The Death of Socrates and The Layman’s Place In Philosophy

One of the great tragedies of our time is the way in which our culture treats novices.

23 days ago

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The Death of Socrates and The Layman's Place In Philosophy

David - The Death of Socrates - A planksip Pillar of Sophia

The Death of Socrates and The Layman's Place In Philosophy

One of the great tragedies of our time is the way in which our culture treats novices. Everybody has to start somewhere, so the saying goes, and yet anyone perusing through a bookshelf in the hopes that they may find a helpful guide for learning a new skill--from cross-stitching to computer science--will find themselves under attack by books with titles that call their intelligence into question. Rather than being met with words of encouragement for wanting to expand their minds, they get the Redd Foxx treatment.

The Redd Foxx treatment. "You Big Dummy!"

It is uncertain exactly when being a beginner became synonymous with being a “dummy”; nonetheless, it seems to have taken off, which is quite unfortunate, especially when you take into account the way in which knowledge used to be disseminated. Socrates certainly would not have stood for this assault on the layman (or layperson, to use the parlance of our times). This is because, to Socrates, we’re all laymen.

Philosophy, as a discipline, has always been geared towards those seeking to acquire more knowledge than they already have; indeed, the definition of philosophy is literally “love (philo) of knowledge (sophy).” As a matter of fact, perhaps one of the most famous proclamations in all of philosophy is that classic quip from Socrates about the only thing he knows: nothing. Bearing all of this in mind, it becomes clear that the earliest scholars and thought leaders possessed a deep love of all laypeople.

It is not too difficult, however, to see why connotations have changed since the death of Socrates. These days, it seems as if the entire branch of philosophy is almost universally perceived as a collection of esoteric, impractical, hoity-toity musings put forth by a bunch of Ph.D.  students with too much time on their hands. With all of the technical language and outdated references, one may wonder if it is even worth it to try and decipher any of this stuff, since it seems unlikely to produce any real value for the average Joe or Jessica.

Here at planksip, we believe that this is quite unfortunate, as it robs the majority of people of the opportunity to challenge themselves intellectually. When it comes to content creation, our managed social media takes its cue from Denis Diderot, darling of the French Enlightenment era, who famously suggested that “it is important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.”

“Believing” in God, or Goodness as I often equivocate in the Platonic for-m(e), is in part an acknowledgement of the justification of the individual and partially natures pathway to prosperity. At planksip, we are committed to providing information that is directly applicable to a lay audience, out of respect for those among us who seek to better themselves. You’re no dummy; Socrates certainly wouldn’t think so!

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Daniel Sanderson

Published 23 days ago