Tagged: Socrates

Reflections On Being In The World, Part Two

My country, wrong.— There are broadly two ways to criticize one’s own country. The first is to despise what it was and is, and desire its replacement with something else. The second is to despise what it has become — that is, what it has been replaced with — and lament the loss of what it was or ought to have been. I...

Two Reflections On The Fate of the Soul

In the eternal battle between cats and birds, I am always on the side of the birds. Make no mistake, though: I know the battle is eternal, which is to say that it is both essential and without hope of ultimate resolution or victory. I have chosen my side nevertheless, or rather perhaps I ought to say that I have been chosen by...

The Philosophers and The Gentlemen

Socrates, in The Republic, defines the five essential forms of government in rank order, from most to least just: aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, tyranny. His cleverest rhetorical trick, the most famous (and probably least understood) conceit in the dialogue, is his redefinition of aristocracy by means of the radical proposal that in order to realize a truly just city in practice, philosophers would...

What You Are Going To Do

We spend a lot of time (which is itself an illusion) hemming and hawing with mock-profundity about what we are going to do, as though we were making decisions, rather than merely waiting to do what we must do. We must either flow with the wave in which we inevitably find ourselves, or struggle to remain standing and resistant against its force. But...

Merry Christmas

It is typical these days, among those still sufficiently sentient and resistant to ideological indoctrination to have wayward thoughts, to wish others a Merry Christmas with a disclaimer to the effect that Christmases, at this historical moment, do not seem to offer much to be merry about. While I certainly sympathize with that mixed tone of well-wishing lamentation, I always try to remind...

On Having Something To Say

For the thinking individual, the paradox of writing or speaking for public consumption is that the moment you realize you have been “discovered,” which is to say that you have found some kind of audience, you will be tempted every hour by the devil who has devoured the soul of almost everyone who has ever been in this position. Why are people of...

Addendum to The Evidence

A few days ago, I returned to the issue of climate alarmism, using as my kick-off point the predictable public and media response to the recent unusually severe rainy season in Korea, where I live. As I noted then, it was all but impossible here, for a few wet weeks, to mention the rain in any context without being met immediately by a...

The Writer, The Past, and The Progressive

The writer’s primary goal is not to appeal to readers, nor even to appeal to good readers, but rather to be worthy of good readers. He cannot control whether any such readers will exist, or whether, if they do exist, they will ever discover or appreciate his writing. He must concern himself only with what he can control — though even that only...

The Unexamined Life Today

The challenge in teaching Plato’s Apology used to be overcoming the students’ incredulity and incomprehension faced with the historical fact of a supposedly democratic society rejecting the philosophic activity so stridently as to put a man’s freedom and his very life on trial, merely for asking questions that the political establishment did not like. “How unjust and intolerant the Athenian people must have...

Practicing Death

Losing an audience, with all that this entails, is a window into the personal meaning of death. From feeling deeply associated with, or embedded within, one’s human surroundings and their processes, one undergoes a gradual and involuntary detachment. Slowly, one perceives one’s increasing ineffectualness in a world where one had once perceived oneself as a cause of movement and an object of others’...