Avoiding Sophistry

The Sophists were the intellectual class in Ancient Athens who educated wealthy young men. 1)http://www.iep.utm.edu/sophists/ Socrates heavily criticized the Sophists ( like everyone else) for there false wisdom.

“There is Gorgias of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens, by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them, whom they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be allowed to pay them. There is actually a Parian philosopher residing in Athens, of whom I have heard; and I came to hear of him in this way: – I met a man who has spent a world of money on the Sophists, Callias the son of Hipponicus, and knowing thathe had sons, I asked him: “Callias,” I said, “if your two sons were foals or calves, there would be no difficulty in finding someone to put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses or a farmer probably who would improve and perfect them in their own proper virtue and excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you thinking of placing over them? Is there anyone who understands human and political virtue? You must have thought about this as you have sons; is there anyone?” “There is,” he said. “Who is he?” said I, “and of what country? and what does he charge?” “Evenus the Parian,” he replied; “he is the man, and his charge is five minae.” Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this wisdom, and teaches at such a modest charge. Had I the same, I should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I have no knowledge of the kind. ”

The Apology by Plato 2) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html

I believe this is the central battle of philosophy and it constantly echoes throughout history.

“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”

-Matthew 23:1-4 NKJV 3)https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23&version=NKJV

The modern day sophists are the people who hold their paltry knowledge above all else. They look no further than the end of their nose for the truth. They are quick to call other men hypocrites and have a million excuses for their every misdeed. They despise anything that contradicts their worldview even if it would ultimately help them be better people.

However, we are not here today to belittle a group of people, we are here to learn how to avoid that path. We all walk down the path of sophistry at times. If we can recognize the signs of this behavior in ourselves we can start to be virtuous.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”

“Evil is the force that believes its knowledge is complete.”

-Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

“I don’t know,” is a magical key that unlocks a door full of possible knowledge. Sophists keep that door firmly shut because they don’t want to appear foolish. Do not place your love of dignity over your love of truth. People will view you as they want to regardless of how it makes you feel, so you might as well gain some knowledge. Not knowing is a forgivable ignorance, but not asking is not one.

Admit when you are wrong.

“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.”

-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Always admit when you are wrong. By designating that action as “wrong”, you quarantine it away from your being and are less likely to repeat it. In my experience, I have found pride to be a stumbling block rather than any sort of  defense. When you make a mistake you are given a bittersweet gift. You are given the opportunity to improve. Take the opportunity rather than stubbornly clinging to what makes you fail.

Do not dismiss sources of truth you don’t like.

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it.”

-Malcolm X

The truth springs often from unlikely places. Do not dismiss the truth because you do not like the source. The idea may be sound even if the person is not. Attacking a person and not their ideas is not a good argument.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.iep.utm.edu/sophists/
2.  http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html
3. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23&version=NKJV

Edge of Adolescence

As of Friday, I will no longer be a teenager. I’m not really a sentimental person, but I see an opportunity to re-access and reflect.

There is a pervasive idea that circumstances force you to become an “adult” (culturally speaking) and to become an “adult” is a pitiful thing. I have always found those ideas to be very strange. I believe that you become an “adult” when you decide to take on the responsibility. I didn’t especially like being a child and I wouldn’t want to return to that state again.

When I was growing up, an adult was the most admirable thing you could be in my mind. My parents had interesting careers and interesting life experiences. Adulthood seemed more of an adventure than the monotony of schoolwork. I realize this might not be the case in everyone’s experience, but my parents made carrying responsibility look noble.

Adults have options. Children do not. You can change careers when you are 35, but if you are tired of 5th Grade, it sucks to be you.

In my 19 years I have come to conclusion that childhood is no risk and no reward, while adulthood is all risk and all reward.

 

 

 

Living vs Being Alive

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

-Epictetus

I want to understand why people do things. I think that’s why I was drawn to the arts. Through film or writing, I can explore the thoughts of people that I have never met that live on another continent and sometimes they aren’t even real.

I think the central conflict that every person faces is the fact that one day we will die and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We spend life trying to cope with that reality in different ways. Death stands in the corner of our eye each passing second and we either ignore it or accept it.

Up until relatively recently I was obsessed with death. Rather than standing in the corner of my eye, Death stood in the center blocking the view of everything else.  I spent every moment of the day terrified, and every dream was a nightmare. There were so many things I wanted to do before I died.

It occurred to me, after much thought and study, that I had to live. If you spend each second ruminating on death, then you are already dead.

I have found that the most courageous thing you can do as a human being is to live, not simply being alive. You need to experience everything you can. The world is as beautiful as it is ugly. To live you need to seek out new adventures.

A fun exercise is to take something familiar and create something new out of it. There are endless possibilities and you should try to explore as many as you can.

If you were to die right now, would you be satisfied with what you would leave behind?

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