Alfred North Whitehead, a famous thinker, once said that all of western thought is a footnote to Plato. But imagine that western thought is a person. What would this individual think? How would he or she behave?
In Spanking Plato, a satirical, funny, and irreverent story, I have personified Western Thought—also known as Wes or Wesley Thought—as a man who is confused and angry because history considers him a mere footnote to Plato. After all, he says, he was around long before Plato. Many famous people, like Aquinas and Aristotle, have irritated him further by putting words in his mouth that misrepresent his ideas. As a result, he is confused about who he is and suffers an identity crisis. He seeks the help of a therapist.
During these sessions, Wes complains at length and loudly about Socrates, for one, whom he views as a doddering old man who continually annoys people with questions that set them up to look dumb.
A cynical story, Spanking Plato describes Wesley Thought’s frustration about how he has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout history. Will he discover who he is?
One person referred to, Spanking Plato as, “A slaughterhouse for sacred cows.” Another said it was the next Monty Python.
The first section is the story of the Oracle of Delphi, known as Pythias, and the story of Socrates. The next section is the story of Plato and Aristotle. Following sections will be released about every three to four weeks. At the end of each section is a study guide.
Following is a partial list of the table of contents for Spanking Plato:
Section 1: Pythias and Socrates
Do Not Piss Off the Pythian
The Classical Age
Therapy Session: Wesley’s Problem
Socrates: Socrates Loses It
Therapy Session: Socrates War
Section 2: Plato and Aristotle
Plato: A Ring, a Cave, and a Toenail
Therapy Session: Spanking Plato
Aristotle: Death by Boredom
Therapy Session: An Explosion
Section 3: Augustine and Aquinas
The Medieval World
Augustine: Corrupting the Incorruptible
Therapy Session: The Great Evil
Aquinas: The Banquet and Night Flight
Therapy Session: Scenes from a Mall
Section 4: Luther and Calvin
Luther: The Smashed Thumb
Therapy Session: A Thunderstorm, PSTD, and Hitler
Calvin: Calvin’s Cold Feet
Therapy Session: Trial by Fire
Section 5: Galileo and Newton
The Scientific Revolution
Galileo: Galileo’s Grunt
Therapy Session: Galileo Guilt
Newton: Newton’s Nemesis
Therapy Session: The Apple of my Eye
Section 6: Descartes and Smith
The Scientific Revolution continued and The Rise of Capitalism
Descartes: Descartes’ Final Words
Therapy Session: Divorce before Descartes?
Adam Smith: All Buttoned Up? Not!
Therapy Session: Coming Out of the Closet
Section 7: Luther, Calvin, Galileo, Newton, Descartes, and Smith: A Reprise
Interlude: Day 1
Beach Bust Bingo
Interlude: Day 2
Your Money or Your Life
Interlude: Day 3
The Perfect Storm
Section 8: Hobbes and Locke
Hobbes: Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Therapy Session: Shock and Awe
Locke: Coming through the Rye
Therapy Session: Fire in the Hole!
Future sets include Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson, Hamilton, Hegel, Marx, and many others.
It is not necessary to get each section. You can skip around and choose which section best meets your needs.
For example, a science teacher might only be interested in Galileo and Newton, while a social studies teacher might be interested in Hobbes or Locke. An American History teacher might want the section about Jefferson and Hamilton.
Below is the Study Guide at the end of Section 1, Pythias and Socrates
Learner’s Guide: Section 1:
Critical Thinking questions:
1. The Oracle at Delphi cannot lie because she represents Apollo, the god of truth. Yet everyone knows her prophecies are confusing and misleading. Are these kinds of prophecies a form of lying? Why or why not?
2. Socrates hated the poets because he felt they were distracting people from seeking truth. Is there a modern counterpart to the poets? Who or what are today’s poets? What are they trying to accomplish?
3. Socrates hated the sophists. Who or what were the sophists? What were they trying to accomplish? Are there any modern counterparts to the sophists? If so, what are they trying to accomplish?
4. According to Thought, the Greek word Aretê has been mistranslated into the word “virtue,” whereas the more accurate meaning is “excellence.” What are the differences between the translations? Do you know anyone who is an example of Aretê?
5. Socrates claims that if there is an afterlife, he will continue questioning as he always has. Is Socrates practicing a form of civil disobedience? Is so is it valid?
6. Why was Socrates so disturbing to Athens? He was only an old man asking questions. What harm was he doing? Do you know anyone whose questions annoy or trouble others? In Julius Caesar, a play by William Shakespeare, Caesar says to Marc Anthony, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.” Why do the powerful fear questioning? Was Caesar justified in his fears? Was Athens justified in its fears? What are the similarities and differences between Socrates and Cassius?
7. Socrates was executed for corrupting the youth of Athens. Is there anyone today who claims that our educational system corrupts our youth? If so, who are they? What are their complaints? Evolution? Intelligent design? Humanism? Are their accusations justified? Although we don’t execute teachers or other school officials, at least not yet, how do these complainers handle their frustrations?
8. Special project: Form two teams from your class. One team will be the prosecutor against Socrates. The other team will defend Socrates. One person will act as Socrates. The class will present a trial to another class who will serve as the jury. The jury will vote on the charges and determine the guilt or innocence of Socrates. Note: if you wish, replace Socrates with another controversial issue or lightening rod in the community or in your school.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Wes or Wesley (Western) Thought
Alfred North Whitehead