Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Pocketful of Points to Ponder by Socrates

Bust of Socrates
My current drive-time accompaniment has been a lecture series on Ethics by Peter Kreeft. One quickly observes that a learned man has distilled a lot of material into a clear summation of the great ideas of history. It feels like I should be taking notes and re-listening to what I have already heard.

Socrates is one of the foundation stones of Western philosophy. Kreeft shows early on how all of the main historical positions of ethical scholars were presented, or refuted, by Socrates 500 years B.C. and that in one form or another these schools of thinking continue to be lived out today.

How many times we hear Socrates' most famous quote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." It's repeated so often that it ceases to impress us. Like most of the billboards we drive past on our daily commutes it gets lost in the landscape of our lives. As oft as we hear it, it can almost seem like that was the only thing he ever said, since we so seldom hear any of his other ideas. For this reason, it seemed a good day to share some of his other observations about life. I've placed a little space between each line to help you pause and reflect before moving to the next.

I am a Citizen of the World, and my Nationality is Goodwill.

Silence is a profound melody, for those who can hear it above all the noise.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Be the kind of person that you want people to think you are.

Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.

Understanding a question is half an answer.

He is the richest who is content with the least.*

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.

To find yourself, think for yourself.

The years wrinkle our skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles our soul.

* * * *

It is noteworthy that neither of the two most influential men in the history of Western civilization, Socrates and Jesus, wrote books. How their influence extends to us today is quite remarkable, especially when one considers the absence of printing presses and technology. I can't help but wonder who, if anyone, from our generation will be cited as significant 2500 years from now.

* * * *

*Antidote to our tendency toward hoarding?

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