Friday, March 29, 2024

Socrates on Discontentment

First, it was way more poetic in the original ancient Greek. The translator deserves hemlock.

Second: I can't help but mutter "baby steps!" This reads like a preliminary light splash of cold water in the face of deep human fallacy, like a politician's puny shovelful of dirt symbolicly launching a big construction project. Yet, 2424 years later, it still reads fresh. I suspect most people would even find it surprising. That's not a good thing. In 2.5 millennia, you really wanna see some progress.

Third: There are two ways to read “what he would like to have.” Socrates meant it directly, but there's also a bankshot - an alternative framing - to consider. It's amply clear that discontent is never extinguished by attainment of the desired thing (another example of jading, a topic I've been dancing around for a couple weeks), but aren't we content, at a higher level, in that pure wanting? In the opportunity to issue a theatrical wail of contrived discontent?

It would appear so, given how notoriously ephemeral contentment is, compared to the endurance of desire amid even ample satiation. If one finds contentment only in a pose of deficiency, it's natural to proactively reject satisfaction, which undermines the wailing that's our highest calling.

This, in fact, is the issue of our age, and it well might prove our undoing as a species (see this and this)

More pontifications on social media memes

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