A Philosopher's Blog

Plato & The Law of Attraction

Posted in Metaphysics, Philosophy by mclfamu on May 2, 2007
Oddly enough, people who push the “law of attraction” claim that Plato accepted this principle.In the Republic, Book IV, Plato writes: “It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?”It must be noted that Socrates is discussing education with Adeimantus and the others. He is not endorsing anything like the so called “law of attraction.” His view is that if a person is properly educated in his/her youth, s/he will tend to continue on the proper path. This is a far cry from the rather odd view of causality put forth in the “law of attraction” presented in works like The Secret.

If you doubt this, pick up a credible translation of the Republic and read Book IV carefully. You’ll see quite clearly what Plato is and is not claiming here.

It is also claimed by some that Aristotle held a view like that presented in The Secret. As a professional philosopher, I can assure you that is not the case. Again, if you have doubts I’d suggesting reading Aristotle’s writings. You’ll find some interesting stuff in there, but nothing like the “law of attraction” being pushed these days.

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Dog Hero and Pit Bull Bans

Posted in Ethics, Law by Michael LaBossiere on May 2, 2007

A brave Jack Russel Terrier died saving children from marauding pit bulls. The terrier, named George, held off the two pit bulls thus allowing five children to escape. George survived the attack but was so badly mauled that he was put down.

This incident shows that good dogs are truly our best friends-they are willing to die for us. It also shows that people create some very bad dogs and do not take responsibility for their pets. That is both sad and morally wrong.

I’ve had mixed experiences with pitbulls myself. I’ve been attacked by a pit bull while running (no injuries on my part, beyond some scrapes I received from sticking a fallen tree into the dog’s mouth), Isis has been attacked by pit bulls in the dog park and I’ve seen plenty of pit bull fights. But, I’ve also known some very nice pit bulls who are proper dogs.

In all these cases the main factor has been the owner. People who chose dogs from lines that have been “bred mean” and then encourage that tendency (I’ve seen people slapping their pits to make them mad enough to fight other dogs) are making the greatest contribution to the pit bull problem.

Because of these bad owners many places have imposed bans on pit bulls. For example, some dog parks not allow them and even some areas of the US ban them completely.

Because of my own bad pit bull experiences, I am very sympathetic to such bans. When I’m sitting in the dog park watching some genius slapping his pit bull puppy and trying to get it to fight other dogs, I think that such bans might not be a bad idea.

But, from one moral standpoint, pit bull bans could be seen as wrong because they restrict all pit bulls based on the poor choices and actions of some pit bull breeders and owners.

Of course, the ban could be justified on utilitarian grounds-although some good pits and their owners would suffer, the harms prevented by banning pits in general could outweigh this suffering.

At this time, I’m still divided on pit bull bans. My inclination is that it is probably better to deal with matters individually. For example, particular individuals could be banned from dog parks, etc. because their dogs are known to be vicious. Of course, if there are many bad pit bulls, dealing with individuals might be too costly in terms of time and resources. In that case, areas rife with bad pits might require sweeping bans to protect the many from the misdeeds of the few…at the expense of some innocents