triple filter

Socrates (469 – 399 BC) was widely lauded in ancient Greece for his wisdom. One day an acquaintance ran up to him and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?” “Wait,” replied Socrates. “Before you continue, I want you to ask yourself this: does what I am about to say pass the Triple Test?” “The triple test?” “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student, ask yourself this: Are you absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is the Truth?” “No,” the man said, “actually I just heard it myself and…” “All right,” said Socrates, “so you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now ask yourself this: Is what you are about to tell me something Good?” “No, on the contrary…” began his friend. “So, you want to say something bad even though you’re not sure it’s true?” The embarrassed man shrugged. “Yeah, I guess so.” Socrates continued, “You may still pass the test though, because there is the third test: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you were going to tell me going to be Useful to me?” “Well, I guess not. Not really.” “Well, then” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to say is neither True, nor Good, nor Useful, why tell me at all?” The man walked away, defeated and shamed. And this is why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in high esteem. And it also explains why Socrates never knew that Plato was banging Mrs. Socrates!

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