The Socratic Fallacy

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In his teaching the Greek philosopher, Socrates, maintained that if people were taught the good, they would do it. Now, if you can believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn, New York, I'd like to sell you. I once heard a wise but not well schooled man say, "Wanting ain't getting." That went along with hearing a highly schooled man say the same thing differently, "To want is not to get."

Likewise we might say, "knowing ain't doing," and using better language for those who pride themselves on their schooling, "To know is not to do." And, man, isn't that an understatement. To know has to do with the brain, and to do has to do with what the heart says, and the heart and brain are not always singing a duet off the same page. The message of the mind is not always the music of the heart.

I know you can teach a young man what he is supposed to do, but then put in front of him a muscle car, a pretty woman, lots of cash, and a visit to the beach and maybe not all, but you know what a goodly number of young men will decide.

I suggest this may be why Jesus put, "Lead us not into temptation," in the Lord's Prayer, because He knew temptation was often enough, regardless of education. Knowing what is good for you forty years later is not always appealing to "NOW" people who tend to be in the majority and also are often "immediate gratifiers."

Socrates was, in my humble opinion, something of an Ivory Tower ass.  Education can give your child a good beginning but schooling and
school sense only nearly always guarantees a bad, possibly sad ending, usually a shallow thinker and often a mean, selfish and empty character.

Yes, you may and should want technological schooling for your children, but if that's all you want, then poor kid! Or let's put it this way, to give a child a technological education is a good skill, but he or she also needs a spiritual education that will give him or her a higher knowledge about living. Or you may be left with a selfish, materialistic little manipulator, another social engineer with nothing non-materialistic to pass on.

But I suggest the highest form of social evolution is to bring out in its best form whatever mankind has been born to be. You take what you have and evolve it, move it up in the line it was created to fulfill.

And it is evident from what we are that we, all people, were born to fulfill, to meet, to have a spiritual destiny. That is part of us. Mankind was born to worship, can be counted on to worship, and the question is not, will he worship, but what will he worship and try to be somewhat like.

Liberals today advocate the right of every alligator to be an elephant, but I totally disagree. The answer is for man to be the best man he can be under the circumstances he is placed in.

The human race was born to be spiritual, to believe instinctively in God, and to worship is in our nature. Therefore the worship a man does should be the best worship he can attain to, given his circumstances.

Now a man who denies his instinct to worship is like the alligator who says he has a right to be an elephant. That is nonsense because an alligator cannot be an elephant. He must be wise enough to follow his destiny. If he tries to deny his alligator-ness, he is a fool. As Freud is said to have remarked, the basic impulses of nature cannot be denied.  If they are, the overall forecast for the future of the animal is going to be sad, decadent and neurotic.

Now if our alligator is wise, he will try to be the best alligator POSSIBLE. The alligator will SEEK AND DEVELOP HIS BEING BY BEING THE BEST ALLIGATOR HE NATURALLY CAN BE. (and perhaps nature is on its side in helping the evolution of the alligator to be the best alligator it can be.)

Therefore I suggest that mankind is born to be spiritual.                       As St. Augustine said, mankind is born to seek God, and that a belief in God is carved in the human heart. To deny this belief is a spiritual castration of the self that is just as dangerous to the whole, overall meaning of our lives as a physical castration would be to the flesh.

In this I go back to Aristotle who saw early on that the true destiny of anything lies in achieving excellence in whatever it is supposed to be. We are made to advance to the highest possible degree in the circumstances we are in. We should develop that natural self we were born to be. And since we were born to be human with a belief in God in our hearts, our greatest goal and happiness is not to deny God, but to find and glorify God with the highest belief system about Him that is possible to us.

Therefore we should try to develop to excellence that natural call of belief that is latent in us. Denying it is futile. It is like trying to deny a hand to use, an eye to see, an ear to hear. Denying God is silly, dangerous and usually irrelevant. God will be. If we are to be what we  as humans were meant to be, we will try to develop a spiritual side that will carry us forward.

Thus a human who does not believe is like a bird who does not fly, a horse that does not run, a fish that does not swim. He or she is unnatural in development and is not responding to grace. He or she is not answering the challenge that the LIFE SOURCE has given.

So I suggest to you that you believe and become whole. Raise your children to be likewise.


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.