Socrates Triple Filter Test
History does have its lessons…
Next time someone starts to gossip, think of this:
In ancient Greece (469 – 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. He was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.
One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”
“Hold on a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”
“That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test.
“The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued. “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter – the filter of USEFULNESS. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really…”
“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good not even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”
This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
A disciple confessed his bad habit of repeating gossip.
Said the Master wickedly, “Repeating it wouldn’t be so bad if you did not improve on it by adding your own malicious content.”