Socrates came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said, “Do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”
“Just a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Test of Three. The first test is Truth. Are you sure that what you will say is true?"
"Oh no,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about it.”
“So you don’t really know if it’s true," Socrates said. "Now let’s try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”
“No, on the contrary.”
“So,” Socrates interrupted, “you want to tell me something bad about him even though you’re not certain it’s true?” The man shrugged, rather embarrassed. Socrates continued. “You may still pass though, because there is a third test, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me at all?”
“Well it... no, not really.”
“Well, concluded Socrates, “If what you want to tell me is neither True nor good nor ever Useful, why tell it to me at all?” The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was held in such high esteem. It also explains why he never found out what Plato was up to.
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