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Thread: What would Socrates do?

  1. #1 What would Socrates do? 
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    What would Socrates do?

    Socrates sought to save Athenian society by making it self-critical.

    Imagine that you and many other colorblind people live on this isolated island. All inhabitants are colorblind from birth and know nothing about color; there is no word for color in their vocabulary.

    Assume Fred is a health nut who exercises constantly and is always advising others to start a strict exercise routine for their health. Fred is well liked but most people on the island think that he over emphasizes the value of exercise.

    One day after pursuing a specific exercises routine Fred become conscious of color. He is shocked and frightened and discontinues the exercise. Many weeks later curiosity gets the best of him and he returns to the exercise routine and there again appears the perception of color.

    Fred experiments with this matter and concludes that when he performs the afore mentioned exercise routine he can perceive color constantly.

    If you were Fred would you inform your friends and acquaintances of this occurrence?

    How would you explain this perception to others?

    How would others respond to your efforts to explain what happened?

    I suspect most individuals would walk away from such seeming non-sense with a shrug and a grin. Suppose some of those making the proscribed effort found it to be a bore and a struggle and lost enthusiasm.

    Does this little game of make-believe give you a better appreciation of why the Athenians executed Socrates for “corrupting the youth”?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
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    Your story does not follow your conclusion.


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  4. #3 Re: What would Socrates do? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    What would Socrates do?

    Socrates sought to save Athenian society by making it self-critical.

    Imagine that you and many other colorblind people live on this isolated island. All inhabitants are colorblind from birth and know nothing about color; there is no word for color in their vocabulary.

    Assume Fred is a health nut who exercises constantly and is always advising others to start a strict exercise routine for their health. Fred is well liked but most people on the island think that he over emphasizes the value of exercise.

    One day after pursuing a specific exercises routine Fred become conscious of color. He is shocked and frightened and discontinues the exercise. Many weeks later curiosity gets the best of him and he returns to the exercise routine and there again appears the perception of color.

    Fred experiments with this matter and concludes that when he performs the afore mentioned exercise routine he can perceive color constantly.

    If you were Fred would you inform your friends and acquaintances of this occurrence?

    How would you explain this perception to others?

    How would others respond to your efforts to explain what happened?

    I suspect most individuals would walk away from such seeming non-sense with a shrug and a grin. Suppose some of those making the proscribed effort found it to be a bore and a struggle and lost enthusiasm.

    Does this little game of make-believe give you a better appreciation of why the Athenians executed Socrates for “corrupting the youth”?
    Not really. I mean I love your story as any religious person would, but since Socrates was accused of atheism and so it seems to me at least to be in the opposite direction from your story. It is like a long time later when everyone is too lazy to perform the exercise and so they simply all pretend that they see color too. Then along comes Socrates who challenges the dogma that no longer has any reality behind it, then in fear of this uncovering of the lies they have built their lives upon with a little skeptical examination, they feel that they have to put a stop to him.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
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    How is the above different from "Your story does not follow your conclusion"? It may be a more detailed disagreement, but it appears to be of the same type.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    How is the above different from "Your story does not follow your conclusion"?
    Communication skills
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  7. #6  
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    I think it's more that fear of the unknown that caused the athenians to 'push' Socrates to suicide, (He wasn't "technically" executed) the corruption he was spreading was the desire to learn, to question, and to attempt to understand and reason the world around you. The men in charge of Athens would see this as a power play, trying to persuade the youth's to follow him, and eventually lead them in a revolt against the government. I'd say it's more the structure of a leadership that caused socrates' execution more than anything else. 'absolute power corrupts absolutely.'
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    I think it's more that fear of the unknown
    I think you are close to it here. It is part of the nature of the human mind (and life in general for that matter) that we impose order and structure on the elements of our lives. It is part of the very process by which we exist. Thus it is the most natural instinct in the world that we oppose that which upsets this order. However this is only one side of a balance of forces in the process of life. The other is the creativity and the process of learning and development, without which we might as well just be a hard and unyeilding piece of stone.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    that caused the athenians to 'push' Socrates to suicide, (He wasn't "technically" executed)
    Incorrect. This is the problem with legalism, it is culturally imperialistic, just like you are now forcing your definitions and categories on a foreign culture. It is abolutely no different than looking at and Indian eating eating with rice with his right hand and you calling him a savage while he sees you pick up a piece of chicken with your left hand and calls you a filthy degenerate.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathamatition
    the corruption he was spreading was the desire to learn, to question, and to attempt to understand and reason the world around you.
    He was challenging the status quo in the traditions and beliefs of his society. This is part of an ongoing battle to discern the difference between convention and morality, and the biggest aid that we have in that learning process is the multiplicity of culture and religion in the world.

    However, the only thing worse than those who fail to distinguish between convention and morality are those who leap wildly and foolishly to the conclusion that convention is entirely evil. By doing so they will make themselves hypocrites, because convention is unavoidable part of being human. The names we give things are conventions. Most of the rules which we must observe in math and science are conventions. A large proportion of the laws our society lives by are conventions, without which our lives would come to standstill.
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I don't want to get into the individual argumentation here, but simply refer, as another thought experiment, to H G Wells' classic short story: The Country of the Blind.

    The question for me is always, of course, whether something potentially insightful can necessarily to be taken as a rule: pparticularly when we're taking metaphors/allegories as models for social interactions and human psychology.
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    I wished to point out in my OP the difficulty that anyone faces when they try to introduce something very new to the general population. So I guess there is a great similarity between Socrates and Galileo in that regard.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    How is the above different from "Your story does not follow your conclusion"?
    Communication skills
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I wished to point out in my OP the difficulty that anyone faces when they try to introduce something very new to the general population. So I guess there is a great similarity between Socrates and Galileo in that regard.
    it's a well-known fact in the history of science that ideas which are ahead of their time often languish because people are not ready to receive them

    conversely, there are also instances where the same idea gets discovered independently by several people at more or less the same time, just because the foundations had been laid to make the next step, and as such, the time was ripe for the idea to be arise as a logical next step
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    How is the above different from "Your story does not follow your conclusion"?
    Communication skills
    Indeed, mine is straight and to the point whereas yours meanders on incessantly.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    How is the above different from "Your story does not follow your conclusion"?
    Communication skills
    Indeed, mine is straight and to the point whereas yours meanders on incessantly.
    In this case your opinion does not count. Communication skills are not measured by your impression of the effectiveness of what you say but by judgement of others. We can certainly both comment on how effectively the other person has communicated to us. That we have already done. From then on it is the judgement of others which counts.
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  15. #14  
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    New theories in the natural sciences are quickly introduced into the culture. New ideas in the human sciences require generations before they are introduced into the culture.
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  16. #15  
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    Yes, mitch, "Your conclusion does not follow" is so obfuscated that nobody could comprehend it without at least several paragraphs of exposition. Do you listen to yourself?
    Om mani padme hum

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  17. #16  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Yes, mitch, "Your conclusion does not follow" is so obfuscated that nobody could comprehend it without at least several paragraphs of exposition. Do you listen to yourself?
    There is clarity and there is meaningful communication. Your arrogance is certainly clearly expressed but you waste our time with your opinions which no one has any reason to give a damn about.
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  18. #17  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Mod mode: Could we stay on-topic please? Arguments about personal styles or communication skills should go to a different sub-forum.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is clarity and there is meaningful communication. Your arrogance is certainly clearly expressed but you waste our time with your opinions which no one has any reason to give a damn about.
    I, on the other hand, am not so arrogant to assume people would be willing to read a novella of what I write. What you call arrogance I call "assuming people have better shit to do". As for my opinions, well, you're still responding. Oops?
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  20. #19  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Mod mode: Could we stay on-topic please? Arguments about personal styles or communication skills should go to a different sub-forum.
    What sub-forum should it go in?
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  21. #20  
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    I could recommend creating a new subforum. There is discussion about a music theory forum, which I think would be better as a all encompassing art theory sub-forum where we discuss music theory, acting theory, visual theory, and language theory... of course most of this stuff can be devided amongst multiple sub forums, they may be more frequented and less "buried" if on their own
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  22. #21  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I could recommend creating a new subforum. There is discussion about a music theory forum, which I think would be better as a all encompassing art theory sub-forum where we discuss music theory, acting theory, visual theory, and language theory... of course most of this stuff can be devided amongst multiple sub forums, they may be more frequented and less "buried" if on their own
    Interesting comparison. Music is a form of communication after all, and people like different kinds, so perhaps it is the same with written communication too. If some people prefer to use words, descriptions, metaphors, explanations and arguments to communicate, that is their preference, while if others prefer to stick with short little pig grunts (or whatever) that does not task their functional illiteracy to greatly then that is their preference too, right?
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  23. #22  
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    exactly, more or less. That comparison is one of the reasons I think they should be united under one subforum. It's that comparison that I am mostly interested in...

    For example in Wagner's description of the "future of art" he described "musical dramas" which were in essence operas except that he hated the term opera because he likened it to commercial enterprises that had little to no artistic value.

    anyway, I've never read his description, but I've read the summary of it, and his ideal, in my opinion, was a harmony of the senses, visual, tactile, audio, even smell possibly... one could go so far as to provide small samples of food throughout the play in an attempt to harmonize taste as well... but also a harmony with the mind: imagination/intuition, judgment and memory.

    there is truly so much to compare and harmonize

    the seating arrangements in a theater, for example, as well as how the shape of the auditorium was good both for acoustic effects as well as visual apeal... for example he designed an auditorium where the orchestra was hidden underneath the stage, this made an epic reverb but also didn't distract the audience from what was happening on stage which tended to happen when the orchestra was next to the stage during a very long performance... without distractions people get less bored because they immerse themselves in the drama more, they let their own desires go with less to compare.

    it is a very deep subject... one of the deepest if you ask me... the culmination of philosophy, psychology and physics
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Mod mode: Could we stay on-topic please? Arguments about personal styles or communication skills should go to a different sub-forum.
    What sub-forum should it go in?
    The discussion now seems to be about the act of communication itself - in which case this is a great sub-forum for it, though out of politeness you may all wish to consider starting a new thread for that.

    Individual or personal comments about each other are probably best made in General Discussion, by PM, or, to be honest, in the Trash Can! :P

    Thanks for the PMs, guys, and thanks for being civilised about this.
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