Socrates: The Test Of Three

 December 28, 2015

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Socrates The Test Of Three2



There’s a common knowledge story kicked around about “The Triple Filters Test.” Sometimes it involves Socrates and other times it involves an Arab scholar, but the truth of the story is the same. Here it is:

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In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance, who 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, on 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.

This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

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Socrates The Test Of Three

 




6 comments on “Socrates: The Test Of Three

  1. What I've heard is that he was held in high esteem because when the oracle of Delphi was asked who the wisest man was and answered 'Socrates'. When the people went Socrates to tell him what she had said, he answered that it was impossible because he new nothing. The people went back to the oracle and told her what Socrates had said and she said that that's why he's the wisest man, because he knows he don't know…

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