Term paper for Fall Semester 2021 apocryphal course: alt-Plato
"As anyone can see, who reads the scriptures, or even just looks at the pictures." (David Peirick, 1969)
"The medium is the message." (Marshall McLuhan)
The message of Plato's dialogues is the medium: To live without impingements of need or necessity, i.e., no pressure to expend any of one's time or energy on activities which merely reproduce individual and species life: unconstrained leisure, in which one freely chooses to / invest the best hours of their best days in [leisured] study enhancing their wisdom, in the company of good friends and [sexual] lovers.
(d. 399 BCE)
The message of Socrates's life is to freely create one's form of life in self-accountable self-reflection.
The content of Plato's dialogues is irrelevant or at most plays [merely] a supporting role; we can use that content if we like as study material in our own dialogues, but we sufffer no penalty should we choose to not do so. The medium is tthe message.
The biogaphy Socrates scripted for himself in no way tells us what the form of our own lives should be, except that we should each personally script his, her or other's life and not just be 2 legged sheep instantiating the beliefs and customs endemic in our social surround.. In particular, Socrates's choice to commit suicide on the lame excuse that his city' sgovernment gave him a judicial death sentence (but left him at liberty to leave town) is strictly "his own thing", not some kind of moral model for anyone else to follow. That's it, folks; everything from here on out is elucidatiton of the foregoing and present four paragraphs.
Anent Platonic education, I note that there is no power hierarchy. There are no defined roles such as "teacher" or "student"; all are peers, who, in one thing it seems Mr. Plato got right: "have all things in common", which, of course, is communism. Some persons have defecated more times than others; that is no cause for showing them deference. In any particular interaction between persons of different ages, what matters is how each can contribute to the other[s] in a mutually rewarding way. Altruism is self-destruction. Selfishness is solipsistic self-abandonment.
Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fangs bared.
Anent the life Mr. Socrates scripted for himself, I myself find it largely distasteful and unappealing. He was like Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2021 (right), in going out of his way to be offensive to persons he doesn't like. In Ms. Cortez's case her uncouthness elicited from Congressman Ted Yoho to call her a "f*ching b*tch". Part of this epithet does not apply to Mr. Socrates, because he was of male gender, but the spirit would be the same.
The details of Mr. Socrates baiting the bear and then freely choosing to not take up an invitation from friends to live the rest of his natural life in peaceful luxury in a different city, are too well known to need repeating. The net of it is that, I do not trust Mr. Socrates's "Good" to be good for me. And, unlike him, I am not uncouth: While I agree with him that the unexamined life is not worth living, if the examination turns up something like stage-4 pancreatic cancer, I think "It's over, Debbie". For me, the unsavored life is not worth living. Follow the example of Mr. Socrates (and Mr. Buddha and Mr. Jesus Christ and so forth: cook up your own life and not follow anybody. Different strokes for different folks, yes?
But that is secondary, since it is content of "the conversation we are", which I propose, after Professors Hand-Georg Gadamer and John Wild and others, is primary. Let's look more closely at Plato's conversations. They generally consist of an older man and a number of young post-pubescent males. We know that in classical Greece females were thought of as inferior beings and male-with-male sex was preferred. So I speculate the Plato's dialogues are not what contemporary prigs and prudes croon about: G-rated "Platonic love"💗. I would modify the scene to include the ladies and downplay promiscuity, both sexual and social (e.g., people's lust for crowding). Some of Socrates's acolytes were probably "underage", i.e. there likely was what today would be called: pedaphilia in the Academy. I personally am agnostic concerning any consensual behavior that does not raise the possibility of someone needing medical attention; I make this point to remind today's prigs and prudes that their philosophy class matinee idol may not have been altogether moral.
Aside: Socrates as midwife not just pest (gadfly)
Listening to a lecture by somebody or other buzzing around, the lecturer reminded me that Mr. Socrates thought of himself as a midwife in addition to being a pest (gadfly). A midwife does not have the baby but helps another woman to have her baby. Yes, Mr. Socrates, help me to deliver my thoughts, my feelings and my evaluation of yourself. Thank you, Sir.
BMcC[18-11-46-503] Quora posting that got some attention
I think Mr. Socrates was a self-important hypocrite. He knew damned well that he knew enough to get off on making fools of persons less intelligent and experienced in verbal judo than he was. I would love to meet him to try to destroy him in verbal interaction: to humiliate him. I'd also like to get his income tax returns to understand how he could afford to a full time pest ("gadfly") to Athens.
Here's one: Mr. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I would ask him if the examined life is worth living if you have stage 4 cervical cancer where morphine is not relieving the pain. Yes or no, Mr. Socrates. If you know nothing about this, Mr. Socrates since you say you know nothing about anything, please read the JAMA article "It's over, Debbie!", available free on the Internet. Can you read, Mr. Socrates? If not I will read it to you, Mr. Socrates."
But the point of tearing junk down should be to make room for building back better. Do I have anything constructive to replace Mr. Socrates's pious platitudes with? Yes: I say a life of self-reflection and self-accountability (there's the "examining" part which I do take from Mr. Socrates....), in leisured connoisseurship of great books, delectation of the works of master craftspersons and artists, and health and wealth and good friends and a good lover is worth living. I prefer La Tache to hemlock thank you, Mr. Socrates.
Now, Mr. Socrates, what does your wife think of you? You know, today in USA is MeToo so maybe she would like to say something about your universal ignorance? How todo you treat her? Do you have any children? If yes how do you treate them? How many underage boys have you buggered in your time, Mr. Socrates? Oh, I see, you just like watching your acolytes like Mr. Alcibiades do it? I don't mind. I just don't like prigs. Do you want to kill yourself because you have prostate trouble? Incipient renal failure? Maybe you figured you are going to die soon anyway, so why not get your PR man, Mr. Plato, to write you up as a matinee idol for third-rate philosophy teachers to moon about for the next 2,500+ years, and not just disappear from history like most people do? How egotistical can you be? Why don't you be a good ethical example like Diogenes of Sinope? Why did you force the citizens of Athens to give you a death sentence they never wanted to give you? They just wanted you to stop annoying them. And even after you got them to pass that death sentence, you know damned well what they wanted was for you to just leave town and go live out your days with your rich friends in another polis. Only a very few of your fellow Athenians have you pissed off so badly that they want you dead; Most of them just want you gone: anywhere but here. You surely know that, don't you? Oh, sorry, excuse me, Mr. Socrates: you don't know anything? Then how can you talk with anybody since you don't know what words mean? Why didn't you do the decent thing and go out in the woods somewhere and savor your delicious hemlock where nobody else was around to have to put up with you doing it?
I should have thought better here: If Mr. Socrates knew nothing then he did not know what discourse is nor the meaning of words, so what would be the point of talking to an entity which cannot understand language? ~ "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius...." No, Mr. Socrates: You owe Athens for the hemlock.
[Followed by the "I shall return." picture, below]