• Fooloso4
    5.8k
    What do you want and expect from philosophy? If we take Socrates’ claim seriously that he does not know anything noble and good (Apology 21d) we are confronted by a number of questions and problems.

    Plato gives us two incompatible images of the philosopher. The first is the lover of wisdom who desires to be wise but is not. The second is the philosopher in the Republic who does possess this wisdom, who has knowledge of the just, the beautiful, and the good.

    If philosophy is the desire for something we may never possess then of what value is “human wisdom”, of knowing that we do not know?

    Socrates never abandons his pursuit of the good. It is not for him an intellectual puzzle to be solved. It is a way of life. The pursuit of the good is good not because the good is something we might discover. The pursuit of the good is ultimately not about knowing the good but about being good.

    We are easily charmed, dazzled, and confounded by the epistemological possibilities and problems raised by Plato. By comparison, self-knowledge and the examined life may seem small, pale, and trite. But the mundane everyday world we live in is what is of most immediate and persisting importance to the Socratic philosopher.

    … maybe this alone is the right coin for virtue, the coin for which all things must be exchanged - phronesis. Maybe this is the genuine coin for which and with which all things must be bought and sold …
    (Phaedo 69 b-c)

    Phronesis, often translated as practical wisdom or prudence, is not the same as sophia. It is about sound judgment rather than knowledge.

    In the Phaedo Socrates tells his friends a recurring dream in which he is told to make and practice music. (61a) He thought that the dream is telling him to do what he is already doing since

    ...philosophy is the greatest music.
    (61a)

    Now, in prison and about to die, he reconsiders:

    I reflected that a poet should, if he were really going to be a poet, make stories rather than arguments …

    But, he says:

    … being no teller of tales myself, I therefore used some I had ready to hand …”
    (61b)

    Of course, despite what he says here, we know that Plato’s Socrates, although he did not write, is a highly skilled story-teller. He distinguishes between the music of philosophy and music in the popular sense.(61a) For the purposes of making popular music he thinks that second-hand stories will do. The question arises as to how much of what Socrates says in the dialogues is the reworking of second-hand stories?

    In the Phaedo reasoned argument has reached its limit. It fails to prove claims regarding the soul and an afterlife. This raises the danger of misologic, hatred of reasoned argument. In response to this danger Socrates turns from argument to stories or music.

    Socrates turns from the problem of the limits of sound arguments to the soundness of those who make and judge arguments.

    “Well,” he said, “first and foremost we should guard carefully against this, and never allow into our souls the notion that no arguments are sound. Instead, it is much better to accept that we are not yet in a sound condition ourselves, and that we should take courage and be eager to attain a sound condition, you and the others, for the sake of the rest of your lives, and I for the sake of death itself.
    (90e-91a)

    He continues:

    I won’t put my heart into making what I say seem to be true to those present, except as a side effect, but into making it seem to be the case to me myself as much as possible.
    (91a).

    “Making it seem to be the case” is something that the sophists do. Investigating what seems to be true and making it seem to be true are two different things. That he means the latter is confirmed by what follows:

    For I am calculating - behold how self-servingly!- that if what I’m saying happens to be true, I’m well off believing it; and if there’s nothing at all for one who’s met his end, well then, I’ll make myself so much less unpleasant with lamenting to those who are present during this time, the time before my death.
    (91b)

    Here, for the first time in the Phaedo, Socrates suggests that there might be nothing at all for those who die, that they have met their end. The timing is important, coming immediately after the questioning of the ability of arguments to establish the truth.

    There are things that he thinks it is better to believe to be true even if they are not. The philosopher may object that she is interested in what is true, not in what seems to be true, and certainly not in making it seem to be true. But the truth is, there are things that we do not know to be true. Rather than this leading to nihilistic skepticism, in the absence of knowledge Socrates asks us to consider what it is that is best for us to believe as true. This not for the sake of the truth but for the sake of the soul.

    He does not, however, want his friends to abandon the truth. He tells them:

    You, however, if you take my advice, should pay little regard to Socrates, and much more regard to the truth, and if I actually seem to you to be saying anything true then you should agree, but if not, you should resist with every possible argument, being careful lest in my eagerness I deceive both myself and yourselves at the same time, and depart like a bee leaving my sting behind.
    (91b-91c)

    Perhaps this is why Plato never speaks in his own name in his dialogues. As he might say, following Socrates’ example: you should pay little regard to Plato and much more regard to the truth.

    Making philosophical music requires both reason and imagination. Both arguments and stories, including the stories we tell ourselves. Stories come to us chronologically before reasoned arguments and logically after reasoned argument comes to its end. I will end this with another question: Has the philosopher outgrown the need for stories?
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    What do you want and expect from philosophy?Fooloso4

    I take the term ‘philosophy’ to denote, not just the general definition as ‘love of wisdom’, but also the state ‘loving wisdom’ (akin to loving kindness). Surveying the state of humanity, generally, it is abundantly obvious that the love of wisdom, and the state of being it denotes, is rare and hardly valued. On the other hand, delusion and self-deception seem to be in abundant supply, both amongst ordinary individuals and amongst many heads of state and leaders of society. Perhaps one role of philosophy is in pointing that out.

    What, in a ‘consumer society’, is valued more than material abundance, comfort and convenience, progress and novelty? What ultimate end do we entertain, beyond a long life, free of illness and disturbance? What vision of humanity’s place in the cosmos does our culture encourage, other than technocratic domination and the distant hope of escaping Earth itself? What does philosophy stand for in such a world, beyond the enculturation of the skills required for such pursuits?

    Rather than this leading to nihilistic skepticism, in the absence of knowledge Socrates asks us to consider what it is that is best for us to believe as true. This not for the sake of the truth but for the sake of the soul.Fooloso4

    Might it not be the case that any kind of higher truth can only be grasped by those capable and prepared? That some form of philosophical ascent might be required? Isn’t that the meaning of ‘anagoge’? What was the aim of Plato’s Academy? It was the pursuit of knowledge, particularly in the realms of philosophy, mathematics, and science. Plato believed in the importance of rigorous intellectual inquiry to understand the underlying principles of reality and to achieve knowledge of the Forms, especially the Form of the Good.

    The Academy emphasized the dialectics, seen as crucial for achieving philosophical understanding. Mathematics was a core component of the Academy’s curriculum. The entrance to the Academy is famously inscribed with “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.” Dianoia, mathematical and geometrical knowledge, was higher than opinion, but lower than noesis, direct intuitive insight into the ideas.

    The Academy aimed to educate individuals not only in intellectual matters but also in moral virtues, aiming to cultivate wise and virtuous leaders. The Academy functioned as a community of scholars engaged in collective study and dialogue. It was not just a place for passive learning but an active intellectual community where ideas were debated and developed.

    Plato saw the Academy as a place to train future statesmen and leaders. He believed that those who understood philosophical truths were best equipped to govern society justly and effectively. The principles and aims of the Academy were heavily influenced by the teachings of Socrates, Plato’s mentor. The Socratic emphasis on questioning, ethics, and the examined life shaped the educational approach of the Academy.

    So - what about that curriculum might amount to an ‘edifying myth’?
  • Shawn
    12.9k
    Socrates never abandons his pursuit of the good.It is not for him an intellectual puzzle to be solved. It is a way of life. The pursuit of the good is good not because the good is something we might discover. The pursuit of the good is ultimately not about knowing the good but about being good.Fooloso4

    I was influenced greatly with Wittgenstein, and the way in which he addresses your final question of an awesome opening post. Wittgenstein did away with centuries of footnotes to Plato by actually saying something very similar which you are saying. Furthermore, many ordinary people who were attracted to philosophy as phronesis seem to be these Victorian stoics or Aristotelian virtue ethicists seeking emotional balance and tranquility. Although in some regards the pursuit of eudaimonia might be perceived as a distraction in regards to what you are saying, much like the Christian stories of an afterlife deserved for being good.

    I'm not sure if you have read Pierre Hadot, who praised philosophy as a way of life. He's pretty accessible and well regarded.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    What do you want and expect from philosophy?Fooloso4
    I hope philosophy helps me to live less foolishly ...

    [The] purpose of philosophy, especially for those who recognize that they (we) are congenitally unwise, may be (YMMV) to strive to mitigate, to minimize, the frequency & scope of (our) unwise judgments, conduct, etc via patiently habitualizing various reflective exercises (e.g. dialectics, etc.) And in so far as 'wisdom' denotes mastery over folly & stupidity (i.e. misuses & abuses, respectively, of intelligence, knowledge, judgment, etc), I translate φίλος σοφία as striving against folly & stupidity.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    Socrates never abandons his pursuit of the good. It is not for him an intellectual puzzle to be solved. It is a way of life. The pursuit of the good is good not because the good is something we might discover. The pursuit of the good is ultimately not about knowing the good but about being good.

    This seems to bring up some important questions:

    How does one know if one is being good if one doesn't know what is good or in what goodness consists? Plato is often critical of the Homeric heros and offers Socrates up as a new sort of hero to supplant them. But to suppose that Socrates is more virtuous than Achilles, and that he makes a better role model, is seemingly to suppose something about goodness and what it consists in.

    Likewise:

    There are things that he thinks it is better to believe to be true even if they are not. The philosopher may object that she is interested in what is true, not in what seems to be true, and certainly not in making it seem to be true. But the truth is, there are things that we do not know to be true. Rather than this leading to nihilistic skepticism, in the absence of knowledge Socrates asks us to consider what it is that is best for us to believe as true. This not for the sake of the truth but for the sake of the soul.

    If we are to believe things because doing so will make us better it seems that we need some idea of what "better" consists in. Why isn't it just honor and glory?

    I think a major current that runs through dialogues is a sort of "meta-ethics," for lack of a better term. Plato is speaking to skeptics. "Perhaps you don't believe me on this or that, but look, here is the bare minimum you need to even be able to determine what is good, regardless of what that good turns out to be."

    Being ruled by reason turns out to be a meta virtue. It's crucial to being able to inquire into what is truly virtuous in the first place. One needs the self-control, honesty, etc. to go out and discover the good. One needs to be able to inquire and debate in good faith. Likewise, the constellation of virtues associated with the "rule of reason," are essential to acting on anything one has learned about what is righteous, regardless of what that turns out to be.

    But this isn't all Plato is doing. The dialogues aim at different audiences. This is the message to the skeptics. He has other things to say for people who have already started down this road and are ready to hear more. Likewise he has myths like the reincarnation story with the Homeric heroes at the end of the Republic for those who have somewhat "missed the point," but might nonetheless benefit from an edifying story.

    Making philosophical music requires both reason and imagination. Both arguments and stories, including the stories we tell ourselves. Stories come to us chronologically before reasoned arguments and logically after reasoned argument comes to its end. I will end this with another question: Has the philosopher outgrown the need for stories?

    Perhaps, but when it comes to communicating with one another it seems that Plato thinks we will always need images. One can only point to relative goods with words. Images contain something of what they are images of, but they remain images. Nonetheless, such stories can be suggestive of what lies beyond them.

    Could more be done with words? Well, two millennia on we have the fruits of centuries of contemplative practice, the Philokalia for example, with its deep phenomenological and psychological studies and significant advice on praxis. But Plato had the inheritance he had to work with.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    An excellent OP! I think we all seek the good. We either adopt what is socio-culturally set before us, or we embark on a dialectical search for what is good. It concerns us all since we are all, to at least some extent, or at least potentially, self-reflective beings, and to the degree that we take our lives seriously, we wish to live the best way we can.

    There can be no empirical evidence for the "truths" of philosophy. Philosophical truths are accepted on faith, and our faiths are determined by what seems most plausible to each of us. The only alternative to that would be to remain or become slaves to tradition and authority—and I think philosophy, with its open-ended questioning and uncertainty can be an antidote, along with science, the arts and literature, to that curtailing of human potential.

    For that reason, I reject (for myself) organized religion in any form, although I acknowledge that it may be needed by those who cannot free themselves from the bonds of tradition and authority, bonds which Hegel refers to as "the aegis of tutelage".
  • Tarskian
    301
    become slaves to traditionJanus

    Tradition reflects survivorship bias over centuries or even millennia. People who did not keep them, did not have any progeny, and disappeared in the course of history.

    The fact that tradition actually matters, is something that western civilization will handsomely prove by collapsing and disappearing.

    So, keep an eye on the imploding birth rate and the rapidly aging population. Just for the hell of it, keep watching the ongoing shit show.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    Tradition reflects survivorship bias over centuries or even millennia. People who did not keep them, did not have any progeny, and disappeared in the course of history.Tarskian

    I allowed that traditions and organized religions may be necessary for many. Nonetheless, they are hindrances to others. It is false to claim that those who reject tradition do not have progeny. Everyone "disappears in the course of history", so that is hardly a salient point.

    Of course, social values matter, and you might refer to those as "tradition". But they change and become new (and hopefully improved) traditions over time. So, I will not disagree that societies without social values cannot survive for long. However, I doubt there actually are any such societies to begin with.

    The danger of collapse we face today is on account of overuse of resources and neglect of the biosphere, and it is arguable that traditional tropes, such as the Biblical vision of God creating the world for the use of humanity have contributed to this looming crisis.

    Our economic system is unsustainable, being predicated on endless growth, with collapse being the only alternative. Nothing to do with tradition, unless you count the tradition amongst economists of discounting ecological costs as a part of the economy. That greater disrupter of tradition, science, has been telling us how wrongheaded this economic thinking in terms of "externalities" is for at least more than half a century.
  • Tarskian
    301
    The danger of collapse we face today is on account of overuse of resources and neglect of the biosphereJanus

    People who do not keep traditions in the West are rapidly dying out and being replaced by people who do keep traditions.

    Well, that is what they are complaining about in Europe.

    That is what is at stake in pretty much every election on the continent. It is not about to biosphere but about immigration. They do not want to make children but they also do not want to get replaced by people who do.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Yes, as in freethought: thinking (inquiry) free of "tradition" in such a way that we are free for recreating (reasonably extending, or modernizing) tradition.

    ... traditional tropes, such as the Biblical vision of God creating the world for the use of humanity have contributed to this looming crisis.

    Our economic system is unsustainable, being predicated on endless growth, with collapse being the only alternative. Nothing to do with tradition, unless you count the tradition amongst economists of discounting ecological costs as a part of the economy. That greater disrupter of tradition, science, has been telling us how wrongheaded this economic thinking in terms of "externalities" is for more than half a century.
    Janus
    :100: :fire:
  • Janus
    15.9k
    That is what is at stake in pretty much every election on the continent. It is not about to biosphere but about immigration. They do not want to make children but they also do not want to get replaced by people who do.Tarskian

    That may be a general trend, but I think you should be wary of too much generalization. The biosphere is the pressing concern, regardless of whether it is uppermost in most people's minds. If it had been and was now the most urgent issue in most people's minds, then we would arguably be in better position than we currently are.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    Yes, as in freethought: thinking (inquiry) free of "tradition" in such a way that we are free for recreating (reasonably extending, or modernizing) tradition.180 Proof

    :up: :up: Yes, that is the only conceivably good way forward...
  • Amity
    4.7k
    Making philosophical music requires both reason and imagination.Fooloso4

    Music to my ears!
    Your excellent philosophy piece shows you are on top form. If you never write anything else, you could rest easy in the knowledge that you make the best kind of music. Substantive, light, informative and questioning. Worthy of publication in any journal. Many Congratulations!

    So far (9am on 9th July 2024), it has attracted worthy and valuable responses. Let's hope that continues. I read it last night and it made me so very happy. That with Labour winning the General Election, consider my spirits raised.

    I've had a prolonged stated of un-wellness. A hellish viral illness.
    Thankfully, I'm regaining my stamina and vitality.

    I admire your whole attitude to philosophy. You exemplify what I think is good about it. I am not sure that I can write that in your thread without seeming superficial and a fan-girl. Not sure that I have the brain power to tackle or even to think clearly about your points. I'm happy to read the posts of others who have clear and constructive thoughts and ideas, like:

    But this isn't all Plato is doing. The dialogues aim at different audiences. This is the message to the skeptics. He has other things to say for people who have already started down this road and are ready to hear more. Likewise he has myths like the reincarnation story with the Homeric heroes at the end of the Republic for those who have somewhat "missed the point," but might nonetheless benefit from an edifying story.Count Timothy von Icarus

    'Different audiences'
    Fooloso4 has helped me grow from a point of not liking Plato to realising his great contribution; his cleverness in attracting all kinds of controversy. Participating in The Plato threads, reading and re-reading, there was always some new groove shaking and shaping. I felt the poetry and the music , even as I struggled.

    This OP is so well-balanced and inspirational to new and old readers alike.

    I will end this with another question: Has the philosopher outgrown the need for stories?Fooloso4

    Never! Stories arise from human interaction and the need to express experience and thoughts. Learning from and questioning the real and the imagined. Rock'n'roll :cool:
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    I think Wittgenstein is a Socratic. I linked to a thread a started on this.

    I'm not sure if you have read Pierre Hadot, who praised philosophy as a way of life.Shawn

    I have. Hadot also read and wrote on Wittgenstein.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    There is a tendency to look beyond ourselves. No doubt Plato plays a role in promoting this tendency, but I think it was for Plato serious philosophical play. The real work is work on oneself.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    How does one know if one is being good if one doesn't know what is good or in what goodness consists?Count Timothy von Icarus

    We don't. Believing one does know when he does not is a problem.

    If then one wished to know the cause of each thing, why it comes to be or perishes or exists, one had to find what was the best way for it to be, or to be acted upon, or to act. On these premises then it befitted a man to investigate only, about this and other things, what is best.
    (Phaedo 97b-d)

    The question of what is best is inextricably linked to the question of the human good. About what is best we can only do our best to say what is best and why. The question of what is best turns from things in general to the human things and ultimately to the self for whom what is best is what matters most. The question of the good leads back to the problem of self-knowledge.

    If we are to believe things because doing so will make us better it seems that we need some idea of what "better" consists in.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Having some idea of what is better is not knowing what is better. It is an opinion or belief. He could be wrong:

    ... being careful lest in my eagerness I deceive both myself and yourselves at the same time, and depart like a bee leaving my sting behind.

    It is the question of what is better that is at issue. It involves deliberation about opinions about what is best. At best we do our best.

    The dialogues aim at different audiences.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yes. I agree. But we disagree as to what is being said to whom.

    Perhaps, but when it comes to communicating with one another it seems that Plato thinks we will always need images.Count Timothy von Icarus

    We do need images. There are different kinds of images and different uses. We need images not just to communicate but to think and reason. The images used by the mathematicians is a good example.
    We need not determine whether there is such a thing as a perfect circle in order to make use of these images. In fact, Socrates points out that such questions do not even arise for them.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    The only alternative to that would be to remain or become slaves to tradition and authority ...Janus

    This is what is at issue in the trial of Socrates. Some think that the tension between philosophy and the city remains with us but others think the tension has or can be resolved and that reason and revelation reconciled or that the solution is political tolerance, the separation of church and state. I think tradition is important but that we are not slaves to it as long as we question its authority. Questioning its authority has become part of our tradition.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    This OP is so well-balanced and inspirational to new and old readers alike.Amity

    And, I am sure, anathema to others.

    But thanks. I never object when someone says nice things about me, even if they are not true.
  • Amity
    4.7k
    anathema to others.Fooloso4
    Just as not everyone agrees on what is the 'Greatest Music' at any given point in their lives...

    What matters is being given the opportunity to listen to other perspectives, even if/when our mind rebels.
    So many stories...growing in, through and from all kinds of tradition...we can't read them all, even if we wanted to. Life, love and thinking can be overwhelming.

    It's good to take a break from the challenges and rest a while. To appreciate balance and a sense of peace...but aren't we all drawn back to the excitement and fun of the philosophy wars?
    Dancing up and down the scales...the black and white running into each other...
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    (Phaedo 97b-d)

    I am at a loss for how the passage you cite is supposed to support your claim. In context, the passage you cite is Socrates discussing his initial fascination with Anaxagoras' materialism, and how Socrates claims to have misunderstood the theory. Socrates was hoping Anaxagoras was going to give him some sort of explanation of things in terms of their telos and what is best—an explanation of the material world of becoming in these terms. He ultimately writes off the materialists because they seem to be missing an explanation of final causes.

    Having some idea of what is better is not knowing what is better. It is an opinion or belief. He could be wrong:

    Ok, is everyone equally likely to be wrong? Must we be equally skeptical of all claims about what is good? Might we has well question if this "questioning" really has any value or if it's just a way for egg heads to waste their time?


    It is the question of what is better that is at issue. It involves deliberation about opinions about what is best

    But such deliberations never move one past a state of skeptical nescience? What exactly is the benefit of "trying your best" to understand what justice is?
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    I am at a loss for how the passage you cite is supposed to support your claim.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Which claim?

    The first:

    We don't. Believing one does know when he does not is a problem.Fooloso4

    is not intended to be supported by the quote. The second one:

    The question of what is best is inextricably linked to the question of the human good.Fooloso4

    is in response to the quote from the Phaedo.

    He ultimately writes off the materialists ...Count Timothy von Icarus

    I don't think so:

    Tell me again from the beginning and do not answer in the words of the question, but do as I do. I say that beyond that safe answer, which I spoke of first, I see another safe answer. If you should ask me what, coming into a body, makes it hot, my reply would not be that safe and ignorant one, that it is heat, but our present argument provides a more sophisticated answer, namely, fire, and if you ask me what, on coming into a body, makes it sick, I will not say sickness but fever. Nor, if asked the presence of what in a number makes it odd, I will not say oddness but oneness, and so with other things.
    (105b-c)

    Ok, is everyone equally likely to be wrong?Count Timothy von Icarus

    No.

    Must we be equally skeptical of all claims about what is good?Count Timothy von Icarus

    No.

    Might we has well question if this "questioning" really has any value or if it's just a way for egg heads to waste their time?Count Timothy von Icarus

    I do not think that questioning what is good is a waste of time. Are we to just accept all claims about what is good? Or reject them all?

    But such deliberations never move one past a state of skeptical nescience?Count Timothy von Icarus

    If you mean that one never moves past not knowing to knowledge of the just, the beautiful, and the good, I don't think we do. I do think, however, that Socratic knowledge of ignorance means more than just knowing that you are ignorant. It is knowledge how to think and judge and live in the face of ignorance.

    What exactly is the benefit of "trying your best" to understand what justice is?Count Timothy von Icarus

    It may prevent you from acting unjustly or wrongly accusing others of acting unjustly. We act on our limited understanding. What alternative do we have?
  • Janus
    15.9k
    This is what is at issue in the trial of Socrates. Some think that the tension between philosophy and the city remains with us but others think the tension has or can be resolved and that reason and revelation reconciled or that the solution is political tolerance, the separation of church and state. I think tradition is important but that we are not slaves to it as long as we question its authority. Questioning its authority has become part of our tradition.Fooloso4

    I agree, but I think it depends on what is meant by "tradition". There is the philosophical tradition, then there are the changing, mostly unexamined (until they are) socio-cultural traditions that amount to dogma.

    It has long been a central part of philosophy to question dogma, but how often do the arrived at alternatives to dogma themselves crystallize into dogma? I conclude that the dialectic is radically open-ended, that there is no final endpoint of knowledge or understanding. That doesn't mean that our knowledge and understanding cannot improve as we go along.

    Must we be equally skeptical of all claims about what is good?Count Timothy von Icarus

    Do you know what is the Good? If someone claims to know what is the Good, do you know, can you know, that she knows what is the Good?

    There seem to be many things that all (or at least most) people take to be good. Does that consensus amount to knowing what is the Good, or what goodness universally consists in, its essence?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k

    Why would trying to know what is good but failing to do so teach you how to act good?

    It may prevent you from acting unjustly or wrongly accusing others of acting unjustly.

    If what you learn in your inquiries suggest you should do that perhaps. Many people have plumbed the depths of this question and determined that there is no such thing as "goodness" and thus that they should do whatever pleases them and is to their advantage.

    But I suppose this brings up Glaucon's question in the Republic, why should we even care about being good or just? If we can't even know that we are being good or just, or what these things consist in, what would be the benefit to us? Why wouldn't it be enough just to have people think we're good and just?





    If someone claims to know what is the Good, do you know, can you know, that she knows what is the Good?

    This question seems pretty easy to answer if you have an idea of what goodness consists in, no? Otherwise, you might consider whether or not that person really pursues what they claim the good is. Whatever is truly good it seems should be choiceworthy, or else it hardly seems deserving of the name.

    There seem to be many things that all (or at least most) people take to be good. Does that consensus amount to knowing what is the Good, or what goodness universally consists in, its essence?

    Consider how well consensus works as a measure of truth for any other question in history: the nature of disease, the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, etc.

    As a metric, it seems to be quite lacking.
  • Amity
    4.7k
    What do you want and expect from philosophy?Fooloso4

    A good question. It depends, as always, on what is meant by 'philosophy'. There is something about the word itself. It attracted me, like the word 'abroad'. It felt like it could be an escape or an exploration into foreign lands. Meeting new or other ways of living and thinking in different times and places. Absorbing all the senses of what it is to be human.

    Initially, it was self-learning - books being at the fore. Reflecting and then wanting more. Guidance through the labyrinth. An academic course. A disappointing realisation that talking about Concepts of Creativity and Imagination was far from being creative and imaginative. It was dry as dust. However, it did serve as a basis. And my philosophy was to explore areas and themes important to me.
    How people live. How might I live to feel and act so that the benefits outweigh the costs. Don't most of us want to be in a place of wellbeing - physically, mentally, socially?

    What exactly is the benefit of "trying your best" to understand what justice is?
    — Count Timothy von Icarus

    It may prevent you from acting unjustly or wrongly accusing others of acting unjustly. We act on our limited understanding. What alternative do we have?
    Fooloso4

    But do people need to know the philosophical concepts/theories of justice?
    Knowledge is important; we get the facts right before we can quantify the gaps of inequality. However, we can simply look and see and feel the differences in attitude and care. The results of indifference and hostility. The restrictions of freedom or too much freedom to talk hate. To stir the anger. Can philosophy or psychology benefit humans by understanding how emotions can be manipulated? It's all in the mind?


    I think tradition is important but that we are not slaves to it as long as we question its authority. Questioning its authority has become part of our tradition.
    — Fooloso4

    I agree, but I think it depends on what is meant by "tradition". There is the philosophical tradition, then there are the changing, mostly unexamined (until they are) socio-cultural traditions that amount to dogma.
    Janus

    See: https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/another-word-for/tradition.html ?
    There are different kinds of tradition or forms of philosophy, just as in poetry.
    Within these we find rules and certain ways of writing (rhyme and reason) which might constrain if too tight. Don't we all need room to breathe and find our own way? To increase understanding and awareness of the beauty of both tradition and change.

    Poetic tradition, as in a ghazal, changes with the modern but still its core remains. It is about adapting to what individuals want to explore. Just as in philosophy, it is about accessibility. New freedoms to share human experience.

    Traditionally about love, the ghazal and the sonnet, have moved to include the realities of life.
    A migrant's yearning for home and belonging.
    Political reflections and real concerns about health. Cognitive decline, not just a concept.
    Alzheimers:
    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/155783/alz-ghazal

    The Academy aimed to educate individuals not only in intellectual matters but also in moral virtues, aiming to cultivate wise and virtuous leaders. The Academy functioned as a community of scholars engaged in collective study and dialogue. It was not just a place for passive learning but an active intellectual community where ideas were debated and developed.Wayfarer

    'Individuals' - what kind? I thought it exclusively for young males of high class? And, of course, any leaders would be men. Those were the times. Initially, that is one of the reasons I didn't 'take' to Plato and those that followed his tradition. Exclusive and elitist.

    There is still much of that in philosophy but on TPF it is encouraging to read all kinds from all kinds.
    And that includes the story-telling...
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    Those were the times. Initially, that is one of the reasons I didn't 'take' to Plato and those that followed his tradition. Exclusive and elitist.Amity

    Indeed but much can be lost by judging the past by today’s standards. I was never much moved by the complaints about the cultural hegemony of dead white males.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    And on a similar note, there is actually quite a strong relationship between traditional philosophy and suspicion of modern culture. Traditional philosophy is, well, traditionalist, and much of it does tend to be conservative. I noticed when I studied the so-called ‘traditionalist movement’ in European philosophy, that some of it - Julius Evola being an example - was quite close to fascist in its orientation. I myself am not drawn to anything of the kind but then I can also see why some taken-for-granted elements of modern liberalism would be impossible to reconcile with tradition.
  • Amity
    4.7k
    much can be lost by judging the past by today’s standards.Wayfarer

    Indeed. And if I hadn't moved past my initial disgruntled feelings (not standards) to discover more, then I would have missed out. It takes an open mind and a flexibility of thought...even when we seem to have found something that seems to ring true. It is disturbing when traditionalists have a strong desire to keep the status quo. That which confers exclusive riches and benefits to the detriment of others. It is too easy to change laws hard fought for and criminalise those who protest or who are made homeless.
    More could be said but heading for American politics now - currently not in a good place.
  • Amity
    4.7k
    there is actually quite a strong relationship between traditional philosophy and modern culture.Wayfarer

    Interesting. Where do you mostly find this connection? How different would you expect them to be? Doesn't it depend on what is meant by the terms?

    I haven't delved into the world of 'traditional philosophy'. Or 'modern culture' for that matter.

    Given the various socio-political and economic forces that shape us, there will always be change, slow or speedy, in how we think about the world and our place in it. The relationships, strong or otherwise, between various factions can be explored for ways to improve understanding. All the better to fight?

    I noticed when I studied the so-called ‘traditionalist movement’ in European philosophy, that some of it - Julius Evola being an example - was quite close to fascist in its orientation.Wayfarer

    Evola is new to me but I've just read of him here. How 'traditionalism' is used to further the populist right:
    Influencing the ideas of Steve Bannon - encouraging Trump.

    Evola crafted a more expressly reactionary traditionalism by introducing the gendered and racial dimensions of these oppositions. To Evola, the opposite poles of the social hierarchy were also Aryan and non-Aryan, masculine and feminine, such that an ideal society would not only be theocratic, unequal and hostile to change, but also dominated by Aryan men.

    Evola regarded himself as being to the political right of fascism and Nazism, both of which he saw as merely promising starts. He thought fascism represented a step backwards, in a positive sense: a retreat from the brink of mass egalitarian society. If he could only introduce spirituality into Hitler’s and Mussolini’s militarism, perhaps the rewinding of time could be accomplished, and a golden age of theocratic virtue restored.
    How a mystical doctrine is reshaping the right - New Statesmen

    It seems that there is indeed a rewinding of time and progress. Or is this all of an eternal cycle and we should expect it? Is this something we can fight against...?
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    Do you know what is the Good?Janus
    No, but I understand that "The Good" is nonbeing.

    If someone claims to know what is the Good, do you know, can you know, that she knows what is the Good?
    I know that if she's a mortal, then she cannot "know" ...
  • Lionino
    2.1k
    Nice thread, but I couldn't figure out what its goal is. I will leave a quote by Diogenes Laertios:

    But Pythagoras was the first person who invented the term
    Philosophy, and who called himself a philosopher; when he was conversing
    at Sicyon with Leon, who was tyrant of the Sicyonians or of the
    Phliasians (as Heraclides Ponticus relates in the book which he wrote
    about a dead woman); for he said that no man ought to be called wise,
    but only God. For formerly what is now called philosophy (φιλοσοφία) was
    called wisdom (σοφία), and they who professed it were called wise men
    (σοφοὶ), as being endowed with great acuteness and accuracy of mind; but
    now he who embraces wisdom is called a philosopher (φιλόσοφος).
  • Amity
    4.7k
    If someone claims to know what is the Good, do you know, can you know, that she knows what is the Good?
    I know that if she's a mortal, then she cannot "know" ...
    180 Proof

    Who wants or needs to know The Good or The Truth? These are only concepts bounced around by crazy philosophers or doubled-down crazed religious types.

    It is about being the best we can be, given current knowledge of the world, applying reason and imagination to help balance feelings and emotion. For our own sakes. No?
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