About the Gadfly

The name

The SocraticGadfly took the title of his blog, and his own nom de plume, from the words of Socrates. According to Plato, in his book "Apology," about Socrates' trial, Socrates said the gods had sent him as a "gadfly," similar to a horsefly in modern English usage, to sting the Athenian state. He said the Athenian state was a "great and noble steed" which had to be reminded of its proper duties.

Well, behind this is a lot of myth. Athens was a democracy, after the end of the Peloponnesian War, and after two oligarchic coups against that democracy, both backed by Socrates. Socrates in general was somewhat of an elitist.

I am not, but the myth of Socrates as gadfly — which was true, to the degree he allegedly (whether actually or not) stung Sophists who were trying to democratize Athenian education — lives on 2,400 years later, and per "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," is worth repeating.

(At left is the second panel in an Existential Comics piece doing an excellent modern skewering.)

The person

I am a man of mystery. Well, not totally. A good enough Google might pin an actual name to me. But, having been Googled by one company, as part of a hiring process, and that company getting upset about me reporting some financial information about a previous employer — which had gone out of business — I've tried to anonymize myself at least a modicum.

That said, I am:
  • A relatively serious amateur philosopher, who considers himself a Neo-Cynic; I have also been influenced by Hume, Wittgenstein and, to some degree, the logical positivists, while shaking off Platonism and the myth of Socrates, despite the name of this blog. Per that neo-Cynic link, I'm sometimes a deliberate, willful contrarian;
  • A member of the shrinking, dying, capitalistic, Internet-confounded, Peter-principle heavy news media;
  • A secularist of some sort, who choses what particular word or phrase he'll use to define himself based on the situation, and who has written about key issues, such as exposing the philosophical and natural facts about "Intelligent Design";
  • A huge aficionado of classical music, with classical including 20th/21st century atonal and even some serial, at one end, and, say, Byzantine music or early Renaissance at the other, not to mention classical music traditions from places like India, outside of Western "classical" music;
  • A nature lover, environmentalist, and Green in all senses;
  • A scientific skeptic of some sort, but also a philosophical skeptic who recognizes the limits of modern scientific skepticism.
  • A semi-professional photographer — professional as part of my journalism history, and semi-professional in quality as far as some of my personal nature photography. See the photo album links on the main page.

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” - Joseph Campbell


More to come!

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