Sunday, January 31, 2016

Protagoras vs. Plato: Is there really one ultimate winner? (In response to Mike Franken)

As much as I agree to this phrase stated in Mike's blog post, "Plato’s ideas make sense if you are in an authoritarian society that wants to curb general knowledge and keep the people stupid and happy", I still do not think that Plato was completely wrong and I think that the real winner is a balance between the two perspectives. While sitting through the debate/court trial, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the citizens way back then. Back then, there was so much that was left unknown and based off political readings and various action movies, people are afraid of the truth and people are afraid of the unknown. From what I recalled from the movie "2012", despite knowing the truth about the Earth's destruction, the scientists and politicians kept it to themselves because they knew that it was going to cause chaos when people knew. Hence, back then, God seem to be the reason behind most things - good or bad because it was much easier to explain. There was a clear cut instruction to life - "You pray to the Gods, you get a better life". It was simple.

Not only that, it is good to have order in life. Without dialectic teachings, we won't know what it right or wrong. It creates the norm in societies. However, those norms can vary in different societies, just like the example about the two different cultures that practices different rituals for the dead. Here is where balance between the two teachings come in. If there was no such thing as rhetoric teachings, people might not learn to accept other cultures because they will constantly assume that their ways are correct. And if there was no dialectic teachings, there will not be rituals to begin with because rituals are usually based off one's beliefs. Hence, without dialectic, people would not comply themselves to follow through the ritual because they would constantly question it.

In life, there are always set of rules that we follow like, one must not murder or steal. It is just the way it is, which is dialectic, but along with rhetoric, people can understand why. This then brings me to my next theory about the two teachings. Scientific findings are based off theories and hypothesis that will then be experimented to come to a conclusion. For example, when both Plato and Protagoras debated about the shape of the Earth. Well, the shape of the Earth, before we knew it was a sphere, was also unknown. Scientists started making theories to find out the truth, hence, science started out with rhetorical theories. Then, when the discovery was made, it was confirmed that the Earth was shaped as a sphere. The discovery was shared to the world for people to know and since then, people never questioned the shaped of the Earth, so now it is considered "dialectic" because it is now a fact. So, in a way, both these teachings are connected and need one another because if there was no rhetoric, scientists would not have debated about the shape in the first place and if there was no dialectic, then we would not have settled on an answer and made it a fact.

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