Mentor Series #7
In The Republic, Plato pursues the answer to two major questions for the morally and ethically inclined individual, an individual he believes, because of his expertise in ethical matters, does not have the understanding necessary for a good human life. The first question is, “What is Justice?” The second question follows as, “Is the just person happier than the unjust person?” He believed the mistakes were due to the individual lacking some sort of comprehension in three “forms” of which were called Justice, Beauty, and Equality.
Even now, our society struggles with true Justice, true Beauty, and true Equality. We believe that beauty can be bought, that justice can be served, and that equality doesn’t and cannot exist. However, in nature all three qualities exist simultaneously, Justice in the form of an equal ecological cycle(ones that humans have severely tampered with and destroyed), true natural beauty (without added fillers, filters or purchases), and true equality, as nature provides everything for free for all, as a result of its natural system, one that man continuously ignores and overcomplicates in pursuit of his invention of money and success.
Plato’s Teachings Applied Today
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” This can be verified through personal training and sports, as most former athletes will tell you life’s best lessons are learned during the playing of sports. Tough training seems to be key in opening up layers of the subconscious. We know that the conscious acts as a filter for what goes in and out of the subconscious, so my guess is that the hard training leaves the conscious mind weak in the filter area, as it concentrates on survival during training. Most will show you their souls during a phase of going through something difficult, as if you took 100 people off the street, gave them all equal gear for an obstacle course race, and recorded their actions, you could find out who is strong of heart, weak of heart, who is physically strong/weak, who gave effort regardless, who was logical/rational, etc.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” We all understand the feeling of being afraid of the dark because we do not know what lies in the dark space of which our eyes cannot see. So what does it mean for men to be afraid of the light? Since we can see and know what is in the light because of its luminescence, does that mean anyone afraid of the light has something to hide? I believe we should take his words metaphorically, as we do not know what is hiding in the dark and are therefore afraid, it must only mean that shining light in the darkness and being afraid of the light would mean one doesn’t want what’s in the dark being revealed.
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” What is it what we want? How do we feel about that, versus our current position? Do we have sufficient knowledge to achieve what it is that we want? The answers to these questions will drive the behavior of every human and living thing on this planet, both logic and reason aside.” Knowledge is power, and the more of it that one has, the more one is able to achieve. Knowledge is the light that removes the darkness, it illuminates the mind and gives us the reason behind the action. Knowledge allows us to achieve a state of purposeful living, and through that knowledge, we can live with emotion and achieve through desire.
“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.” Education is the beginning of knowledge for us as individuals. We are thrust into a system that deliberately inundates us with information that is faulty, outdated, unjust, ugly, and unequal. It’s why we have the problems in society that we have today. Is it possible we can agree that if we were educated and taught differently that the world as we know it would also be different?
“We are twice armed if we fight with faith.” Faith is having evidence of things unseen. This means that we have evidence to believe something can happen or is possible. To fight, knowing that we can win truly is a double-edged sword. It’s why getting the “championship” typically leads to an edge in the next championship. Faith is like having the experience of already having achieved or received what it is that one is looking for. In having that realization, one will also bring the actions necessary, as faith without works is dead. If one knows via faith, who can stop them?
Be the change we want to see in the world? Plato stated it this way: “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” If one sees others doing good, one will follow suit. If one sees others doing bad, though they may think twice about repeating the action, it becomes easier to do knowing that repercussions weren’t immediately handed out following the action. Our actions always inspire others.
“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” The more you know? Numbers are always changing. They are variable. That’s the purpose of numbers, to record, to change. Knowledge, in this case, the truth, will always lead to good decisions, however faulty the numbers may be.
“Opinions are the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” Opinions shouldn’t be taken as fact, as the wise will do their own research but also entertain new ideas until those have been tested and found in agreement or disagreement with truth, or one’s belief system, which is somewhat based on truths, all of which are distorted to some degree. If one’s truths weren’t distorted it’s quite possible one would be perfect, though the actions accompanying perfection have only been achieved by a few worthy individuals. Opinions help bridge the gap between ignorance and knowledge by giving us an idea of how much knowledge one may actually have, once we can attain an understanding of what truths the opinions are based on.
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” Minimalism is always the answer. There are just too many quotes on minimalism that agree with Plato to list here. Material things are never the key to happiness. We cannot satiate the inner desire of the soul with the physical, material things.
“The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.” We all recognize the defeated feeling that comes with losing to our flesh, the physical nature which keeps our spirits in bondage. The flesh must be conquered by the SELF. The “I” must be more than the “ME.” The ego doesn’t necessarily need to die, but it must always come second to the “I.” To be a slave to the physical nature is to be a slave to death, as the body is headed towards death, but the “I” remains immortal.
Feel free to share, like, and comment! Next week we get into the Eastern philosophers, starting with Confucius! See you then!