Philosophy is a straight up Joke

To the extent that he could be right, Socrates said the only thing that could be said. We cannot know anything at all. We cannot believe our senses with any certainty.

I know this is “like” kindergarten to you folks. And it’s no fun if our pretending isn’t far reaching. We believe our own role(s), and for that, have become that much better an actor.

I have made numerous assumptions here that have now overshadowed the socratic light. And I can admit to my hot air guessing.

If we believe history, or anything before we were born, this man was killed for this insight. His students continued in the same vain, except they needed to stay alive to figure anything important out. So they invented from that point on, professionally.

Until we understand the true nature of our knowledge base, then I confess we’re a mess of bull-punchline.

Meaningless is meaningless because it adheres to the noble truth about what is without meaning. Is?

It would be easier to tell everybody you don’t know if they didn’t kill you.

Here’s a straight-up joke about Socrates (which you may have read before):

One day the great philosopher Socrates came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”

“Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

“Triple filter?” asked the acquaintance.

“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it.”

“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”

“No, on the contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued.“You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter – the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”

“No, not really…”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem. It also explains why he never found out that Plato was shagging his wife.

Lol. Xanthippe? I heard that she was one ugly shrew. Socrates probably woulda thanked Plato for taking her off his hands for awhile. :wink:

Great joke, by the way. Still grinning.

Though, you must admit we do have methods of determining probability to some degree. At least to the point that one might feel subjectively justified in a belief.

Now this… I can’t disagree with.

Not sure what assumptions, in particular, you are referring to.

There were actually pre-socratic philosophers by trade. Many philosophers after Socrates were condemned for one reason or another. History would show this not an uncommon reaction to a controversial philosophy.

I would opine that the professionalism of philosophy may be better attributed to expansion of human knowledge, refinement of the craft, and an ever-expanding emphasis on material wealth in the interest of survival. Modern culture does not generally smile upon the poor philosopher, he would likely be regarded as insane if anything.

Well I think that is where our effort needs to go, and is currently going – understanding the structure and methodology of this “bull-punchline”. I’m not sure how we would ever reach a true, or certain, understanding of knowledge ontologically.


Yes, easier by far. I have no doubt that Socrates himself realized that much. His interest was not in the simplicity of the matter, but in interest of what he saw as the good. His death was, in essence, an ethical/moral stand. Of course he died, but he did not take his stand in vain. People have been taking Socrates’ stand ever since.

That was an awesome joke.

Loved the joke and agree with Jonquil about Xantippe. What Socrates asks in the joke refers to his idea that he already knew the truth and just had to coax it out of someone else. I still don’t buy that.

Well, I do think he knew the truth, and that he did expect he might coax it out of someone else. I think he knew he was mistaken for expecting that, but even still, he went on to expect it. More important than any truth he could draw out from another, I think he wanted to know why this expectation continued on, despite the already familiar inner world of truth. His guess is that it was intended beforehand, the experience of this mistake, and should perhaps be realized afterward, in a newer light. This . . . this is what he wanted to know. The wish for an unknown jaunt, no matter how known or forgotten. This wanting-to-know excursion; it was granted.

He could then hear what he needed to hear from others, but immediately swallow it into his nether thoughts, deny, deny, deny.

He was trying to coax it from himself by sneaking up on his clever subtle position. Please buy it.

Your take, then, if I understand it correctly, is that Socrates was aware of the “raw feels” of experience, the ontological ground-- a universal except in interpretations, and was attempting to discover why the ground gets obscured by interpretation. … ilosopher/

Very fine article. I especially like this paragraph:

The Thales thread reminded me of the first question posed by my crazy high school chemistry teacher who blew up the lab on open house night: what is the universal solvent? I guess Thales fell into it and was dissolved.

Here’s to hourglasses with sand that flows backwards . . . . :wink:

I have been thinking along similar lines for some time now.

Those who have mastered the game of using particular semiotics to refer to particular phenomena, and can successfully introject these meanings into an audience, will provide us with “meaning”. Basically, it comes down to cunning, insight, manipulation, and power. Truth is merely a slogan used to justify a particular language to phenomena metaphor.
In this sense philosophy is a joke if we take it seriously.

Yes, perphaps like the structure of formal logic, despite what is being said.

Not in the easy way of saying, why does this structure even exist, but more about why isn’t what’s being said as relevant as the structure which suggests relevancy, the intention behind an incompatible dependence. What “is” betrays what makes is possible, and yet the “raw feels” it was meant to betray. Now why?

I like what you said. My question then is this: was Socrates killed because he was the greatest actor of them all who now prevented lower forms of manipulation? A magician who shows the secrects of the other magicians tricks? Was he punished for ruining magic or a need for an audience?

I guess we’ll never know Socrates’ real motivations. But, from my understanding of Socrates’ trial, he ruined the “magic” of the foundations of Athenian conventions. It was a power struggle for the Athenian authority. But whether Socrates was a brilliant actor or not??

There is a book called The Trial of Socrates by I.F. Stone that gives an excellent overview and analysis of the issues at stake regarding the battle between monarchy and democracy and regarding the suicidal element of Socrates’ defense. A friend of mine read the book closely and quoted Stone as follows:

His “defense” during the sentencing part of his trial actually had a suicidal element to it. He knew that he could have requested a fairly lenient sentence and almost certainly have gotten it. Instead, the “sentence” that he requested was that the citizens give him a sort of pension for all the free services he had provided as a philosopher and gadfly. He realized that his conviction was a condemnation of the Athenian jurors, not of him, and he decided to make himself a martyr for the cause of virtue and real justice. His obvious lack of remorse resulted in there being more votes in favor of his execution than there were in favor of his conviction.

He then continued on to say that "Socrates has come down to us as a sort of secular saint, but this was not the way the people of Athens viewed him. I.F. Stone’s The Trial of Socrates was a bit of a revelation for me.

Athens was a highly litigious society in which citizens were forever suing one another for slander. According to Stone the comedy stage of the Lenaia and Dyonisian Festivals were exempt from litigation and as a result served as the voice of the people, the free press, in some respects.

Aristophanes lampooned Socrates in four plays – Birds, Frogs, Wasps and Clouds. Clouds is pretty much entirley devoted to Socrates and his “Thinkery” Institute. Aristophanes even coined the term “Socratified” in The Birds, written in 414, to describe the pro-Spartan Aristocratic youth that fluttered around Socrates.

Socrates crime, corrupting the youth of Athens, according to Stone, turns out to stem from teaching the sons of the rich elite a contempt for Athenian democracy. Students of Socrates like Critias, the cousin of Plato for whom The Crito is named, Charmides, his uncle and Alcibiades were the perpetrators who unleashed reigns of terror on two separate occasions that overthrew the democracy in favor of a kind of Junta called the Dictatorship of the Thirty and enforced by Spartan mercenaries.

Between 411 and 401 BC There were two periods of this brutality as well as a third failed coup. The lower classes were stripped of the citizenship they had gained through battlefield valor; a couple centuries earlier, the property of rich foreign residents was stolen and more people murdered in the space of 8 mos during 404BC, than had died in a decade of the Peloponnesian War. Socrates didn’t aid nor approve of what went on but he didn’t resist it either, even when his own former student forbade his continuing his teaching.

It’s really instructive how a mistranslated word here and there can really change the meaning of a passage. Translators show their political and cultural biases by how they use these ambiguities in the original text. Stone points out many instances where a word is used with one of it’s possible meanings even though it makes no sense in the context of the passage. One good example is a term used in The Republic - epikouroi - a word Plato uses to describe his Guardians or military caste. It’s often translated as “helpers” but Stone points out its common usage in military parlance would mean “mercenary troops” as opposed to the citizen soldiers that Athens democracy was based on. Plato and Socrates are so often depicted as these enlightened free thinkers when actually they both come off as favoring absolutist totalitarian societies enforced by mercenaries and secret police. Plato’s writings are really the earliest blueprint for fascism.

Socrates was always praising Sparta for its closed society which must have seemed crazy to his fellow citizens as the Spartans were intolerant of philosophy and anti-intellectual in the extreme. They must have realized he wouldn’t have lasted a week in Sparta.

Stone [says] that Socrates could have easily escaped his fate.The complaints were against his teaching and beliefs. His associations with former dictators and refusal to disavow them gave Athenians sufficient reason to fear him; however, if he had defended himself on principle rather than going out of his way to antagonize the jury, he might well have won acquittal. In prosecuting someone for ideas and some vague reference to impiety Athens was violating its own traditions.

Stone concludes that Socrates wanted to die and antagonized the jury so as to elicit a death sentence, seeing it as more seemly than suicide."

Hope this helps. :neutral_face:

I wonder if he would have been killed had his platform been “Both”

The contradiction itself is considered negative, but “Both” seems like it goes with the universe and has more positive appeal than “I don’t know.”

“Both” still does not commit to anything. At the same time, anything goes if nobody knows.

It does help. I posted my last post at the same time as yours. I was tempted to ask if he was considered and absolutist and wondered if he didn’t deserve what he asked for in death. You answered this wonderfully.

I consider him a foundation that needs no building. However, I may now look at the base of that foundation. Thanks.

“We cannot know anything at all” is false, isn’t it?

Or is someone going to tell us they know why its true?

Wasn’t Socrates’ agnosticism limited to the moral sphere?

In the section of The Logic of Sense regarding The Three Images of Philosophers, Deleuze argues that “there is a trace of a depressive suicide” in the death of Socrates. In effect, placing oneself so far above the rest of the populace is bound to bring you crashing back to earth eventually.

Neither interpretation is satisfactory because neither term - liberal or fascist - has any meaning in the ancient context.