Know thyself, America

The roots of American culture are diverse and widespread, hence our strength.  The largest lie in ancient Greece and Israel.  This post discusses the greatest of the wisdom of Greece:  know thyself.  By meditation on this we might rediscover ourselves, our values, and so again find the true path to a secure and prosperous future.

On the temple of Apollo at Delphi there were inscribed 3 maxims, the first being “know thyself.”  The meaning of these enigmatic words has eluded philosophers for millenia.  For our purposes, looking at geopolitics, Socrates tells us what we need to hear.  In Philebus Socrates discusses with Protarchus and Philebus the value of pleasure and knowledge. The following excerpt is slightly edited; the red emphasis added.

Are there not three ways in which ignorance of self may be shown?

  • In the first place, about money; the ignorant may fancy himself richer than he is.
  • And still more often he will fancy that he is taller or fairer than he is, or that he has some other advantage of person which he really has not.
  • And yet surely by far the greatest number err about the goods of the mind; they imagine themselves to be much better men than they are.

And of all the virtues, is not wisdom the one which the mass of mankind are always claiming, and which most arouses in them a spirit of contention and lying conceit of wisdom? And may not all this be truly called an evil condition? … All who are silly enough to entertain this lying conceit of themselves may of course be divided, like the rest of mankind, into two classes – one having power and might; and the other the reverse. Let this, then, be the principle of division:

  • those of them who are weak and unable to revenge themselves, when they are laughed at, may be truly called ridiculous,
  • but those who can defend themselves may be more truly described as strong and formidable;

for ignorance in the powerful is hateful and horrible, because hurtful to others both in reality and in fiction, but powerless ignorance may be reckoned, and in truth is, ridiculous.

Due to our forefathers’ success we have adopted all 3 forms of ignorance, a horrible thing for a superpower. The result is hubris, the overwhelming arrogance that leads to destruction.

For more about this see these posts

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