For immediate release:
Socrates dead at 93
It has been confirmed that the formerly famous philosopher Socrates is dead at age 93.
Plato, a long time family friend and well known critic of democracy, stated that Socrates passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Socrates became a media sensation twenty three years ago, when he was tried for corrupting the youth and denying the Gods. He was acquitted on both charges. Shortly thereafter, Socrates was diagnosed with dementia and he withdrew from public life.
Thrasyamachus, an early opponent of Socrates, but who had been good friends for over thirty years said “Socrates possessed extraordinary recall, a quick wit and was a well respected educator of many well known Athenian youths. The world will never see a man like Socrates in our life time. May he find rest in the Elysium fields.”
The above account is fiction, since Plato had the good sense to have the Athenians find Socrates guilty of the charges and executed when he was 70 years old.
Leo Strauss observed that Hobbes was a cautious writer. This caution or temperance is a hallmark of those individuals who reflect first, not act.
The tributes to the work and memory of Robin Williams is proportional to how the public felt about his abilities on stage and screen. I don't typically comment on the deaths of celebrities, but the media obsession with his depression, has, I believe, obscured the fuller understanding of his final months. Who in the modern world has not suffered from depression and moved on? It has been reported that Mr. Williams suffered from episodes of depression for many decades and recovered. We must ask: Why was this time different from the preceding incidents?
Our patience for a possible reason was rewarded on Thursday when his wife said that Mr. Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Looking at the prognosis, it would seem that Parkinson's disease is, on the whole, a better [if that is the right word] diagnosis that Lou Gehrig's or Alzheimer's. As with many patiences of Parkinson's disease, Mr. Williams could look forward to many years, if not decades, of a productive life. Unfortuntely, Mr. Williams was not one of the many, but one of the few people who would find the debilitating effects to be not only unpleasant, but catastrophic to his career.
We are led to believe that suicide is an irrational act, for which there is no recourse. This belief that suicide is morally wrong in all cases is expemplified that until a few years ago, suicide was illegal by statue in all 50 states, although, not surprisingly, without any penalties. Is there a rational or reasonable case where suicide is acceptable? We must answer in the affirmative, but within limited circumstances.
We will state that temporary circumstances or setbacks are not reasons for suicide, as these events are part of our existence. Permanent circumstances with no reasonable expectations for improvement, as with chronic illness, can be qualified as justifiable reasons for suicide. If one notices a decline over several decades and with no prospects for improvement, suicide may be a reasonable alternative than continuing to exist. The steady rise in the 1970s led to the success of the 1980s provided the foundation for a remarkable career in the 1990s, only to have a television series cancelled after one season in 2014.
Throughout his writings, Plato states that a great memory is indispensable for philosophers and I suspect the worst scenario for the aged Socrates would be a continual decline in mental faculties. To be able to act, one must be able to move and talk in a flowing manner, whether the scene is dramatic or comedic. Sooner or later, Mr. Williams would not be able to do voice work. His career would end, not because of his retirement, but because of circumstances beyond his control.
We end with one final observation:
The majority of men who commit suicide use firearms, while women use less violent methods.
The irony of Mr. William's method of choice will not be lost on the Gentle Reader.