The Three Stages of Philosophy (Part 1)

Part One: Storytelling

A group of shepherds were sitting on the side of a tall mountain one night, watching a thunderstorm roll by on the plains bellow. They were not in any risk, so they were able to relax to the distant rumbles of thunder and flashes of lighting.

Around the group, one by one, each shepherd told their story as to what thunder and lightning was and where it all came from. The stories were fanciful and generally short, and most of the shepherds shared in the tail, trying to make little corrections to each others story with a friendly openness. Although, two of the shepherds quietly listened.

When the shepherds finished telling their stories and a quiet settled over the group, one of the quiet shepherds cleared his throat and began to slowly deliver a story about thunder and lightning. He was an exquisite storyteller; having listened closely to their stories, he was certain to include elements from each version to flame the pride of the men sitting there. However, he was also certain to interject elements into the story that subtly suggested that his clan was the dominant clan of the area. Most of the shepherds did not pick up on these elements, as they were consumed with the delivery of the storyteller and their own pride about being at least a little right. This storyteller was the first sophist, and when he was done the group praised him for his wisdom and settled down to being quiet again.

A short while passed before the last man stirred to an apparent memory, and he too slowly began a story about thunder and lightning. He said that he had heard this story from his grandfather who, in turn, heard the story from an old blind woman that was traveling through the mountains on the back of a goat. He did this to give his story a broader context than that of the sophist. He too was an outstanding storyteller who had listened closely to the stories of all the other shepherds, but he did not concern himself with appealing to their vanity by overtly including elements of their stories into his. What he did instead, was craft his story around the emotions behind their stories; their fears and hopes, as well as the ego and arrogance of the sophist. In the end, his story about thunder and lightning made everyone feel equal to one another and connected to their environment. It gave them comfort, confidence, and peace of mind. This was the first philosopher, and when he was finished no one said a word. No one gave him praise for his story or storytelling abilities, they simply smile quietly to their own thoughts as they watched the storm go by.

The sophist, however, sat quietly and plotted his revenge. He knew it was done and settled for that night, but he vowed to be better prepared for the next time. From this point on, for thousands of years, the stories became more and more intricate and complex as the battle between the sophists and the philosophers escalated and evolved.