Tagged: Socrates

The Mountain or The Marketplace

Socrates cared little for woods and birds. Peaceful riversides and quiet paths meant nothing to him. As he frequently observed, his concern was learning, and his teachers were not the rocks and trees, but his fellow citizens, whom he found and pestered in the marketplace.  Nietzsche, at the opposite end of the history of philosophy proper, wrote of his long walks alone and...

Impolitic Reflections

Plato’s Socrates begins his great political speculation with the presumption that the vast majority of men in even the best imaginable city will be ruled by appetite, from which he infers that if you actually wanted a city to be governed wisely, you would never place any of its decision-making authority in the hands of the innately and irreversibly appetitive majority. The modern...

Introduction to Metaphysics: A Dialogue (Part One)

The defining mission of this website, sometimes pursued subliminally, sometimes overtly, is to undermine the corruptive influence of “current events,” which is to say the distracting noise of the everyday, in the lives of anyone within reach of my voice. As our civilization winds down, the attraction of building a solid spiritual fortress to defend the soul against the glittering degradations and nihilistic...

The Tyrannical Soul: An Observation

A summary of the private life of the potential tyrant, or “tyrannical soul,” from Plato’s Republic, Book IX: “When these men are in private life, before they rule, aren’t they like this: in the first place, as to their company, either they have intercourse with their flatterers, who are ready to serve them in everything, or, if they have need of anything from...

The Small, The Great, and the Self-Esteem Myth

Last Sunday, I received an e-mail from a serious student who has been studying painting. She had taken a day trip to a nearby cape to enjoy the ocean view, and had come away with some difficult questions about the value of her artistic pursuits. In particular, she reflected that she would never be able to capture more than “a shadow” of the...

The Philosophical View

An enthusiastic and diligent student who has been studying Plato with me for several months — we were in the middle of a close analysis of Book III of the Republic several weeks ago, when coronavirus “social distancing” interrupted our conversation — sent me an e-mail yesterday to share his distress over the current situation. You know, students like me don’t know how...

Reasonable Doubts: Part One

Today I begin what will surely become a series of observations on the many dangerous psychological certainties running wild through our modern world, behind our age’s thin, self-congratulatory veils of relativism, nihilism, and skepticism. That is to say, we are an era of unquestioning true believers and romantic dogmatists, particularly with regard to our comforts and pleasures, and yet we continually market ourselves...

Socrates on the View from Our Hollows

Several days ago, I wrote a short piece about Socrates’ description of the Earth to his companions, as he sat in his prison cell awaiting the hemlock. Today, as a spiritual escape from the moral prison formed of modern politics and the mass hysteria of coronavirus, I would like to reflect on one of the key themes of that famous episode in the...

Soaring Below the Surface of the Earth

In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates, in his dying hour, describes his mind’s eye view of the Earth, as a final life lesson for his friends. The most striking feature of his remarkable quasi-mythical account is his speculation that the true surface of the Earth is not the ground we walk on, which we mistakenly call “the Earth,” but rather the upper limits of our...

Meanwhile, back in the cosmos…

Some weeks ago, a student who knows a great deal about my character and interests contacted me with the urgent advice to run outside as quickly as possible, so as not to miss the gorgeous moonrise she was witnessing from a bus across town. Yesterday, the same young woman contacted me with similar urgency, at roughly the same late afternoon hour, to ask,...