05 August 2008

Honesty and Socrates

Honesty was what Socrates instructed. He came up with the refrain "I know nothing" but in the course of conversations demonstrated that it was the partner in the conversations that knew nothing that they said they did. [Others wrote down the dialogues or conversations. It was a skill highly prized in those days to be able to repeat verbatim entire conversations, whole speeches, or sets of instructions while someone else could write it down.] The famous were confronted in public and the public listened while Socrates would very politely but very thoroughly demonstrate that though he claimed to know nothing that it was the famous-for-something who had no good nor sufficient reason to be famous for anything. They were publicly shown to be mendacious in their claims of skills and abilities and knowledge. Thus publicly humiliated they walked away angry. They eventually managed to kill the become old man, Socrates, at 72. It was not just personal. The power depended on the hoi polloi being duped and kept that way. 2500 years later we learn ... something!