Virtual Socratic Symposium: trial run

January 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

So, I realize that Sofya is wayyyy ahead of me in the posting-of-awesome-recipes department. I managed, this afternoon, to make a red-white-and-green lasagna, with the chicken cacciatore leftover from Tuesday, and feta white sauce with pesto…but since I have class tonight I didn’t have time to take cool pictures and post them. So, I have this weird sense that my lasagna is less real. Dear me, what hath technology wrought?

Anyway, I thought: part of good living is good conversation. That, I trust, I will enjoy tonight, since my class is seminar-style. But wouldn’t it be better if I could have great conversation sitting at a big table with a glass of wine and some rustic bread and some of Sofya’s cheese and some organic honeycrisp apples? Yes, it would…a la the “Symposium” of the ancient Greeks, as commemorated in one of Plato’s most famous dialogues. Except, in that one, everyone – except Socrates – ended up passed out drunk.

I don’t necessarily recommend that, but I would like to submit for consideration a kind of virtual symposium at which, while you are still inwardly delecating over Sofya’s pictures, you may engage in convivial – you know the literal definition of “convivial” means “with the feast”? – debate on vital subjects of the day. By which, I do not mean politics. Nope. I gave up politics for the year.

So, take a big sip of Speri Amarone della Valpolicella (my favorite wine – its made from partially-dried grapes – costs a packet, but here its free) and a nibble of cheese and think on this question:

Socrates: Is there any moral merit at all in doing a good act solely because you are afraid of punishment.

Me: Socrates, where did you come from?

Socrates: I popped out of that book, over there.

Me: Well, no wonder it was smelling funny. I thought it was just mildewy. You haven’t bathed for a while, have you?

Socrates: No, its not that. Its my wife. She emptied a chamber pot on my head.

Me: Folks, this guy is a nut. Answer his question so he stops breathing on me! What do you think: if I behave myself just because I’m skeert of hellfire and brimstone, does that make me a decent person, or a self-serving wimp….or what?

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§ One Response to Virtual Socratic Symposium: trial run

  • Suzanne says:

    Morality is the outward expression of who we are. It’s not about good actions or bad actions (sorry if I’m not being philosophical, Socrates, but I am a catechist, not a scholar). Moralism is the notion that whether we do good or do bad determines who we are, determines our value (goodness/badness). But moralism is a lie (as are most isms) — thank God! Either my value derives from what I do, in which case I’m pretty much screwed; or my value is not determined by what I do, in which case I want to know where my value comes from and what it amounts to. Either I’m the sum total of my biological antecedents — essentially a lump of earth that through certain electrical accidents has become capable of moving and making noise; or I’m made by someone else. Either my movements and noise have no value or meaning, or their value and meaning come from this Someone else. Thus, I’m eternally grateful that what I intuit to be true — that I am not an accident of biology but rather made by Someone else — has already been confirmed, because he himself took on flesh and delivered the message personally.

    Doing good or bad out of fear is neither good or bad, then. It’s simply a sign of confusion regarding reality. Can any action (so-called good or so-called bad) bring about clarity and truth? Yes. Someone could rob me or dress my wounds (from any motive whatever) and in each case, it could be an opportunity for me to recognize that I’m being made by Another and that my value comes from Another.

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