Ancient philosophy offers what might be a surprising defense of living life publicly (i.e. through social media)
Plutarch, “On Whether Living Unknown is a Wise Precept”
1128a “But isn’t this very thing somehow evil—“living unknown” is like tomb-robbing, no? But living is a shameful thing, so that we should all be ignorant about it? I would say instead don’t even live badly in secret, but be known, be advised, and change! If you have virtue, don’t be useless; if you have weakness, don’t go without help.”
After he had been condemned to die by the Athenians and when his wife Xanthippe was weeping and saying “Socrates, you are dying unjustly”, Socrates the Athenian said to her “would you want me to die justly?”
Empedocles R87 Hermias 4 Derision of Gentile Philosophers
“Whenever I see myself, I fear my body and I don’t know how I should describe it. Is it human, or dog, or wolf, a bull, a bird, a snake, a dragon, or a chimaira?
For I am changed by philosophers into every kind of beast from the land, the sea, the sky, those of many forms, the wild ones, tame ones, mute animals, singing animals, unthinking ones, thinking ones. I swim. I fly. I creep on the ground. I run. I sit still. And then—Empedocles makes me into a bush too.”
Fronto to Praecilius Pompeianus [Ad Amicos, i. 15 (Naber, p. 184).]
“In the intervening period, the neuritis overtook me even more powerful than usual, and it has lasted longer and been harder to bear than is typical. I am not able to pay any attention to letters that need to be written and read when my limbs hurt so much. And I have not as yet dared to expect so much from myself.
When those magnificent specimens of philosophers make the claim that the wise man would still be happy even if he were trapped in the Bull of Phalaris, it is easier for me to believe that he could be happy than he would be able to think carefully about some introduction or turn a pithy phrase all while roasting within the brass.”
Interea nervorum dolor solito vehementior me invasit, et diutius ac molestius solito remoratus est. Nec possum ego membris cruciantibus operam ullam litteris scribendis legendisque impendere; nec umquam istuc a me postulare ausus sum. Philosophis etiam mirificis hominibus dicentibus, sapientem virum etiam in Phalaridis tauro inclusum beatum nihilominus fore, facilius crediderim beatum eum fore quam posse tantisper amburenti in aheno prohoemium meditari aut epigrammata scribere.
“He used to say, however, that there was no success in life at all without practice and that this can conquer everything. For this reason, people must choose the types of practice nature demands to live well instead of useless toils—and to live unhappily is a type of madness.
For even despising pleasure is extremely pleasurable, when it has been practiced; and just as those who are used to pleasure feel discomfort when they try to opposite, so too do those who have practiced the opposite get more pleasure from hating pleasure than from pleasure itself.
These were the things Diogenes talked about and clearly did—for he debased the currency and gave no rule authority unless it was natural. He used to say that he lived the same kind of life Herakles did and valued nothing more than freedom.”
“Plato was the son of Aristôn, an Athenian, and Periktionê, or Pôtônê, who alleged her heritage went back to Solon. For he had a brother named Drôpides who was the father of Kritias, the father of Kallaiskhros, the father of Kritias, who was one of the Thirty. He was also the father of Glaukôn, the father of Kharmides and Perictionê. Plato, then, as the son of Aristôn and that Perictionê, was the sixth generation after Solon. And Solon claimed his family descended from Neleus and Poseidon. They also claim that his father descends from Kodros the son of Melanthos and, they are said to descend from Poseidon, according to Thrasylos.
In his work named “The Feast for Plato” Speusippus writes, as Klearkhos claims in his Praise to Plato and Anaxlaides records in his second book of On Philosophers, that there was a story in Athens that Aristôn raped Perictionê when she was an adolescent girl and failed to get her [as a wife?]. When he stopped assaulting her, Apollo came to him in a dream. For this reason, he left her untouched of marriage until she gave birth.”
“A man of ours takes the greatest risks in the city now, Hippocrates, who both in the present moment and in the future has been a hope for fame for the city. May this, by the all the gods, never be a source of envy! When he has become so sick because of the great wisdom which possesses him that as a result he was afraid he might not obtain it—well, that’s how Democritus himself lost hits mind, and then abandoned our city of Abdera.
When he forgot everything, even himself before, he was awake both night and day and was laughing at everything great and small and believing that he would accomplish nothing at all for his whole life. Someone marries, another goes into business, another is a public speaker, another serves in office, he is old, he votes, he votes against things, he is sick, he is wounded, he dies. He laughs at everything, even when he sees the downcast and angry or even those who are happy.
The man is researching into the matters of Hades and he is writing these things and he says that the air is full of ghosts and he heeds the voices of birds. He often gets up alone at night and seems to be singing songs in the silence. And he claims that he often travels into the boundlessness and says that there are an endless number of Democriteis like himself. He lives with his skin ruined as ruined judgment. We fear these things, Hippocrates, and we are anxious about them: so save us, and come home quickly and help our country, do not put us off.”
“It is also necessary for a woman to take to heart that she will find no kind of purifying remedy for this mistake [adultery], something that would allow her to approach the temples and altars of the gods as a chaste and god-loved woman. This is because in this crime especially the divine spirit is most unforgiving. The most beautiful achievement of a free woman and the foremost glory is to provide as testimony to her prudence toward her husband her children, if they do in fact bear the imprint of similarity to the father who sowed them. That seems to me to be enough regarding marriage.
The following seems to be right to me when it comes to the management of the body. A woman should wear white, but be dressed simply and without decoration. This style of dressing is achieved without transparent or decorated robes or robes which are made from silk; instead a woman should wear modest and white clothing. She preferably also avoids luxury and ostentation and will not cause vile jealousy in other women. She should also not put on gold or emeralds at all—this behavior would make her seem wealthy and haughty to common women.
It is necessary that the well-governed city which is ordered completely with a view to its whole should be one of common experiences and likemindedness. And it should keep out the craftspeople who create these sorts of baubles from its territory. A prudent woman should not embellish her appearance with foreign decoration and makeup but should use the native beauty of the body—she should decorate her body by washing it in water rather than bringing it shame. For this brings honor to herself and the man she lives with.
Women need to make processions from their homes to make sacrifices to the leading-god of the city for themselves, their husbands, and their households. They must make their expedition to the theater or to the market for household goods, however, not when the evening star is rising nor when it is dark but whenever it is still light, accompanied by a single servant or, at most, two as is proper.
In addition, a prudent woman must also perform sacrificial rites for the gods as is permitted to her, but must abstain from the occult rites and rituals of the Great Mother at home. For the common law prohibits women from performing these rituals, since, in addition to other things, these practices make them drunk and insane. The woman of the home needs to be temperate and uncontaminated by everything, even when she is governing the home.”
“Ptolemais of Cyrene wrote about these things briefly in her investigation and Didymos the musician addressed it as well among many other this in his work On the Difference Between Aristoksenians and Pythagoreians… Ptolemais wrote this:
What is the difference in those who are exceptional at music? Some put reason forward as the matter, but others offer sensation, while there are those who posit both. The Pythagoreans offer reason as the issue, those of them who challenge musiciians to abandon perception and instead to accept reason itself as a sufficient criterion. Musicians are refuted when they start by taking up perception in the beginning only to forget it. Instrumentalists tend to emphasize perception because the contemplation of theory is useless to them or in some way weak.
What is the difference of those who believe that both reason and perception are important criteria? Some propose that both perception and reason have similar power, while others position one in front of the other. Aristoxenos of Tarantum thinks that they matter equally. He believes that perception cannot sustain itself apart from reason and that reason is not powerful enough alone to persist without the basic foundations of perception and that it eventually returns the product of introspection back to perception.”
Why does he want to set perception before reasons? It is because of order not power. For, he says, whenever what is sensed in any way takes root then we need to privilege reason in any theory about it. Who else values both principles similarly? Pythagoras and his followers. For they want perception, as a kind of guide, to start by taking the inspirations which they pass on to reason and for reason then to move on from receiving these sensations and to adapt them on its own in moving away from perception. For this reason, if a system of thought founded upon reason seems no longer perfectly fit to perception, they do not undermine it, but instead reproach the sensation for departing from its meaning since reason discovers what is correct through itself and refutes perception.
Who is in opposition to them? Some of the musicians from the school of Aristoxenos, especially those who have assumed a theoretical mindset but have also adding to it from instrumental practice. These people believe that perception is the greater power and that reason is second only because it is useful.”