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Goodness was Knowledge; Vice was Ignorance (II)

Publishing Date : 10 October, 2017

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As Socrates (ca 470-399 B.C. ) found, goodness and knowledge were related. To know the good was to do the good. In this sense knowledge was virtue. By identifying knowledge and virtue, Socrates held that vice or evil, was the absence of knowledge.

Just as knowledge was virtue, vice was ignorance. Ignorance not of the required act or behaviouring itself, but of the ability of the act to produce happiness.  It was ignorance about one’s own soul, about what it takes to “make the soul as good as possible.” Ignorance was the inaccurate expectation that certain kinds of things or pleasures will produce happinness. Wrongdoing was then, a product of ignorance also in the sense that it is done with the hope that it will do what it cannot do. Ignorance consists in not knowing that certain beviour cannot produce happiness.

The 1950s and 1960s drive for independence arrived with it the advent of a love of honour, more than the common good; a process whereby the irrational part of the soul assumes a progressively larger role.  From the love of honour to the desire for wealth was a short step, since it means allowing the appetites, not reason, to rule. Leadership has become synonymous with a desire for riches. Power has resided and recycled among those whose main concern was wealth. “As the rich rise in social esteem, the virtuous sink”.

Plutocrats become dangerous to society because they want more of what they have become accustomed to. They have become like a person who seeks constant pleasure. The problem with pleasure was that by its nature, it was momentary and must therefore be repeated. But there can never be a time of perfect satisfaction. The seeker of pleasure can never be satisfied any more than a leaky pail can be filled. This ongoing insatiable craving for making the aim of life to make as much money as possible, and the pursuit of  honor and power over the common good, has, as was predicted by earlier philosophers, denegenerated and fixed Democracy to that same station in which “ a society cannot hold wealth in honor at the same time establish self control of citizens.”

Political self Independence came with it the vanity of thought that the requirement for rational conduct in the individual was not required in the State. Plato observed that everywhere where Democracy ever existed, it produced a condition in which “liberty and free speeach are rife everywhere; anyone is allowed to do what he likes.” Through it, now “you are not obliged to be in authority…or to submit to authority, if you do not like it…”. Equality and freedom to us as new sovereigns, has made virtue, what the sovereign said it was and could be.

It, as in Athens, violated the notion that rulership should be in the hands of those with the special talent and training for it. As then, Democracy, suffered, says Aristotle, from the assumption that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects. “Because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.”  This desire of equality, when men think they are equal to others who have more than themselves, was the very spring and fountain of conflict, disharmony, and disproportion in modern times. 



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