Tag Archives: Socrates

Philosophy matters: Socrates versus Nietzsche

Greetings my friends,
I found the above image on a social media page named “Philosophy Matters”. Now, from what I understand, Nietzsche did indeed call me ugly. But more to the point, he did not agree with my methodology. This disagreement, he expressed, in a fashion that differs from my own point-to-point logic. Perhaps referral to my appearance was metaphorical, or rhetorical — a way to underpin his thoughts about my philosophy. Or perhaps it is what people call an ad-hominem attack.

Would I tell Nietzsche his life is not worth living, even if examined? By the gods, I do not know. It is unlikely he would allow me to examine his life in my usual way — the purpose of which is to help one focus less on bodily desires and more on reason in order to tend to one’s soul and do what’s right, which is the road to happiness. Nietzsche disagreed with this, so it is possible that I may conclude that his life is not worth living.

Back to the image. I wonder why this was posted on “Philosophy Matters” with no accompanying text. It does not look like love of wisdom to me. If philosophy does indeed matter, should we not represent it accurately? Then again, perhaps it is just a joke.

— Socrates

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Socrates’ criticism of the written word

By Socrates

I was never fond of the written word. Why? Because written thoughts are unable to be properly interrogated. Given my belief that the path to knowledge is through dialogue, the written word seems to me to represent something of a semblance of knowledge, but not knowledge itself.

I am also suspicious of people who pretend to have wisdom when they have read written thoughts. People are good at repeating what they have read. People may even give the appearance of great wisdom and knowledge where none exists.

Now, I may be accused of a hypocrisy in recording my thoughts in writing. But, dear reader, I think the manner in which I use the written word is different. With access to the author through this Internet, one can interrogate thoughts and ideas. Dialogue is possible. And this is what I have been enjoying today. I have been learning through dialogue.

Wisdom still eludes me, but I continue to seek it nonetheless.

— Socrates

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The True Life

Alcibiades and Socrates

By Socrates

An admirable man by the name Alain Badiou has written a remarkable book about a charge brought against me back in 399 B.C. I was charged with two heinous crimes: Atheism and Corrupting the youth. The first of those charges may be more precisely described as a refusal to acknowledge the offical gods of Athens, which I refuted by referring to my numerous discussions on the nature of piety.

The second charge was based, I think, on the need to find someone to blame for the behavior of certain people who caused much trouble for Athens — Alcibiades, for example. He spent much time with me before betraying Athens to the Spartans. My accusers concluded that his betrayal was a result of my teachings. But I don’t teach. I simply ask questions and as a result, people learn for themselves how to examine ideas that are generally accepted without question.

Because I thought that rather than corrupting, I had done service to Athens in helping youth learn how to think, I suggested that my punishment should be free food and accommodation for the rest of my life. The jury of 501 regular Athenians did not take kindly to this suggestion. We all know what happened. The decision was that I should be condemned to death.

So what were young people learning from me? Why did it upset the establishment? Alain Badiou has written a worthy book on this, a summary of which can be read here: Applying Socrates to Politics.

— Socrates

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Online addiction

By Socrates

Last week I met an interesting young person who was most distressed. She had been cut off from the Internet and this was causing her anxiety. Her Internet exile was imposed by her parents and her subsequent anxiety, it seems, resulted from her isolation from friends, who themselves remained online. I took it upon myself to help this young person examine her anxiety.

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What is knowledge?

By Socrates

Over the years I have had many conversations with many people. You would be surprised how often certain issues resurface. My relatively recent dialogue with Thomas and Paul bore a remarkable resemblance to a dialogue I had back in Athens. My memory may be fading, but I remember the dialogue. It was with a worthy fellow by the name Theaetetus. The following is a transcript of my dialogue with Thomas and Paul in which we question the nature of knowledge, just as Theaetetus and I did all those years ago.

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Technology, the overstated route to happiness


By Socrates

In my search for wisdom I meet many people. As I converse with them I find that they all seek the same thing: happiness. But when I ask how they intend to achieve their goal of happiness, their answers reveal how elusive it is.

I was recently at a technology market. As I wandered through the exhibit tents, I was struck with what everyone seemed to be selling: happiness. Astonishingly this elusive thing seemed to be available for purchased at a technology market. Now I must be clear, the advertising didn’t use the term “happiness”. However this is clearly what they wanted people to think. I saw displays of people smiling and looking fulfilled, all thanks to their technological aids; iPads, robotic lawnmowers, automated vacuum cleaners, and software to remote control their house.

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Nietzsche’s Birthday

By Socrates

Today is Nietzsche’s birthday. He wasn’t a big fan of my work. He even committed an ad hominem attack against me in his Twilight of the Idols. He tried to refute me by referring to my appearance, calling me the “lowest of the low” because of the way I look. It is true that I am not the most beautiful person on the exterior. But, as I always reminded people, the mere appearance of beauty is not necessarily the same as real beauty. That can only be found in the soul. I would, by extension, suggest that the external appearance of ugliness doesn’t reflect the true nature of the person.

Nietzsche didn’t approve of my approach to philosophy. He thought dialogue was nothing more than cheap entertainment, and he disagreed with my reasoned approach to life–specifically my arguments about how to attain happiness through virtue.

It is a shame I never had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Nietzsche. I would very much like to examine his thoughts…even if he thinks the elenchus method is cheap entertainment.
— Socrates

Filed under Socrates' Meditations

Punishment

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

 

Background

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Socrates is walking through the streets of Western Heights, a small town in the country of New Zealand. Feeling rather hungry, he decides to visit a café for food and coffee. As he is about to enter, he bumps into his old friend Greg, the owner of the café.

Persons of the dialog

Socrates
Greg

 

Socrates: It is good to see you Greg. It has been too long, my friend.

Greg: Two years I think.

Socrates: I remember last time we talked, you told me about your interest in opening your own café. Did you go ahead with this?

Greg: Yes indeed. This is my place. I have been running this café for nearly a year. It’s been hard work, but I think I’m now on top of things.

Socrates: I hear there are long hours involved in running cafés and other such businesses.

Greg: It is a seven-day a week job.

Socrates: If that is the case, it is no surprise that you say it is hard work. You surely deserve to take some time off. Do you employ staff?

Greg: Yes, I have a few part-time employees.

Socrates: Well, perhaps they can take care of business while you have a day off. You can turn a seven-day a week job into a six-day a week job.

Greg: I wish I could, but I can’t rely on the staff. I have had a bad run with employees. On more than one occasion I have caught them stealing from me.

Socrates: I am sorry to hear that, my friend. To suffer an injustice can be a troubling experience. May I ask, what was your response?

Greg: I sacked them. I was very angry. The legal system didn’t give them nearly the punishment they deserved. People get off lightly these days.

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Philosophy in Schools

A Socratic Dialogue
By BRENT SILBY

Click here to download the PDF for reading in a page-by-page format

 

Background

Over recent years there has been a growing movement pushing for the inclusion of Philosophy in schools.[1]

As a subject, Philosophy is broad. It can be separated into many sub-disciplines such as Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, to name a few. These sub-disciplines reduce back to three broad pillars of Philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Axiology.

Regardless of where one’s philosophical interest sits, the essential skill set remains the same. This is the ability to reason. Philosophers produce rationally convincing arguments and critically assess the arguments of others.

In this fictional dialogue Socrates meets with Allison Fells, the Principal of Western Heights School, to discuss the inclusion of Philosophy in the school curriculum. Socrates has been running a successful Philosophy club at school and believes that students would benefit through the extension of the club into the regular school curriculum. Socrates argues that Philosophy equips students with the skill set needed to live the good life.

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