Tagged: Socrates

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...

Reflections on Power

Language and politics.– One man believes the central question of practical politics is, “Which powers should the government use?” Another man believes the central question is, “Which powers should the government have?” One word of difference is all that separates these two men — one small word that holds within it all their respective premises about human nature, the individual, and the value of...

Philosophic Principles, Part Two

In Part One of this discussion, I included the following among my principles: Profit. Never seek material gain from the best thing you can do; for that is the literal meaning of selling one’s soul. You will not get it back. Upon reading this particular principle, a serious student who is trying to work out her own life priorities at this time offered...

The Long-Range Outlook

If an elected government can sweep away a nation’s founding principles, pride, and moral essence in three months, then that nation’s principles were already reduced to sand, its pride no better than a dust ball, its moral essence just a bit of dead skin. Joe Biden and his communist puppeteers have achieved nothing, in fact, that was not effectively a fait accompli. That...

How to Handle This Moment

At the end of the Peloponnesian War, in 404 B.C., Sparta appointed a ruling committee in Athens, the group which came to be known as the Thirty Tyrants. At the time, Socrates, a private man but a figure of considerable repute and controversy, was sixty-five years old. His most famous student prior to that time, the divisive iconoclast Alcibiades, had already been assassinated...

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...