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Know Thyself

By Mafran

Last week we were talking about the great philosopher Socrates. Remember? "Socrates (469 - 399 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher and was condemned to death by the tribunal in Athens because of his clear and honest way of thinking and expressing himself. Socrates did not write anything. Most of his teachings are reported by his disciple Plato."

Now, imagine that you were there, in the tribunal, and that your personal vote would count: to declare Socrates guilty of offending his fellow citizens, or to absolve and set him free.

Socrates is a man over seventy, tall and strong. He is a teacher and knows how to address the public with force and dignity. During his process he refused to have a lawyer defend him, but stood up on his podium and talked directly to his audience. You were part of the audience and you were expected to vote. Now listen to a couple of sentences that he spoke to his fellow citizens:

"My friends, you are Athenians and belong to a city which is the greatest and famous in the world for its wisdom and strength. Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with honor and reputation, and care so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?" (Plato on Socrates, 'The Apology')

Think on what Socrates says as he would address you personally, now. What would be your vote? Death sentence, or freedom?

Next, Socrates continues his speech: "For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but for the highest welfare of your souls, proclaiming as I go: Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the State." (Plato on Socrates, 'The Apology')

Here Socrates tells you that "goodness brings wealth and every other blessing." How do you interpret this statement? What do you consider the word 'wealth' to mean? Is wealth only money or also a "good quality of life"?

Last time we talked about "quality of life." Did you think of what it means? I believe it means: no stress, good health, clear mind and no doubts, sincerity, benevolence, and so on…

And now I see you jumping up and saying: Are YOU preaching ME? No, my friend, I only want to know if you would condemn Socrates to death for saying these things. In Athens, in the year 399 B.C. the tribunal did condemn Socrates to death.

The question I asked in the article last week was: "Did human nature evolve during the last 10,000 years of history? What can we learn from ancient wisdom?" Can you help me give an answer to this question? Please email me. Your opinions and further questions will then be incorporated into my future articles.

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