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Tony Grist

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Socratic Dialogue [Apr. 2nd, 2015|12:59 pm]
Tony Grist
Me: But people aren't clockwork mice.

Plato: Clockwork?

Me: Sorry, After your time. Automata. Does that work for you?

Plato: I never said they were.

Me:  But I find your psychology deficient. I know you haven't read Freud but the poets you affect to despise could have taught you a thing or two about the bloody-mindedness of human nature.

Plato:  I know my Homer. By heart.  I propose to edit him.

Me: O God, yes. That's awful. You want to take out all the truly human stuff- all the juice...

Plato: To give the children heroes they can truly look up to, gods worthy of veneration.

Me:  That's censorship

Plato: You think it's right that children should be taught that Achilles was a big crybaby? That Zeus was a womaniser?

Me:  Why not? If  those stories reflect reality.

Plato: Ah, Reality....

Me:  All right I know what's coming next. I rather like your parable of the cave. I think it's true. In theory.  But meanwhile we have to cope with the world as it is.

Plato: The philosphers have interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.

Me: And look what happens when you do. There have been attempts to create ruling cadres like your guardians. If you've the time I'd like to tell you about Himmler and the SS.

Plato: Himmler. That's a barbarian name.

Me: You're telling me.

Plato: So did this Himmler person have his guardians study mathematics, geometry, astronomy?

Me: Erm, probably not.

Plato. Then he wasn't following my programme. The only person who is fit to rule is the person who- through study of ultimate realities- has learned to despise the strategems and rewards of office.

Me: You think it's really possible to create a caste of philosopher kings?

Plato: Has it ever been tried?

Me: I'm not sure it has. But we're back to my first point. It's just not practicable, people aren't that malleable....

Plato: Come back to me when it has.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2015-04-02 12:16 pm (UTC)
Plato and his notion of enlightened philosopher kings has a lot to answer for. Starting with all sorts of wrong-headed do-goodery based on the idea that some folks know what's best for other folks. Edited to add: and yes, it has been tried. It's called Oxbridge.

Edited at 2015-04-02 12:17 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 12:31 pm (UTC)
But surely we're better off with Oxbridge than without it.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2015-04-02 05:17 pm (UTC)
I suppose, but I think the Bodleian's attitude toward sharing mss digitally is totally wrong-headed. Shame on them.
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From: artkouros
2015-04-02 12:17 pm (UTC)
Didn't the French try this? I'm sure that turned out well.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 12:20 pm (UTC)
You mean the Revolution? I don't think Plato would have been greatly impressed.
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From: artkouros
2015-04-02 12:24 pm (UTC)
That's how it ended, but I was thinking more about the whole institution of the monarchy - they did have the best teachers, and so on, often leading artists and philosophers of the day. And it turned out that their isolation from the hardness of the world is what ultimately destroyed them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 12:29 pm (UTC)
But Plato wasn't in favour of the hereditary principle.
He'd have kicked Louis XVI downstairs in short order.


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From: artkouros
2015-04-02 12:40 pm (UTC)
I rather like the idea of raising leaders like cattle and holding them as a slave class to do our will.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 01:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, that has its attractions.

One deficiency in Plato's system is not allowing for any outside check or regulation of his aristocrats.
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From: artkouros
2015-04-02 12:20 pm (UTC)
I blame Plato and his pupil Aristotle for a lot. The idea that you can figure the world out by just sitting around and talking about it held science back for 2000 years.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 12:25 pm (UTC)
That's true. But Plato wasn't really interested in science in the modern sense of the word.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2015-04-02 01:49 pm (UTC)
...I guess that is why philosophy is nothing for me. Too much utopian mindset - I rather like to pick up where the reality is at.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-04-02 01:55 pm (UTC)
Plato would say that you can't begin to deal adequately with the world until you have some awareness of the greater Reality of which it is a dim, shadowy reflection...
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2015-04-02 05:22 pm (UTC)
I do get the thing of higher thinking and putting things into a larger content, but I'm not a fan of too abstract concepts.
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