have heart, read on to some wonderful stuff in plato


if you are at all discouraged by some of socrates’ rules for the republic (like the suppression of innovations in music), then have heart. read on.

on page 1057 (section 425), Socrates takes an interesting turn when he states that beyond education, there should be no attempt to legislate popular culture.


– foolish
it’s foolish to legislate about such things [as care of parents, hair styles, clothes, etc.]

– if you get the basics right, then you don’t have to worry
the start of someone’s education determines what follows…just focus on education and then let them figure it out because “It isn’t apropriate to dictate to men who are fine and good.”

several interesting concepts are embedded in that last point:

– starting points matter
2,500 years before chaos theory, plato got this key insight

– just a few basic rules to worry about and then let them figure it out from there

– if you don’t get the basics right, then no amount of law-setting will matter
“they’ll spend their lives enacting laws and then amending them, believing that in this way they’ll attain the best…not realizing that they’re really just cutting off a Hydra’s head.”

i was excited to read these points in plato, especially the last two because i had never seen such a clear example of my own (not very well articulated) philosophy of the importance of getting a few simple things right. in my business, i’m always being asked for the 100 rules of customer experience or good business design. and many “gurus” publish such lists (of various kinds and lengths). i really have no answer for that question. i’m not interesting in prescribing rules to that level of detail. i find there are only a few basic things businesses need to do well and often – and from that practice everything else follows.

happy reading.


p.s. has anyone started reading just 5 pages a day? how’s it going?

05. September 2008 by Arrian
Categories: Commentary, Plato | Tags: | 1 comment

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