Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gyges of Lydia and why do good?


In Plato’s Republic book II is a thought experiment in the form of the story of Gyges of Lydia, who one day found a magic ring (far pre-dating Frodo) which makes one invisible.  Of course Gyges did utterly despicable things with the power of this ring.  But the object of the teaching of this myth is to put yourself in the place of Gyges and then ask yourself the question of “If I could get away with murder, rape and theft…truly get away with it, would I?”

OK, so that’s pretty extreme. Let’s re-frame the question; if you could do anything you want, what would you do?

But the underlying question in this exercise is this: what is your motivation for doing good?
 For upholding justice?
For supporting Truth?
For offering aid and comfort to the less fortunate?

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under food by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it give slight to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

“…these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.”  Zechariah 4:10

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