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The Importance of Pursuing Truth
Transcript of The Importance of Pursuing Truth
Within the quotation from Socrates he talks about the importance of living the examined life, that is a life in which things are questioned and searched for reason and truth. Socrates is so against the idea of an unexamined life that he chooses death over the idea of living a life unexamined. This shows the importance of knowledge to Socrates, he would rather die than live a life where he does not seek knowledge. In the video, Trump is asked a question about antisemitism by a reporter. This video shows the difference between how Socrates acts as a gadfly and how Trump acts as a gadfly. The questioning and answering of questions is important to Socrates because it creates knowledge and causes those around him to think for themselves. Trump goes against the very idea of the examined life in this video. Firstly, he says that the reporter does not give him an easy question. This should be a good thing for someone who is looking to pursue truth, as hard questions create deeper thought and result in more knowledge. Secondly, Trump does not allow the reporter to finish his question, and instead answers a question of his own. Trump refusing to answer the reporter's question and instead turning it into a way to praise himself is a great example of how he acts as a gadfly for his own agenda rather than for the greater good. Answering questions and creating knowledge is not important to Trump as a gadfly, but rather it is important that he is seen as right and good. Where a good gadfly would push themselves and society toward good, Trump tries to push society and good closer to what he already believes.
So, how effective were each of these gadflies? It is safe to say that Socrates was effective in furthering the pursuit of knowledge in society. So much so that his method is still in use today in many academic spaces. Only time will tell how effective Trump is. However, looking at the current political climate, it does not seem like he is effective. The amount of dissonance against him is overwhelming, some of the biggest protests in history have come out against him. His agenda does not seem like it is effective for the majority of Americans, and thus he is ineffective as a gadfly.
These two quotes show the difference in how these two gadflies deal with criticism. Socrates, being someone who values examination and questioning, sees his criticism as a good thing. For Socrates, criticism is seen as a way to strengthen his own belief, and serves as proof that he is doing something right. The counter to this is Trump's statement. Where Socrates sees his criticism as a good thing, Trump comes out and attacks journalistic institutions who are trying to spread knowledge, declaring them to not only be his enemy, but the enemy of the American public. This stark contrast between reactions shows the motivations behind each gadflies actions. Socrates responds positively to criticism, this is because he values the truth more than he does being right. No matter what criticisms are levied against him, as long as the truth comes out in the end it does not matter. Trump on the other hand is more focused on being perceived as right than he is on being actually right. This is evident in his reaction to criticism. Regardless of whether or not the media is asking reasonable questions or printing factual information, if it paints Trump in a negative light he reacts very negatively to it, insofar as to pin the American public against journalists.
Donald Trump as a counter-gadfly
Few names are as synonymous with the pursuit of truth as Socrates. So much so that the Socratic method is a major way that many people are able to find truth in different scenarios. In
, Socrates compares himself to a gadfly, in that he constantly provokes and irritates his society to keep thinking and moving forward. In modern society there is an individual who immediately comes to mind when one thinks about constant irritation, and that man is Donald Trump. Trump acts as a gadfly in a similar way to Socrates. However, where Socrates pushed people towards the pursuit of knowledge, Trump constantly pushes people towards his own agenda.
"Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault" -Trump on Twitter
"I was thinking to myself that I was wiser than this man, for starters. It's likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but whereas he thinks he knows something when he doesn't know it, I, when I don't know something, don't think I know it either. It's likely, then, that by this I am indeed wiser in some small way than this man, in that I don't think myself to know what I don't know." (Apology, 20)
Humility in intelligence is important in the pursuit of knowledge. Socrates was on a constant quest for knowledge because he was aware of how little he really knew. This quest for knowledge led to him asking many questions within his community, causing his followers to not only hear his questions, but also to ask questions themselves. Compare this to Trump, in this tweet Trump not only brags about his intelligence, but he presents the information as an undeniable truth, claiming that it is so true that everyone already knows it. This strategy is something that is common in Trump's rhetoric, and in the same way Socrates asked questions to produce knowledge, Trump uses these false absolutes as a way to suppress questioning. This stark contrast between statements shows the major difference between these two gadflies. Where Socrates sought to find new knowledge and help those around him find new knowledge, Trump wants others to take his word at face value and not think for themselves. By using phrases such as "you all know it," "you know it, I know it, everybody knows it," and "that's just the facts," Trump frames statements in a way that makes the reader feel obligated to believe, despite the lack of proof behind his statements. When Socrates, the wisest man in his society, claims that he knows very little, it prompts those in his society to also believe that they know very little, and thus seek knowledge themselves. When Trump claims that he is the smartest man in his society, and that everyone knows it to be true, he does not make others seek knowledge, but rather he suppresses knowledge.
"I say that in fact this is the greatest good for a man, to talk every day about virtue and the other things you hear me converse about examining both myself and others—the life without examination being not worth living for a man" (Apology, 32)
"I am hated on account of these very things, which is an indication that I tell the truth, and that this is the slander against me and that these are the causes. And if you inquire into these things, either now or later, this is what you'll find." (Apology, 22)
"The FAKE NEWS media (failing nytimes, NBCNews, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" - Trump on twitter