The absent-minded philosopher

Socrates then proceeds to explain why philosophers seem clumsy and stupid to the common lot of humanity. Socrates explains that philosophers are open to mockery because they are not concerned about what interests most people: they could not care less about the scandals in their neighbor's house, the tracing of one's ancestry to Heracles, and so on. In contrast, the philosopher is concerned with things that are, such as beauty and knowledge, which are "truly higher up". It is here that Socrates draws the classic portrait of the absent-minded intellectual who cannot make his bed or cook a meal (175e). Socrates adds a big bifurcation to this speech, saying that there are only two kinds of lives to be lived: a divinely happy one, lived by righteous philosophers or a godless, miserable one, such as most people live (176-177). Socrates admits this was a digression that threatens to drown his original project, which was to define knowledge. Theodorus, the old geometer, tells Socrates that he finds this sort of thing easier to follow than his earlier arguments.

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