Living Like Plato: Applying Ancient Wisdom to Modern Life

Imagine if that cranky old Greek Plato popped up in the modern world. What would he make of our society and the way we live today? I picture him wandering wide-eyed through a busy urban center, questioning everything and critiquing our acceptance of surface appearances.

“These so-called smartphones,” he’d say, “They provide only an imitation of wisdom! True knowledge comes from within by contemplating eternal and universal forms!”

We’d catch old Plato gazing confused at his social media feed. “Why does everyone care what these ‘influencers’ think? The only thoughts influencing me will be truth and justice themselves!”

Heading to the grocery store, Plato would scoff at advertisers’ tricks. “Candy claiming to provide happiness? False promises! I shall shop guided only by ideals of health and temperance.”

Strolling through a bookstore, the old philosopher would completely dismiss the fiction section. “These are pale shadows of reality. I want stories revealing universal themes!”

Can you picture Plato unleashing his Socratic questioning on some poor hapless cube-mate enduring a mundane workday? “Is what you’re doing truly meaningful? Does it serve justice? Does it reflect eternal truth?”

Clearly unimpressed by the latest flashy tech innovations, Plato would urge us to direct our brainpower toward more elevated pursuits.

“You claim these ‘smartphones’ showcase genius?” he’d scoff. “I shall demonstrate true intelligence by deciphering universal forms and structures imbued with deep meaning!”

Instead of fiddling around on Twitter or Instagram, Plato would have us meditate upon symbolic visions gleaned in a higher realm. “These images of perfect circles, triangles, and colors hold secrets of the cosmic order far beyond any hashtags or emojis!”

Eschewing easy-swipe dating apps, our philosopher friend would tell us to search for lovers and friends who reflected inner beauty and virtue. “I care not for appearances and popularity. Guide me toward kindred spirits who live justly and reinforce all that is good in my soul!”

Can you picture Plato as a modern guest at some lively dinner party? He’d be that annoying guest who refused to let the conversation wander into frivolity.

“Enough about the latest movements in the art world! Let us discourse about the true meaning of beauty itself!” he’d declare. “And shall we not talk of recent discoveries in astronomy? We must contemplate instead the perfect celestial forms in our mind’s eye!”

Though labeled a killjoy, perhaps Plato possessed a wisdom we still stand to benefit from today—a wisdom urging us to shun superficial diversions and aim our sights upon universal truths elevated high above the ever-churning stream of daily life. I can just picture Plato exiting the party shaking his head saying, “What wasted potential! If only they turned their minds toward the Eternal Forms of Truth and Justice!”

While a curmudgeonly Plato may roll his eyes at modern life, perhaps we can still apply a dash of his wisdom. We could stand to unplug from electronics, question appearances and assumptions, and aim our daily grind at some higher ideals. What truths and universal forms guide your life? Maybe old Plato wasn’t so off base after all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to contemplate how to create a perfectly just and reasonable social media feed!


So what do you think? Should we heed some of old cranky Plato’s advice? Is there too much focus on surface appearances and not enough on uncovering deeper underlying truths about reality? I’m off now in search of the perfect triangle!

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