In the beginning, Aristotle and Socrates

“We all have dinosaurs in our lives — the people that have been around for ages.” Notice my tone in that statement. Referring to older people as “dinosaurs” is a perfect representation of the contemporary disdain for “the old school.”

Yet, this contempt for precedence isn’t justified. The world we have today operates from the discoveries of the “dinosaurs” in all schools of thought — Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Descartes, and bunch of other names all but unspoken in modern society. These thinkers thought through the toughest theories threatening human understanding. They are responsible for the intellectual terrain of the West.

I mentioned two names before — Socrates and Aristotle. These men impact you in more ways than you would think. In order to see their impact, let’s take a massive step away from all the fancy wording and ask a question: What is the action most necessary to the existence of a relationship? Here’s where you stop and think really hard for a few seconds and then say something like “touch”, “sight”, “trust”, “love”, or something under a secondary tier of answers.

In reality, the answer is simple. What do we call a group of people living in each other’s lives on a semi-regular basis? We would call that a community. The two old-farts I mentioned above were so concerned about the community concept that they systematically broke it down to one fundamental action: communication. This is where the synapses in your brain connect and you see the one glaring similarity between “community” and “communication”. Pause for effect. They both start with “comm-“. You can’t have a community without communication.

Socrates and Aristotle dedicated their entire lives to the study of communication and the practice of their findings. Most of their thoughts are in books like The Republic and Rhetoric. Socrates perfected the dialectic — a dialogue in which one individual communicates by asking refutative questions and the other responds in defense of an established school of thought. Aristotle, on the other hand, explained rhetoric — the ability for one individual to persuade a group of individuals of an idea through one-sided conversation (also known as a presentation).

Despite a decade of professional communications experience, I still glean more than my fill from both dinosaurs. Whether you’re a CEO, an entrepreneur, freelance writer, or forensics competitor, these men have a whole new world to teach you. Over the next few months, let them help you shape your communication and your communities through a series discussing their philosophies.

About the Author: Stephen Kish has 10 years of public speaking experience, has qualified to many national championships and coached many of his students to success in all forms of speech and debate. Stephen is a Strategic Intelligence major at Patrick Henry College. He’s an expert in analytical research and presentations. His speciality is breaking down complicated concepts to simple and comprehensive ideas.