Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plato - Second Alcibiades

Second Alcibiades:  A discussion on weather men know what is really good or not.  On the nature of actions directed by truth.

1. The Best Prayer Ever:   King Zeus, whether we pray or not, give us what is good for us                                                                 What is not good for us, give us not, however hard we pray for it.”

2. It is best to know what is best:  “SOCRATES: So what we want is the person who knows one or other of these things [any how-to knowledge such as how to fight or how to give advice] but also has the knowledge of what is best—which no doubt is the same as knowledge of utility. . . So if someone does what he knows, or thinks he knows, and has in addition knowledge of utility, we will judge him a boon both to the state and to himself?”

ALCIBIADES:  Absolutely.”   pp. 604-605

3. “Knowing things “wrong”:  “SOCRATES: There is a verse which fits his case, where the poet complains of someone that “he knew a lot of things but knew them all wrong.”  P. 605

4. On Homer:  “SOCRATES: For you don’t think that Homer, the divinest and wisest of poets—for it is he who says that Margites knew a lot of things but knew them all wrong—didn’t know that it was impossible to know a thing wrong.”  pp. 605-606

5. How the Spartans pray:  “SOCRATES: They [the Spartans] pray the gods to give them first what is good and then what is noble; no one ever hears them asking anything more.”  p. 606

6. God gets to answer our prayers as He sees fit (Thy will be done):  “SOCRATES: Whether we are given what we pray for or the reverse is in the lap of the gods.”  p. 606

7. Homer tells us the Gods are not for sale:  “SOCRATES: In Homer you will find other similar stories.  He tells how the Trojans, when they pitched camp, “sacrificed to the immortals perfect hecatombs [an ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen or cattle].  And how: The winds carried the delicious smell from the plain up to heaven.  But the blessed gods took none of it, and had no pleasure in it; So deep was their hatred of holy Ilium, and Priam, And the people of Priam of the ashen spear.

. . . For I don’t imagine that it is like the gods to be swayed by gifts, like some low moneylender; we make ourselves sound very silly when we boast that we do better than the Spartans on this score.”   p. 607

8. That which is of value to Gods and men of sound mind:  “SOCRATES: Gods and men of sound mind are more likely to hold justice and wisdom in especial honor; and none are wise and just but those who know how to behave and speak to gods and men.”  


Euphemisms - the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

Polymath - a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

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