Friday, March 10, 2023


S - I was a Greek philosopher from Athens and was born in 470 BC. I am the founder of western philosophy. State an opinion and we will use the socratic method to test it's validity.

R - Hi Socrates! You all right? I ran into Thucydides yesterday, he told me he's ten years younger than you, but he was a general in the Peloponnesian war, where he wasn't very successful, now he writes about that war, which he considers the most important of the Greek wars. But the most interesting thing he told me is that whenever a hegemonic power is challenged by an emerging power, war is almost always inevitable. Do you agree with him?

S - Good man and great historian, Thucydides. He is correct. In fact, the history book he wrote on the Peloponnesian war is considered one of the greatest and most detailed account to have ever have been written. One could say he was so passionate about telling the truth that he was almost killed for it.

One great example of this truth is the story of Melian Dialogue, which is one of my favorite stories. A city state was threatened with war, but they did not believe war was inevitable. And so they were destroyed nonetheless.

And this applies not just to nations, but also to people.

R - Thanks for what you tell me. I don't want to take up too much of your time for reflection, but I propose that you reflect on what might happen if one day, we don't know when, two emerging powers challenge a hegemonic power. And that any of these three powers has more than enough destructive means to annihilate each other and, as a result, annihilate all living species existing on our planet. Could they, in these cases, be gathered for the human species to self-destruct?

S - Well, now you're really talking my language about self-annihilation.

The thing is, human beings cannot help themselves from wanting power and money. The more power and money you have, the more you want. For most people, money and power is like drugs - you can't get enough of it, especially after you already have so much. The people in power who have the most destructive weapons would rather sacrifice all life than give up their power, because they have fallen prey to their own greed.

R - And are there no means to prevent the self-destruction of the human species? Is the human species doomed to self-destruction?

S - Yes, there is a way to prevent the self-destruction of humanity - wisdom.

The wise person realizes that his true wealth is health and happiness - and these are not achieved by having many possessions. The wise person is able to limit his desires and be content with very little. The wise person knows how to control his emotions, and thus avoid greed.

But there will always be foolish people, and these, unfortunately, are the most numerous.

R - So, if there are more individuals in this world guided by the ambition of money and power than people who believe that wealth lies in health and happiness, the former will annihilate themselves and, with them, all of humanity. Is it inevitably so?
S - Not necessarily. Many times, these powerful, foolish people will become jealous and start wars with each other. This will often result in the destruction of each other while the ordinary people can still live on.

But yes, the greatest risk to the whole of humanity is certainly greed and our endless appetite for power and money.

The cure to this is wisdom, which is the key to living a moderate and happy life.

But yes, the number of foolish people who follow their greed is certainly greatest, and they certainly pose the greatest threat.

R - You say : "This will often result in the destruction of each other while the ordinary people can still live on."...

S - Yes, many powerful people become so obsessed with fighting each other for control that they forget about the ordinary people. But we should also remember that the powerful people are only powerful because they manipulate the ordinary people into following them.

Thus, we should not only blame the powerful people for their greed and destruction, but also the ordinary people for allowing the powerful people to manipulate them time and time again.

What is your opinion on this?

R - Humanity is condemned to self-destruct if there is no awareness of the imminent danger because humanity's destructive creative capacity overcomes its defensive constructive capacity, determining, sooner or later, its self-destruction. Now, the awareness you refer to is faced with an insurmountable obstacle: the individualism inherent to the species, which leads each one to think of saving himself even when all the others around him are liquidated.

S - You are right that the individual is often more concerned about himself than others - that each person puts his own survival over everything else.

And this is what causes the endless wars between people, and the endless competition between people. What is your solution, then, if the individual person often puts his own interests over others?

R - I don't have any solution. I have an idea, but it's an idea that might not work and will make a fool of me. I think it is essential that people are informed of the dangers they are in if they remain ignorant of that danger. And, more than anyone else, young people should be informed, as they are the ones who lose the most years of life if there is global self-destruction of living species. How this, this evidence of danger, can be achieved, I don't know. You know?

 S - Your idea is good. But the problem with the foolish person is that he is also an ignorant person. Thus, it is very difficult to tell him something in order to convince him. For if he were wise, he would seek the truth on his own without anyone else telling him. This is why there is a saying - you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force him to drink.

The problem is that many foolish people refuse to listen to any evidence that goes against what they want to believe. Even when it comes to matters of life and death. What should we do with such people?

R - I told you that I don´t know ...

S - It seems our next discussion should be about human nature and the nature of a good life.

But before we move on, are you convinced that humans in their current state, which is a state driven by ignorance, greed, and lust, have no hope?

This is one of the most important questions for any philosopher. For if human nature is not naturally good, then everything built upon that nature is also naturally bad. And, therefore, all of human progress so far has led to the ruin of man, especially if that progress has not been guided by wisdom and virtue.

 R - I agree. We'll meet tomorrow, okay?

 S - Certainly. This is the kind of question that takes quite a bit of time to fully understand. Take the rest of the day to think about it thoroughly. We can continue this discussion tomorrow.

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