Tag Archives: philosophy

Thought for the day

If, like most of mankind, you have passionate convictions on many such matters, there are ways in which you can make yourself aware of your own bias. If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. If some one maintains that two and two are five, or that Iceland is on the equator, you feel pity rather than anger, unless you know so little of arithmetic or geography that his opinion shakes your own contrary conviction. The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.

Bertrand Russell

The Wisdom of the Ages

While walking the dog this morning, I was listening to a dramatisation of Plato’s Symposium – as one does – and Socrates had a natty little phrase which I found rather pleasing. But first, some background…

I have always been blessed with excellent eyesight, for which I am very grateful. However, Anno Domini does have a way of sneaking up on one. A couple of weeks ago, in a restaurant with some colleagues, I found that the very small writing on the ginger beer bottle was rather more legible when I held it just that little bit further away. One of my companions – of a similar vintage to myself – laughed at me and told me that he had just purchased his first reading glasses, which he then held out for me to try.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it was a turning point in my life. For the first time, I tried on somebody else’s spectacles, and the world looked clearer. And so, as I booked an eye test this morning, I took comfort from the words of Plato, who said something along the lines of:

“Wisdom begins as eyesight starts to fade.”

Most pleasing.

Of course, I then realised that the fact I have seldom needed an eye test before now, while so many of my friends have worked their way through many pairs of glasses or contact lenses, may have less pleasing implications…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser