Just an Education, According to Socrates

Many of you have probably heard of Socrates, and Plato by extension. You may have even read the Republic in some class. Today’s book report is an over simplified examination on one of the themes from The Republic

If you have never read this book, you are going to have your mind blown. 🤯

The major theme of the book is a discussion on Justice. What it is and what it is not, and if being Just is all it is cracked up to be. Along the way there are ideas presented that serve as foundational undertones to what served, in my opinion, our Founding Fathers as they formed their new republic. I mean, those guys were educated men and so they most likely had read Plato’s Republic.

For this report, I want to explore one thing that I found particularly noteworthy while reading The Republic. And truthfully, this was my first time reading The Republic. This text has had an exceptionally profound effect on any me after I read it and I can’t help my self coming back to the things I read.

But I digress from what I want to report on here.

I would like to cover Socrates’s ideas on what a just education would look like. I think this is an exceptionally relevant theme to this blog as I have covered the topic of learning before.

A Just Education

Lets dial this back a little bit.

The conversation found in the Republic makes it quite explicit that the education that Socrates promotes is one to be shared by all. We all know that men and women are different, and children are too. But, as it is explored, there must be an education for all the people of this ‘City of Justice’ that fosters a world view of justice. And at different stages of life, you would take on different subjects.

So everyone gets the same education. And this education looks like the following (I wonder if it looks kind of how we structure education today):

Gymnastics

Now before you get it in your head that we are talking about doing back flips or parallel bars, gymnastics is meant to cover a broad spectrum of topics. Yes, weight lifting and cardio training are included in that. But I want you to think about what is meant to be a physical being, to have a physical body. You are born into an organism that has very little strength or dexterity, and as you develop strength in your limbs, flexibility in your joints, dexterity in your appendages, and become a capable body, are you not better able to do just acts in this world?

You cannot be just if you cannot do your bodily business on account of a weak and incapable body. And so from a young age we help children become strong by making the play ground a game of gymnastics. Ever wonder why they thought to call it a jungle gym?

Music

For those of you who don’t play music, calm down. Although music of today is not the same as it was over two thousand years ago, I want you to think about what music encompasses. Music is not only the sounds of instruments and the art of playing them, but music is also singing and song writing, rhythm and rhyming, knowing lyrics and telling stories through song. If I could more closely define what Socrates meant by Music, I would call it the field of liberal arts. You could call this the right brain training, or creativity.

Why would we focus on teaching, or becoming educated for that matter, in Music (as Socrates puts it)? Would you be a very just person if all the music you listen to implied a benefit to being unjust? Or how about this. Would you do justice unto others if every story you have ever been told was that helping others led to pain and suffering? And one more. Would you compel others to do justice if you were inundated with images (pictures and paintings) that advocated for violence and bloodshed?

The simple answer is, no. Your probably wouldn’t. And if you don’t believe me, look at what children are taught in schools and ask your self if they are teaching them to be just. Or how about what you are reading, are you learning about how you too can be a just person?

Math

If you say that you aren’t good a math, than you need to take a second and rethink your education. If you can’t do 1+1, then there is a serious problem. But maybe you are asking, what does math have to do with justice? Well, I will tell you.

Of all the different subjects that I didn’t anticipate coming from the mouth of the trickster, Socrates, Maths was the last. His arguement is that in pursuit of the absolute, as we play with the forms of numbers, shapes, bodies and movements of them, we begin to gaze upon the eternal ideas that form our reality. Let’s try an example.

Algebra: Is it just to tell someone that you handed them two bananas when you only handed them one?

But how about geometry? Is it just to tell someone that the square footage of a home is more, when in all reality it is less?

How about trigonometry? Is it just to tell someone that they are getting a gallon when you are giving them a cup?

And how about calculus? Is it just to tell the officer that your car was going 5 mph when it was really going 50 mph?

If you answered yes to any of these, you need to seriously reconsider any statement like, ‘I am not very good at math.’ We are all very good at math, it is only a matter of computation that tends to stump us.

Dialectic

The last, and most dangerous, part of a person’s education in this hypothetical ‘Just City’, is the art of dialectic.

Dialectic is essentially the art of argument.

The subject of arguing one’s point of view, the art of asking well placed and reasoned questions, would be the one part of every person’s education that would most likely lead to their downfall as a city. Don’t believe me?

Why do you think it is that there is some information that we withhold from children? Why do you think there is some questions that you never ask a child? Why is it that we go to seminars and classes to learn how to ask better questions of our selves and those around us?

The reasoning for this is because those who are skilled in argument, skilled in asking defensible questions, can erode the very foundations of another simply by knowing all the right things to say. These corrosive arguments can be exceptionally helpful in destroying self-limiting believes, but wrongly applied some of the arguements that we interact with, if repeated or parroted to others in the wrong context could lead to corrosion in others for unnecessary purposes. What’s more is that once a person has learned questions that alter their reality, they go in turn and perpetuate these corrosive arguments ad infinitum.

However, as dangerous as it is, Dialectic is according to Socrates what leads us further and further up towards those absolute and eternal ideas: like justice. As we go about defending our selves from the arguments of others, we strengthen our understanding, we preserver. And when we ask the right kinds of questions of others, we open them to possibilities that were never thought possible.

Conclusion

I want to end this post today with a question.

A simple question, and I think you will like it.

Is being uneducated in these five categories just?

That’s all.

The Way of The Wolf, or Improve Your Freedom of Speech

I wanted to start off today by saying that I am grateful, first of all, for the men and women that have fought for my country. I am grateful to live in a country where I can exercise my first amendment, the right to free speech, and I thought today would be a great day to exercise that right that others have fought for. We have talked about the right to the freedom of speech once before on this blog, and now I want to cover a book that explores some of the ramifications of the freedom.

Before I go into today’s book report, I want to thank my very good friend for giving me this book. He has been an incredible friend for over a decade and there is no one who I have spent more time face to face discussing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with; other than my wife. My friend Taylor (I am not paid in anyway to share this link) shared this book with me on one of our many walks around Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, and I am very excited to give my thoughts on the matter.

Book Review: Jordan Belfort's Way of The Wolf. | by Aldric Chen | Medium

Now, if you don’t know who Jordan Belfort is, well… do a search for the full details. But the long skinny is the guy is a power house of a salesperson who built a tremendous business for himself and others, and he did it by teaching others his methodology: The Straight Line. I am not going to get into the ethics, or the controversies that surround Belfort, but I am going to get to the real material that is incredibly beneficial to know.

When you approach this book, you have to understand that Belfort is a natural story teller and also a natural salesperson. So as you go through his story of how the Straight Line Persuasion method came to be, you also get to take a peek into the psychologies that play into the mechanics of his method. For a very quick rundown of what SLP is, it is intentional and goal oriented selling. It is not about manipulation, it is not about tricking people, Straight Line Persuasion is about knowing all the words that the customer needs you to say and in the way they want you to say it to them. Basically, this sales book is really about customer service.

Okay, that sounds like a broad claim. You are probably asking, ‘how is knowing what to say and how to say it doing a customer any service?’ Well, if you so happen to be dealing with an absolute novice in a company and you are about to spend your money, you want to make sure that you are receiving the best treatment possible along the way. Having a methodology for how to talk to people, having a model to work from, can radically improve your results of providing service to others.

So now my guess is that you are incredible confused. Okay, let’s put it like this, on one end you have the start of a conversation, and on the other end you have the customer satisfaction you are looking to achieve:

start———end

Your goal as a human being is to gather intelligence from the person you are talking with, selling or serving or just chatting, and you need to be developing rapport on the way to the close of the engagement. The most difficult thing that most people have, regardless of whether they are in a profession or not, is being able to communicate with others effectively enough to effect the change that they want to see happen. You want to get a raise, you want to close a sale, you want to go on a date, you want to get the service personnel you have been talking to for over an hour to refund you your money you felt swindled out of, you want your loved one to get their dang feet off the couch and go do the dishes? What you need to know is that along the way to getting everything you want out of the conversation, you are going to need to know what you are going to say (each step you are going to take on your conversational journey) and you are going to need know how you say it (the speed and pacing you take the conversational journey).

That should make things a little bit more clear to you, and admittedly, Belfort does an incredible job of taking you through the stages of any uncertainty that you may be feeling as a speaker and communicator, and he is able to help you gain confidence in your self in a massive way. And if you are lacking confidence in getting your way, don’t worry about it, aside from Belfort systematically demonstrating how you can build massive confidence in your self by learning a skill called state control, you can learn from this guy we wrote about too.

State control is really the bread and butter to the Straight Line Persuasion methodology. If you aren’t able to get yourself in an empowered state, confidence being one of them, how are you to help someone else become empowered in seeing your way through? The simple answer is you won’t, that is unless you put a gun to someone’s head and that entirely eliminates people’s freedoms. Don’t do that. But seriously though, you have inside of you this ability to harness your emotional energy in such a way that it can be channeled into your words, into your communication, which leads to conveying tremendous power into your communication the likes of which you have never seen, or have but only in an unconscious way.

But if all this hyperbole sounds like utter baloney to you, ask your self the following questions:

  • Have I ever felt on my A-game?
  • When I was on my A-game, did it feel like things went my way?
  • Did I feel that there was an energy and charisma about myself that lead to saying and doing things that empowered me like a dynamo of energy?

If you have felt any of these to be true, then you have, on some unconscious level, be persuading the world into your empowered state. Having a model for how to communicate leads to an empowered state, that’s what the Straight Line Method does. And that empowered state leads to effectively communicating emotions to others who have an interest in being in an empowered state like you. And so by practicing and fine tuning your skills as a communicator you naturally grow in confidence of your abilities to communicate, which leads to a more perfect expression of your right to free speech. (You were wondering when I was going to tie that back in, weren’t you?)

You see, as a person that has a right to bear arms, or to exercise the second amendment right, if you lack the skill to do so because you haven’t practiced, you put your self and others at risk when you willy-nilly exercise that right. Likewise, when you implement your first amendment right in a manner that is sloppy, lazy or hap-hazardous, you put your self and others at risk of you disempowered state.

And so I implore you, if you care about the rights that Veterans of this Great Country have defended, and you have an interest in bettering your self and exercising your rights to the most optimal state, consider learning how to become a more effective communicator. And one of the best ways that you can do that is by learning from one of the most successful teachers in effective communication the twenty first century has ever known: Jordan Belfort.

How to See Through the Fog: on reading “The Art of Thinking Clearly”

As you might have seen from some of the other posts that I have made, process is kind of an important thing to consider. When it comes thinking however, many of us don’t really have a prcess. Now, I did cover Ultra Learning and habit formation in some other posts, but I have never really dived into thinking.

There really are three thing that I want to talk about here:

An encyclopedia about biases, fallacies, and thinking errors

The art of thinking clearly and a picture of the author, he's handsome.

When I came in contact with The Art of Thinking Clearly, I thought I was going to be reading a book about how to think clearly. I know, sounds pretty self explanatory. But what I found was anything but that, The Art of Thinking Clearly is a book about the different ways that human beings make mistakes in their thinking, and it does this by outlining 99 different biases, fallacies, and thinking errors.

Truthfully, I wanted a book that was going to read more like a novel, like The Goal, or like a journey into a subject matter, like The Power of Habit, but having a book that acts like a lean encyclopedia or catalog was fine after I got thinking about it. I mean Rolf Dobelli does a fine job in some instances of demonstrating where he has seen some of the companies he’s consulted make serious error, but The Checklist Manifesto (on of the earliest books I reviewed) is leagues above this book in terms of raw story telling and practicality.

I mean, Rolff didn’t really do anything more than just copy and paste. But I don’t want to be too damning on this book, I was able to really make headway in some other areas of my life as a result of having a very high overview of ways that I make mistakes when I do serious thinking.

All Decisions Start as Ideas

So let’s talk about what thinking errors really impact. If you guessed decisions, than you are reading the heading of this section and that makes you a smart cookie. Gold Star for you.

See decisions are at the root of what of nearly all of our conscious actions. Granted, habits do have a profound impact on the long term effects of decisions that we have made. Some decisions we’ve made are so small that it is hard to see how we ever arrived at making them to begin with: do you like coffee or tea?

But what does this have to do with thinking clearly. Well, one of the many, many, biases that Dobelli covers is what is known as the Hindsight Bias. And in the year of 2020, there is no better year than this year to use the phrases “Hindsight is 2020” as the root for making better decisions. So what is the hindsight bias? As Dobelli puts it, “We can aptly describe it as the ‘I told you so’ phenomenon: in retrospect.”

So what does he mean by that? It would be easy for us to say some like “I told you Corona Virus was going to cause the world economy to collapse” without ever having said those words. Or “It was inevitable for the George Floyd Riots to become as large as they did.” We had no idea that these events would grow to the size or complexity as they did while they were happening, it is only after the fact that we can see that hindsight is 2020.

Now, Dobelli offers a suggestion on how to become aware of this bias. And truthfully it is very difficult to overcome, if not nearly impossible (in his opinion), but there is a way for you to become more aware. He recommends keeping a journal where you make guesses as to what is going to happen, and then review them later on to see just how wrong you were. Now if this is silly, and you don’t want to make the time or effort, just look at political polls for 2016 and the news leading up to the results of the election. It was quite clear that someone was going to win, but it is rather peculiar that the people who predicted one outcome were surprised that an entirely different outcome occurred.

Decision Journaling Could lead to Better Thinking

But lets say that you are interested in keeping a journal, or you already do and you want to explore different facets of your journal life. Well, that’s really good to hear, you get another gold star and a fun exercise. This exercise is called Decision Journaling. The essence of this exercise is to create a template, or a set of questions, and answer them regarding a decision that you need to be making. I found that this exercise isn’t very fun when it comes to small decisions like what to wear in the morning, but I found that it is incredibly rewarding when it comes to decisions like who I am deciding to vote for.

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the exercise. You would start with a decision like “who I am going to vote for” and you would answer a few questions about it. Some examples are:

  • What’s the date
  • What’s the time
  • What are you calling this decision
  • What state of mind are you in
  • What is the situation/context of the decision
  • What is the central problem being addressed in this decision
  • What are some of the factors/variables controlling the situation
  • What are some of the possible alternative outcomes
  • What is the probability of your desired outcome happening
  • What do you expect to happen now that your decision is made
  • When are you going to review this decision

To be fair, I flat out plagiarised nearly all of the questions from this blog, but they have been really thought provoking questions to start with. And just so I wasn’t a complete thief, I made my own list of questions that you can totally steal. Click the link below to catch a copy of my 8 page pdf with hundreds of different questions to ask when you make your decision journal template.

Now, after you have a couple questions that you feel comfortable asking your self every time that you need to make a decision, you are going to want to take a picture of that, or print it off, and then you are going to set a reminder, or make a calendar event, or what ever you do to remind your self of something and you are going to revisit this thought in say… six months. At that time you are going to ask your self a couple more questions to see what you learned and what was the outcome after the fact.

El Fin

I hope that this was a helpful blog post, I have been thinking about it for a long time and I wanted to make absolutely sure that I was delivering a really great piece for you, I know that the 8 pages will actually be super helpful when it comes to making any decision. My friends who have already snagged a copy have said they have already picked out a few that they want to tattoo on their foreheads so that other people asking them and are reminded of to think about before they make dub decisions.

What questions do you ask your self before you make a decision? comment below!