Socrates (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

When a patient drinks medicine on his doctor’s orders, it is because he wants health, not because he wants to drink the medicine. Socrates says that we always want what is good, all human acts are directed toward what is good. Provided we know what it is to be good. Everything we do in life is either good, bad, or neutral and to take the medicine is a neutral act; the ends justify the means. We do things we wouldn’t necessarily want to do if they act as stepping stones to the things we do want, to the good things. Socrates says there is a difference between doing what we want and doing what we please. The patient won’t drink the medicine because the taste displeases him — it pleases him to not drink the medicine. But in making this decision, his health deteriorates. It is an irrational decision, based on an ignorance of the all too temporary nature of pleasure.

When I stay in bed all day instead of going to work, I do so because I lie awake and stare at the ceiling even when my alarm clock rings for the second time, because I am tired, because it makes me safe not to get up and face the cruelty of the world outside my bed, because it pleases me to pull the blanket up to my chin and curl back into sleep, back into the pleasure of my daydreams. Well, Socrates doesn’t care. He says, “Klassy, if you persist in doing what you please, you will never get what you want.”



About Klassy

How Klassy got her groove back.

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