Why Hemlock and Hedgehogs?

Socrates was charged with the crime of “corrupting the youth of Athens.” He encountered a bit of trouble for his honest pursuit of truth. Athens was overrun by rhetoricians that used their eloquence to manipulate and exploit the populace. In opposition to this Athenian corruption, Socrates launched one of the most influential campaigns in history. His goal was to single-handedly dismantle and overthrow the corrupt powers of his day by showcasing their ignorance to the world.

Socrates challenged the most powerful and influential figures by tactfully engaging them in discussions that involved an unexpected yet clever interrogation. After a while, these highly regarded figures were reduced to bumbling idiots, in front of their followers, all due to Socrates’ “innocent” questions. 

Socrates gained quite a following. He held the title, “The Wisest Man in Athens.” However, he did not gain this title by having a wealth of knowledge. Quite the opposite. Socrates was the wisest man in Athens because he was the only one aware of his own ignorance. In order to gain knowledge, you must first admit ignorance, and Socrates slowly showed the vast ignorance of those who claimed to know the most.  But you don’t challenge and embarrass the powers-that-be without some consequences. After a while, Socrates was put on trial by the very people that he perturbed. He was sentenced to death by drinking hemlock. In a tragic moment of resolute dedication, Socrates drank the poison.

 "The Death of Socrates" by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

"The Death of Socrates" by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

Socrates haunts me. He reminds me of the consequences of a relentless and uncompromising pursuit of justice and truth. The wisdom of admitting ignorance and the selflessness of devotion. He pursued truth. He sought justice. He drank the hemlock. 

Hemlock symbolizes the selfless devotion to truth and justice that Jesus calls his followers to embody. True commitment to Christ requires self-denial, sacrifice and an openness to how we should embody Christ's commands each moment, even if that means drinking poison at the end of the day. 

So why the Hedgehogs part?

While this blog will address a wide range of topics that are pertinent to philosophy and Christianity, it will primarily focus on a major justice issue that, unfortunately, has not received as much attention in Christian discourse: animal ethics. Thus “Hedgehogs” because, well… they are animals… and putting their name next to “Hemlock” makes for some great alliteration. Plus they’re adorable. That’s pretty much it.


About The Author

Jacob Quick is an animal-loving Texan who currently lives in Belgium with his wife, Annie, where he attends KU Leuven as a Ph.D. student in philosophy. After graduating high school, Jacob attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where he received a bachelors degree in theology. After Moody, he earned his masters in analytic philosophy at Northern Illinois University. Jacob relocated with his wife to Belgium to attend KU Leuven, where he earned an advanced research masters in continental philosophy. Jacob's current academic research focuses on the philosopher Jacques Derrida and his understanding of human/animal differences, and how Derrida's approach to animals is embodied in contemporary art. Jacob loves teaching, watching American football, traveling with Annie, drinking Dr. Pepper, and meeting people. You can follow Jacob on Twitter here



Questions? Comments? Complaints? Feel free to contact Jacob at hemlockandhedgehogs@gmail.com.