Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aristophanes - The Clouds

Hello!  Sorry it's been so long ... my 10 year reading plan may be a 30 year plan!  The past month I've been stuck in "The Clouds" by Aristophanes.

To start, I was unsure if I was reading this play correctly.  It was fairly difficult reading with unfamiliar historical references and strange speech.  That alone made it a good experience for me to understand what it must be like for someone to read the Bible for the first time -- it must be difficult.  After a while, though, I started to get into the story and started chuckling at some statements, then wondered if I was supposed to ... is this a comedy?  After some "cheating" on wikipedia, I was encouraged to know that I was understanding the story and comedy quite correctly!

The story consists of a father who is broke because of his wife and son's "high" living.  He wants to educate himself like the great thinkers of Sacrate's school so that he can learn the "bad logic" that will help him win his cases in court and escape paying his debts.

The play's main purpose is to make a fool out of Sacrates (and as I believe like Hollywood can do, change public opinion).  The father enrolls himself in Sacrates' school and eventually Socrates expells him because he is too dull and old.  The father then enrolls his son to take his place.  The son finishes the education and ends up turning on the father and mother -- part of the purpose to sway public opinion that Sacrates corrupts the youth.

The play is very entertaining with the chorus of  "The Clouds" and a debate between "Right Logic" and "Wrong Logic".  The Clouds are like the gods that control events.  In the end, they state to the father that they allowed him to go through all these things in order to teach him a lesson ... and to repent of his devious plans and just pay his debts.

"Right Logic" and "Wrong Logic" have a humorous debate, but interesting as they argue for the minds of the youth.  When Right Logic, for example, promotes chastity, Wrong Logic "proves" him wrong wrong by pointing out that everyone else (including Zeus) are immoral adulterers.  This of course is truly a fallacy, in my opinion, since what others do has no bearing on the truth of the statement that chastity is good.  Both conservatives and liberals, religious and non-religious people use this fallacy in their arguments.  I have to be careful not to use this in my conversations with others!

Also, Right Logic is mocked when he warns that Wrong Logic's ways will bend your mind to think that foul will be fair and fair will be foul.  Again, this is repeated in the Bible where it says: 

Isaiah 5:19-21 (New International Version)
19 to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it."
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Can you think of any topics today that one side says evil is good and the other side says that the good is evil?

That's all for now.  On to PLATO: Republic [Book I-II]

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