On Hammocks and Critias
Reclining in a hammock in Puerto Escondido last week, my mind wandered to thoughts of my dog and whether there is a tradeoff between freedom and happiness. Since I was on vacation, the further development of these thoughts took a back seat to what one might consider the proper course of action while recumbent in a hammock: thinking about absolutely nothing.
However, I did manage to read Plato’s Timaeus and Critias, so I thought I’d share a part that I enjoyed from Critias’s discussion of the degeneration of the ideal society in Atlantis:
For many generations, so long as the divine element in their nature survived, they obeyed the laws and loved the divine to which they were akin. They retained a certain greatness of mind, and treated the vagaries of fortune and one another with wisdom and forbearance, as they reckoned that qualities of character were far more important than their present prosperity. So they bore the burden of their wealth and possessions lightly, and did not let their high standard of living intoxicate them or make them lose their self-control, but saw soberly and clearly that all these things flourish only on a soil of common goodwill and individual character, and if pursued too eagerly and overvalued destroy themselves and morality with them. So long as these principles and their divine nature remained unimpaired the prosperity which we have described continued to grow.
But when the divine element in them became weakened by frequent admixture with mortal stock, and their human traits became predominant, they ceased to be able to carry their prosperity with moderation. To the perceptive eye the depth of their degeneration was clear enough, but to those whose judgment of true happiness is defective they seemed, in their pursuit of unbridled ambition and power, to be at the height of their fame and fortune.1
Separately, here is a photo of a baby sea turtle:
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1 Page 145.