How We Need Kindness Just Now Even Without Plato (Interactive Reading of Karen Swallow Prior 12/12)

Eidos | 9/17/2018 | Staff
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God knows we need some kindness not now, not niceness, not weakness, but kindness. We should be kind, because everyone is fighting a hard battle. We should judge as little as possible, since nobody is righteous. We should show mercy as we would receive mercy.

These are great ideas and over the course of my life many great ideas have been introduced to me by Plato. About once a month someone posts that Plato told us to be kind, because everyone is fighting a hard fight.

Yet, no.

Plato did not say “Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato - Works - Dialogues - Characters - None

First, Plato’s works are called dialogues because characters speak in them. None of his characters says this, but even if one did just saying “Plato” thought what the character asserts is like saying Shakespeare agreed with everything Lady MacBeth had to say.

No.

Plato - Justice - Courage - Wisdom - Moderation

Second, Plato was into justice, courage, practical wisdom, and moderation. Kindness? That is not a virtue he would have known.

Third, Plato’s characters do not often express sympathy a for “everyone.” They often dislike most people. We cannot be sure of Plato’s views on government, but most scholars think he strongly disliked democracy.

Plato - Characters - Anything - Kind - Virtue

Finally, Plato has no characters who say anything like this. Being kind as a virtue? If you live in the western parts of the world, that’s a Christian idea. If you are not a Christian, feel free to appropriate the concept and carry on with kindness.

Plato was not an advocate of universal kindness, but Professor Karen Swallow Prior (KSP) is, thank God. She uses contemporary American (prize winning!), American writer George Saunders KSP knows literature and seeing an American short story in her book filled me with so much hope, I read the entire collection. My first impression was not kind to Saunders as Saunders read like the sort of writer...
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