The 5th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, is the start of section two , “Beyond the Crowd: Teachings of the Seven Philosophers of Screens”. This chapter starts with a story about Plato’s teacher Socrates, wandering out of Athens with a friend, into the beautiful countryside, while having a discussion about sex and the emotional complications of love. Then, the chapter changes gears, and focuses on the private human connection aspect of the story.
The book pointed out that the inventions of: talking and pictures, brought humans out of isolation, and onto a path to truth and enlightenment (pg.87). The book then draws parallels between 5th century BC Greece, and 21st century digital age; how digital screens are now the core of all interaction, happiness, and knowledge. “Skillful life management yields wisdom and happiness”(pg.92). Socrates didn’t care for the invention of written words, because it’s frozen and fails to evolve with discussion. I imagine that people today disapprove of new technology for confusion/anxiety related reasons.
I enjoyed the soul metaphor about the flying chariot with the good and evil horses, because it confirms that humans have been experiencing the inner turmoil struggle for ~2500 years. (see the picture) Regardless of different times and technological climates, the issue is always about the philosophical goal of the individual trying to make the most of life, and find balance (pg.100).
Last year, I took a class that focused heavily on the teachings Socrates, specifically a comparing and contrasting of Western and Eastern Philosophy. Unfortunately, that class was formatted poorly with confusing terminology, and focused around How the philosophers would ponder a subject (their query process). This story about Socrates taking a walk and chatting with a friend is much easier to understand.