Plato on the art of listening

In today's world of constant noise and endless communication, the art of listening has become a rare yet invaluable skill. Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, gave wise advice in this regard.

"Learn to listen, and you will also benefit from those who say stupid things."


This phrase reveals a timeless truth about the power of listening and its ability to enrich our thinking and relationships. In this philosophical article, we will examine this quote from Plato in more detail and also explore the opinion of Jordan B. Peterson, a modern thinker, on good listening.

The importance of listening according to Plato

Plato, a student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, was known for his profound thoughts on human nature, justice, and philosophy in general. His quote about listening is timeless and universal in many ways.

When Plato says, "Learn to listen," he is asking us to develop a skill that is often underestimated. Listening is not just the passive hearing of words, but an active process of understanding, analyzing, and empathizing. By learning to truly listen, we open ourselves to other people's thoughts and feelings, even when they seem to be saying "stupid stuff." But why should we do this?

First listening allows us to expand our own knowledge. Even if someone speaks superficially or incorrectly, they may still offer a novel perspective or information that we have not previously considered. In this sense, even supposedly "silly" utterances can serve to expand our horizons and inspire us to learn and understand more.

Second listening promotes compassion and empathy. When we listen actively, we put ourselves in the shoes of the person speaking. We can better understand their thoughts and feelings and respond more empathically. This strengthens our interpersonal relationships and enables us to be more responsive to the needs and desires of others.

Third listening promotes dialogue and the de-escalation of conflicts. Instead of immediately resorting to contradiction or rejection when we perceive someone as "stupid," we can try to understand the reasons for their views by listening. This can lead to a more productive discussion and potentially help overcome disagreements.

Overall, Plato emphasizes the transformative power of listening, which goes beyond the superficial and allows for a deeper connection to others and the world around us.

Jordan B. Peterson and the art of listening

Jordan B. Peterson, a Canadian psychologist and author, is known for his profound thoughts on topics such as identity, meaning, and responsibility. In his writings and lectures, he repeatedly emphasizes the importance of listening, and his opinion on this complements and expands Plato's view.

Peterson emphasizes that good listening is not just passive listening, but requires active participation. He speaks of the "ability to listen and to be able to listen," meaning that it is not enough to just be physically present and hear a speaker's words. Instead, good listening requires a conscious effort to really understand the speaker's thoughts and feelings.

One of his notable views is that listening well often means putting aside our own biases and assumptions. We tend to be trapped in our own thoughts and beliefs, which makes it difficult to accept other people's perspectives. However, Peterson encourages us to develop our mental flexibility and cultivate the ability to listen without prematurely judging or condemning.

Another important aspect of Peterson's view is the recognition of the importance of dialogue in a pluralistic society. If we are unable to listen, public discourse can be stifled as people remain in their own ideological bubbles and communication between different groups is blocked. Peterson argues that good listening is the key to overcoming these divisions.

Finally, Peterson emphasizes the therapeutic importance of listening. As a clinical psychologist, he has spent countless hours listening to his patients and helping them explore their own thoughts and feelings. He believes that listening can have a healing and transformative power not only in therapy, but in all interpersonal relationships.

In summary, Plato's advice, "Learn to listen, and you will benefit even from those who say stupid things," reminds us that listening is an essential skill that enables us to understand more, be more empathetic, and improve our relationships. Jordan B. Peterson expands on this idea by emphasizing that good listening requires active participation and mental flexibility to foster dialogue and understanding in a diverse and complex world.

At a time when the noise of everyday life can be overwhelming, we should put Plato's and Peterson's wisdom into action and rediscover the art of listening. By doing so, we can not only enrich our own lives, but also help build a society based on respect, understanding, and empathy.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *