Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ian Johnson: Youth vs. Age

There has been a great debate over who is best to fundamental issues that affect the basic principles that we live by. The youth population argues that they have the sharpest minds, while the elders say that they have the experience necessary to see the answers to all of the questions. Undoubtedly our society is much more oriented towards the older population. This is based on the accumulated knowledge off many people from the beginning of our species. Because of many reasons as people age they grow in wisdom and are better suited to make these important decisions.
The terms of elderly and youth are a bit misconceiving. It is possible to have somebody of 100 years of age be less perceptive and wise than a teenager. The maturity of a person’s mind is the true judge of your wisdom. Maturity is ranking of intellect, age, and experiences. The key to this definition is age. In theory as your age increases so will your intellect and experiences. In this way older people are best suited to interpret justice and injustice in our society. The youth’s inability to grasp this concept leads directly from the fact that their minds have not developed completely. Just as they believe they can make the best decisions for themselves, they believe that they can make decisions about the meaning of justice the consequences that this idea has on society.
The elderly population can see through many of the biases that are placed on us during our youth. By controlling what we see and hear, they can influence every opinion and decision that we believe is our own. As you grow in age, you begin to learn of the world from outside of the bubble. Only then is it possible to make decisions about what is and what isn’t justice and what action is required from it. The best way of interpreting our society and the rules that make the fences in it, is by patient observation only available to those who have reached a level of maturity not know in the early stages of your mental lives.
By having a wealth of knowledge gained from experiences and interactions with people older people can develop independent opinions separate from their friends, family, and even the imprinted opinions that plague the young in mind. Older people can cite actual incidents and scenarios whereas the youth in our population can only stipulate on these events. Plato mocks Thrasymachus for his know-it-all attitude as Plato proves over and over again the fallacy of this belief. For each suggestion of the true meaning of justice by Thrasymachus, Plato is able to turn his arguments against him by forcing Thrasymachus to examine his society himself.
The examination and questioning of the world around us is what leads to the knowledge necessary to interpret justice. As you grow older, it allows you to gain more and more knowledge about the world around, and therefore the ability to best make decisions about the meaning of justice. This belief is at the heart of Plato’s teaching method. By forcing Thrasymachus to examine and question the society he lives in it, Thrasymachus’ mind is aging.
From a biological perspective, your youth is an extremely busy period that leaves little space for such unproductive things as contemplation and examination. Our drives to survive and reproduce distract us from the issues that need to be addressed properly. As we age each these drives that once filled our time as youth become less and less urgent. Only when we can truly devote our time to these studies can questions about justice be addressed properly.
Plato and Thrasymachus represent the differing opinions in this debate of youth versus age. Thrasymachus resents that Plato acts as if he were all knowing or rather of a higher intellect than himself. To show this he rebels against much of what Plato shows him and assumes in many instances that he has made the right decision. In this way the youth will never admit to the fact that it is best to leave such discussions to their elders and this debate will never be resolved even when it is clear that one side is dominant.


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