How much of philosophy is merely Judeo-Christian heresy?

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Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 03:17 pm
@mysterystar,
paulhanke wrote:
... getting back on track for a moment Smile ... I've read a lot since initially asking this question - and it is quite obvious that theism remains a major component of contemporary philosophy (through Kierkegaard, Whitehead, etc.) ... but are contemporary philosophical positions on theism so far removed from the Judeo-Christian tradition that hardly any of it can be classified as heresies thereof? ...


I think the theistic claims become heresy when they move so far away from mainline Christianity.

mysterystar wrote:
Haven't we all heard usually on that first chapter on critical thinking or on that first day of ancient philosophy about the "sophists", the Jewish vagabonds, who taught fallacious reasoning as a tool of persuasion for Athen's politicians. Socrates tried to show ways to see through rhetoric.


Yes, but the sophists Socrates opposed were quite different from the mystics who use paradox and contradictory language. The sophists just wanted to develop the rhetorical skills to win an argument, right or wrong. The mystic isn't trying to win an argument, the mystic is trying to express the ineffable to students.
 
mysterystar
 
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 07:23 pm
@paulhanke,
yep, on that note. there is a psalm that says for happiness seek wisdom. There are verses about wisdom of the heart and wisdom of the world. I think this is what Jesus was referring to when he said to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. I think when they speak of foolishness to the greeks and a stumblingblock to the jews, they are poking fun at traditional philosophy.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 08:55 pm
@paulhanke,
ALL Philosophy is heresy... Where faith leaves off philosophy begins.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 09:06 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I think the theistic claims become heresy when they move so far away from mainline Christianity.



Yes, but the sophists Socrates opposed were quite different from the mystics who use paradox and contradictory language. The sophists just wanted to develop the rhetorical skills to win an argument, right or wrong. The mystic isn't trying to win an argument, the mystic is trying to express the ineffable to students.

What some sophists claimed to be able to do: make the worse seem the better, is something not all so called sofists claimed to do... Look at the smart assed Aristippus... He gave Socrates one of the greatest compliments ever, gave good advice, lived a good life, and left a daughter to philosophy... He once toured a rich man's home, and then spat in his face saying that with so much marble he could find no better place to spit... He lived in a more dangerous world, for sure; but he met it with a ready wit, and that is, after all, the only legal weapon....

From my take on it, some of the Sophists gave Socrates a run for his money... Look at how many dead ends Socrates hit...A lot of questions he tried were left after both plato and him..
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 09:56 pm
@Fido,
A sophist is simply a wise man. The sophists Socrates battled against were those who taught their rhetorical skills for money without giving proper moral leadership to their pupils - Socrates had a problem with those who taught irresponsibly.

Socrates was a sophist. He was just one, so the stories go, who taught responsibly, like many of his peers.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 05:21 am
@paulhanke,
paulhanke wrote:
... language - can't philosophize with it; can't philosophize without it! ... (is that paradoxical enough? Wink) ...

Yeah, it sums up the situation rather nicely.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 06:00 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
A sophist is simply a wise man. The sophists Socrates battled against were those who taught their rhetorical skills for money without giving proper moral leadership to their pupils - Socrates had a problem with those who taught irresponsibly.

Socrates was a sophist. He was just one, so the stories go, who taught responsibly, like many of his peers.

The people of Athens disagreed with you, as do I...
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 06:37 am
@paulhanke,
I think Didymos is right but can't find an authoratitive reference at the moment. At any rate, I wouldn't object to being called a sophist.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 07:55 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
I think Didymos is right but can't find an authoratitive reference at the moment. At any rate, I wouldn't object to being called a sophist.

I would not doubt that he was considered a sophist, or that he was respected by them, and in a sense feared... He was also incredibly irresponible, and in fact, ignorant...

The Athenians had lost touch with their barbarian roots, and this is no more clearly illustrated than in some of Socrates' remarks concerning Odyssius from Homer, who was living in the Bronze age, which might be properly called the age of honor since it was honor, a mutual pledge that brought all those chiefs to that shore... Money economies destroy honor, and democracy depends upon honor... For Socrates to teach such crap as that one is a better man who does wrong by choice instead of by accident gave moral authority to the Oligarchs and people like Alcibiades... Consider one line from the Oligarchic oath: I will be an enemy of the people... Those who take power over their own, who pervert and subvert their native democracies have always looked to Plato and Socrates for justification... I don't care that he stood outside of the oligarchs and chastised them some, and even there made enemies...

I do not disagree that knowedge is virtue... Moving that thought from the general to the specific is loaded with difficulty because all ignorant people think themselves knowledgeable, but the only true knowledge is what all people know together, so that knowledge is not what divides people but unites people... The only really essential knowlege any one can own is the importance of unity to the survival of society, and how essential is honor and democracy to unity..

If I can explain it another way, it was the division of wealth that Socrates justified that most contributed to the destruction of Attic power... The poor, suffering injustice and at a level near slavery themselves, sought wealth and glory through war, and they pushed the rich who sided with Sparta into war with Sparta, against their will.. Their divison over the line of wealth was no thing a slight difference in individual knowledge between one man and another could justify, or compensate for... You see how we are divided on the same line in this country... If we get to war, serious world war, does anyone think it will not be some ignorant boob who starts it on ideological grounds??? We load up our military with religious ideologues because they make good soldiers, fall in line and do what they are told... But a lot of them are gd nuts and I trust a lot of them have fingers on nuclear triggers... The rich and the educated who seek to divide all the wealth and power between themselves and cut out the rest of their society always weaken their countries before enemies. The Macedononians went through the Greeks like a knife, but as barbarians, they had a healthy, united society...

If we cannot afford war, as the Greeks could not afford war, the proper place for a fight is in ones own land... The Greeks made the fight for democracy overseas, and they did it from a divided base, when, if they had sought unity they would not have let wealth divide them to begin with but found ways of making all equal in wealth or equal in poverty since you cannot make people equal in ambition, or in intelligence...The poverty of the democratic poor drove them to war, but the wealth of the rich could not buy them victory... Considering that the same process drove the Romans into empire and tyranny, should we not take a lesson???
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 09:04 am
@paulhanke,
I have nothing to say about Socrates. I was just saying that there is nothing wrong with Sophism practiced as it should be.

I'd say that the idea that 'the only true knowledge is what all people know together' is demonstrably the precise opposite of the truth. Consider the unfalsifiability of solipsism.

Plato was an opponent of sophism, and so cannot be bracketed with Socrates as you do. He is held responsible by many philosophers for the poor opinion and mistaken impression we have of their methods.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 01:05 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
I have nothing to say about Socrates. I was just saying that there is nothing wrong with Sophism practiced as it should be.

I'd say that the idea that 'the only true knowledge is what all people know together' is demonstrably the precise opposite of the truth. Consider the unfalsifiability of solipsism.

Plato was an opponent of sophism, and so cannot be bracketed with Socrates as you do. He is held responsible by many philosophers for the poor opinion and mistaken impression we have of their methods.

I thought I said Socrates was considered a sophist... If I should lump the two together it is as a muppet and his master. Mostly he was a question mark followed by a great big flashing exclamation point... As was Jesus, andother failed philosopher... He was dead and gone, and people were asking each other: Did you see that, what was that, who was that guy...There are a multitude of portraits of which the Gospels are primarily two...and we forget what a great variety of Christianity and with what tolerance they grew, because catholicism turned off the lights and closed the door to the past...
Solipsism is a false theory... The self lives, but humanity exists. What do you know??? What ever it is unique to you dies with you... What every you cannot express dies with you... Only what humanity can share can be said to be known, because if it is not shared it cannot be tested, nor passed on, nor be a form of relationship... Think of it this way: life is like music... If it is written on a page it is not music... If it is thought of it is not music. A single note is not music... If it is played alone it is not music... It is as a shared experience that it is real... Alone it is phenomenon...Shared it is fact...
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 01:23 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
Solipsism is a false theory...


... or maybe just half a theory ... it may be that the assertion that only the intersubjective is knowledge wrongly dismisses subjective knowledge ... and the fact that it's so easy to slip into solipsism may be evidence that there are indeed elements of knowledge that are "solipsistic" ...
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 02:06 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke wrote:
... or maybe just half a theory ... it may be that the assertion that only the intersubjective is knowledge wrongly dismisses subjective knowledge ... and the fact that it's so easy to slip into solipsism may be evidence that there are indeed elements of knowledge that are "solipsistic" ...

Knowledge is like life itself, if it not shared it is not had... So soon as it can be conceived it can be shared, but how much can we touch and not grasp can never be known...
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 04:35 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
The people of Athens disagreed with you, as do I...


That's fine. But your analysis of Socrates misses a vital point. Socrates was killed because Athens had recently been defeated, it's liberal ruler had just died and an intense plaque was ravaging the city. The Athenians wanted stability and Socrates was a mischief maker. His execution really is that simple.

You may not agree with Socrates' philosophic points of view, but you should respect the man. To call his philosophy "crap" is ludicrous. It's like calling Newtonian physics crap in light of modern physics.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 05:09 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Fido - It seems to me that you are not quite doing philosophy. If your view of knowledge is correct then Descartes was a fool for concluding that Cogito was even worth knowing let alone a secure axiom. You have to ask yourself who is likely to be right about this.

It is dangerous to make statements about knowledge, solipsism, Socrates and so forth in a philosophy forum, especially extremely idiosyncratic ones, and usually much safer to preface assertions with 'It seems to me...' or something similar if you think there is even the slightest chance that you might be wrong.

I don't know much about the sophists, but my dictionary tells me that it was Plato's aristocratic background that may have led him to dislike the sophists, partly because they were democtritising knowledge and political understanding.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 06:38 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
That's fine. But your analysis of Socrates misses a vital point. Socrates was killed because Athens had recently been defeated, it's liberal ruler had just died and an intense plaque was ravaging the city. The Athenians wanted stability and Socrates was a mischief maker. His execution really is that simple.

You may not agree with Socrates' philosophic points of view, but you should respect the man. To call his philosophy "crap" is ludicrous. It's like calling Newtonian physics crap in light of modern physics.


You know, I used to respect Plato and Socrates as much as one can respect the dead... The more I have read about him, having long ago read a bunch of him, and being able to connect a lot of dots with an extensive reading of history, I realize his weaknesses and his strengths, which were more personal than moral.

I would call the Ptolemaic universe crap in relation to the Newtonian Universe which corrects the copernican universe quite reasonably... There is nothing as useless as a failed form... They are crap, and the defense of them causes a lot of suffering while progress waits... Look at the form of our government.. It is crap, but if you read history, what we picked up was what the Romans had on the verge of failure... Did our founding fathers hope to rescue a failed form with human nature when that has always proved itself blind and self serving... Crap is crap where ever and when ever it is found...But, I will say one thing: The knowledge that proved Socrates' philosophy was crap was denied to those people... People see what they have, and societies evolve slowly... When they looked at Orestes, though the story was complete, they could not comprehend his motives, or much of the cause of the behavior shown... Only with the knowledge of primitive society given by anthropology does one see why people behaved in the past as they did...The people of Athens could not refute Socrates, but they could kill him... In fact neither he nor they understood the why or the how of their democracy...He saw that it empowered the undeserving over the deserving... He did not see that societies live and die, stand or fall together....Democracy is essential to unity, and equality is essential to democracy, and the wealth that was the standard of worth, of personal value, perverted the democracy and destroyed equality, and so any group since, like the Catholic Church has relied on the same defense of merit which ends up with merit not having to prove its worth, but the poor having to prove their merit to escape poverty....Where does Socrates call upon the rich to defend their wealth on grounds that it was necessary or good for society long term... He must have been able to see the division, and in fact, he sowed division..... You can figure it out on your own, but a book you might enjoy is the Trial of Socrates by I.F Stone.

You know; he only became dangerous because the poor did not hear him, and the rich listened to him....I don't think he was a bad man... I rather identify with him, being the same sort of muscle headed uneducated man myself... What Aristippus said of him is quite kind..I'll see if I can find it...

Here: From the The Life of Greece, Vol. 2 of Will Durant's story of civilization series, of which I am the proud owner of most..." He gave himself away by reverencing Socrates, loving philosophy, and confessing that the most impressive spectacle in life is the sight of a virtuous man steadily pursuing his course in the midst of a vicious people."

I add this advice he gave to his daugther Arete who was considered after him, the Light of Hellas. Which was what the Greeks called their world. He said: To set a value on nothing you can live without...What Durant calls a strange surrender to Diogenes... She succeeded him as head of the Cyreniac school, wrote forty books and had many distinguished students.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 07:06 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
Knowledge is like life itself, if it not shared it is not had... So soon as it can be conceived it can be shared, but how much can we touch and not grasp can never be known...


... hmmmm - methinks the right way to say that is "A life not shared is not had" and not "Life not shared is not had" Wink ... (it's a statement about the quality of a life, not a statement about life itself) ... if I were to take your statement literally, the result would be rather strange, wouldn't it? - requiring both a liver/knower as well as an observer to share that life/knowledge with before life/knowledge actually exists? ... but then, maybe you were just making a statement about the quality of something known, not a statement about knowledge itself, eh? Smile
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 08:13 pm
@paulhanke,
paulhanke wrote:
... hmmmm - methinks the right way to say that is "A life not shared is not had" and not "Life not shared is not had" Wink ... (it's a statement about the quality of a life, not a statement about life itself) ... if I were to take your statement literally, the result would be rather strange, wouldn't it? - requiring both a liver/knower as well as an observer to share that life/knowledge with before life/knowledge actually exists? ... but then, maybe you were just making a statement about the quality of something known, not a statement about knowledge itself, eh? Smile


We actually do share the same life, and give life just like we get it... And what we know we know because we can form a concept of it, and since the value of concepts is that they can be shared, knowedge is shared, and only safe from loss when deposited in many banks...To read history, as I often do, is to see how often a bit of a hint of a rumour is all that remains, and a name that was once respected and now all but lost because all the knowledge once shared with only few and written seldom has disappeared in time... Did they live??? Where is the proof??? Truth is shared. Life is shared... Is truth life, or is this only cooincidence??? I have a good and informative volume entitled: The Greeks, which is ten essays written by nine contributers including some on liturature, tragedy, science, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, and the Hellenistic World... So much has been lost...I wonder how many dark age fires were stoked by people who looked at writing as chicken tracks having no meaning...I wonder what will survive the coming dark age...
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 08:34 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
We actually do share the same life, ...


... I can see where you're coming from if we take a perspective that the human species is a single life ... but to take the more fine-grained perspective that a human individual is a life negates the assertion that "the value of concepts is that they can be shared" - as unshared (or hoarded) knowledge is valued immensely by a lot of individuals (and governments!) ... so which perspective is "correct"? ... or are they (at the risk of introducing another paradox) both correct? :perplexed:

P.S. I've always wondered how many times writing, philosophy, etc., have arisen and fallen before they finally caught on long enough to leave anything behind Wink
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 09:12 pm
@paulhanke,
... first jgweed interjects that maybe language itself biases philosophical inquiry ... then it's back and forth about the sophistic(ated) rhetoriticians ... it seems to all be converging on language ... so here's another contribution along that theme Wink:

Quote:
... European philosophy has consistently occupied itself with the question of human specialness. Ever since Aristotle, philosophers have been concerned to demonstrate, in the most convincing manner possible, that human beings are significantly different from all other forms of life. ... Such demonstrations were, we may suspect, needed to justify the increasing manipulation and exploitation of nonhuman nature by, and for, (civilized) humankind. The necessity for such philosophical justification became especially urgent in the wake of the scientific revolution, when our capacity to manipulate other organisms increased a hundredfold ...

But in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species and The Descent of Man introduced a profound tension into the anthropocentric trajectory of European philosophy and science. ... if indeed fish are our distant anscestors and mice are our cousins, then our own traits and capacities must be, to some degree, continuous with those found in the rest of the earthly environment.

Most scientists, however, while accepting Darwin's theories, were reluctant to relinquish the assumption of human specialness - the assumption that alone justifies so many of the cultural and research practices to which we have now become accustomed. In earlier centuries we could ascribe our superiority to the dispensation of God, who had "created" us as his representatives on earth, or who had bequeathed to humans alone the divine capacity for awareness and intelligence. After Darwin, however, we no longer had such easy recourse to extraworldly dispensation ...

In our own time it is language, conceived as an exclusively human property, that is most often used to demonstrate the excellence of humankind relative to all other species ...

(But) only by overlooking the sensuous, evocative dimension of human discourse, and attending solely to the denotative and conventional aspect of verbal communication, can we hold ourselves apart from, and outside of, the rest of animate nature ...

If, for instance, one comes upon two human friends unexpectedly meeting each other for the first time in many months, and one chances to hear their initial words of surprise, greeting, and pleasure, one may readily notice, if one pays close enough attention, a tonal, melodic layer of communication beneath the explicit denotative meaning of the words - a rippling rise and fall of the voices in a sort of musical duet, rather like two birds singing to each other. ... - the two singing bodies thus tuning and attuning to one another, rediscovering a common register, remembering each other. It requires only a slight shift in focus to realize that this melodic singing is carrying the bulk of communication in this encounter, and that the explicit meanings of the actual words ride on the surface of this depth like waves on the surface of the sea.

It is by a complementary shift of attention that one may suddenly come to hear the familiar song of a blackbird or a thrush in a surprisingly new manner - not just as a pleasant melody repeated mechanically, as on a tape player in the background, but as active meaningful speech. Suddenly, subtle variations in the tone and rhythm of that whistling phrase seem laden with expressive intention, and the two birds singing to each other across the field appear for the first time as attentive, conscious beings, earnestly engaged in the same world that we ourselves engage, yet from an astonishingly different angle and perspective ...

Thus, at the most primordial level of sensuous, bodily experience, we find ourselves in an expressive, gesturing landscape, in a world that speaks.
(David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous)

... so it would seem that the human propensity for philosophically putting ourselves above and/or outside of nature seems to be one fueled by our capacity to manipulate nature ... and being "humans of our times" we'll grasp at whatever is available in our time in order to maintain our self-styled specialness, be it God, language, or whatever tomorrow may bring ... and seeing as how this propensity is fueled by our capacity to manipulate nature, the implication is that the propensity began when we first began to realize our capacity to manipulate nature ... sound reasonable so far?

EDIT: actually, it doesn't - at least, not quite ... there are cultures still in existence today where the knowledge of humankind's capacity to manipulate nature has not resulted in a philosophy that places ourselves above and/or outside of nature ... this means that the propensity I speak of is not inevitable, but merely culturally transmitted - and it could have first begun long after we first realized our capacity to manipulate nature ... a new question: is the Western propensity to place ourselves above and/or outside of nature to be viewed as progress or pathology?
 
 

 
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