Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Socrates' rejection of retaliation was the most important practical event of his philosophical life. It was also one of the most important events in the history of philosophy...What Socrates argued is extraordinarily uncompromising. It is moral absolutism at its most stringent. He is saying in effect: If something you do wrongs somebody else and, a fortiori, large numbers of people, it is so bad in itself, and so bad for you, that nothing good which it achieves can compensate for the evil. It may win a victory or even a war; it may bring you everything you value, joy, comfort, security, and long life; it may arouse the approval of those you love, your family and friends; it may be necessary, as you think, for their self preservation and your own; but if it is wrong, then you must not do it. Even if it would win the whole world, you must not do it. Your life itself would not be worth living if you can preserve it only by wronging others.
-Paul Johnson, as excerpted from Socrates: A Man For Our Times