Tagged: Socrates

Democracy Without Reservations

The other day, I had a written exchange with a Korean student about the problems of modern education, and specifically the narrow agenda-driven nature of modern teaching content and methods. Along the way, as one example of the problem, my student noted the gulf between political theory as presented at school and the lessons in political philosophy that she and I had discussed...

Reflections on Belief, Intelligence, and Evil

A thing is no more likely to be true because its truth would be very convenient. Conversely, a thing is no more likely to be false because its truth would be inconvenient. In general, truth and falsity have no intrinsic relation whatsoever to what would make things feel easier or more accommodating to you, in your conditions, with your associations, subject to your...

Two Reflections On Knowledge and Ignorance

The honest answer.– If I knew the answer to all the world’s problems…would it make any difference? For in order for this answer to actually solve the world’s problems, the world would have to understand what the world’s problems were, and care about solving them. Furthermore, the world would have to pursue the answer to its problems in a relatively universal but also...

Two Thoughts on Death and Freedom

It is November 11th. So many thousands of men died in conflict in the last century, primarily in two cataclysmic world wars, in the name of keeping the free world free. The enemies of freedom would be long dead now regardless of the outcome of those wars, as, presumably, would be their self-devouring political dreams. Meanwhile…

The Reason to Philosophize

Stoicism and (to a lesser extent) Epicureanism, two late Greek philosophic schools often regarded as relatively minor movements during the intervening centuries, have become fashionable of late, primarily thanks to popular philosophy — the realm of touring lecturers and media stars — which is not really philosophy at all, but rather a quasi-philosophic posture assumed in the manner of a self-help strategy, specifically...

The Philosopher and Society

There is no existing political arrangement which is not essentially in conflict — often mortal conflict — with the philosophic life. This means mankind has never found its way to a social structure that is inherently accommodating to the fulfillment of man’s nature. That monumental failure of the species is not as implausible as it first seems, given that the philosopher is by...

The Unjust City On A Hill

U.S. President Joe Biden, always a fountain of wisdom, says that he does not believe there was any way the U.S. military could withdraw from Afghanistan without precipitating the “chaos” we are seeing now.  First: Then the simple solution is, “Do not withdraw.” Second: Stop using the rhetorical masking word “chaos.” What is happening is not chaos; it is a strategic and systematic...

Finding One’s Identity

A student who has been investigating the subject of “identity” informs me that she became somewhat lost amid all the diverse explanations of this notion that one encounters from various sources, until at last she settled on an approach reminiscent of Socrates’ famous “second sailing” (Phaedo, 99dff), a path she explains as follows: I just thought, after talking with you about this topic,...

Practical Concerns and The Philosophic Life

The philosophic life, understanding that phrase in its most comprehensive and classical sense, can often seem a remote and unrealistic notion in our late modernity. Human existence today, in the developed world, is so fraught with inescapable interconnectedness, indoctrinated utilitarianism, and the practical appeal of “capitalist society,” that Socrates’ observation, during the sentencing phase of his trial, that he simply had no money...

Two Deaths, Two Kaleidoscopes

Drug advocates who justify their pleasure-seeking or escapism with notions of a “higher consciousness” which they believe may be achieved through chemicals, seem to me much like a man who looks through a kaleidoscope and believes he has discovered the true world. If only insight and understanding were so simple. On the contrary, it would be more plausible to say that we must...