In Plato’s Republic, Socrates claimed that stories affect the souls of those who hear them. Given this, he went on to argue that censorship was not only necessary but also beneficial to society. Socrates wanted to censor portions of poetry, the arts, and sciences that were not productive or beneficial to society. He believed that poetry was neither philosophical nor pragmatic and did not lead to true knowledge. Rather, he found it to be unethical, leading to desires and passions. He thus declared it inferior to the practical arts and lacking in educational value.
I agree with Socrates’ goal to protect the world from such falsehoods. Our minds are like sponges, and in order to protect against the absorption/effects of unnecessary and harmful practices, there must be a filter. Such a filter would protect/preserve that which is moral and good in society, including the innocence of the youth. This can be encouraged by banning the inappropriate elements of popular culture, including suggestive movie content, explicit song lyrics, and false information shared and displayed in the media and replacing them with beneficial practices.
So how much does the world affect us? Can these “harmless stories” really harm our souls? Yes! We are a product of our environment. We mimic those around us to be accepted. We conform to what society deems normal or desirable in an effort to “fit in”. For example, a student can go to Baylor University, major in engineering, meet some supportive and encouraging “nerd” friends, and join a life group at church. That same student might just as easily have attended the University of Texas, joined a sorority, embraced the “party life” and gotten pregnant.
Young, preteen girls growing up with (the perfect) “Barbie” receive the message that “beauty” is defined by being fit, tan, and blonde. They are exposed to cultural messages that “they are not good enough”, often resulting in problems with self worth/esteem, depression, and eating disorders. A multimillion dollar cosmetic surgery industry suggests that we are receptive to messages about physical beauty and compelled to adapt to/become what society identifies as “ideal” and that this somehow completes us. Consider also television commercials and the entire advertizing industry. Obviously if such messages were ineffective in steering our thoughts and spending choices toward a desired service or product, they would cease to exist!
No one would spend millions on Superbowl ads if they did not impact perceptions/spending favorably toward company products. There are million and billion dollar industries that prey upon the soul.
All such non-philosophical, non-beneficial messages threaten to corrupt society. Undeniably, we live in a vastly different world than Socrates. We live in world that is much different from what it was like forty years ago. Today’s society holds completely different values and morals. The “Brady Bunch”,...