In this dialogue, it is important to note that Alexander the Great had passed away and many of his mighty generals were fighting over power, property, and politics. As many riches were being used to forge forms out of great ideas. Many individuals awakened to ideas and resources, as if the treasures of the world had suddenly materialized. The banquet begins with a group of philosophers attending lectures at the two great schools. And in their midst’s, grow other fine schools described by the teachers.
Skeptic: As the latest newcomer, I have many questions. I shall leave no stone unturned, because knowledge is power. And we believe to know is to understand which will build the mind, body and use of everything else. This method creates a journey and the proper use of impressions. Yet, did not Plato mean the same truth when he and others questioned living the good life?
Forms: I’m afraid, my friend the skeptic is just a division of another of Plato’s forms. There are other way’s to question. We now see many schools in Athens: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurean, Stoic, Cynic and Skeptic. These I call schools but they are ways to live the good life or so they all claim.
S: Yes, I agree these schools compete in Athens. Today we all crave fame and fortune. We all claim to know how to live the good life. But have we defined our terms of reference? Are each of us, as individuals, able to live the good life in our own way? In this way, could we have all found the way? Look to the east, are there not ways that work for many people?
F: Many people need terms or definitions: religion, philosophy, ideas, poetry, and more. We leave the system open, closed and in degrees of these two extremes. We all seek answers, knowledge, power, wealth, materials. Some of us more than others. There is too many variables to define even one way.
S: Yet, we have joined together to practice universality in our schools. We explore many more ways to reach a better way. Our answers we use to build a mind in ourselves to be better people, governments, institutions; we are creating information and technology.
F: We chase our tails and we invent toys. We fight intellectually. We even fight to find ourselves. Like our friends the Cynics, who give up all possessions to find their true selves. They are truly philosophical and homeless. And yet, freedom, equality, and many fine ideas are here to stay. We build great cities.
S: I want to have the ultimate answer. But like Plato, I realize it will not unveil itself to me in this body. I must die. I must be as good as I can be. We all struggle for peace. The stoic says not to dwell on pleasure. The Epicurean says not to dwell on pain. Plato’s school tries to build the heaven on earth. Aristotle’s school tries to let each individual do his best. The Cynic takes it to the finest degree as you have said about the homeless philosopher. And I, as a skeptic, will question all these ways and build my own. Who is right?
F: I insist Plato is right. But we all insist we are right. More people will find more ways. It is an epic story that will build institutions, governments, philosophies, information, technology and some semblance of peace and prosperity.