With the recent political unrest in the Middle East and with the media’s attempts to demonise supposed tyrannical leaders in the shape of Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) and Bashar al-Assad (Syria), one cannot fail to notice that the general populace seems to be constantly bombarded with propaganda, as American, British, French and Israeli air power continue to drop their murderous payloads on innocent human beings of Arabic descent.
However, this media attention (euphemism for propaganda) that is presently focused on Arabic countries can be said to serve a purpose of giving consent for Western Governments (mainly US, UK, France) to satisfy their pretext to go to war so to save the people from these most terrible of men.
Could it be true that we are being told lies by a media which are complicit with government foreign policy of securing precious and profitable resources (obviously oil) at the expense of the very people they swear to protect?
So let us now turn to philosophy which may help to relieve our minds of these manipulative devices, as I share with you an interesting essay on the subject of “overcoming propaganda”. The proponent of this most liberating and enlightening philosophy is none other than the father of this ancient art, Socrates.
As Norman D. Livergood writes in his essay regarding Socrates’ quest for truth:
Socrates did not pretend to be ignorant; he maintained that his means of investigation–dialectic–lead him to discover ever larger areas of reality which he didn’t understand. In his defense at his trial for his life, Socrates stated that what set him apart from others is that he recognized that he didn’t know when he didn’t know, whereas others assumed they knew things which they didn’t actually know.
This was not some ironic pretence of ignorance. When we honestly seek wisdom–beyond mere sensory information–then we constantly discover how much more there is that we don’t know. We may achieve an understanding of a particular area of reality (a spot of light in a forest), but this also involves our becoming aware of how much more there is about us that we don’t yet understand (the forest surrounding the spot of light).
When Socrates claims ignorance he is doing several things:
- Saying: “I do not know the answer to the question you are assuming is the goal of this inquiry; you must get an answer to such questions from those who specialize in those kinds of issues: the sophists or the popular artists (like Homer).”
- Saying: “I am constantly seeking (through dialectic) to understand mysterious and transcendent realities, so I cannot claim to already understand them.”
Along with a complete misunderstanding of Socrates’ ignorance, most academic professor/sophists misapprehend the arcane science of dialectic, as evidenced in this quotation.
It’s no wonder that academic philosophy is in such bad repute today. The disgraceful misunderstanding of Plato is a clear symptom of the low level of intelligence which “professors” bring to a study of philosophy and other “disciplines.” […]
Continue to read: How Philosophy Overcomes Propaganda
Read: Socrates’ Biography