Plato’s Gorgias in 200 words
It takes more than an hour to make stuffed peppers. At best, that hour’s effort will give me, or perhaps one or two other people, five minutes of vanishing sensory pleasure.
A student sends me a message asking how to handle her anger with a rude coworker. I reply that being spoken to rudely is annoying, but causes you no essential harm, whereas the person who is rude harms his own soul. She resolves to forbear rather than harm herself by stooping to his level. The exchange takes perhaps five minutes out of my day, but it might have a lasting benefit in her emotional life.
Carefully prepared delicacies eat time and flatter others, but contribute nothing beneficial to life.
We all want the good, but most of us seek it in the wrong places. Philosophy is the rational search for the true good. It is necessary because you cannot choose the good if you do not know what it is, or where to find it. Anything that essentially diverts you from this search, such as by habituating you to illusions of the good, thereby fostering dreams of already having that which you most need, is destructive of human life.