The Power of Truth

Myth of Gyges is a Greek story from Plato’s Republic that describes an older man with a magical ring giving him the power to be invisible. The story essentially conveys the message that people’s actions will be determined based on the circumstance they are in rather then character. The stories memo draws parallels between Philip Zimbardo’s theory in psychology after the result of the Stanford Prison Experiment. The story says “And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willing or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for whatever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust”. What this quotation is essentially saying is that people do good not for the good of all, but because it is more beneficial to them in some way or another. This reminds me of the modern concept of Karma. Don’t do bad stuff to others so bad stuff won’t happen to you; rather then not doing bad things because you know it’s just not to. You are not choosing to do the “right” thing out of fear of the “wrong” act coming back to you. This would totally change the meaning of your “just” act, making it a reaction and not an action. The part of the quotation stating, “for wherever anyone thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust” demonstrates this idea of karma and getting away with things. In the following quotation the author explains how any man put in the same circumstance would be considered a fool if he did not take advantage of the situation, “If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing anything wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretch idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces….” The circumstance will predict the action of an individual, not character.

Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, makes a strong argument for the value of philosophy. He explains the value of philosophy as indirect, it is the food for the mind. I like the example Russell uses about society. Russell says, “If all men were well off, if poverty and disease had been reduced to their lowest possible point, there would still remain much to be done to produce a valuable society; and even in the existing world the goods of the mind are at least as important as the goods of the body.” It is with the “goods” of the mind that the value of philosophy is found. Philosophy is just as important as the other science because as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible, the subject is no longer philosophy but a separate science. The business of philosophy is to continue the consideration of questions with the hope of discovering an answer. Philosophy is able to suggest possibilities which enlarge our thoughts, and free us from custom by increasing our knowledge of what there might be. Contemplation is a huge part of philosophy, it enlarges the objects of thought and makes us “citizen of the universe” and enriches our intellectual imagination! Feeding the Mind by Lewis Carroll is similar to Russell argument because they are both defending the same thing. Both mention the importance of feeding the mind with philosophy and contemplation. She emphasizes the importance of mentally processing the material after your read it just how you would allow your food to digest.





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Having taken a Philosophy class at a community college I attended, I found this post to be really interesting. The concept of doing good is only as good as the person makes it to be. Sadly, we live in a world where people do not perform acts of good and kindness to better others and themselves. They perform acts of good only if it will benefit them. Having grown up in a Christian household with a mother who always taught me to care for others, it is also absurd for me to witness people act selfishly and without good intention unless there is a benefit to themselves. If we do not care for others, how do we expect others to care for us? This world and the way people interact are all byproducts of how we treat others and so if we do not do good, then we cannot expect others to do good for us.
    The philosophy class I was enrolled in was a tough one and a new concept and way of thinking for me, considering I had never read a book on philosophy. As that semester went on, though, I seemed to be greatly intrigued by the teachings of philosophy. All stories of Plato and Aristotle focused on being a good person and bettering yourself as a human being, being committed to the place you are from, and these are all traits that are barely evident in the people around us today. As individuals, I believe we must all strive to be the best version of us we could possibly be, and that does not only involve making us better people, but that also relies on how we treat others. At the end of the day, the way we treat others is a mirror of the type of person we are. It is always good to be a good person and understand that people go through a lot, and once an individual is able to put themselves in another persons shoes, they’ll understand that the way you treat others really determines the type of person you are. Simply doing one good deed makes a person feel better and so leading a positive and helping lifestyle really makes a person a better version of themselves.


  2. ary mad says:

    I really liked the quote by Bertrand Russell. You really raise a good point that philosophy is very important to society. I think it helps people formulate positive and ethical thoughts. We can use philosophy to track the way of thought in many historic periods, and understanding the thought process of our predecessors can be very beneficial. Philosophy is an element that you can really combine with any area of work such as business, science, and art. It was nice to read about how karma, and how it really determines people’s actions in life. I think when one gains a deep understanding of philosophy, it comes with the ability to understand another individual. This to me is what makes it such an important field.


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