Silhouette à Socrates


Seems fitting to start this series with Socrates. He was a master at creating edifying confusion in the service of education. To educate means to draw out, and that is the effect his simple questions had on people. His interrogatory method confounded his listeners, challenged standard assumptions, and threw people back on their own resources.
The inner nature of things requires persistent excavation and examination, according to Socrates, as they are hidden from the everyday eye. He disconcerted listeners in order to force them to penetrate appearances and ponder the veracity of inherited perceptions. The ultimate destination for all this discourse and dissection was a rule for the moral living of life.
Socrates' model for individual development, along with the caveat to "know thyself," was twin to his proposition regarding the potential glory of good government, in which the body politic consisted of a contemplative citizenry, each contributing uniquely to a fair and right functioning confederation. In this view, the power of the whole was vitally dependent upon the inherent quality of the parts.
He must have known he was on a collision course with those in the winner's circle. Rules are made by the winners ("might makes right"), and surely he well understood they were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his ability to depict them as they were.
Friends advised Socrates to get real. He went into one of his things on "what's real?"
In 399 B.C., brought up by foes on trumped-up charges, he was invited to remove himself from the ranks of the annoying living by drinking the deadly hemlock.
He did.
What allows individuals to bend to destiny? How do they keep to their course in the chilling awareness of where it will lead them? And finally, what allows them to do so without conceding anything but their corporeal frame to the prevailing political will?
What is at the root of such a phenomenon?
Is this some kind of ego-trip confusion or madness?
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways; I to die and you to live. Which is better, God only knows. Doesn't sound crazy or confused to me. Perhaps a touch self-absorbed, but nevertheless, an individual identified with an other-than-this consciousness; one with a steady, liberating gaze on the big picture.
There's a saying, "Don't just stand there--DO something!"
Similar to the fellow who came on the scene some four centuries later, Socrates adopted instead, THIS stance: "Don't just do something--STAND there!"
You figure it out!

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