Socrates on Sheeple (Video)

Brain supported - held in hands.

I like the gentle care, appreciation, shown here!

Dear Readers,

In my post yesterday (“Human Nature…21st Century) I said I’d look for more of Alain de Botton on-line.  This post, “Socrates on Sheeple,” is the  result.   Botton’s 25 minute  video on Socrates is a resource for the 21st Century.

Alain de Botton interviews a British corporate person who risked career and relationships by speaking up, raising questions – in other words, whistle-blower mentality.

Botton also goes to Athens. He explores human behavior of following dominant, popular, “from the leader” conclusions and ideas, (the opposite of whistle-blower).   We humans have long known this behavior in ourselves; we describe it “sheep-like”. 

His Athens trip, of course, centers on Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

The video is an interesting, entertaining, gently put challenge for us to practice independent thinking based on review of Socrates: his lifestyle, questions and teachings.

Socrates asked questions to nudge everyone – whether living high-profile or ordinary lives – to think.   He gives 5 thinking steps  (Botton describes in the video) by which we can discover what we believe and why.

The goal of Socrates’ 5-question system was to help people discover that once we explore questions otherwise thought “too complicated”, we can speak point-of-view with confidence.

One of the first beliefs we need to change, is our incorrect belief that we are not philosophers!   Each of us is born hard-wired to be “a thinker.

Socrates asked us to overcome our laziness and timidityHe believed amount of formal schooling was not important.  Socrates would not have been pleased with our ‘focus group’ system of making decisions. He also reminded us: the majority can be wrong.” (paraphrased from video)

For our best future,  we need as many minds as possible to turn to important, essential, questions. Minds that want to practice systematic, critical, thinkingIndependent minds.

We know, of course, the unfortunate outcome for Socrates!

Lucky for us, we can watch the video. We don’t need to go among strangers, as Socrates did, asking questions that might annoy or alarm.

I’ve also  summarized Socrates 5 steps as given by de Botton on  this critical thinking page.  We can practice in our private thoughts, we can practice with friends. With practice, we may surprise ourselves with our beliefs, and certainly we can gain confidence.

Can you imagine a world in which nearly everyone is interested, curious, and confident to examine truth and ideas? A world in which we respect this practice in one another?

I can! It’s the world I want everyone to live in, to enjoy!

My Best! –MaggieAnn

(As a farmer, I have to add: if you’ve never watched a flock of real sheep on the move, many leaping over invisible (to human vision) obstacles, following one who makes the first leap, you’ve missed a charming moment! It’s hard not to like sheep!) 


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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