Sunday, 7 April 2013

Socrates’ Test

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high
esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and
“Socrates, do you know what I just heard about your best friend?”
“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything
I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter
“Triple filter?”
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about
my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter
what you’re going to say. The first filter 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 and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s
true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of
Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend
something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad
about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass
the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of
Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend 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?”
This is why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such
high esteem.

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