SI Vault
Cecil J. Burnett/Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
February 03, 1958
LOCALE Quillvania, Greece TIME circa 300 B.C. ISSUE Renewed tenure for Quillvania's coach CHARACTERS Burnatotle, a Philosopher; Millerpos, a Dental Extractor; Lorborstan, a Physician.
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February 03, 1958

Greeks Among The Ivy

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THE PHILOSOPHER: Aristotle was sympathetic to the idea that the concept of morphological development applies to association of human beings. The adult morphological phase corresponds with the human community ruled by law. The larval phase of existence is the primitive collective. But form is inherent in the potentiality of matter. A human community ruled by law is the final actualization of form and matter. Now realize that such evolution is neither instinctive nor automatic. All we can say now is that the gods have not seen fit to distribute reasonableness in the universal way that makes law possible. In fact the gods have been very unreasonable in the allocation of reason. Thus the oracle says: "Only the collegium of the Hellenic League are possessed of reason."

THE DENTIST: I shall ignore your appeal to my racial pride, which pride a few moments ago was thought to be a barbarian virtue. But I cannot ignore the fact that our coach received his training at the hands of the barbarians. He is not himself a true member of our league by either birth or naturalization. Ergo, he must be without reason and he must be succeeded by one from our city.

THE PHYSICIAN: The scribes report that our community leader has consulted the gods concerning the coach's competence to instruct our young athletes. These scribes report a favorable divination for the coach. This is most regrettable. Even minor community leaders are polling the sentiment of the athletes. There are reports from unimpeachable sources that the athletes themselves have invoked black grace against the coach. Thus the veterans and the currently concerned athletes are in direct opposition to the administration respecting continued tenure for the coach.

THE DENTIST: If the coach is retained under those anarchical conditions, we face two serious problems. One, we will have difficulty in securing the services of recruits for the next three years. Proselytizing, even by our own league associates, will be made simple because they can now deter a youngster from competing for us by referring to the current athletes' lack of confidence in our coach. Secondly, the sacrifice needed by our current athletes next year will be undermined by their own expressed rejection of their coach.

THE PHILOSOPHER: Socrates could not serve two masters. Socrates did not depend on a poll, nor does truth depend upon the majority. His only crime was that he asked important questions. It is strange that our administrator's courage to defer to the opinion of others is not equaled by the courage to act upon such opinion.

You trained professional men know only the answers to questions. Most of you are delinquent in the knowledge of what social questions are important. To your kind, nothing is important that depends for its understanding on history, or on social relationships not expressed in quantitative terms My discourse with you today is nothing more than an investigation into the nonquantitative, hence unscientific, field of human relations. And remember that relationship is the mother of categories. Humanity's science will increase to the degree that quantitative analysis expands. Science and mathematics are thus correlated. As our science increases, its practical application will mean a high standard of consumer living. But envy will be the byproduct of better consumer living. Then the problem of human relations will really become serious. Cultures and even civilizations will be destroyed because of calculated indifference to the real question—human relations. As quantitative measurement, then applied science, then a higher standard of consumer living increase arithmetically, there will be a corresponding geometric retrogression of concern to the problem of relationship.

THE DENTIST: My friend and I intercepted you in your walk today to inquire of your judgment concerning the coach's competency. It was simply a question, such as asking of you the time of day. It seems to me that you answer such a simple question by examining the relationship between yonder sun dial and the transit of celestial bodies. I feel abused.

THE PHYSICIAN: How can an understanding of Aristotle help in this dilemma?

THE PHILOSOPHER: I was stressing the obvious when I pointed out the natural superiority of the members of our league—only the Greeks are inclined toward reason. And our citizens, of all the Greeks, are possessed of the most aptitude for the life of reason. Some of our league members have more sophistication than the civilizing attributes of reason. Isn't it odd that some mechanical cultures evolve from barbarism to sophistication when the rule is barbarism, civilization, sophistication and then decadence?


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