 2017 at 8:41
  • That explains it then and you are welcome. I think that there is probably some commentary about the similarities between Jesus and Socrates but I think that this specific question requires a lot of nuance. It's one thing to ask about the similarities between them as literary characters but its another to ask about their similarities as actual people. I think that there is too much of a question as to even the most basic details of their lives as historical figures for this to have a substitute answer, personally speaking.
    – Not_Here
    May 5, 2017 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


It seems to me that the question, as worded, is about Socrates's influence on Jesus's life, as opposed to, say, his thought. As such, it doesn't have much to do with philosophy. I do agree that a slightly different version, perhaps with emphasis on teachings, thought, etc., could be on topic. (Here's an example for a similar question that I think is on topic.)

  • 3
    Of the 12 points called out in the question, none of them really touch on the people's philosophy, they're all biographical.
    – Dave
    May 5, 2017 at 14:18
  • 2
    Yeah, this phrasing further solidifies the off topic aspect of the question in my mind. "Did Kripke like his coffee black because of Russell?" Is not a question about philosophy.
    – Not_Here
    May 5, 2017 at 22:04

Simple: hermeneutical speculation regarding fictional characters has as much relevance to philosophy (read: respect for obtaining knowledge) as literary criticism, gossip and soliciting agreement with sentiment, i.e. none.

  • Please note: you are free to use it as such but the down vote is intended to convey that an answer is not useful, not that you disagree with the answer. Please learn the difference.
    – MmmHmm
    May 5, 2017 at 8:03
  • 1
    I both disagree with your answer and find it not useful, because it misses the point. Even if you see Jesus as a fictional character, you can read the question as "Where the authors of the gospels and letters influenced by writings about Socrates?".
    – user2953
    May 5, 2017 at 8:05
  • @Keelan In the words of Wittgenstein, of course "even our greatest stupidities may be very wise" and despite (to spite?) the love of wisdom you've also question why I would answer a question I'd voted to close... Do you realize that your interpretation of the question has nothing whatsoever to do with the question that was asked? Regardless, I thank you for once again demonstrating how you attempt to abuse the site to advance your own agenda.
    – MmmHmm
    May 5, 2017 at 8:15

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