Monday, December 17, 2007

Philsophically Speaking ...


From the classical guitarists newsgroup:

Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you hear, or are about
to repeat, a rumor.

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for
his wisdom. One day the great philosopher 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 Test of Three.'

'Test of Three?'

'That's correct,' Socrates continued. 'Before you talk to me about my student, let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you areabout to tell me is true?'

'No,' the man replied, '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 test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?'

'No, to 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 though because there is a third test, 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, and said no more. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

It also explains why Socrates never found out that Plato was banging his wife ...

5 comments:

Bobbe Edmonds said...

I love that story, to this day it always makes me laugh! The test of three is great advice in any case.

Of course, it's just a rumor that Xanthippe slept with Plato (among others) but I like to think that she didn't. If she was THAT difficult to get along with, she wouldn't be attractive to a Greek man who could have a young boy that didn't talk.

A woman who beat the ORIGINAL Old Man at his own game? Worth her weight in gold, you ask me. Everyone calls her a harpie, but outspoken, uppity women are always looked upon with disdain. I'll bet you anything she was at least half the reason Socrates was so wise.

Steve Perry said...

The Buddhist version of the three is: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? and 3) Is it necessary?

I'm usually happy if I can get two out of three.

Dan Gambiera said...

With an overbearing husband like Socrates who talked down to everyone I'd be surprised if she didn't go elsewhere. Or poison him years ago.

redcode said...

Personally, I think the third test - whether it was useful - was answered incorrectly. Knowing your wife was cheating on you is quite a bit of useful information. It is worth, at least, the beginning of an investigation into whether it's true or not. I'm just sayin' is all...

redcode said...

In reality, the third test was answered inaccurately. It would be a useful piece of information indeed to discover that my wife was cheating on me. It would at least be enough to start an investigation into the truthfulness of it.