Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Plato, Plato, Plato! Socrates on Trial, Athens on Trial, Life as Trial
Today it's all Plato, all the time: The Apology, and a few books from The Republic in which we encounter the Ship of State, the Philosopher King, and the Allegory of the Cave. In the Apology Athens is put on trial by Socrates because Socrates is put on trial by Athens, and his defense is a re-enactment of the teaching that got him into trouble in the first place. Ironies and paradoxes abound, accused of impiety Socrates suggests he is endorsed by an Oracle with an impious sense of the ridiculous, declaring him most wise despite his lack of wisdom simply in being wise enough to know he isn't wise when nobody else is wise but aren't wise to the fact. But Socrates also pronounces himself pious in following the dictates of a conscience that would rather suffer harm than do harm, would rather die true to himself than die as himself to stay alive: in drinking the hemlock the gadfly stinging the mob of torpid beasts called citizens into awareness because the immortal gadfly martyred for a critical impulse that is the voice of conscience for Attic civilization. But is that critical impulse one and the same as the philosophy espoused by the Socrates of the mature Plato of the Republic's painfully dutiful eugenic polyagamous plutocracy of Philosopher Kings and its depiction of life's predicament in the Allegory of the Cave? Now that's what I call Plato! Something of a Greatest Hits compilation today. Feeling rather tired.