Socrates and the Importance of Skepticism in the Modern World

Lysippos’ Socrates

It has never been more important to question what is happening in today’s society; the news, entertainment, commercials, and the advent of A.I. is propelling us towards a world where people will believe almost anything easily and readily. In this new world, it is important to be skeptical of everything and to question all of the information that you receive. This is one of the fundamental aspects of epistemology or theory of knowledge and is core to western philosophy.

Once upon a time, in ancient Athens, there was a man who walked around owning nothing and arguing with everybody about how dumb they were. He birthed the philosophical movement of skepticism. He might be one of the few humans in all of history that was uncorrupted by money and power. His name, was Socrates.

Born of a stone-cutter and a midwife in 469, Socrates particularly liked to argue with a group of people who called themselves Sophists. They were the lawyers of ancient Greece; orators, public speakers, mouths for hire in an oral culture. His arguments with the sophists became the basis for logic and dialogues and influenced the youth of Athenian society, ultimately leading to his death.

Socrates was extremely disruptive to Athenian society, but he didn’t write anything down. He was remembered by his students, Plato and Xenophon through their work who each had different account of Socrates. He is credited with founding western philosophy through his student Plato and his student, Aristotle and is also credited with founding epistemology through his Socratic method, which was largely based on incubation and midwifery.

Indeed the Oracle of Delphi claimed there was no wiser man alive. He was also a veteran of the Peloponnesian war.

He was polarizing and disruptive figure in Athenian society, so much so that he was sentenced to death for impiety and corrupting youth. He spent his last days in prison, refusing offers to help him escape, which is recored in Plato’s Apology and Xenophon’s Apologia.

The Imprisonment of Socrates

is also recorded in Plato’s Crito, who was a rich Athenian that came to aid Socrates while he was imprisoned. He told a very calm and collected and even happy Socrates that he was to be sentenced to death. Socrates responded with his visions of a dream of a goddess and her calling him to Phthia which is a reference to the Illiad, and was the home of Achilles.

Socrates (rubbing chin) and Plato (under tree) from a mosaic from Pompeii

One of the most powerful things that Socrates says is that opinions of the educated should be taken into consideration and that the opinions of those with subjective biases or beliefs may be disregarded. Likewise, the popularity of an opinion does not make it valid. Socrates uses the analogy of an athlete listening to his physician rather than his supporters because the physician’s knowledge makes his opinion more valuable.[20] The dialogue becomes lengthy and ends with Socrates refusing Crito’s help for the greater good of Athenian Society.

This gives us some brief insight into the life of Socrates and his insights into society, justice, and logic.

The Athenian Trial of Socrates

Socrates was an incredible human. He refused to escape prison until his dying breath and his trial still puzzles historians in the biggest way. The trial of Socrates in 399 BC contained two charges: asabeia (impiety) and the corruption of the youth of the city state of Athens. He was basically questioning the authority of the local government through their religious practices. His elenctic method of questioning was imitated by the youth and was a threat to the credibility of his competitor intellectuals credibility of men of wisdom and virtue. His trial lasted a day and he willingly drank poisoned hemlock to end it all; happily ending his life for the city that he believed in. Socrates’ death as described in Crito corresponds very closely to the Hindu concept of Moksa, or the release of a soul from Samsara after death in that he was released from the cycles of death and rebirth by breaking his karmic cycle.

We should all aim to be more like Socrates, willing to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good of our fellow man and for the youth of our society. Our karmic legacy is all that will endure.

Header Image by artiphoria.ai (thanks!)


  1. Wikipedia – Socrates
  2. Queensorough Community College – Sophists
  3. MIT – Classics – Crito by Plato
  4. Famous Trials – Socrates
  5. Wikipedia – Socratic Method
  6. IPL – Socrates’ and Epistemology

Source Energy

I am going to try to get to the bottom of this argument for a source of things, in particular, the universe. I said in one of my last articles that I had concluded that at the basis of the universe, there must be either an infinite something, or an infinite nothingness. But it continues to occur to me that I might be looking at the problem through a broken lens.

I mean to say that certainly, conscious thought is not well equipped to ask the questions of the immensity of the cosmos. Our scanning system, known as cognition, is best equipped to deal with the present occurrences of the immediate world around us. And Einstein taught us that we live within a relativity, so the gargantuan nature of the universe is not really available to us.

I was further supported in this framing sort of argument when I saw an updated visual representation of the massive galactic supercluster that the earth, sun, and Milky Way are a part of. The Laniakea supercluster research is nothing short of breathtaking, but it is still dismally minuscule in comparison to the sample pool of billions of cluster galaxies. Please check out the very interesting videos below:

In this instance, we are learning more about the universe at large, and it reframes our own existence, perhaps making the vast expanses of the universe a bit more clear in the mind.

This reframing is something that we humans do all of the time, to generalize and make judgements about situations and it is incredibly useful. Anyone who has traveled knows that there are certain cultures normalcies that are pretty much global at this point. Bottled water, phones, vehicles, etc, toilets, or at least replacements for these things. And after the individual has assimilated into the culture, they can usually assume that the cultural normalcies will remain constant.

However, this also becomes a problem, when stereotyping, over-generalizing, or possibly expressing normalization through the creation of an expectation. This is essentially looking at a situation from too far away, trying to analyze a whole without understanding its parts. It is assuming the individual does not have variance from the general population, which is sure to be proven wrong in various ways. It is misunderstanding a whole for many discrete, smaller parts.

It’s easy to see how we use the concept well, and in other cases to our detriment. So now, let’s take a look back into thinking that the universe has an origin, or a source.

We have to disregard Newtonian physics, unfortunately, when talking about the nature of the vast cosmic energy we call the universe. We can use his web theory of gravity though. We cannot consider the universe to be a straight line in every direction into the infinite. It’s curved. Instead of lines or grids, the universe is a vast web of interconnected galaxies, clustering into superclusters that interact with each other and fold onto each other. Unfortunately, we also have to disregard a lot of the events of Interstellar, because you know that ‘human alien’ shit was just a huge, covered up hole in the plot-line. Who gives a damn though, that black hole was fucking awesome! But the dimensional theory was somewhat weak.

Anyways, we have these superclusters of galaxies and most of these galaxies have supermassive black holes at their center, in fact I believe the evidence supports them all as having one. These black holes exhibit tidal flows of energy pulling objects into the event horizon which is where human understanding of the events end. Scientists aren’t really even sure about how they formed, though they have evidence of two other types of black holes, miniature black holes, and stellar black holes, which are exploding stars. No one has any data on miniature black holes.

What we are left with is an amateurish understanding of the nature of black holes, using the lens of Einstein’s theories of relativity to describe event horizons and the functioning of time around the supermassive black hole. And we can move into the modern subatomic research being done and talk about dark matter and dark energy, and our unwieldy understanding of these two enormously important subjects. Dark matter might make up 70% of the cosmic composition, which means we should probably seek to understand more about its properties.

Scientists say that there is a tremendous amount of evidence to state that the universe had a beginning, but I am not so sure we can see it this simply. Perhaps time itself begins at a certain point outside of an event horizon, but why do we just assume we know what is going on inside? If space-time folds, which it does indeed do, then certainly these event horizons could be related to massive shift in cosmic energies. Even if this is not the case, scientists have to take into account that what we may be looking at is a small relative frame of the entire universe. So that the matter around the Earth may be expanding at extraordinary increasing rates, but it could be that we are moving further from a relativity event horizon and that the matter around us is simply expanding very quickly right now.

I suppose I do not see all of this “evidence” for a big bang. The folding of space-time would explain why we continue to see things as moving farther apart until a massive event occurs. We have to remember that this could be one instance of a fluctuating system that expands and contracts, as all of the known matter is shown to do. We have evidence for a beginning, but this in no way seems to be a ‘first beginning’. It is an egotistical assumption because we view ourselves as the epitome of life in the universe. So perhaps this instance has a beginning, but we cannot really tell whether it is just another relative frame we are looking at from a distance, not truly understand how the individual parts fit into the sum of the whole.

So what, there is leftover radiation that we can see everywhere from our little planet into the stars. CMB is not enough evidence for me to say that there was a beginning of the universe, though it does seem to denote a massive event at one point or another. Perhaps this massive event is recurring, so there are many big bangs that have happened in the past. Perhaps we are in one frame of the universe where time moves differently than the others, so we are in a period of massive expansion in our galactic supercluster.

Essentially, what I am trying to say, is that the theories all seem to be very weak hypotheses to me, because there simply isn’t enough data, or evidence to really understand beyond our own relativity. Even the fourth dimension, time, if you want to call it that, is a very complex concept that must be stacked on the other 3 to be meaningful. Even then it folds on itself and the other dimensions as the state of the object changes. However, I’m not too sure that dimensions really work well for measuring relativity. They are simply looking glasses through which we can measure things.

Why are you going on and on about black holes and the big bang theory anyways? I am simply trying to get across the point that there is so much that we, the human species, simply do not understand in our own relative context. So we connect the dots and the connected dots form our personal picture of the universe. But perhaps the picture we are viewing is just a small glimpse into a landscape that is far vaster than any instrument we’ve created can measure.

We should take a step back from concluding. Data and evidence are what are really important so conclusions are really irrelevant. The entire world wants a finished product, but the truth is that there is only process.

I saw an american heart association article linking marijuana to heart attack events. It was based on a survey of people saying whether or not they had smoked before the heart attack. It is honestly a big joke in my head, that they use survey results at all. Why the hell wouldn’t someone lie about their marijuana usage? It was even more illegal and culturally unacceptable back in 2001 when the study was done. This is the type of results oriented science that is a complete waste of resources. They were trying to prove something with a survey, then succeeded. Big surprise.

Basically, I am saying that our human faculties, though limited, as the best tools we have for examining the nature of the cosmos. We have to understand them before we can really understand anything about the general nature of the universe. Especially something as old as the “big bang” event. So let’s just all stop concluding and focus on the data for a while.

In a side note, perhaps there is a small event horizon at the center of the brain that we call consciousness. But we can’t see it because it is electromagnetic and doesn’t necessarily produce magnetism, but it links us to the vast cosmic energetic events that are occurring in dimensions we are not currently aware of. This, to me, is on the same level of assumption as the big bang, because we do have to understand ourselves as cosmic beings with incredibly powerful consciousness that have dramatic effects on the things around us. Use it wisely on the playground.

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