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The Practical Philosopher: Getting to Sleep at Night

Who says the great philosophers aren’t practical? Here’s Plato’s imitation of Socrates description of how a good man goes to sleep at night (this from Republic IX, 571d, and 572a)

I can suppose a man who has a healthy and moderate relationship to himself and who goes to sleep only after the following:

first, he awakens his calculating part and feasts it on fair arguments and considerations, coming to an understanding with himself;

second, he feeds the desiring part in such a way that it is neither in want nor surfeited–in order that it will rest and not disturb the best part by its joys or its pain, but rather leave that best part alone pure and by itself, to consider and to long for the perception of something he doesn’t know, either something that has been, or is, or is going to be;

and, third, he soothes the spirited part in the same way and does not fall asleep with his spirit aroused because there are some he got angry at.

When a man has silenced these two latter forms and set the third–the one in which prudent thinking comes to be–in motion, and only then takes his rest, you know that in such a state he most lays hold of the truth and at this time the sights that are hostile to law show up least in his dreams.

So not only can Socrates help us sleep better at night, he can lead us to better dreams AND deeper perceptions of the truth. I recognize that last item is hardly practical, but the first two sure are!

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