In this dialogue, the student is learning to be a philosopher. To love wisdom, is a way of being and it requires passion and reason. The philosopher is showing the student the ways to learn in order to find the best ways to apply the knowledge to being a student. At this point, the student has been a teacher for many years. But the philosopher is the real old boy. Even though the student has good understanding of teaching, he does not know how to be a philosopher. The frustration the student feels is muddying his ability to learn. So, the philosopher is showing him how to clean his mind and practice being a philosopher.
Student: I have gone to school for many years. And I have been a teacher for just as long. I am even beginning to see how and why I must give up knowledge and power to become a philosopher. But why must I keep all this wisdom to myself?
Philosopher: I must still be a student, teacher and keep all this wisdom to myself. What do you want to know?
S: Epictetus is a great Stoic. He never wrote down a word, but he shared his knowledge and wisdom. He had power. Why can’t I do as he did?
P: You are not Epictetus. He learnt using the great Socratic method. Can you do that method and still be a philosopher?
S: You teach me using riddles. What do you mean? Speak plainly, tell me the truth.
P: I do not know the truth. You might answer this question yourself, if you were not ready to throw in the towel. All those great philosophers and all the history of their ways allow us to find a method that works for us. At some point, the fact and experience will allow the willing to give up power and knowledge to become a philosopher.
S: Yes, I understand I must apply the principles to my own experience, but why must I give up power and wisdom?
P: Just for one minute a day, try giving it up. This is how another great philosopher learnt to put principles into practice.
S: You make it sound like a history lesson. You are just a leached out old grandfather trying to tell me how to live the good life.
P: Yes, and you are tired of giving up your power and wisdom.
S: No I’m not, you keep telling me to do it.
P: I’m going to stop. You must walk your own way. Hold on to power and wisdom for one minute each day and keep at it for a whole month, if you can. But at the same time, give up power and wisdom for a minute at another convenient time on the same day, compare the two, try it for a whole month. See if you can tell which one leads to the truth. However, if you can learn to practice being a philosopher everyday, you may just become like the ‘leached out old grandfather’.