Tagged: Socrates

“Injustice” vs. Responsibility

After being convicted and condemned to death by a jury of hundreds of his fellow Athenians, Socrates, awaiting execution, was offered a chance to escape from prison and live in exile. He rejected the plan, primarily on the grounds that by choosing to live in Athens his whole life, to marry and raise his children there, and to practice his preferred way of...

Humans Cannot Fly

Socratic Mathematics

Humans cannot fly,
Unless they learn to grow wings —
Ten thousand years on.

This is the profoundest implication of the expression, “Patience is a virtue.” Can you wait, diligently preparing yourself, for one hundred centuries?

On Suicide

No one commits suicide due to a moment’s transitory suffering. Suicide is by definition a last resort, which means that one turns to it only when other “resorts” have proved unsuccessful, i.e., when one feels that time and circumstance have provided no other solution to one’s suffering. The suicidal person, then, is responding to the accumulated despair of past suffering, or the accumulated...

Freud vs. Plato on Eros

In my recent piece, “On Freud,” I said of the “father of modern psychology”: He saw his theory as a more scientific version of Plato’s tripartite soul. He was in fact Plato for auto-mechanics. And for all his titillating and supposedly shocking nonsense about sex, he was oblivious to Eros, which is the specifically human manifestation of sexuality, and the key to mankind’s...

On Being Outside

I officially swore off wasting any more mental energy on Donald Trump’s reality TV presidency this week, and determined, as I do when I feel overly mired in the transient insanities of our moment of civilizational disintegration, to turn to the eternal. I shall, however, cheat a little on my promise — but only to the degree necessary to demonstrate a philosophical point!...

Nietzsche, Youth, and Hubris

From Twilight of the Idols: To live alone one must be an animal or a god — says Aristotle. There is yet a third case: one must be both — a philosopher. (R.J. Hollingdale translation, 1968.)  True — but why does Nietzsche assume that Aristotle had not thought of that? My suggestion: the hubris of exceptional youth. Nietzsche completed Twilight of the Idols...

Plato: Mythologist or Philosopher?

Apropos of a discussion of Plato’s intentions in his depiction of Socrates, and specifically the notable ways that Plato’s Socrates differs both from Xenophon’s contemporaneous depiction and from the historical figure later Socratic philosophers, such as the Stoics, had in mind, a friend who views Plato with some skepticism confronted me with this provocative question: Is Plato a philosopher or an artist? Is...

My Personal Hero

In this egalitarian age, the concept of the hero seems as superfluous and out of touch as the pomp and circumstance of the British royal family. Paradoxically, our fetish for equality has combined with our impious self-absorption to turn us into idolaters, rather than hero-worshippers. We have infantile personality cults where in the past mature men admired genuine greatness as a guide for...

Academic Tenure, or Trickle-Down Entitlement Theory

Those who wonder how the modern university could have become so fundamentally disdainful of political liberty should consider that the entitlement mentality that is destroying western civilization began in academia. Academic tenure is the original entitlement program. Conservatives rightly fear that civilization could reach a tipping point at which a majority of citizens are subsisting on government redistribution programs, and hence have a...