In Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, as men are born in a situation of inequality, they reinforce the extent of it by making rules and building society. Every step the society has improved means a further step of men’s degeneration.
The difference in political field consequentially leads to a condition of the inequality between people. Owing to their desires, abilities and growing environments, each class in society is trying to get rid of the higher class’s oppression, and at the same time to oppress the lower class. On the one hand we can say that the prejudice that is produced by those desires and abilities violates sense and morality, but on the other hand we may argue that it is only a certain temporary social condition in a certain day and age. Laws are made by people; rules are made by people; even sense and morality are made up by people.
The inequality between people never reaches to an end. Even though it ends one day, it would just be the ending of a cycle when everything has gone back to the original point of a circle. Then everyone becomes disappointed yet hopeful, because in this new origin, they can build a new condition of inequality.
Hobbes defines predictions as conjectures based on the experiences in the past. In that day and age that theology was prevailing, this point of view was unusual. He argues that only realities exist in nature without any foreshadowing. It is not difficult to understand that why some people are able to make predictions. The reason would be that they have experienced more and know more about these fields, and may consider them more precisely. Therefore, predictions are not omens, but foresights.
What humans can imagine are limited, and what cannot be imagined are boundless. Some people have an accurate plan of their life, but they are not likely to follow it to achieve the goal in the end owing to many unexpected events. Oppositely, some people who do not make decisions depending on experience may get to the correct destination. As for those evidences that people regard as omens, have just happened before people get a chance to recall: “Oh, that was an omen.” When they find out that those predictions do not go as they expect, they change what they had ever believed to new regularities which works at that moment. The procedures of developments of history are a cycle of questioning and correcting. This cycle in human civilization never stops, and happens similarly in science and systems of country.
Owing to the fact that I am from a traditional and time-honoured Asian country, reading Plato’s philosophic thinking is no doubt harder than other books which contain plots such as Greek tragedies or Shakespeare’s plays. However, the part of education and cultivation set me thinking about the difference of education system between countries in different historical and cultural background.
In Republic, Plato mentioned the importance of cultivating people comprehensively. He advocated that people should learn fields like music, arts and literature in order to bring them up and explore the kindness and spirit in their heart. A combination of learning knowledge and humanity at the same time would benefit the development of society to a great extent, and students may get more pleasure simultaneously. I found it related closely to the education system in this day and age, especially the basic education, which western countries and Asian countries have approaches that are widely divergent.
All-life education is what else closer to present-day society compared to the argumentation of justice and injustice. He gave the idea that people are supposed to learn dialectics for five years, and go to that “cave” to receive tests and gather experience for another fifteen years. Then they will be able to see the kindness itself, and study philosophy in the rest of their life and surmount the post of archon in the end. Thus it can be seen, people who study and challenge themselves ceaselessly are likely to tackle more problems and get to the summit of life.
Words that people say casually are likely to turn out to be a prophecy, and there’s no way to avoid or escape from it. This was the strongest feeling that I had at the moment I finished reading Oedipus the King. Oedipus’s tragic end reminded me what he says when he is giving promise to his citizens in the beginning. “The man who killed Laios might take revenge on me just as violently. So by avenging Laios’ death, I protect myself.” (P29 169-171) How could one dig a pitfall for himself and fall into it without noticing? As the murderer in his own mouth, he takes a revenge on himself personally.
Visible predictions are even more unavoidable. To prevent the prediction that Laios will be killed by his son, Oedipus is abandoned on a mountain with his feet pierced. Nevertheless, this act just leads him to hear another prediction that he would murder his father and marry his mother, and causes him to leave home and rove in foreign countries, thereby guiding him to the place where he meets his father and kills him accidently. Humans are too negligible to defy or rewrite predestination, the result of trying so would be falling into a cycle and eventually turning back to the original point.
When Oedipus is told by the messenger that his “father” Polybos has dead, the sorrow and gladness in his heart are intermingled. His excitement even overwhelms his sadness owing to the reason that he thinks that the prophecy has been broken successfully. How can he kill a person who is already not in the world? Father’s death is not a bad news, as long as the murderer is not him. Just like he says to Jocasta: “My fears confused me.”(P66 1229) His fears do not only confuse him, but also stimulate his selfishness inside.
As the outlined above, the truth would be uncovered and the prophecy would become true with or without the plague. What has created and destroyed Oedipus at the same time is his own personality and fate.