Kenneth Tucker

...a hermit iconoclast


Socrates -- Test of Three

A useful calumny filter... January 11, 2018

One day Socrates came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said, Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?

Wait a moment, Socrates replied. Before you tell me, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three. Test of Three? That’s correct, Socrates continued. Before you talk to me about my student, let’s take a moment to test what you’re going to say. The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?

No, the man replied, actually I just heard about it.

All right, said Socrates. So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second test, the test of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?

No, to the contrary...

So, Socrates continued, you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true? The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, You may still pass though because there is a third test, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?

No, not really.

Well, concluded Socrates, if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all? The man was defeated and ashamed, and said no more.

Weapons are instruments of ill omen. They should never be made into things of beauty. To worship weapons is to glorify in killing. Don’t deal in violence. Violence rebounds. Don’t glorify in war. Use weapons only when there is no other choice.

Tao Te Ching
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