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Learn From Plato- Suspend Your Judgment

Feb 20, 2008
"You are young and as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters." - Plato

It is one of the wisest pieces of advice ever given. This advice is 2400 years old. It was given to us by the greatest Greek philosopher known to humans; Plato. The advice is: Refrain from judgment! This is one of the principles behind the adult learning theory known as transformative learning which I will be writing more on in days to come. Principally, adults should spend most of their time re-learning what they have learned. Yu will see what I mean as you read on.

As young people we spend most of our time learning. We learn our ABC's, our colors, our multiplication tables. We learn the basic precepts of relationships, mostly that we need others (dependency). As we learn we form opinions on things, but they are not as much opinions as they are predisposed facts. One plus one is two. That is the only answer. Your opinion doesn't much matter here other than it better be two. Much of the information we learn is bundled in packages in our brains. We package it because it makes it simpler to learn. This bundling is fine for now but as we begin to expand our knowledge base we will be called upon to disassemble these bundles of information we have made later and that is where a lot of adults get into trouble.

As we enter our secondary educational years, we begin to think in concepts. We add to our existing knowledge base abstracts or divergences from facts and discover contradictions in what we have learned. One plus one is not always two in this new world. It is two under certain conditions. Here is where we are called upon to disassemble these bundles of information so we can reassemble or modify our pre-existing facts. This is what I mean by relearning. This is what transformative learning teaches us that we should stop and rethink what we think we know and look at things from a different perspective than before. This is where many adults run into difficulties and they react by judging things instead of deliberately suspending their judgment. They judge of course based on facts and knowledge gained in earlier years. They fail to take into account that there could be extenuating circumstances that may call upon them to modify their judgment.

What good advice Plato had for us. He said, "Refrain for a while from setting yourself up as judge..." Setting our self up as judges has a hard connotation to it and makes one picture a know-it-all type person, doesn't it? We know a lot of these kind of people. But a truly wise person does not set themselves up as a judge. People will automatically come to them for judgment because of their wisdom. When we do as Plato advised, when we refrain from judgment we make relationships easy and we become like a hiding place from the storm. Friends and family will seek our knowledge and admire our peace and contentment. We will become known as people who are truly compassionate and judges with wisdom if we can only learn to do this one thing well; suspend our judgment.

As we face the world today let us apply well the advice of Plato and let us refrain from judging. You will feel the personal empowerment you get from suspending your judgment for just a little while longer.
About the Author
John Cyr is a retired workforce development trainer and motivational consultant who writes articles and editorials under the pen-name Johnny Cyreous, or Cyreous. He maintains a website of quotes by famous people and advocates his method of teaching at www.cyreousquotes.com
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