Friday, April 14, 2017

The Socratic Test of Three - Something All Public Officials Should Think About

Socrates was a respected citizen, statesman and philosopher of ancient Greece. Many say he laid the seeds for modern western civilization.  He was revered by his neighbors and fellow Greek citizens for both his wisdom and high moral character. 












One day an acquaintance of his ran over to approach him and asked "Socrates, have you heard the latest news about Marcus?"  Socrates raised his hand slowly and said "Wait! Before you tell me what you have to say about Marcus, let's see if it passes - The Test of Three.

"The Test of Three?" inquired the man. “Yes” said Socrates. "The Test of Three."

"The first test" Socrates explained "is the test of Truth. Are you absolutely sure that what you are about to share with me about Marcus is the truth?" "Well no I don't know," replied the man, "I just heard it a few minutes ago."

"So," said Socrates "you want to share with me something about Marcus that you yourself have not confirmed as being true". The man replied "Yes".

"Well let's apply the second test" Socrates said, "the test of Goodness". Is what you are about to share with me about Marcus good?" "No, on the contrary Socrates ..." the man began; but Socrates cut him off and said "So You want to tell me something bad about Marcus even though you are not certain it is true?" The man shrugged his shoulders as though he were a little embarrassed.

Socrates smiled and said "Don't be disappointed you may still pass the third test - the test of Usefulness. Will what you share with me about Marcus be of any use or value to me?" "No, not really said the man." 

"Well then," commented Socrates, "If what you want to share with me about Marcus is neither True, nor Good and has no Use or Value for me - why in the world do you want to tell me this?" 

The man, then hung his head, obviously ashamed and just stood silent.  Finally he turned around and just walked away.

As elected officials, civic leader, or business owners would not all of our places of work - especially our seats of local government - be a much better off if we all just remembered and employed the Socratic Test of Three?