Saturday, 14 March 2009

A more tangible and immediate reward


“You are not one of us, Aristotle, and you will never be,” sentenced Plato. “This is why I have to ask you to leave the Academy.” Plato made a pause expecting to hear bitter recriminations from his student, but none were forthcoming. Aristotle stared at Plato silently, almost with indifference, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Haven't you realized how much your questions irritate other students?” continued Plato, his voice tainted with anger. “Can't you see that nobody likes you?” Without saying a word, Aristotle turned around and faced the class.

They were all there. All of Plato's students at the Academy. Sippus, Xenocrates, and the rest. None of them had wanted to miss the spectacle of Aristotle's public humiliation. All of them had wanted to savour the vindication of their timidity and conformity. Aristotle was an outcast. Aristotle didn't belong. Aristotle had to go.

Sippus stood up, walked to the front of the room, and stood still facing Aristotle, the Macedonian. Sippus had disliked Aristotle since the first day they had met. He hated Aristotle's cool reasoning and passionate logic. He would have liked nothing better than to see Aristotle condemned for contempt of the gods and sold as a slave.

“I have refrained myself for too long,” began Sippus, turning to his fellow students. “Have we not all learned that there is no higher purpose than unity? That the goal of a philosopher's life is to share the common opinion?”

The other students nodded. Sippus was neither brilliant nor well-spoken, but he could be trusted when it came to echoing Plato's teachings in a righteous tone. Many regarded him as the most likely to succeed Plato at the head of the Academy. Sippus was also Plato's nephew, although that was a coincidence.

Aristotle smiled and looked at Plato. It was such smile of Aristotle that all students at the Academy had learned to fear. It was the smile that always preceded powerful arguments put forward softly, arguments that would tear any fallacy to shreds.

“Since when is the common opinion worth more than the truth?” asked Aristotle without raising his voice. Plato took in a deep breath, but did not respond. Sippus searched frantically in his mind for a good answer or, at least, for a sophism that he could use to confound the odious Macedonian.

That winter, in the year 347 B.C., was going to be Plato's last. Aristotle would soon leave Athens, only to return 13 years later, in his early fifties, to start up a competing school, the Lyceum, and write 40 essays that would change the course of History.

When Sippus finally managed to put together a reply, he pointed his finger theatrically at the other students. “Do you dispute, Aristotle, that the highest honour in life is the good opinion of your fellow citizens?”

“An honest man would do better to strive for a more tangible and immediate reward,” answered Aristotle calmly. Then he walked to what had been his place at the Academy during the last ten years, bent over, picked up his roll of manuscripts, and headed for the door.

“What reward are you talking about?” retorted Sippus infuriated. Aristotle's response came as he crossed the doorway, without bothering to look back. “Immortality,” he said.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rizkapb under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

A more tangible and immediate reward


“You are not one of us, Aristotle, and you will never be,” sentenced Plato. “This is why I have to ask you to leave the Academy.” Plato made a pause expecting to hear bitter recriminations from his student, but none were forthcoming. Aristotle stared at Plato silently, almost with indifference, and shrugged his shoulders.

“Haven't you realized how much your questions irritate other students?” continued Plato, his voice tainted with anger. “Can't you see that nobody likes you?” Without saying a word, Aristotle turned around and faced the class.

They were all there. All of Plato's students at the Academy. Sippus, Xenocrates, and the rest. None of them had wanted to miss the spectacle of Aristotle's public humiliation. All of them had wanted to savour the vindication of their timidity and conformity. Aristotle was an outcast. Aristotle didn't belong. Aristotle had to go.

Sippus stood up, walked to the front of the room, and stood still facing Aristotle, the Macedonian. Sippus had disliked Aristotle since the first day they had met. He hated Aristotle's cool reasoning and passionate logic. He would have liked nothing better than to see Aristotle condemned for contempt of the gods and sold as a slave.

“I have refrained myself for too long,” began Sippus, turning to his fellow students. “Have we not all learned that there is no higher purpose than unity? That the goal of a philosopher's life is to share the common opinion?”

The other students nodded. Sippus was neither brilliant nor well-spoken, but he could be trusted when it came to echoing Plato's teachings in a righteous tone. Many regarded him as the most likely to succeed Plato at the head of the Academy. Sippus was also Plato's nephew, although that was a coincidence.

Aristotle smiled and looked at Plato. It was such smile of Aristotle that all students at the Academy had learned to fear. It was the smile that always preceded powerful arguments put forward softly, arguments that would tear any fallacy to shreds.

“Since when is the common opinion worth more than the truth?” asked Aristotle without raising his voice. Plato took in a deep breath, but did not respond. Sippus searched frantically in his mind for a good answer or, at least, for a sophism that he could use to confound the odious Macedonian.

That winter, in the year 347 B.C., was going to be Plato's last. Aristotle would soon leave Athens, only to return 13 years later, in his early fifties, to start up a competing school, the Lyceum, and write 40 essays that would change the course of History.

When Sippus finally managed to put together a reply, he pointed his finger theatrically at the other students. “Do you dispute, Aristotle, that the highest honour in life is the good opinion of your fellow citizens?”

“An honest man would do better to strive for a more tangible and immediate reward,” answered Aristotle calmly. Then he walked to what had been his place at the Academy during the last ten years, bent over, picked up his roll of manuscripts, and headed for the door.

“What reward are you talking about?” retorted Sippus infuriated. Aristotle's response came as he crossed the doorway, without bothering to look back. “Immortality,” he said.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by rizkapb under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

When everything fails, try this


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost more than 80% of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

When you reach the bottom, you have several alternatives. Your first option is to believe that your life is over. That could translate into opening a beer, sitting down on the sofa, turning on the TV, and letting electromagnetic waves numb you into unconsciousness. I have tried this approach myself once and it doesn't work. Let's see what else you can try.

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours. Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?


Fury comes in the third place. Get angry, stand up from your sofa, go to the kitchen, and throw a dish against the wall. The dish breaks into pieces and now you have to sweep the kitchen floor. The anger approach is useless and will generate extra costs, additional work, or both. Fury turns into obfuscation, which is never conductive to improving your life.

Action comes next. This is a good alternative, the only proven to work. If you have lost a job, go and look for another position, preferably a much better one. Why is this obvious solution so difficult to implement? Why most of us tend to run in circles doing nothing, complaining, or displaying pointless anger? This question addresses a crucial point. We fail to move forward because we are convinced that action won't result in our desired outcome.

Would you admit that people react in highly divergent ways when facing exactly the main problem? Some men need five years to get over a failed marriage, while others begin dating a couple of weeks after getting divorced. How come that one person gives up the hope of rebuilding a family, while the other immediately starts to search for a new life partner?

Personal philosophy plays the key role in surmounting any kind of tragedy or catastrophe. The beliefs and convictions inside a man's mind determine whether he will stand up once more, shrug his shoulders at failure, gather his remaining resources, and try again.

What is the best way to acquire the moral reflexes that will lead you out of darkness? I have a low-cost recommendation for you: read History, the more, the better. You will learn how men and women have triumphed over desperate situations by taking action. When everything fails, try imitating solutions that have repeatedly worked in the past. You might be surprised to find out that they usually work.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by fdecomite under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

When everything fails, try this


Do you have lots of problems? I am talking about serious troubles, not small stuff. Have you lost more than 80% of your assets in the stock market crash? Are you going through divorce? Did you just lose a great job? Sometimes, it seems that all dikes break simultaneously in order to make sure that your home is flooded beyond repair.

When you reach the bottom, you have several alternatives. Your first option is to believe that your life is over. That could translate into opening a beer, sitting down on the sofa, turning on the TV, and letting electromagnetic waves numb you into unconsciousness. I have tried this approach myself once and it doesn't work. Let's see what else you can try.

A second possibility consists of wailing and crying yourself deaf. Make a list of your problems, from major to minor, call up a friend, and start sharing your lamentations. A close friend will put up with your complaints for a while, but eventually, he might decide to become an ex-friend of yours. Have I ever gone on a wailing binge myself? You bet. Did it ever work? To this question, I believe that you already know the answer. Complaining doesn't work. Which other paths can you take?


Fury comes in the third place. Get angry, stand up from your sofa, go to the kitchen, and throw a dish against the wall. The dish breaks into pieces and now you have to sweep the kitchen floor. The anger approach is useless and will generate extra costs, additional work, or both. Fury turns into obfuscation, which is never conductive to improving your life.

Action comes next. This is a good alternative, the only proven to work. If you have lost a job, go and look for another position, preferably a much better one. Why is this obvious solution so difficult to implement? Why most of us tend to run in circles doing nothing, complaining, or displaying pointless anger? This question addresses a crucial point. We fail to move forward because we are convinced that action won't result in our desired outcome.

Would you admit that people react in highly divergent ways when facing exactly the main problem? Some men need five years to get over a failed marriage, while others begin dating a couple of weeks after getting divorced. How come that one person gives up the hope of rebuilding a family, while the other immediately starts to search for a new life partner?

Personal philosophy plays the key role in surmounting any kind of tragedy or catastrophe. The beliefs and convictions inside a man's mind determine whether he will stand up once more, shrug his shoulders at failure, gather his remaining resources, and try again.

What is the best way to acquire the moral reflexes that will lead you out of darkness? I have a low-cost recommendation for you: read History, the more, the better. You will learn how men and women have triumphed over desperate situations by taking action. When everything fails, try imitating solutions that have repeatedly worked in the past. You might be surprised to find out that they usually work.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by fdecomite under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]