Archive for the ‘Socrates’ Category

(Socrates and his wife Xanthippe, who is emptying a chamber pot on his head)

So, most people who read the previous post, in which I make the point that if-God- hadn’t-wanted-us-to-talk-about-people-why-would-ze-make-it-so-fun? point, agreed that Jesus was probably a funny guy, and that they, too, like funny things. I’ve pondered and pondered over the last 48 hours and the story that comes to my mind in (partial) answer to the above question is one that my mom emailed to me many weeks ago. Please be warned, it is not for sensitive eyes:

In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three.”

“Test of Three?”

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to test what you’re going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about It.”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued. “You may still pass though, because there is a third test – the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem. It also explains why he never found out that Plato was banging his wife.

Well, there it is. A parable worthy of the new testament. Funny, instructional, with an ironic twist. I’ll leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln to hammer it home:

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.


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