Meditations of a 21st century incarnation of Socrates as composed by Brent Silby
Alcibiades once confused the appearance of beauty with real beauty. He was well known for his physical beauty and he surely turned his appearance to his advantage. That was back in Athens. I did my best to help him to see that physical beauty does not guarantee true beauty. I fear my words fell on deaf ears. And it seems that people are still making the same mistake -- spending small fortunes on fixing their physical appearance, as if that can make them more beautiful. They are focusing on the wrong thing.
Allow me to present my case in premise / conclusion syllogistic form:
P1. A person has either true beauty or true ugliness
P2. In human affairs, true ugliness is found in doing harm
P3. Having the appearance of beauty does not guarantee the a person will do no harm
C1. Therefore, the appearance of beauty does not guarantee that a person is not truly ugly (from P2, P3)
P4. A just person (i.e. a morally good person) does no harm
C2. Therefore, a just person is not truly ugly (from P2, P4)
C3. Therefore, a just person is truly beautiful (from P1, C2)
C4. Therefore, true beauty is not to be found in in the physical appearance but in moral goodness (from C1, C3)
This, my admirable friends, indicates to me that the path to true beauty is not to be found in adjusting one's physical appearance through cosmetic enhancements. Rather, the path to true beauty is found in adjusting one's soul and becoming a morally good and just person.
Now, my readers, you are wise and will no doubt question premise #1. Must it be either / or? Can a person not be partly beautiful and partly ugly? Indeed, this is a worthy question. I have argued elsewhere that a truly just person, and thus a truly beautiful person, does no harm and thus has a total lack of ugliness. For clarity we could reword premise #1 to read: A person has either true beauty or true ugliness or a mix of partial beauty and partial ugliness. Conclusion #2 would then be reworded to read: Therefore, a just person is not truly ugly and is not a mix of partial beauty and partial ugliness. The rest of the argument would follow and the conclusion would still be deduced.
My ancient Athenian friends made the mistake of confusing the appearance of beauty with true beauty. It seems that the mistake persists in this twenty first century culture in which I now find myself. By the gods I am committed to helping people see things differently, so I will continue to examine lives and offer reasoned arguments as an alternative to popular thinking.