Stories and the Three Socratic Filters

Late in the autumn it was the annual visiting day at the Cloister of the Sisters of Mary Magdalene. Sister Beatrix was delighted to see that several of her sorority sisters from college had made the trek and were there to see her. They all gathered together in one of the gardens, settled in with some lemonade, and were ready to catch up on the events in each other’s lives.

Some time passed, and they filled Beatrix in on the births, deaths, dating and mating moments each of them had lived through since they had seen each other. They were ready to fill her in on some tidbits that they had heard about some of their other sorority mates when Beatrix remembered the postulants’ lesson from that very morning. She blushed a bit, but bravely held up her hand and said, “Hold on just a moment girls. I hate to be a wet dishrag in our re-bonding moment, but I’ve got to run this by you. Just this morning here in the cloister we were studying the Socratic Filters and”

“Wait Beatrix,” said one of the sorority sisters, “remember, I was a philosophy major! Don’t you mean the Socratic method?”

“Well, actually, I do mean the Socratic Filters. Here at the cloister, we pledge not to speak unless our words can pass through the three Socratic Filters. So, the first filter is truthfulness. Are you sure that what you are going to tell us is actually true?”

And the Georgina allowed as how she could not be certain because she heard the story from someone who had heard it from someone else.

Beatrix then continued, “Well, if you are not certain of the truthfulness, then is the story generous, good or kind?”

Georgina smiled, and said, “well, I don’t think I would say it is so kind, but it is juicy!”

Beatrix laughed shaking her head and said, “Well if you don’t know for sure if the story is true and it isn’t generous, good or kind, then there is still one more filter: is it useful or necessary for us to know?”

Georgina managed to scowl, smile and smirk all at the same time as she allowed as how there was not actually any utility in the story, other than giving them all a laugh, but at someone else’s expense.

And, Beatrix replied, “if the story is neither true; nor generous, good or kind; nor useful or necessary, let’s move on to something else that will cheer our minds, hearts and souls?”

Georgina thought about this for a minute, and managed to get out a bit of a laugh and said, well, I can see your point. I sure as shootin wouldn’t want someone saying that kind of stuff about me – even if it was true! Which of course it would not be, because I am a perfect little angel.

And they all had a good laugh at the thought of Georgina being an angel. To which she replied, “ah, but my friends, that statement passes the second Socratic filter, it is generous and kind!” And they all laughed even more deeply.

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