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May 04, 2004

A Socratic Dialogue
Kaveh Khodjasteh  [info|posts] I have heard that people are already advocating my death in Athens' city council. Our little democracy is becoming slightly dangerous for people's heads.

Theophilus: Well, some believe, Master, that what you teach, is endangering the pillars of our ancestors' religion.

Socrates: Is that so? Well, the respect they have for their ancestors' religion seems to me a noble thing. It is interesting to note that, I, among all should be a threat to it.

Theophilus: And they say that you advocate tyranny against the self-rule of people.

Socrates: The interplay between the idea of religion as a dogmatic system and democracy as essentially liquid is very interesting to observe.

[Theophilus turns and looks at him with astonishment]

Socrates: You are either a believer or a non-believer; that's the starting point.

Theophilus: Well, I believe!

Socrates: Excellent! Then as a human being, with higher than average feelings for others, you face the terrible human condition, with personal and social magnitudes: the tragedy of human misery and the seemingly endless suffering of the masses. They could be from your home city, they could be the miserable slave kids: depending on your experience any or all of the sufferers of the world.

Theophilus: I hardly have any feeling for slaves, but when I see a poor man on the street, which is becoming an increasingly visible scene, I feel a certain angst and I do pray to the Gods to help him.

Socrates: For many, but maybe not for you, the immediate solution seems to provide a benevolent government that takes care of the situation-

Theophilus: Well, that actually is a solution that I would like!

Socrates: Then you must have also realized that "apparently" the most effective and "relatively" better systems of government are democratic on at least paper.

Theophilus: Just like our glorious Athens.

Socrates: How do your religious beliefs affect this?

Theophilus: It is simple. It would not be nice if one believed in a religion that advocated tyranny, once you came to the conclusion that a democratic government would serve people better and would allay their pains.

Socrates: But if you look at it closely, religion and the system of government can be two completely different things. They will be mixed only if we demand it. This mixture can be good or bad. In case of my personal health, this mix seems to be mortally dangerous.

Theophilus: Well it would be nice if one could enhance social responsibility of the citizens in a democracy by religious means. Wouldn't it be good if everyone voted and took part in the councils and helped the committees as if it was a religious duty?

Socrates: Certainly, but the problem, my good looking Theophilus, is that religion, despite looking so rigid, changes a lot during the history. For example look at our Hellenic civilization. We probably all had the same gods in the beginning, maybe we all worshipped a one God, but now each city has their own favorite god or goddess and our temples seem to be all so different from each other.

Theophilus: Democracy, also, is not a rigid thing. As you said, it is liquid!

Socrates: Yes, but this flexibility is a substance of democracy, while religion, should it change, becomes a new religion: Hence all the schisms and the emergence of new religions.

Theophilus: Well, I guess, there might still be a central theme to all these religions.

Socrates: There is and in fact religion, just like government is a great achievement for human beings because it can unify them and give meaning to their lives.

Theophilus: So you are not against religion, you are against democracy!

Socrates: No, I don't think I made my point to you. Why don't we go to the market and enjoy the evening. Seems that these evenings are already numbered for me and the company of handsome students like you is getting increasingly harder to find.

Babak S at May 4, 2004 03:08 AM [permalink]:

Most befitting!

An Iranian Student (AIS) at May 4, 2004 03:45 AM [permalink]:


Marco Ferreri at May 5, 2004 12:05 AM [permalink]:

Socrates was an invention of Plato who used him to advocate his personal authoritarian and elitist ideas.

How about your usage here, Kaveh?

SG at May 5, 2004 08:24 PM [permalink]:

Funny you should mention liquids here. See my half-baked comment at the foot of Babak S's latest piece.

I can guess the meaning of the word "Theophilus", but what does "Socrates" mean? Anything at all?

No, I don't think I made my point to you. Why don't we go to the market and enjoy the evening?

This in fact makes a great ending for any sort of argument, assuming that we live in the same city with a shopping mall that can be actually enjoyed.

Niayesh at May 10, 2004 12:42 AM [permalink]:

"5:104. And when it is said to them, Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger, they say: That on which we found our fathers is sufficient for us. What! even though their fathers knew nothing and did not follow the right way.

Shakir's Quran Translation"

Thus, I would say following one's ancestors (fathers), is not Islam. Separation of Mosque and State, however, is a whole different story.

AmericanWoman at May 11, 2004 09:51 PM [permalink]:

Where's Wessie? This thing is dying.

Niayesh at May 12, 2004 01:56 PM [permalink]:

Didn't you hear?
Wessie didn't follow the comment policy, and thus, she was banned :(

teqjack at May 17, 2004 11:54 AM [permalink]:

"allow at least 2hrs before you post another comment" Hope that's per thread...

Socrates is still a danger to any [too] rigid system, I see. Even bridges allow sway.