Advice from Socrates

Advice from Socrates

New South Wales
10 Jan 2017

My recent week of Plato study came to a dramatic finish. We students and our tutors were treated to a performance of a philosophical play, set on and around the grand circular marble staircase in the foyer of Mahratta.

Sarah Dayle, Simon Lyndon, and Nicholas Hope as Socrates explored an aspect of dialectic. Sarah and Simon argued about an important matter. Sarah stormed up the stairs, leaving Simon to the doghouse. Next morning Sarah dialled a wrong number, reaching Socrates(!), who advised her that if each could state the argument of the other, they would be halfway to understanding and a solution.

As it turned out, the surprisingly well-preserved philosopher showed up in person, had a glass or two of wine*, and after discussion all went well.

Handy advice indeed. All too often we just don’t understand another person’s point of view. It may be that we’ve got it wrong and if only we could agree on what each other’s opinion is, even if we don’t share their view itself, we could find a compromise.

Listening – really listening – is important. As a traveller, I’ve learnt to check the details. Embarrassment, delay, disaster can happen. I always ensure that a taxi driver knows the correct hotel, for instance, and get him to tell me the address to see if it matches my booking.

Or, if travelling as a couple, I’ll make sure that my wife is happy with my choices. And I with hers. If I’ve allotted time for a military museum and she thought she was going to some stupid flower festival, it’s not going to work out well for me. What’s the point of spending a great deal of money if we aren’t happy when we get there?


* Water, actually. This explained a mystery about dinner when my glass of chardonnay turned out to be transparent and refreshing. Somehow the bottle from rehearsal had shown up on my table. I was glad to have a clear solution.