Don’t Disrobe on my Account

I have been playing with the marriage of philosophy and engaged living from the inception of Socrates into my life as a high school student in Greece. Even then as a neophyte and new to Athens, I couldn’t quite rip myself from living philosophy by tracking Socrates’s steps around the Acropolis. Everyday I somehow ended up in Plaka –The Ancient City of Athens – and inevitably found myself on the Acropolis. Eventually I grew wise to the gravitational pull and began to deliberately take Hamilton and Cairns’s HUGE anthology The Collected Dialogues of Plato with me. Socrates always seemed bigger than life to me, and even though this may be attributed to the delectable literary genius of Plato (and others), I didn’t care. I was far more impressed and, quite frankly, self-absorbed (something I haven’t ever really transitioned out of, I’m afraid) to concern myself with the traditionally important scholarly issue: “The Problem of Socrates”. What did I care if the words on the page I was reading were really Socrates’s own? What did I care, whether answering affirmatively, that questions of hermeneutics far above my philosophical pay grade got tagged on? I could relate to the context in which Socrates engaged with his interlocutors where addressing their parochial, socially entrenched belief and value set seemed to speak directly to the their demeanour or manner of being in the world in relation to others. I recall thinking this was laughable – in an entertaining kind of way – in the case of Cephalus in Book I of Plato’s Republic and Thrasymachus, especially in Book II of the same dialogue. Thrasymachus, a sophist, was easily ignited – as even his name suggests – with buttons so frequently tested by Socrates’s delightful (one man’s delightful, is another man’s bully) elenctic campaign, that the Reader – at least the self-reflective kind – gained insight into how disparaging a person so lacking in temperance might look and behave! I realized then that the personal act of self-reflexivity was my calling card into living a more authentic and meaningful life! I had noticed in myself a tendency to wear my beliefs as undergarment, quite easily exposed when the first piece of outer garment was removed. How could I – though only in my late teens apparently I was something of a spinning-top or whirl-wind – be so vulnerable to circumstance and other’s perceptions, especially when this involved me – after all everything is always just about me…solipsism was never too far from my sense of solitariness! I could change all this, if I could renegotiate my beliefs! This was revelatory: my beliefs are conditioned no less than appearances that even children as young as 5 are quick to notice are quite distinct from how things really are! So, I began to realize that redressing ideas inculcated rather passively through the simple flow of living could alter my attitudes, beliefs, perceptions about the world and the meaningfulness (or lack thereof) of the role I would charter for myself. Philosophical Counseling speaks to those early experiences and my intrigue with Socrates which I consider philosophical.

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