Socrates was well-known among the Greeks as the old man who lived the life of an ascetic and taught younger Athenians to ask questions. Socrates and his friends believed truth to exist and they tried mightily to find it. The group discussed such questions as "What is justice?" and "What is it to die?"
The transcripts of these conversations, as rendered by Plato, have served as a foundation of European and American philosophy ever since. However, the vast majority of people know nothing of Socrates, and if they did, it would mean nothing to them. The Socratic texts are divorced from passion. They are, in the most emphatic sense, Platonic. It was Socrates that said, "I am the wisest man alive for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."
Socrates was aware of humans as irrational beings. It is the interaction between human weakness with the immutable ideals that mankind is apt to saddle itself with that is examined in Sherwood Anderson's classic Winesburg, Ohio.
A good number of the problems of the world have their root in the fact that men decide that they have arrived at the truth, and, after reaching total conviction, ignore the world around them. I have done as much on a number of occasions. I own many books. They fill four cases and spill on to the floor of the closet; they line the walls. I have spent years reading these books, and often I find them to be true, within the context of the themselves.
But the world of books is not the real world; it is a world that the author has manufactured in such a way that whatever the author thinks to be true will be true. The warp and woof of reality is twisted to right angles, turned to nonsense, laden with symbols of symbols. "Or am I mad, my father, and did I weave these visions from the woof of my madness? I do not know, but it is true that I seemed to see them" (Haggard).
The human is the great mystery of any work of art. In the dream land of the fictional work, he sees the symbols that have been laid before him, like the monoliths of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, and touches them, and becomes different; enlightened (as in 2001) or destroyed, deluded or disillusioned. The symbol is strong, but man is weak.