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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

Sonia's Cave

Posted Friday, May 29, 2009, at 7:53 AM

President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Other than having a name I don't know how to pronounce and being some 11 years younger than me, she seems to be about as well qualified as might be asked of a judge.

I ought to make some remark here about Sotomayor being a lawyer. However, our daughter is an attorney and I have to be careful because Susan is my only devoted reader.

Under our Constitution federal judges are nominated by the President and the Senate must "advise and consent." Presidents are rarely denied their selections. Or at least they are rarely denied their selections when their party mostly does the "advise."

The "loyal opposition," of course, has to put up some loyal opposition.

As the President is a Democrat (and by virtue of such a liberal), we "conservatives" have to find something about Judge Sotomayor we don't like. This week's lament is that once upon a time in a moment of honesty she admitted her worldview is colored by being (1) female, (2) Puerto Rican, and (3) from the Bronx (of all places).

Sonia, so admitting is simply not politically correct. Yes, it's true all of us have our world colored by our lives; you just can't say so if you want get ahead..

We ought never to evaluate any person by the life experiences forming them, in the end we all come out of "Plato's cave."

In "The Republic" (c. 360 BC) Greek philosopher Plato has Socrates describe what it would be like to live one's formative years in a cave. In this allegory the individual has their entire worldview limited to what he experiences in the cave. These experiences are restricted by those with whom he's allowed contact and shadows cast before him from the "real" world outside his view. The result, according to Socrates, is that everything he "knows" about the world is limited to this experience. Then, brought out of the cave he would perceive the world as an illusion, believing the shadow world with which he was familiar from birth is "reality."

All mere humans, to some degree or another, live our lives in Plato's cave. No one sees everything. All of us are limited to what we have experienced or read, to the people encountered, and the events and times through which we live. As my favorite professor said: "The wise man chooses what he will be ignorant about, because you can't know everything."

So let us not criticize Judge Sonia Sotomayor for admitting she only knows about life what her experiences have taught her. All are so limited. It is legitimate, however, to inquire as to whether she -- or anyone -- is willing to learn from the inevitable exposure to a wider world.

Socrates has his man come out of the cave in which he was reared and explore the world as it exists. The Supreme Court nominee seems like the kind of gal who will never stop wanting to explore, challenge her necessarily limited worldview, and grow. Even if she is not, I'd like to think I am.

We all spend our childhood in Plato's cave. That's not at issue. The question is whether we are willing to admit there just might be more to the world than what we've seen so far, or whether we a content cave dweller.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.


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Personally, I'd like to return to my cave.

-- Posted by lawyersusan on Thu, Jun 4, 2009, at 7:45 AM


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