Readings for Missing Socrates

  • Role of Media: Can they avoid educating us? 
    • Do they do it better? (Springsteen: “we learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school”)
    • Broadcast Media
      • Driven by money? Whose money? Whose interests?
    • Social Media
      • Driven by money? Whose money? Whose interests?
    • Are they public or private? Does it matter?
    • Who are (or who should be) responsible to what they publish (their curriculum)?
  • Is individualism a defense for/from social media or an exploited victim of it? 
  • Indoctrination or Dialogue?
    • Role of Algorithms: in Social Media
      • They feed you what they know you like.
      • Algorithms work because we like to see or hear what we like.
    • The advantages of indoctrination
      • Makes life less complicated.
      • Makes life less stressful
    • Is there a purpose to dialogue?
      • Do you really need to hear the other side?
        • E.g., do you need to read any newspaper? 
          • If so, how many?
      • Do we need dialogue for the common good?
  • Is there a common good?
    • Remember we could not define one. There are those who think we need one (as a sacred value):
  • In this age of algorithms, is a common good even possible?
  • Can you trust anyone?
  • The task of the educated individual
    • Thorough research
    • Critical thinking (dialogue)
  • Truth: “To say of what is, that it is, and to say of what is not, that it is not”
  • Thinking:  Requires an object
    • An object may be either an image or a word
      • Images are either sense perceptions or memories
        • Thus, images are the basis of words and thinking
        • An image cannot be communicated.
          • It can however be repeatedly seen or replicated. (For example, the “Mona Lisa” or “Gone with the Wind.”
      • Words are the most clear and complex form of communication
      • Emotions (love, anger) can be communicated, but lack clarity and complexity and are often guided and clarified by words. (“How do I love thee? … or Should I be angry at you for disagreeing with me?)
    • Language allows the development of culture, science, and human society, all in dialogue with each other. A dialogue that allows and encourages clarification and refinement. It is this dialogue that thinking.
  • Contemplation is truthful thinking. Contemplation requires language, allowing and requiring a depth and complexity of an internal dialogue.
  • 2. Yoga is the control of thought-waves in the mind.
  • 3. Then man abides in his real nature.
    • When the lake of the mind becomes clear and still, man knows himself as he really is, always was and always will be. He knows he is the Atman. His ‘personality,’ his mistaken belief in himself as a separate, unique individual, disappears.
  • 41. Just as pure crystal takes its color from the object which is nearest to it, so the mind, when it is cleared of thought-waves, achieves sameness or identity with the object of its concentration. …
    • When cleared of thought-waves, the mind leaves objects being and is able to concentrate on Prakriti.
  • 45. Behind all subtle objects is Prakriti, the primal cause.
    • Prakriti is the primal undifferentiated stuff of matter; The energy by which all phenomena are projected. But Prakriti is not the ultimate reality. Behind Prakriti is Brahman.
    • There is a third stage, a third level of consciousness…behind any conception of a personal God, there is Brahman, the Ground, the central Reality of which these figures are only partial, individual projections (re: 51).
  • What is the purpose of an education?
    • Socialization and enculturation (Could you pass the naturalization test for immigrants?)Prepare people for a happy life (which is?)Employment (i.e., a return on investment)
    • Power (whose?)
  • Culture
    • Vocations (employment opportunities) or conversation
  • Are there government interests in certain subjects?
    • Lawfulness
    • Democratic citizenship
  • How does a curriculum reflect an education’s purpose?
    • What or who defines a curriculum?Is a curriculum necessary (parents should be able to teach kids what they want)?
    • Do we need to learn to become citizens?
  • Who are the experts who should control the curriculum?
    • Parents?Teachers?Politicians? (School boards?)Psychologists?Philosophers?
    • Religious leaders?
  • Role of Media: Can they avoid educating us? (Springsteen: “we learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school”)
    • Broadcast MediaSocial MediaAre they public or private? Does it matter?
    • Who are (or who should be) responsible to what they publish (their curriculum)?
  • Can you trust anyone?
  • Role of the individual
    • Thorough researchCritical thinking
    • Isn’t this the real purpose of a contemporary education????
  • being socialized?
    • should there be a structure to an education?
    • Is an education for the benefit of the individual or for the society
  • What is the purpose of an education?
    • For Aristotle: the development of virtue and thus eudaimonia of the happy life.
    • For Dewey: “It is the aim of progressive education to take part in correcting unfair privilege and unfair deprivation, not to perpetuate them […] there is danger that industrial education will be dominated by acceptance of the status quo” (MW 9: 126).
  • What subject matter constitutes an education and at what age?
    • Levels:
      • Pre-K
      • K-12
      • Higher Ed
  • Are there government interests in certain subjects?
    • Democratic citizenship
    • Culture 
      • Whose culture?
      • Humanities?
    • Vocations (employment opportunities)
  • If not government, who? Anyone?
    • Are there experts?
  • What is a corporation?           
    • Corporations are persons under U,S, law.
  • Corporations in the economic market:
    • Employment and infrastructure development
    • Development of products and brands
      • Primary tools:
        • Invention/product development
        • Sales network
        • Advertising (happy people, blue skies, desired results)
          • Real or Imagined benefits (e.g., Prevegin)
          • Brand Loyalty (Coke, Bud Light)
          • Persuasive attractiveness (Hollywood stars, influencers)
          • Substitute for/replace individual or expert judgment
    • Take-overs and hedge funds (creative destruction)
  • Corporations in the Political Market
    • Profit vs Law
    • Profit vs. Social Consciousness or Ethics
      • Is there such a thing as a corporate social consciousness or ethics?
      • Does profit have a social consciousness? 
      • Who wants corporations to have a social consciousness?
        • Investors?
        • Politicians?
        • Public?
        • Beyond requirements of law, who would decide the ethics of a corporation? (Bud Light)
    • Funding Sources, public and private
    • Lobbying
  • Corporations in Social Media
    • Free Speech
    • Access to Media/Control of Media (Elon Musk, Rupert Murdock, owners of corporations)
    • Manipulation through feeds (you see what AI thinks you want to see)
    • Role of Competence in People

August 2 Readings Violence and the Common Good

What is violence? Physical? Psychological? Political? Mob? Sexual?

What is the definition of violence? 

Violence, an act of physical force that causes or is intended to cause harm. The damage inflicted by violence may be physical, psychological, or both. Violence may be distinguished from aggression, a more general type of hostile behaviour that may be physical, verbal, or passive in nature. Jun 29, 2023 Britannica https://www.britannica.com › topic › violence 

The World Health Organization’s definition of violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened[2] or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”[3]Krug et al., “World report on violence and health”Archived 2015-08-22 at the Wayback MachineWorld Health Organization, 2002. 

Is the Britannica definition right? Is the distinction between violence and aggression right?  Is there a difference between the Britannica definition and the WHO definition? Does violence have to be an act, or can it be a threat?

Does the idea of a common good forbid violence? Why? How? 

Does the idea of a common good encourage violence? Why? How? 

Is majority rule a form of violence? Are minorities always or sometimes victims? Is the rule of law violent? 

Is nature violent?

Does nature’s violence justify human violence? 

July Readings for “My” Version of Truth  

Keep in mind the earlier discussion of Aristotle’s epistemology. 

But for this coming discussion: Plato: Republic:Divided Line and Myth of the Cave, 509d-518d             

Phaedrus: Soul: Allegory of the Chariot 246a-246c  

Texts are available on the web, provided by Project Gutenburg. But I will describe and summarize them when we get together. 

Purpose of Government

Hal Baillie

Missing Socrates

June 10, 2023

The purpose of government:

To be held June 21, 2023


“Knowledge of the good would seem to be the concern of the most authoritative science, the highest master science. And this is obviously the science of politics, because it lays down which of the sciences there should be in the cities, and which each class of person should learn and up to what level.” Nicomachean Ethics, Book One, chapter two,1094a3.

“if men dwelt at a distance from one another, but not so far off as to have no intercourse, and there were laws among them that they should not wrong each other in their exchanges, neither would this be a state…if they have nothing in common but exchange, alliance and the like, that would not constitute a state. ..if their intercourse with one another was of the same character after as before their union. It is clear then that a state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families and aggregations of families for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life. Politics Book 3, 1280b18-35.


“Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury, and all this for the public good.” Second Treatise on Government, chapter I, para. 3.

“The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any, that are not of this…(and so) make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.”  Second Treatise on Government, chapter VIII, para. 95.

The preamble to the Constitution: 

”We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do …”


 “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Marx-Engels Reader, 1stedition, edited by R. Tucker, p.4).

“The production of life, both of one’s own in labor and of fresh life in procreation …appears as a double relation: on the one hand as a natural and on the other as a social relationship. By social we understand the cooperation of several individuals… It follows from this that a certain mode of production, or industrial stage, is always combined with a certain mode of cooperation, or social stage…Further, the multitude of productive forces accessible to men determines the nature of society, hence, that the “history of humanity” must always be studied and treated in relation to the history of industry and exchange” The German Ideology (Marx-Engels Reader, 1st edition, edited by R. Tucker, p. 121).

A few thoughts:

Note that Aristotle thinks our community (culture) teaches us habits which are supposed to be designed (by politics, practical wisdom) to support our development of happiness (activity in conformity with virtue – excellence) which is defined for all of us by our nature. There is no community without shared character, which is composed of habits which promote or inhibit our nature.

For Locke, we are individuals interested in property for the sake of survival. Socially, there is no shared character, only shared obedience to the law, established by the majority and enforced by the government. This, of course, presumes we consented to the social contract, either explicitly or tacitly. Note the original phrase the pursuit of life, liberty and property; Jefferson modified it. 

For Marx, all concepts, the individual, the family, justice, government, are developed socially, not found in nature.  For example, there is justice or liberty only within the context of our practical life, that is, our economic life. We exist as individuals because of the nature of social relations which in turn are determined by our economic system. So the purpose of government is to maintain and protect the economic system, which in turn maintains and protects our sense of our identity (e.g., our individualism, as described by the rights of man). So our entire thought systems are embedded in and determined by our economic system. 

Aristotle’s Epistemology Material for April 12

Perception: —)Memory1  and Eudoxa2——) Statements—) Universals —-) Logic and Science3         Particulars—-) Practical Wisdom4

  1. Memory allows learning and sociality. No memory, no connections. Repeated memories lead to experience and eudoxa.
  2. Eudoxa: Good opinions based on collective human experience: the social basis of learning, a review of what is commonly thought to be correct, as the basis of improving the recognition of true (developed over time and experience) principles and testing of those principles. Also places principles in context. Note: learning is more than pattern recognition, it requires context. For Aristotle, the key to context is experience, organized as the four causes: formal, material, efficient and final (Meta. Bk. one, chapter three).
  3. Logic is the structure of science (episteme); it is the organization of what can be demonstrated. For Aristotle logic is primarily demonstration through syllogisms that organize universal statements:
    1. E.g., Barbara: the name of the structure of a universal affirmative syllogism:
      1. All animals have a metabolism.
      1. All humans are animals.
      1. Therefore, all humans have a metabolism.
  4.  Practical wisdom (phronesis): this is experientially based knowledge of activities and things that hold for the most part. Because of change, there can be no universal demonstration of phronesis, but its generalizations allow successful or unsuccessful efforts to accomplish plans or maintain relationships. This type of knowledge ranges from the practical implications of the scientific knowledge of human nature (e.g., the art of medicine) to emotional intelligence to the basis of friendship to politics.

For more: google Aristotle’s epistemology and I recommend The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Encyclopedia Britannica. For Aristotle’s own writings (and no one says it better or more clearly), start with the Metaphysics Book One, chapters one and two, and the first few lines of chapter 3; and Book One of the Nicomachean Ethics.

Note:  From an Aristotelian perspective, there are (at least) two serious problems with artificial intelligence: the struggle to get AI to recognize the context for principles and generalizations, and the struggle to adjust to change. In short, pattern recognition generates static results on the basis of surface identification. By contrast Aristotelian knowledge in embedded in the experience humans have, which is only partly made up of pattern recognition, and at this point experience and its fruits remain more sensitive and subtle than pattern recognition no matter how expansive the AI data set is. AI is very perceptive of static detail, making it good at radiology but not so good at treating patients.

Unified & Special Needs Classes & Programs – Fall 2023

Sponsored by

The First Lieutenant Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund of Luzerne Foundation

These classes, programs and events are intended to offer adults with varying abilities more opportunities to advance their interests and to be a part of the community.

Master Gardeners of NEPA will supervise enthusiastic gardeners of varying abilities. This year we will be installing two raised bed pollinator gardens in the Pocket Park on Depot Street. This project is open to the community. For more information contact Dori at 570-954-6650.


Together Garden Club

An acting class focused on self-expression and emotional, social intuition. For more information, text Katie Foley at 570.702.7172.

All Access Acting

Cooking with Friends


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Your Creative Self – Fall 2023

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#132 Felt Hat on a Ball      


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#127 Eco-Printing a Silk Scarf

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Practical Knowledge – Fall 2023

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In Memory of her Parents

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#116 Think Spring with Friendly Lawn Alternatives 

Art of Communication – Fall 2023

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#104 – Pad Thai

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A Closer Look – Fall 2023

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#136  Jazz for the Soul


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#135  DNA Discoveries: Leeds Method Workshop