• Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    Right! For anyone else, it might be a ‘sad commentary on the state of politics’. Or an ‘outrageous attack on democracy’. But for the campaign, it’s an opportunity!
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    ‘The FBI has identified Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, of Bethel Park, Pa., as the suspected shooter at former president Donald Trump’s rally, in what the agency is calling an assassination attempt. The shooter was killed. Crooks is a registered Republican, according to the state’s voter status records.‘
  • Is Karma real?
    Do animals deliberate and choose courses of action? Are there malevolent or evil monkeys or lions or wolverines? I'm inclined to doubt that. Which is one of the issues I have with 'karma theory'. According to Buddhist lore, one might be reborn in the animal realm as a consequence of animal behaviour (which is surely not hard to imagine, at least.) But once one is born into the animal realm, how does one 'generate merit' to warrant re-birth in the human realm?

    According to the literature, there are various ways:

    Natural Virtue and Innocence: Some Buddhist texts suggest that even animals can perform meritorious actions through their natural behavior. For example, acts of loyalty, protection, and nurturing by animals may generate positive karma. The inherent innocence and lack of malicious intent in many animals can also be seen as a form of merit.

    Influence of Past Karma: Animals might still be influenced by the remnants of their past positive karma. This residual karma can sometimes lead to experiences or actions that accumulate merit. For instance, an animal might form a bond with a human who treats it kindly, thereby generating positive karma through that relationship.

    Spiritual Interactions: In some stories, animals come into contact with enlightened beings which can lead to the generation of merit. For example, an animal that shows devotion to a Buddha or a Bodhisattva can accumulate merit through that act of devotion.

    Bodhisattva Vows and Acts: Certain advanced practitioners (Bodhisattvas) take vows to liberate all sentient beings, including animals. Their compassionate actions towards animals can help uplift the animals' karmic conditions.

    So while the notion of animals generating merit may seem unlikely given their perceived limitations, Buddhist teachings suggest pathways through which animals can improve their karmic conditions. Through natural virtuous behavior, the influence of past positive karma, interactions with enlightened beings, and the compassionate acts of Bodhisattvas, animals can accumulate merit and potentially achieve rebirth in more favorable realms, including the human realm.

    Another point from Buddhist lore, is the comparative rarity of attaining human birth - hence the expression, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, 'this precious human birth'. Being born in the human realm, and hearing of the Buddha, is an opportunity that is exceedingly rare in cosmic time-scales.
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    Yeah only an assassination attempt on the leading Republican Presidential contender, missed by about a centimetre.

  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    Yeah I'm watching CNN live coverage, there's a blurry photo of the shooter. It seems similar to the assassination attempt in Day of the Jackal - long-range shot with telescopic sight. CNN reports many in the audience began to turn on the media and boo them. I'm watching some of the remaining audience members shaking their fists at the camera.
  • How do you interpret nominalism?
    I don't know the history of nominalism very well, so maybe somebody can illuminate this question with some quotes from the pastGregory

    To understand nominalism, it's best to understand how it originated and what it opposed. Its origin is usually assigned to William of Ockham, famous for 'Ockham's razor'. And what was eliminated through said razor was belief in universals, which were central to the Aristotelian elements of scholastic philosophy, for example in Thomas Aquinas.

    So what are universals? In Scholastic philosophy, 'universals' are abstracta that typify the shared properties or essences of particulars. These were said to be real by the scholastics, hence the term 'scholastic realism'. The reality of universals was central to debates about the nature of reality and knowledge. They argued that universals exist in three ways: ante res (before things, as ideas in the Divine Intellect), in rebus (in things, as the common attributes of individual objects e.g. the dogness of dogs, the tree-ness of trees), and post res (after things, as universal concepts such as 'dog' or 'tree'). In Aristotle 'nous' (intellect) is the faculty that grounds rational thought through the ability to grasp universals. This was distinct from sensory perception, including the use of imagination and memory. The ability of the intellect to grasp universals is what enables the setting of definitions in a consistent and communicable way and explains how we can speak meaningfully about categories like 'dogness' or 'tree-ness' despite their instantiation in many diverse particulars. Realists believed that the ability to grasp universals is the unique prerogative and characteristic of reason.

    See: The Theological Origins of Modernity, by M. A. Gillespie, published January 2008.

    "Gillespie turns the conventional reading of the Enlightenment (as reason overcoming religion) on its head by explaining how the humanism of Petrarch, the free-will debate between Luther and Erasmus, the scientific forays of Francis Bacon, the epistemological debate between Descarte and Hobbes, were all motivated by an underlying wrestling with the questions posed by nominalism, which according to Gillespie dismantled the rational Cosmos of medieval scholasticism and introduced (by way of the Franciscans) a fideistic God-of-pure-will, born out of a concern that anything less than such would undercut divine omnipotence."

    Also The Cultural Impact of Empiricism, Jacques Maritain - a good summary of the role of universals in rational judgement.

    The World of Universals, Bertrand Russell (from Problems of Philosophy).

    @Paine - relates to the question raised in the thread on Gerson/Aristotle.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    What is at the top of this top down hierarchy? Is the intelligible dependent on an intelligible being? What is the divine which constitutes an irreducible explanatory category?Fooloso4

    As you (and @Paine) will well know, in Plato, the source or upmost level of the hierarchy of being was 'the idea of the Good'. The Idea of the Good, primarily discussed in the Republic, is the highest and most important of the Forms, the ultimate principle that gives meaning and intelligibility to all other Forms and to the material world. The Good is the source of all reality and knowledge, for which the Sun is an analogy in the Allegory of the Cave. Plotinus, building on and reinterpreting Plato, posits "the One" (ta hen) as the ultimate principle, which is even beyond the Idea of the Good. The One is the absolute, transcendent source of all reality, beyond existence and discursive ideation, the ineffable and indescribable foundation from which everything emanates. In Plotinus' system, the One generates the Divine Mind (Nous), which contains the Forms, and from the Nous emanates the World Soul, which in turn gives rise to the material world.

    Earlier in the thread you said: 'The gods' are, of course, those of the Greek pantheon, but from comparative religion, we learn that have much in common with the other Indo-European cultures, so there are parallels with the Indian pantheon. But in this case, they represent 'the divine'
    — Wayfarer

    What does it mean to conceive of the divine in personal terms?

    As you will also know, many elements of Platonism were absorbed into Christian theology by the early Greek-speaking theologians such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, and (Pseudo)Dionysius. It was also transformed so as to be compatible with Biblical revelation - no easy synthesis, and often with tension between them ('what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?') In any case, this is where elements of Plotinus philosophy of the One became identified with, or subsumed by, the God of Biblical revelation. Not that Plotinus would ever countenance that.

    According to Dean Inge, the principle distinction between Plotinus and Christian mysticism is between Plotinus' 'henosis' (absorption into the One) and the Christian 'theosis' in which the soul is said to attain immortality whilst also maintaining an identity. (Even now, there are debates between Christians as to whether and in what sense God is personal - the distinction between 'theistic personalism and 'classical theism'.)

    As far as 'the Gods' were concerned, in later neoplatonism they become identified as the Henads, intermediaries between the One and the human realm. Plotinus did not use that terminology, and like Plato tended to speak of 'the gods' as being symbolic of forces and powers. But scattered throughout the Platonic dialogues are references to paying obeisances or respect to the Gods. That doesn't make Plato "a believer" - perish the thought! - but I think it's reasonable to say that references to the Gods are a kind of shorthand for the divine, however conceived.
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    Odd that there are no reports of other injuries, though. You'd think that if a bullet grazed his ear, it must end up somewhere else, and he was sorrounded by spectators. //update - two deaths, the shooter and an audience member.//
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    I'm looking at the footage of him being hustled offstage by the Secret Service. He's loving it! The crowd loves it! Trump is repeatedly pumping a clenched fist in the air, the crowd are hysterical with anger and self-righteous vindication. Mistake to downplay it.
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    This factor is another wildcard in the election. The right are already preparing the ground for militias to take action to 'preserve democracy' (i.e. ensure that Trump is declared winner regardless of the outcome) through violence if necessary. This alleged assasination attempt, if that is what it is, will play right into their hands, right into Trump's 'martyr for the righteous cause' meme. Heaven help us.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I get that you connect your view of the 'theological' with a renunciation of the 'materialPaine

    I’m interested in a specific philosophical question, which is the subject of the quote from Lloyd Gerson. The thread is about Lloyd Gerson’s interpretation of Aristotle, as was the passage I’ve been discussing. It’s a philosophical question about the role of universals in the forming of judgement and the sense in which that undercuts materialist theory of mind. I can’t see how that can be construed as ‘theology’.
  • Is Karma real?
    It’s worth mentioning the origin of the term ‘karma’. It is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘kr-‘ which is ‘to do’ or ‘to make’, As a kind of common-sense heuristic it simply implies that ‘all actions have consequences’. It has its echoes in Western cultural history, notably the Biblical maxim ‘As you sow, so too shall you reap’ and also ‘actions becomes habits which form character, and character determines your fate’ which is associated with Aristotelian ethics. Interestingly the Sanskrit term ‘bhavana’ which is sometimes translated as ‘meditation’, actually means ‘becoming’, the implication being that meditation is the cultivation of mental states and virtues which lead to positive outcomes.

    Of course in the Indian context, one has the horizon of future lives in this or other planes of being, in which the consequences of karma come to fruition (for good or for ill) whereas in today’s world, as there is no such conception, the classical concept of karma is meaningless. This is why from the perspective of classical Indian culture, modern culture is by and large nihilist.
  • Pragmatism Without Goodness
    Aristotle has it that the Prime Mover must be an intellectual nature.Count Timothy von Icarus

    As an aside, ‘intellectual’ is a very poor translation for what I take to be the intended meaning. ‘Intellectuals’ are stuffy fellows - they’re nearly always fellows - discussing arcane conceptions. It conveys none of the dynamism (a philosophical term that has its origin in Aristotle) that the word is really meant to convey. It’s more like the ‘pleroma’, a endless and timeless fount and source, the source of intelligibility which gives rise to everything and which reason is able to grasp (hence the ‘divinity of the intellect’ in Aristotelian philosophy.)

    More to the point, from what I so far gather, modern metaphysical naturalism rejects the very notion of ontologically occurring purpose—this just as materialism/physicalism does.javra

    Because it seeks explanations in terms of physics, in which the notion of reason in the sense of ‘the reason for’ is excluded. Even the physicalist’s sense of ‘spirit’ is like that - it seeks to understand it as some kind of ethereal thing, rather than as being, which is what we are, not an object of analysis. ‘Too near for us to grasp’.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Plotinus is not talking about the relationship between knower and knownPaine

    Indeed he is not, which is why it was not relevant to the question I raised, which was about that relationship.

    'The gods' are, of course, those of the Greek pantheon
    — Wayfarer

    Are they? I would think that Plotinus would agree with Socrates' criticism of the gods in Euthyphro.

    When Plotinus says:
    He will leave that behind, and choose another, the life of the gods — Ennead 1.2. 30, translated by Armstrong

    which 'gods' are they? What does 'the life of the gods' refer to?

    For I refer to all philosophers as divine.

    Why would he consider philosophers, in particular, 'divine'?

    In the Iliad Homer call salt divine (9.214)Fooloso4

    So if everything is divine, then the word means nothing. Is that the drift of the argument? That 'the divine' has no referent?
  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    But they don’t cut it mate. I’ve said before, I respect your intelligence, I’ve learned things from you about philosophy of math (mainly, how little I know.) I have to say that you’re completely wrong about Trump, he’s malignant, mendacious, and a threat to the American Republic. Until you’re willing to acknowledge that, we have nothing further to discuss about it.
  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    I confess that my media diet is a little skewed to the right these days.fishfry


    The J6 committee was a fraud on the American people.fishfry

    The first statement explains the second. And, it’s more than ‘a little’. But there’s no way to make someone see what he or she doesn’t want to see, so let’s leave it for now. (Although how a forensic retelling of an attack on the American people could be a fraud on the American people beggars logic.)

    Although as this is the Election thread, not the Trump thread, I’ll add I still don’t believe Biden will be the eventual Democratic nominee. I just wish folks would say that he should ‘pass the baton’. It sounds a lot less hostile than that he should resign or quit. It is really what he must be persuaded to do, and, I believe, will be.
  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    Joe Stalin was an authoritarian.fishfry

    You know that Trump on multiple occasions has sucked up to Putin? That he stood on the world stage with him and said he trusted Putin above his own intelligence agencies? That he thinks Kim Jong Un is a really neat guy, even saying once that they were 'in love'? Why is it that the only political leaders he's ever expressed admiration for, if not because they're role models for him? Not that he's got anywhere near the guts or the guile to actually pull it off. Fortunately.
  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    If you happen to have a reference to Trump's influence on the GOP abandonment of Lankford's bill I'd appreciate itfishfry

    Trump says border bill ‘very bad’ for Lankford’s career

    Former President Trump on Monday railed against the bipartisan border agreement and took aim at Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a key negotiator, for his role in brokering the deal.

    In an interview on “The Dan Bongino Show,” Trump denied endorsing Lankford’s candidacy in 2022 — despite doing so publicly — and did not rule out endorsing a primary opponent when Lankford is up for reelection in 2028. ...

    Ahead of the bill text’s release, Trump had attacked the prospect of the legislation, branding it as a political victory for Democrats ahead of the 2024 election — a message he repeated in Monday’s interview.“This is a gift to Democrats, and this, sort of, is a shifting of the worst border in history onto the shoulders of Republicans. That’s really what they want. They want this for the presidential election, so they can now blame the Republicans for the worst border in history,” Trump said.
    — Feb 2024

    As mentioned, Lankford was then censured by his own party. This for a straight up-and-down Republican who has toed the party line on every single issue.

    I just don't see how a guy who got so easily subverted by his underlings could be an authoritarian.fishfry

    And I just don't know how you can say that. He's on the record suggesting, for instance, that the constitution ought to be suspended, that he plans to purge the civil service and stock it with his operatives, and intends to use the Department of Justice against his enemies. The last few weeks, there's been a lot of press over Project 2025, which likewise plans to implement plainly authoritarian policies - Trump has been trying to disassociate himself from it, but it is almost entirely composed of ex-Trump aides and staffers, and he's spoken at the Heritage Foundation on a number of occasions. But then, you know, but seem to downplay or rationalise, that Trump sicked his mob on the Capital Building, leading to multiple deaths and hundreds of arrests and jail sentences, one of the darkest days in American history. Why you're OK with that I can't fathom.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Recall a few posts back, you said:

    What I am trying to underline in the discussion is the particular way Plotinus offers a solution to your thesisPaine

    I have been arguing that the passage you referred to from the Enneads at that point is specifically about the distinction between 'civic virtue' and those seeking to attain 'likeness to the gods'. That passage addresses that distinction quite clearly. Hence my digression into the role of 'the divine' and revelation in the metaphysics of Greek philosophy in answer to Fooloso4's question.

    Whereas, the thesis you were responding to, was Gerson's paraphrase of an argument in De Anima, to wit:
    In thinking, the intelligible object or form is present in the intellect, and thinking itself is the identification of the intellect with this intelligible.
    And that is a reference to the knowledge of forms, as represented Aristotle's hylomorphic (matter-form) philosophy: that the intellect (nous) is what grasps or perceives the forms of things, which is that by which we know what particulars truly are. I take this principle as basic to the epistemology of hylomorphism.

    Furthermore, the principle of the 'union between the knower and the form of the known' becomes a dominant theme in ancient and medieval philosophy. There are many references to this in online digests of Aquinas' philosophy (e.g. here and here.)

    Now, so far, what I've said above, I would regard as general knowledge, and not requiring specialist knowledge of the Greek texts.

    So far so good?
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you're saying. For the last several posts, I've been addressing the issue of the interpretation of the paragraph from the Enneads that you presented, which I think I have done. The additional point I made to fooloso4 about Leo Strauss was in respect of the broader issue of the relationship between philosophy and revelation and the bearing that might have on interpreting Plotinus. It can be taken as a footnote.
  • Donald Trump (All General Trump Conversations Here)
    Gift link to today’s 5,000 word NY Times editorial, Trump is Unfit to Lead.

    Some excerpts:

    Mr. Trump has shown a character unworthy of the responsibilities of the presidency. He has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people. Instead of a cogent vision for the country’s future, Mr. Trump is animated by a thirst for political power: to use the levers of government to advance his interests, satisfy his impulses and exact retribution against those who he thinks have wronged him.

    He is, quite simply, unfit to lead. …

    He lies blatantly and maliciously, embraces racists, abuses women and has a schoolyard bully’s instinct to target society’s most vulnerable. He has delighted in coarsening and polarizing the town square with ever more divisive and incendiary language. Mr. Trump is a man who craves validation and vindication, so much that he would prefer a hostile leader’s lies to his own intelligence agencies’ truths and would shake down a vulnerable ally for short-term political advantage. His handling of everything from routine affairs to major crises was undermined by his blundering combination of impulsiveness, insecurity and unstudied certainty. …

    On Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Trump incited a mob to violence with hateful lies, then stood by for hours as hundreds of his supporters took his word and stormed the Capitol with the aim of terrorizing members of Congress into keeping him in office. He praised these insurrectionists and called them patriots; today he gives them a starring role at campaign rallies, playing a rendition of the national anthem sung by inmates involved with Jan. 6., and he has promised to consider pardoning the rioters if re-elected. He continues to wrong the country and its voters by lying about the 2020 election, branding it stolen, despite the courts, the Justice Department and Republican state officials disputing him. No man fit for the presidency would flog such pernicious and destructive lies about democratic norms and values, but the Trumpian hunger for vindication and retribution has no moral center. …

    Mr. Trump has demonstrated contempt for… American ideals. He admires autocrats, from Viktor Orban to Vladimir Putin to Kim Jong-un. He believes in the strongman model of power — a leader who makes things happen by demanding it, compelling agreement through force of will or personality. In reality, a strongman rules through fear and the unprincipled use of political might for self-serving ends, imposing poorly conceived policies that smother innovation, entrepreneurship, ideas and hope. …

    Those who know Mr. Trump’s character best — the people he appointed to serve in the most important positions of his White House — have expressed grave doubts about his fitness for office.

    His former chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, described Mr. Trump as “a person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law.” Bill Barr, whom Mr. Trump appointed as attorney general, said of him, “He will always put his own interest and gratifying his own ego ahead of everything else, including the country’s interest.” James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general who served as defense secretary, said, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”

    Mike Pence, Mr. Trump’s vice president, has disavowed him. No other vice president in modern American history has done this. “I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,” Mr. Pence has said. “And anyone who asked someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”

    And a shorter but essentially similar OP from the LA TImes:

    ...Trump is the only man in the presidential race manifestly unworthy of holding a position of power, and has no business ever returning to the White House. If the GOP had any decency left, its members would be discussing whether to dump Trump for a candidate who isn’t out to bulldoze democratic institutions in favor of autocracy.

    Voters should resist viewing this contest through the politics-as-usual lens of past elections. This November is not about dueling personalities, middle-of-the-road policy differences, or as some might see it, an 81-year-old man being the lesser of two evils compared with a 78-year-old man. It’s nothing short of a referendum on our 248-year democracy, and a choice between a trustworthy public servant who upholds American values and a serial liar who wants to push the country into authoritarianism.
  • Is Karma real?
    Could Karma be the expression of basic physical laws of motion emerging/permeating into the sphere of sophisticated societal dynamics?Benj96

    I don't think so. There used to be a lot of talk about Buddhism being a 'scientific religion' in the early 20th c based on the idea that karma was a kind of 'scientific law', but I think that is groundless. Nevertheless, I implicitly accept karma as the basis of my own ethical outlook, with the important caveat that it can easily lead to fatalism and finger-pointing. Karma should only ever be regarded as a regulative principle in my view.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    No reader of Natural Right and History would think that is what just got said.Paine

    Well, I'm not among them. I'm too old to go into either Heidegger or Strauss in any depth, I only mentioned it to @Fooloso4 because it is through his posts that I've become familiar with Strauss at all, and I think the section I linked to about Strauss' view of the relationship of philosophy and revelation is germane.

    FWIW, I think 'revelation' is equated with 'revealed religion', thence 'religious dogma' and automatically discounted on those grounds. Whereas I think there's a religious dimension to Greek philosophy, which is neglected on that basis.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Incidentally, and apropos of Leo Strauss, I find a section in his SEP entry on Philosophy and Revelation:

    On Strauss’s reading, the Enlightenment’s so-called critique of religion ultimately also brought with it, unbeknownst to its proponents, modern rationalism’s self-destruction. Strauss does not reject modern science, but he does object to the philosophical conclusion that “scientific knowledge is the highest form of knowledge” because this “implies a depreciation of pre-scientific knowledge.” As he put it, “Science is the successful part of modern philosophy or science, and philosophy is the unsuccessful part—the rump” (JPCM, p. 99). Strauss reads the history of modern philosophy as beginning with the elevation of all knowledge to science, or theory, and as concluding with the devaluation of all knowledge to history, or practice.

    Something with which I'm in agreement. I wonder if he had any professional contact with Mircea Eliade, who was a peer at the University of Chicago during his tenure, and from whom a lot of what I've learned about comparative religion was drawn.
  • The Concept of a Creator
    I want to ask, from what I understand the forebrain was developed by our need for the use of tools in its earliest stages. I do want to know that how could something so simple as the need to use and create tools could have led to so much of what defines human beings. What are your thoughts on the matter?Shawn

    That the Darwinist account tends to invariably be reductionist, because it looks at the question solely solely in terms of the benefit it has for reproduction. That because of the role of Darwinian biology in our culture, as a kind of secular creation myth, it has no conceptual space for the kinds of questions that our highly-developed forebrain allows us to ask. And that this is one of the root causes of what John Vervaeke describes as 'the meaning crisis' - even while the evolutionary account may be perfectly sound in its own terms. (Now there's a can'o'worms for you ;-) )
  • The Concept of a Creator
    I agree, but, is conceptualization something that can be specified any further?Shawn

    Looking at it, again, from a kind of biological anthropology - the evolution of the h.sapiens forebrain was one of the most (if not THE most) spectacular and unparalleled events known to evolutionary science. I read an interesting account, in a book by a medical science writer, James Le Fanu (ref), on what was involved in the transition from simian to hominid anatomy, because the hominid cranium is far larger than that of its simian forebears, and this also had to be accomodated with the shift to bipedalism. This mean the birth canal of hominids had to be smaller, while the head of the infant was much larger - the reason that human babies are born with soft skulls, the fontanelle, which hardens during the first months of life. All in support of this fantastically elaborated brain anatomy, which enabled language, conceptualisation, tool-making, story-telling and many of the other essentially human characteristics of our species. (Le Fanu also notes that the payoff for these developments had to take a very long view, as it results in far higher instances of birth trauma and maternal mortality than among simian species, while for many hundreds of thousands of years, the rewards of that larger brain capacity may not have been abundantly obvious.)
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    ... but likeness to the gods is likeness to the model, a being of a different kind to ourselves.
    — Ennead 1.2. 30, translated by Armstrong

    What is the model that this is a likeness of? If for us this life is one of renunciate spirituality, is it that for the gods as well? Do the gods too have desires that they must overcome? Can we become a being of a different kind?

    They're foundational questions in this context. 'The gods' are, of course, those of the Greek pantheon, but from comparative religion, we learn that have much in common with the other Indo-European cultures, so there are parallels with the Indian pantheon. But in this case, they represent 'the divine' - a word is from the Indo-european root 'deva'. Notice that Parmenides' prose-poem is said to have been 'given' to him by the Goddess. The knowledge of which he speaks is rooted in revealed truth, not dialectical reasoning, although he then deploys reasoning in support of it. (I think in modern terminology, it would be described as 'trans-rational'.) But I notice references to the divine ('the devas') in many of the excepts being discussed in the thread in ancient philosophy. It is part of the assumed background of their world, and I personally think it's mistaken to regard it as a simple figment or archaic superstition, even if that is the consensus of today's disenchanted world.

    Renunciate spirituality seeks to sever ties with or go beyond the sensory domain, 'the world' - the world of mundane attachments, pains and pleasures, so as to seek what Alan Watts' described as 'the supreme identity' in his book of that name. It means realising an identity with the One (or Brahman or the Godhead). Plotinus was said by Porphyry to have twice entered a state of supreme ecstasy corresponding to that awareness. It is said that his last words were 'to restore the divine (or: the god) in us (or: in you) back to the divine in the All'.

    As to whether this is a realisable aim - the IEP entry on Pierre Hadot says
    For all of Hadot’s evident enthusiasm for Plotinus’ philosophy...Plotinus: the Simplicity of Vision concludes with an assessment of the modern world’s inescapable distance from Plotinus’ thought and experience. Hadot distances himself from Plotinus’ negative assessment of bodily existence, and he also displays a caution in his support for mysticism, citing the skeptical claims of Marxism and psychoanalysis about professed mysticism, considering it a lived mystification or obfuscation of truth (PSV 112-113). Hadot would later recall that, after writing the book in a month and returning to ordinary life, he had his own uncanny experience: “. . . seeing the ordinary folks all around me in the bakery, I . . . had the impression of having lived a month in another world, completely foreign to our world, and worse than this—totally unreal and even unlivable.”

    But I think this can be acknowledged, without thereby vitiating the mystical element in Plotinus' (and indeed Plato's) spirituality, which is a vital interpretive key in my view. Interpreted through that perspective, the meaning of the passage we're discussing sprang out at me, without any need to reference the political element of The Republic.
  • The Concept of a Creator
    Is the fact that human beings are sentient that, we (human beings), are the only kind that contemplates the concept….Shawn

    that contemplates any ‘concept’. Conceptualisation relies on abstraction, the ability to represent and to imagine. Is there evidence that any species other than h.sapiens possesses those abilities? (I know that Caledonian crows and some other species can display rudimentary reasoning abilities, but doesn’t qualify as truly conceptual ratiocination in my view.)

    I think the question you’re asking can otherwise most profitably be viewed through the lens of anthropology and palaeontology. For instance Agustin Fuentes’ Why We Believe (although there are many others on the theme.) But it’s not hard to imagine early hominids witnessing the birth and death of their kin and prey animals, the cycles of the seasons and the bounty of nature and attributing it to or imbuing it with agency. And it’s also well-documented that humans have had a sense of the sacred since paleolithic times, evidenced by statuary, art and ritual burial practices. Of course the ancient origins are ‘lost in the mists of time’ as the saying has it, but it goes back well beyond the beginning of recorded history.
  • To What Extent is the Idea of 'Non-duality' Useful in Bridging Between Theism and Atheism?
    From my point of view non-duality means monismJuanZu

    I studied non-dualism (actually Advaita) as a unit in comparative religion, and one of the first things we were taught is that non-dualism is *not* monism. I’m now vague on exactly what was said, but it was along the lines that, in order for there to be ‘one’, there has to be another in order to be aware of it. Non-dualism means, rather, ‘not-divided’ or ‘not-two’ - actually the meaning of Advaita is literally that, as ‘a-‘ is the negative particle in Sanskrit (equivalent to ‘un-‘ in English) and ‘dvai’ is ‘dual’ or ‘divided’. So the meaning of Advaita is really ‘undivided’ or ‘not two’, and what it really means, is overcoming or dissolving the sense of ‘otherness’ that normally pervades all of mundane existence. As such it’s dangerous to make a theory or hypothesis out of it, as it is not a matter of propositional knowledge, but a state of being (designated sat-chit-ananda, ‘being-knowing-bliss’.)
  • A question for panpsychists (and others too)
    I understand the idea of Atman being, shall we say, shards of Brahman, limiting itself in order to experience things in different ways. But that, itself, is speculationPatterner

    According to the Advaita, as I understand it, it is only a matter of speculation for the ignorant (in which I include myself of course). As for whether the material world is of a ‘different nature’ to mind, that assumes you can make an object out of mind and then compare it to the world. I see the point as being, rather, that even the experience of cold, hard reality - falling on concrete for instance - is still something that occurs within experience. It’s not as if there’s the material on one side and the experience on another, the reality is the experience of falling, the sensation of hardness, the pain of impact. Within which the objective and subjective elements are poles of experience, neither of which can be experienced in the absence of the other.
  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    So you'd know the name Senator James Lankford, and why he made news a couple of months back.
    — Wayfarer

    Had to look that one up, perhaps I missed your point.

    Senator James Lankford is a strict conservative GOP member who was on a bipartisan committee tasked with addressing border issues. He drove a very hard bargain and got many more concessions out of the Democrats than anyone had expected, getting them to agree to what many of them thought were overly harsh measures that the GOP had been demanding for years. But then before it went to a vote, Trump got wind of it and said he didn’t want it to go ahead. Why? Because it would take away his talking points about the country being flooded with Mexican rapists. So Lankford was then pressured to vote against his own hard-fought legislation, rather than bring it to the floor - because it might have been a solution. Trump would rather keep his talking points than actually solve the problem. For his trouble, Lankford was then censured by the Oklahoma Republican Party, for the mortal sin of working with Democrats.

    Trump was arguably less authoritarian than any of them, simply because he knew so little about how the government works that he got rolled by the bureaucrats and betrayed by the people who worked for him.fishfry

    That probably also explains why 24 previous aides and allies went on the record saying he was unfit for office and a danger to democracy.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    Apologies to all if my above contributions have been off the mark.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    But the good man may not be able to live the life of the gods, nor might he want to.

    What does that life look like? This:

    renunciate spirituality
    — Wayfarer

    Surely there is more to the life of a god.

    We discussed the various examples of what I'm referring to in an earlier thread on esoteric philosophies. I seem to recall I gave the examples of Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism, to which you replied something like 'you have to be prepared to believe in such things'.

    There are numerous references to 'the gods' and 'the divine' scattered through the ancient texts. What does that signify to you? Remnants of archaic beliefs now superseded?

    I think one of the characteristics of Eastern philosophical religions, like Advaita and Tibetan Buddhism, is that for various historical reasons they seem to have been able to maintain a closer relationship with their ancient roots. Which is why for instance a Swami of the Vedanta Order still appears in monastic robes (in his many youtube videos!) Likewise for many Tibetan Rinpoches.

    Plotinus goes far beyond PlatoMetaphysician Undercover

    Nevertheless, didn't he himself insist that he was simply explicating what was implicit in Plato?
  • TPF Quote Cabinet
    I thought this was one for the collection :-)

    If I knew what that meant, perhaps I would feel insulted.T Clark
  • Why are drugs so popular?
    Hey this is in Pollitico today, about weed drinks (i.e. beverages infused with THC.) Gotta say, if THC Iced Tea were available near where I live, I'd be all in. (It's probably better that they're not :yikes: )

  • US Election 2024 (All general discussion)
    I have followed southern border politics for decadesfishfry

    So you'd know the name Senator James Lankford, and why he made news a couple of months back.

    Bunch of unarmed people are invited in by the Capitol copsfishfry

    So you think Mike Pence should have hung?

    Trump will, of course, not change, but with his king makers behind him, those who want authoritarian rule will rejoiceFooloso4

    I'm convinced that most of Trump's backers are not in because they like Trump or think that he's any good but because they can use him to pursue their own nefarious ends. And the only way that works is by sucking up to him and telling him how great he is. That's how Putin and Kim Jong Un have played him like a fiddle. Works every time, but only if he thinks you're someone who's opinion counts.
  • "Aristotle and Other Platonists:" A Review of the work of Lloyd Gerson
    being disembodied means you are dead.Paine

    However, the Gerson paper you linked to 'The Unity of Intellect in Aristotle' (and thank you for it) says right at the beginning 'This (i.e. 'agent') intellect is, in Aristotle's view, all the things he repeatedly says it is, including immortal.' (However, I will continue with that paper.)

    I understand the passage as demonstrating the vast difference between Plato and Plotinus when they speak of the philosopher's return to the cave.Paine

    Here is that passage again:

    For instance, he will not make self-control consist in that former observance of measure and limit, but will altogether separate himself, as far as possible, from his lower nature and will not live the life of the good man which civic virtue requires. He will leave that behind, and choose another, the life of the gods: for it is to them, not to good men, that we are to be made like. — Ennead 1.2. 30, translated by Armstrong

    Doesn't this plainly disparage the notion of 'civic virtue' and 'living the life of the good man' in favour of 'leaving that behind' and 'choosing another' - the 'life of the Gods' - and that we are to strive to be 'like them' and not simply 'good citizens'? The meaning seems very clear to me, without any external references. As mentioned, there are direct parallels to other schools of renunciate spirituality that characterised the ancient world, Eastern and Western.

    And are there 'vast differences' between Plotinus and Plato? I readily grant at every juncture that your knowledge of the texts greatly exceeds my own, but I had thought it well-established that Plotinus saw himself as no more than a faithful exegete of Plato.

    I don't see the value of the broad generalities offered by Gerson, Perl, Fraser, and the like.Paine

    I agree that we're talking past one another. That's why I've tried to explain my perspective on the topic. I'm not reading it as a classicist, comparing and contrasting various interpretations of ancient philosophy in which you're plainly better versed than am I (and I am learning a lot from it!) But I see Perl, Gerson, and Feser, as being concerned with retrieving what was and remains vital about classical philosophy as a living truth, not as museum pieces to be compared and contrasted. Many here among us will simply take it for granted that we're physical beings, no different in essence to other species, although considerably more dangerous due to our numbers and technology. But what if the truth were that we are 'immortal souls housed in corporeal bodies'?

    Like Macbeth, Western man made an evil decision, which has become the efficient and final cause of other evil decisions. Have we forgotten our encounter with the witches on the heath? It occurred in the late fourteenth century, and what the witches said to the protagonist of this drama was that man could realize himself more fully if he would only abandon his belief in the existence of transcendentals. The powers of darkness were working subtly, as always, and they couched this proposition in the seemingly innocent form of an attack upon universals. The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence.Richard Weaver, Ideas have Consequences, Pp2-3

    I sense I have worn out my welcome.Paine

    Not at all. The fact that we keep coming back to contesting Gerson's interpretations indicates that this thread has stayed on-topic.
  • The Greatest Music
    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?

    Actually I went back and re-wrote that passage, it was the opposite of what I had meant to say. I meant to say there's a strong tension between traditional philosophy and modern culture (hence I added the word 'suspicion'.)

    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...?Amity

    It's a very tricky issue. I went to University with a convinced proponent of 'the traditionalists' who introduced me to them, including René Guenon and Frithjof Schuon. Guenon was a Frenchman who migrated to Egypt and wrote on esoteric and Eastern philosophy, his Wiki entry was here. I was quite favourably disposed towards him, but when I heard that Steve Bannon was quoting him I was appalled, as I despise his form of 'conservatism' (if indeed that is what it is). I've done some more reading and changed my view a little - there's a good scholarly book on 'the perennialists' called Against the Modern World, Mark Sedgewick. It makes their antagonism towards modernity and liberalism pretty clear. Nevertheless I think they're worth knowing about - I heard Bernardo Kastrup railing against them recently, that they're a cult movement with no scholarly integrity, but I don't agree with that, either.

    In any case, they're hardly the only ones who are 'against modernity'. There are many critiques of post-Enlightenment philosophy, including some from the New Left (see the Critique of Instrumental Reason). Although I'm an advocate for science, economic progress and political liberalism, I also think it has a dark side which needs to be called out, as we're so deeply embedded in it that we're not aware of it. That's why, even despite that misogyny and autocratic tendencies in Plato, his criticisms remain significant.
  • Purpose: what is it, where does it come from?
    I knew there was a good reason I didn't live in Sydney!tim wood

    Don't worry! You could live your whole life in Sydney, as I have, but never cross paths with a migrating eel. I only know about it because I read of it in the Sydney Morning Herald. (Although I have observed them stealing pieces of bread that the visitors feed to the ducks when I've visited Centennial Park.)

    My only point was to argue that the view we have that 'purpose' is solely the prerogative of conscious agents is a very narrow one.