Fishing in the Lake of Philosophy (part 1/4)

This is an excerpt from my 2009 novel, N. Awakening.

Chapter 22

Fishing in the Lake of Philosophy

Mitchell watched the lake sparkle. He thought about this little cove where they might catch some fish. He remembered their first spot and the initial lack of bites. He thought about their second location and the little monster that snapped his line. He narrowed his eyes and sought revenge on the fish that stole his worm, but then let that thought go. Instead, he wished that they might see the bobber meandering along the surface. He anticipated comedy. He felt that the fishing could only improve for Nasha and hoped her bobber would go under many times over.

After some time had passed and he began to feel like a member in solace with his surroundings, Mitchell attempted to open Nasha’s heart, “So you’re going to college next month. What will you learn?”

Nasha answered her grandfather, “Philosophy and public policy, you know that,” she resonantly responded.

“Yes,” Mitchell smiled, “But what will you learn?” Nasha wrestled with the fear that she might not catch any fish and even more, that she might never catch a fish. Gripping the fishing rod, she focused on the steady bobber roughly thirty feet away. She let his words settle.

“Well, I know I will have to complete the Philosopher’s Perform Program and the Publishing Program, thanks to you!” She smiled. She was so proud of her grandpa. “This junior girl I know, Susan, says that those two tasks are like ‘running a marathon while people throw water at you.’ She told me at this party, ‘the water hits you but you can’t drink it because you can‘t stop running,’ she said, ‘and while you tire from thirst you are wet and become angry that water was wasted from the onlookers’ idiotic attempt to ease that journey, but when the race was done,’ she explained, ‘she felt like doing it again and again and again and not care about the water being thrown on me.’ I think she was inebriated when she said that.”

Nasha rested her feet up on the side of the boat. “I have heard of the philosophers on the curriculum listing and have read bits and pieces of some of their works. Will you tell me about them?”

Mitchell nodded, cracked open his bitter beer, took a few swigs and thought about the chronological order of the philosophers she would soon study. He took another long swig. It tasted good under the summer sun.

“Well, Socrates starts off the session in your second year. You mainly focus on The Republic of Plato, but you will look at his other works too, like the Apology. Socrates defines philosophy, in my belief, because he speaks how ‘philosophical’ sounds.” He excitedly turned and lowered his voice, “It’s really is the art of dialectic.” He wanted to wet her appetite but not give her all the answers.

 What is Justice?

“Socrates begins by asking others to define Justice[1] and then he refutes their arguments… never truly giving a central definition as he understands Justice. The book overall is an attempt to design the greatest community and government grounded from Socratic logic whereby the greatest persons are gold, guardians of the community are silver and workers are bronze of soul. Guess who rules the city?”

“A woman with a heart after gold?” She thought that might end the discussion.

On Marriage

Mitchell laughed and winked and continued, “You may be surprised to know that Socrates abolishes marriage.

“He’s definitely not a romantic,” Nasha remarked. She could not imagine why any society would abolish marriage. She questioned, “Isn’t true love our greatest proof that the human spirit exists?”

 On Enlightenment

“Plato also writes about a cave image,” he began to speak more seriously, “In Book VII, my favorite part, where he describes why we need to be enlightened, how to be enlightened and more importantly, why most people will not and never become enlightened.”

Nasha stared at her bobber terrified that she might only catch some philosophy, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for life. Right?”

“That’s a famous saying by…”

She concluded, “I’ll starve to death at my catch rate.” With a tender smile she added, “I prefer the market.”

[1] Dikaiosune, actually.

This is not in the novel; but, Socrates eventually explains that a “just” society enables people to reach their potential and thus serve the community by reaching one’s potential. Basically, the “system” in place during his time (and I think that this is still true today but in different ways) was grossly deficient in propelling the citizens to strive for their potential–thus the system and society was unjust. In N. Awakening, I provide a chapter explaining how this society might exist–what the “system” would look like. The chapter is called “Culture in the Eldee” or, Chapter 31.



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