The Wisdom of Legitimate Philosophers

As I try to think cogent thoughts this morning, I encounter obstacles. Nothing is pertinent. Nothing is believable or relevant. Everything is imaginary. All of the customs of the culture are artificial. Jobs, social institutions like religions and governments—even families that once formed the core of modern home life—are the results of deceit, trickery, and and bald-faced lies. Packaged, of course, in such a way as to permanently hide their origins and the fundamental purposes to which they are being put. If all existence is simply a joke, though, who or what told it? We can’t blame God, because the tale was told even before the idea of God was born.

While the preceding paragraph was written for the sole purpose of asserting ideas contrary to what little we know about reality, arguments could be made for the rectitude of its content. And arguments against. And dismissive waves of the hands, as if to say, “I can’t be bothered by such meaningless drivel.” That’s the way my hands talk. Abrupt and insensitive. Downright rude and offensive, I’d say.  This is what happens when one’s mind is as close to a piece of damp cardboard as possible. One cannot think when one’s mind is buried under a foot of silt, muck, and disillusionment.

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

~ Plato ~


Why is it, I sometimes wonder, that twenty-first century readers and writers…and others, I suppose…regularly quote Plato, his teacher (Socrates), and his student (Aristotle)? Is it because their wisdom transcends time? Or is it because they reportedly made wise statements that correspond to today’s wisdom? Or, perhaps, another reason? Regardless of the reasons, I admire their perspectives on humanity and the world in which they lived. Their words reveal ancient wisdom. Modern understanding echoes their expressions. Centuries after they first wrote or spoke about the concepts in their Greek language, we earnestly embrace the English translations.

Based on my limited knowledge of Socrates and Plato and Aristotle (and others), I believe they must have been, intellectually, quite sophisticated. Many of their ideas remain complex even today. Politically and philosophically, (and mathematically, it seems), Plato and his crowd were refined. Plato was born more than four hundred years before a well-known religious philosopher is said to have spent time in and around Bethlehem. The descriptive information to which I have been exposed suggests Jesus lived in a much more primitive environment than did Plato. Or is that perception a product of my imagination? It might be interesting to see a head-to-head comparison between those two environments; graphic form might be more impactful.


I surrender. For now, at least. I admit defeat. I fell in defeat to a weak enemy. Who is, for now, me. Battling oneself for supremacy is guaranteed to lead to an unsatisfactory outcome. Yet we do it every day. Or, I should say, I seem to position myself at odds with myself when both of us are equally powerless. It’s like punching at an empty, wet piñata that’s just out of reach—it doesn’t matter that there’s nothing inside but paper towels soaked in water.

Perhaps the day will improve with age. Or maybe I will.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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