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  #1  
Old 08 July 2007, 05:39 AM
Not_Done_Living's Avatar
Not_Done_Living Not_Done_Living is offline
 
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Default Socrates Test of Three

Got this from my SIL, and thought it was a worthwhile read....




In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three."

"Test of Three?"

"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

No," the man said, "actually I just heard about It."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued. "You may still pass though, b ecause there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem. It also explains why he never found out that Plato was banging his wife.
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  #2  
Old 09 July 2007, 10:07 AM
Pseudo_Croat
 
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But if we limited ourselves to saying only what was truthful, good, and useful, then wouldn't we all have to be mute because very little of the real world falls under all three of these categories?

- Pseudo_Croat
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  #3  
Old 09 July 2007, 10:43 AM
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Eddylizard Eddylizard is offline
 
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It's an old joke, but it always makes me smile.
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  #4  
Old 09 July 2007, 11:46 AM
Neffti
 
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Oh that is absolutely fantastic. I am going to put it on my wall.

I agree with Pseudo Croat that it's tricky to live by, and wonder if Socrates ever did say that or if it's just a device for the joke. Whenever I read Plato (which is not much TBH) I find myself so bombarded by good thinking that it doesn't all sink in to my addled brain.

Socrates was about 40 years older than Plato. If he did have a wife, she must have been a hottie.
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  #5  
Old 09 July 2007, 12:31 PM
Jubel
 
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Socrates did have a young wife called Xanthippe.

Paeudo Croat and Neffti, wasn't it supposed to be true, good or useful? Not all three of them.

In my opinion, telling something good but not true about somebody, isn't recommendable. Just try that with Nazis.
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  #6  
Old 09 July 2007, 12:37 PM
Neffti
 
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Good point Jubel. If it only has to be one of the three then it's much more helpful.

I am still laughing at this joke, it's made my day!
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  #7  
Old 09 July 2007, 12:41 PM
Jonny T
 
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Jubel - that was my take on it as well.

and,
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  #8  
Old 09 July 2007, 04:09 PM
Hypno Toad
 
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Great Joke Not_Done_Living. It made me snort.

HT
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  #9  
Old 09 July 2007, 04:36 PM
Danamac448
 
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Wouldn't the fact that Plato was banging Socrates's wife have been useful information?

And, does anybody else still pronounce his name "So-Crates" (like wooden boxes?) Damn you, Bill & Ted!

Either way around it, I positively love this.
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  #10  
Old 10 July 2007, 01:02 AM
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One-Fang One-Fang is offline
 
 
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I've always had this 'good, true and useful' philosophy. I don't live up to it anywhere near as much as I'd like, but it's firmly all three or none.

It's completely useless if you allow any of the three. I mean, if it's true, but bad and useless, why would I want to know? If it's good but false ... y'know, stop there. If it's false I don't need to know anyway so that rules out both other options. Ideally, any piece of information should be good, and true, and useful.
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  #11  
Old 10 July 2007, 01:15 AM
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Flagg Flagg is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One-Fang View Post
It's completely useless if you allow any of the three. I mean, if it's true, but bad and useless, why would I want to know? If it's good but false ... y'know, stop there. If it's false I don't need to know anyway so that rules out both other options. Ideally, any piece of information should be good, and true, and useful.
I would make an exception for something just true and useful even if it is bad. "Hey, Bill told me that he is pissed at you and is going to come 'round tonight to punch you in the nose," is bad, but I would still like to be warned about it.

ETA: Here are the things I would like to hear or not hear:

Good + True + Useful: Yes
Good + True + not useful: Yes (sure, why not? I have nothing better to do)
Good + not True + Useful: Yes (as in parables)
not Good + True + Useful: Yes (as in above example about the punch in the nose)
Good + not True + not Useful: No
not Good + not True + useful: Yes (like a bummer of a parable but which still has a valid point?)
not Good + true + not Useful: No (like made-up gossip)
not Good + not True + not Useful: No

Did I miss any combinations? I am currently not unintoxicated to the fullest degree.

Last edited by Flagg; 10 July 2007 at 01:30 AM.
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  #12  
Old 15 July 2007, 12:18 PM
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One-Fang One-Fang is offline
 
 
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Well the method isn't true for every single possible piece of information. I don't think it's intended to be applied to parables, for instance. More for gossip.

Besides which, parables are true. No fox ever attempted to get grapes from a vine and then declared them sour when he couldn't, but it is true that we tend to dismiss that which we wanted, but could not get, as if to console ourselves about not getting it.
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