The main difference between Socrates and Thoreau was the their views on the relationship between people and government. Socrates believed that the people are work for the government. They are supposed to obey the orders of the government and serve the government to the best of their abilities. On the contrary, Thoreau believed that the people shouldn t do everything the government says. He thought that the government did only bad things such as slavery and wars, and that people didn t need government. Socrates believed that the government made people s lives better, more ordered, and civilized; Thoreau thought the government took things away from the people.
In my opinion, both of these philosophies worked under the special circumstances that Socrates and Thoreau were in; however, neither would work in today s American society. Socrates lived under the democratic Athenian government, which was the first democratic society in the history of mankind. In order for this new system to work, the people fully supported the government and did everything for the good of the society. Socrates philosophies fit these circumstances perfectly. In today s society, Socrates philosophies would be viewed as ridiculous ideas. Because of all the scientific and economic developments, people no longer just focus on making a living and nothing else.
People have time to read newspapers, find out about what the government is doing, and think about whether the things that are going on are right. In another word, nobody would just blindly follow the government. When they feel that the government is doing something to the detriment of the people, they would make their voices heard and try to get it corrected. Also, people nowadays are not doing what s best for the society. They usually do what s best for them. People no longer feel obligated to obey the government and do what s best for the society.
Thoreau was born in the earl 1800 s in a poor family. He went through the whole slavery thing and the Mexican War, so he had a different perspective on things. His self-reliant, almost anti-government philosophies worked under those circumstances. He encouraged people to stop and think, and be self-reliant non-conformists.
However, I do not think his philosophies would work in today s society either because it s a little too extreme. Even though our society is very different from the ancient Athenian society, it s still a democratic society. People are able to voice their opinions and the government is trying to do what s best for the people (well, most of the time). Again, the economic, social and scientific developments have made people s lives better. Thoreau s philosophies would be very unnecessary.
In fact, if everybody followed Thoreau s beliefs, there would be too much unnecessary commotion and uproar. As we can see, both Socrates and Thoreau s philosophies worked well under their special circumstances but would not work in today s society.