Socratic Dialogue: The Consummation of Knowledge

Socrates: What is x?

T: That which has the function(x).

S: What is the function of people?

T: People seem to have more than one function. Perhaps I was mistaken about x. Please restate the question and I will try again.

S: What is x?

T: That which has the methods(x) = F(x).

S: What are the methods of people?

T: buying, talking, trusting, loving, living.

S: Are these the only methods of people or are there more?

T: There are more. I should have added “etc.” to the end of my last answer.

S: When you say “etc”, are you suggesting that there are an infinite number of methods?

T: Yes, it seems that way.

S: Is there anything more to x than F(x)?

T: No. F(x) is all.

S: You say that F(x) contains an infinite number of functions. But what if F(x) does not contain y?

T: Yes, I see. It appears that some things, like people, might not contain y, making them limited x.

S: Is knowing F(x) = knowing x?

T: Yes.

S: So knowing that person x has methods a and b but not c = knowing person x.

T: That’s what I said.

S: Wow, this is really an impressive discovery. It now appears as though we can know a lot. If we can know F(p) for all people, then we can know all people. Can we know F(p)?

T: I see where you’re going with this Socrates. You’re twisting my words around to make me look like a fool. You want me to answer in the affirmative until I contradict myself. Well I’m not going to fall into your trap. No, we can’t know all F(p) but we can know almost all (or at least a lot) of F(p).

S: And if we know almost all, or a lot of F(x), we know x?

T: Not quite, we almost know x.

S: Well I suppose almost knowing x must be something. Certainly it must be better than knowing nothing about x. But I still don’t understand one thing. I now know that I am able to know something about p, but what about myself? Am I able to know myself in the same way?

T: Yes. That follows.

S: But how do I know? Is there something that I have that has the function of knowing?

T: No. There is nothing one has that enables one to know one’s self, but one may know one’s self by acquiring knowledge.

S: Really, tell me how I can acquire this knowledge because surely self-knowledge is the most prized of all knowledge.

T: All right, but it’s going to cost you.

S: Why must it cost me?

T: What silly questions you ask Socrates. If you wanted a bowl of soup, surely you wouldn’t expect it to be given to you free of charge. So it also is with knowlege.

S: So knowledge is like a bowl of soup?

T: Yes.

S: Let me clarify your analogy. When I say that I want a bowl of soup, I don’t really want the bowl but the contents of the bowl so that I can appease my appetite. Do you agree?

T: Yes.

S: Thus knowledge is not so much like a bowl of soup but like a hunger?

T: Yes, that sounds better.

S: And I appease my hunger by consuming the soup.

T: Yes.

S: This self-knowledge seems like it could be an expensive business for people like me who have big appetites. I’m just a poor philosopher.  Isn’t there some cheaper way? Can’t I just consume myself? No one would charge me for that would they?

T: Now I know you’re jesting. Of course not. You can’t appease your appetite for food by eating yourself. Likewise, self-knowledge is something you have to acquire by consuming objects external to your self.

S: I see the connection in your theory now. You’re saying that by consuming objects external to ourselves, we are able to consummate our knowledge, which previously was limited to only methods.

T: Yes. Isn’t it great! Consumption allows us to make up for our limitations.

S: There is one problem I see with the consumption of knowledge.

T: What is that?

S: It appears as though only some may have knowledge and not others, for in order to conserve people, there will need to be some people who are not consumed.

T: That’s ok, for I will be one of the wealthy.

S: Well I’m impressed. You do seemed to have solved the problem of knowledge, though my stomach is having a hard time digesting the feast you’ve given me. I can forsee that the hungry men might not care to live with the satiated, not knowing what knowledge is. But if you go to the gym every day, you might be strong enough to prevent the poor from consuming you as well. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’ve given you nothing so let me repay you with this blessing:

May you grow in knowledge, may your knowledge satisfy your appetites, and may you never eat so much that you become fat and weak.