Look for Truth Yourself (Summer in the Republic 2)

Look for Truth Yourself (Summer in the Republic 2) June 5, 2018

Busy people wish to short circuit learning, but there is not a fast way to wisdom. Microwave education is like microwave pizza: ready when you want it, but you should wait a bit longer for actual pizza.

Imagine knowing one of the greatest teaches who would ever live, but you want him to come to your house only as entertainment. The real fun begins with a nighttime spectacular, but meanwhile like the discerning host you are, there is a bit of edutainment. After all, there is a snobbish joy in talking about heady things, just if one does not go too far.

Think too much and you might upset your social status and start looking for justice and God. They kill lovers of wisdom: ask Socrates, Jesus, Joan, or Martin.

The start of Republic has Socrates hurrying back to the City. The City is the place where he seeks wisdom, because the City is where people, at least wealthy men**, can take the time to think. As he is walking up the steep incline from the port to the City, he is grabbed from behind by a slave.

Once we had made our devotions and seen the whole festival, we started home. But at that moment Polemarchus, Cephalus’s son, saw us hurrying on and had his boy run to stop us. He grabbed my cloak from behind and said that Polemarchus hoped that we would wait for him to catch up.

There are many evils associated with economic slavery, but one is the indolence that overtakes the “master.” Like the chairbound in Wall-E, the “master” becomes unwilling to do anything for himself, even save his own soul. Polemarchus sends his slave to grab the teacher.

This is not because Polemarchus, whose name means War-Chief and who is presented as powerful in the entire dialog, is infirmed. His father, whose name means “head,” is slowing down, but Polemarchus is in his prime and has the wealth to do what he wishes. What he wishes is that he can be well regarded, smart, and in touch with what the right Athenians, the ones that will not make him a citizen, but invite him to the good parties.

He wants to be smart, but he sends a slave to grab Socrates.

God help us.

Who does not recognize the evil in self? I wish to be wise, but cannot be bothered. I send my slaves, in this case electronic slaves, to look for a summary.

If you are a Christian, you should recognize the problem. Jesus was on Earth, but many could not leave their work to follow Him. They asked for signs instead: much easier, see the sign, acknowledge, go about your business. Wisdom requires love and love is glad to follow regardless of the cost.

Nobody has to tell a man in love to give his all to the beloved!

I failed love early in my life. I did. I hate that. Yet we are again and again in the position of Polemarchus. Will we send a slave while we leisurely catch up? Or will we hasten, like Peter and John, to see for ourselves?


*I begin an informal summer reading of Republic using Scott/Sterling (a new translation for me). Part 1. Part 2.

**A good thing about spreading wealth is the ability to consider life . . . This can turn into uselessness (See Acts 17), but can be good.

Browse Our Archives