Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Socrates on Maria Miller

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient and Modern: Socrates on Maria Miller

Article excerpt

Credit: Peter Jones

Our former culture secretary, Maria Miller, is still apparently baffled at the fuss created by her fighting to the last to prevent her expenses being examined. It was a mere 'legalistic' transgression; that's what MPs do. So that's OK, then.

Socrates once discussed with the young Euthydemus the question of going into politics. Euthydemus' assumptions about what it entailed were all too simple, which led Socrates into discussing the importance of examining oneself.

'Isn't it obvious,' said Socrates, 'that people are successful, when they know themselves, and failures, when they do not? Those who know themselves know what suits them best, because they can distinguish between what they can and what they cannot do. By doing what they know about, they meet their own needs and achieve their ends; while by steering clear of things they don't understand, they avoid failure and mistakes. This also enables them to make sound judgements about others, and through their relations with them to provide themselves with what is good and guard against what is bad. …

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