River Clegg: Readers, thanks for joining me today for my first ever Western Canon interview, where I sit down to chat with some of civilization’s greatest writers about Yale’s toughest issues. Today I’m honored to have Socrates. Thanks for being here.
RC: So we’ve got plenty to talk about here at Yale —
Soc: Let me finish. Pleasure: Is that which gives pleasure necessarily also that which is good? Or can that which is good be something other?
RC: Well…can we come back to that?
Soc: Just kidding. I begin every conversation that way, just to see the reaction.
RC: …So, something that’s been on a lot of students’ minds lately is the police raid at the Elevate club. Do you think the officers behaved inappropriately?
Soc: How do we define that which is just? For surely this is the question at hand. If the young man’s being verbally attacked, beaten and shocked with electricity were just, then neither he nor anyone shall complain, for is it not better to suffer a just punishment than to go unpunished, if one is guilty?
RC: …Maybe? But it seems like the cops were out of line.
Soc: Well, let us take it up from the beginning. When one acts on a given occasion, do we say he wishes that which he acts, or rather that he wishes that for the sake of which he acts?
Soc: For example, if one drinks a drug after visiting the doctor, does he wish the act of drinking? Or does he rather wish for health? And similarly, when one plays the lyre in a musical ensemble, does he wish the act of playing, or rather for the act of savage lovemaking to which the lyre playing could conceivably lead, even though he’s probably not very good at the lyre?
RC: The lovemaking?
Soc: Ah! Yes. So now we must ask, for the sake of what were the officers at Elevate acting?
RC: Testing their SWAT gear for defects?
Soc: By the dog, what a godsend I have in you! Yes, for would it not be an embarrassment if, in the act of real police work, the SWAT officers discovered that their tasers and batons were malfunctional?
Soc: And so, when we desire an outcome yet remain uncertain of its taking place, do we not try to ensure its taking place through prior tests and practices?
Soc: And might not a SWAT team, suspecting their tasers and batons of being defective, and being woefully insecure about that suspicion, attempt to test their equipment on a group of people wholly incapable of physical defense?
RC: By Zeus, yes!
Soc: And do not Yale students, with their propensity for book-reading and allergies to natural sunlight, fit the description of people wholly incapable of physical defense?
RC: It’s true.
Soc: And when taking physical advantage of such people, does it not make it more fun to swear at them and make them feel bad, especially if you’re on some sort of a power-trip?
Soc: And so we see that it was not for the act of verbally assaulting, beating and shocking with electricity a Yale student that the officers at Elevate wished. They rather wished to test the viability of their SWAT gear, and, being tools, to swear violently at the recipient of their SWAT gear viability testing.
RC: Wow. So, do you think the officers behaved justly?
Soc: Do you remember my conclusions about justice in my masterwork, “The Republic”?
(RC takes out computer, begins typing)
Soc: What are you doing?
RC: Wikipedia says here you think we’re living in a cave? With shadows?
Soc: Did you actually read the book?
Soc: I thought you took Directed Studies.
RC: You’re Greek. I know that much.
RC: It’s because of your toga.
Soc: I’m leaving.
River Clegg is a senior in Davenport College.