Saturday, October 7, 2000

Slade Gorton Has No Soul: The Socratic Proof

We at Classics Corner do not know everything. We are human, and have most of the same limitations as other mortals. Sadly, our lack of absolute knowledge sometimes extends into the political realm, where tough choices must be made based upon imperfect evidence.

For example, our wife recently told us to vote Cantwell, despite our preferences for Senn, because Cantwell could beat Gorton and Gorton must be defeated. "Slade Gorton is pure evil," she said.

We wondered whether this was possible. We became obsessed by the ratio of Gorton's goodness to evil. We were beyond politics and into pure metaphysics. The real question, we decided, is essentially this: Does Slade Gorton have a soul? Naturally, we turned to Plato for our answer.

Many of us have been forced to read The Phaedo at some point or another in our wretched lives, and may remember it as the dialogue in which Socrates offers three proofs for the existence of the soul before serenely sipping his post-prandial hemlock and finally shutting up.

We at Classics Corner thought it might be illuminating to apply these general proofs to the particular case of Slade Gorton.

Our first proof is the Heraclitean doctrine of opposites. Heraclitus, one of the first philosophers to appear in Greece, said the world is change and is based upon opposing tensions. Day turns into night, sleep into wakefulness, life into death, and so forth, in continuous cycles. This insight was extended substantially by Hegel and transformed into the basis for communism by Marx, so it would be very ironic if we proved the existence of Gorton's soul through the logic of communism. We at Classics Corner love irony, so we'll chalk one up for Slade's soul.

The next proof offered by Socrates is the doctrine of reminiscence. The notion is that we understand ideal concepts even though we've never actually seen one; therefore, we must have experienced the ideal prior to our births. Ironically, the example Socrates offers is equality.

We went to the candidate's website, at, and the Dump Slade 2000 site at, and found little to no evidence that Slade Gorton understands the principle of equality, whether approximate or absolute. We are sorry to report that the doctrine of reminiscence, in the case of Slade, offers insubstantial proof.

The third, last, and lamest proof is that of constancy. Socrates argues that if the soul embodies ideal qualities, then those qualities are not subject to change and must be eternal. But constancy does not seem to be Slade's strong point. His campaign website, for example, says we "need to support our natural resources as a precious gift." Yet the League of Conservation voters says Gorton only voted the right way on the environment 11% of the time last year. His score the previous year was 0%.

This lack of constancy does not make a good case for the existence of Slade's soul.

So there we have it. We at Classics Corner, despite our best efforts, remain perplexed. Does Slade Gorton have a soul? We still don't know. You'll have to decide for yourselves.


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