I officially started to read my very first bit of Plato on March 4th, 2014 at 8 o’clock in the morning. I am 66 pages into Five Dialogues. Before you ask, yes, I am going to be taking this opportunity to review a book of philosophy before i’ve finished reading it, and to begin to review a canon of work before I have come to truly understand it. Carpe diem, Y.O.L.O., et cetera.
In a lot of ways, we live in a world that is so soaked in details that we aren’t even able notice it. We have details for everything, even things that don’t really have a large amount of relevance to us. What’s more important? That I finally began to read a work of Plato for the first time, though i’ve been interested in classical philosophy and writings for around 4 years now? (My only previous contact with Socrates being two time travellers.) Or is it that I could (and did) tell you the exact hour that I picked up the book and began to read it? I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that I am bombarded with on a day to day basis. The human brain is hardwired to filter out and focus on specific bits of information. However, that’s mostly an unconscious process.
And now you’re thinking “What in the world does that entire paragraph have to do with Plato?”. Well, the answer is, probably not a whole lot. At the end of the day, a lot of the subjects about which Plato writes are quite apart from my day to day experience. Trials, duty, piety, rhetoric. Not things that I think about too often. I feel that what I’ve been gaining from reading the Dialogues is not so much from the logical conclusion of the conversations but more so the general way that the dialogues are navigated through by the speakers. I appreciate the rigor with which Socrates engages his conversational partners, and his dedication to knowledge and truth. I think that is what has been resonating with me.
Not to mention I look at least 70% more intelligent when I read Plato while riding the bus.
(I am also a pretty big fan of the fact that Euthyphro doesn’t even get his answer at the end of his dialogue. Take that, insatiable need to acquire un-skillful knowledge!)