I view the transcendent concept as the ultimate armchair philosopher’s method of condescending to natural sciences and history and it began with Kant’s conditions of possibility. Whereas physics & history find conditions for the existence of entities by locating temporally prior entities, philosophy achieves such autonomy only as long it escapes time. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Posts Tagged ‘Plato’
First, go read the blog titled “Philosophy and Remedy” @ thekindlyones.org. I originally posted the following blog in the comments section.
If this blog relies on a distinction between the public n private role of the intellectual then I think irony can serve as the secret that avoids merging them both and forcing the philosopher to act as a politician every time he speaks.
The dream of a single life that fuses the private and the public sphere dates back to Plato’s efforts to answer why one should be just and Christianity’s moral imperative that one can reach self-realization through serving others. All of these relies on the assumption of a common human nature, that both private life and human solidarity are one and same. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Over the years of studying philosophy, I’ve seen quite a number of classifications that categorize them. I’ve come across an interesting one in Rorty’s seminal Philosophy & the Mirror of Nature, in which he distinguishes systematic and edifying philosophers. The distinction founders on those whose work is constructive and those that are reactive. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Typically, the literature indicates three types of love, such as Eros (erotic, sexual, since Romantic age, “romantic”) Philia (Friendship and family relations) and Agape (Caritas, asexual, unselfish and altruistic), but the most exciting type is Eros. It has been hypercognized, meaning it has been excessively talked about, whether one is in love, looking for love, hurt in love, lost love, or just gossiping about scandals. Oddly, love isn’t a popular topic in the philosophy corpus, after Plato, notwithstanding some half-hearted attempts and concessions.
The distinctions between the types of love offer a deep lesson. Eros has often included sexual desire, although Plato originally distinguished erotic love (something intrinsically rational and morally pure) from sexual desire (animal nature). Despite Plato’s best efforts of etherealizing Eros, a thousand years of Christianity has degraded and abused it until it degenerated into lust and selfishness. In contrast, Agape became increasingly altruistic, giving, until theologians claimed only God had this emotion.
In the oldest treatise on love in western philosophy, Plato’s Symposium (something that has determined our ideas on desire) the courtesan Diotima tells Socrates the parents of Eros was Contrivance (cunning) and Poverty (need). Eros takes after his parents – for he is needy and always contriving to fill it. Eros knows as the god of love that love cannot be induced in another person if they don’t feel the need. So, his arrows pierce people’s flesh by making them feel a lack an ache or hunger. However, this amounts to little more than myth, and actually refers to the love of a Greek youth.
Love is often considered a positive emotion, although whoever has been in love can relate with some of its nastier, negative and anxiety provoking aspects. Since love does reveal the world as wonderful and beautiful it is easy to call love beautiful and wonderful. But it also can inspire irrational and foolish behavior. Tina Turner is right when she called love a second-hand emotion. One’s love isn’t original, for everyone travels the same road. Love indicates a physiological substratum, on top of an evolutionary past. The physiological reality of love is sexual.
However, sexual desire shouldn’t be confused with lust, which is a loaded term that presupposes condemnation, championed by sanctimonious moralists who are quick to condemn sexual activity. One of the greatest obstacles to inquiry are the fears and prejudices of morality, for they provide a certain reluctance, an inertia that avoids deep studies of the psyche. If prejudices of the heart – love and hatred – limit the mind, then they must be sacrificed for the sake of inquiry. And if Pascal is right, the heart holds reasons the mind is ignorant of, then the mind will give up the heart.
Sexual Desire is perfectly normal. It isn’t gratuitous reductionism to trace the origin of the emotion of love to the natural desire for sex, because love does, in fact, encompasses much more. However, there is an undeniable physiological basis. Sexual desire in love may or may not be explicit, and it may be frequent or sporadic. Yet the energy of love, libido, originates in the primitive and clearly biological features of human psychology. Romantic love is built and shaped and molded on the natural desires for intimate contact and the reproduction of the species.
The reasons why philosophers and theoreticians of human nature often ignore this “desire of desires,” even though its reality is so pervasive and influential, is that their attitude is merely another example of the innumerable ways people delude themselves through idealization and mystification. We have grown so intellectually sophisticated that we can no longer recognize what is obvious, because when we learn of the “great secret” we never fail to be startled by its sheer enormity. Only once when we abstain from romanticizing love do we observe the sexual drive as the “most distinct expression” of biology and then admit that the perpetual unremitting business of the biological imperative, as far as human existence is concerned, isn’t with the welfare of the individual per se, but solely with the preservation and propagation of the species. This maintenance of the species is achieved through appealing the individual’s egoism, which lies at the heart of all sexual passion, and capable of deceptively presenting the possession and enjoyment of the beloved as a supreme good to the lover.
Schopenhauer was among the earliest thinkers to define the content of human motivation as sexuality, the “invisible central point of all action and conduct,” “the cause of war and object of peace, the basis of the serious and the aim of the joke,” “the key to all hints and allusions, and the meaning of all secret signs and suggestions.” Even though the individual does not apprehend his own essence as such, the will of the species is carried forward by sexuality, and subjects the individual with two imperatives: advance his/her own interests and the interest of the human race. Sexual love, for Schopenhauer, singles out another person as the object of desire and is idealized. But this is an illusion, for the individual is being used by the biological doctrine of the species.
Imagine yourself at an airport, on a business trip, waiting for your next flight. But your thoughts on your upcoming meeting are dashed the moment a beautiful woman enters the lounger and sits across from you. She reminds you of some Botticelli painting wrapped up in 21st century garb, possibly moving you, even sadden you. Unlike the Botticelli, she’s wearing a necklace. You begin to imagine your hands are massaging her slender neck, slipping in… Then you start to wonder if she is an violinist, or a research scientist… You deliberate on whether to ask her innocent questions (the time, directions to the bathroom), then you yearn for a terrorist attack where you would help her outside to safety, to coffee and more… Because terrorist attacks are seldom, you can’t help but lean over and ask the beauty for a pen…
Later, you’re seated at a table in a small restaurant. A bowl of breadsticks sits between you, but neither of you can think of a way to grab the food with dignity so it lies unmolested. She didn’t have a pen, but she offered you a pencil. Not a violinist or a research scientist, but a recall coordinator for a major firm. By the time your plane was ready to board, you acquired a phone number and approval for dinner plans.
A waiter takes your order. You ask for the lobster and she asks for the antipasto. She’s wearing a warm gray suit, and the same necklace. Your conversation centers around hobbies, hers is rock-climbing, tho she feels dizzy on the 2nd floor of apartment buildings. Another passion of hers is dancing, and she often stays up all night. You prefer bedtime by 11:30 pm. She explains a recall situation, and although you’re unable to follow her account, you’re convinced of her intellect and compatibility.
After you pay for the dinner, you ask, with deliberate spontaneity, if it would be a good idea to return to your pad for a drink. She smiles and stares at the door. “That would be lovely, it really wold,” she claims, “but i have to get up early to catch a flight to Chicago. Maybe another time, though.” She smiles.
Your despair is held in check with a promise that she will call from Chicago, maybe on the day she is back in town. But there’s no call on the appointed day. She claims the flight was delayed, that you shouldn’t wait. There’s a pause before you confirm the worst. Things are “complicated” in her life, and she’ll call you when the coast is clear.
Your pain is normal – the force that’s strong enough to push you to reproduction cannot vanish without some collateral damage. Moreover, nobody is unlovable, your character is not repellent, nor is your face abhorrent. The potential union failed because you were unfit to produce a balanced child with that woman. One day you will meet someone who will find you wonderful (because your chin and theirs make a good combination). Forgive your rejector – she might’ve appreciated your finer qualities, but her will-to-live didn’t. Therefore we ought to respect nature’s edict against procreation that is the message in every rejection. You may be beset with melancholy, and take walks by the river and sit on the bench overlooking it.
Is Schopenhauer right, that love but a clever way of tricking people into multiplying and contributing to the survival of the species? Is the attraction between two people merely the expression of the will, that always attempts to endure through the procreation and reproduction of the species? Does not the result, the progeny, confirm the endless hunger for existence? Are we doomed to interpret our existence in rational purposes, in order to invent purposes and continue under such false pretenses that conveniently upholds rationality?
There are hardwired origins for sexual desire, and some psychologists point at certain proportions and traits that serve as innate triggers for sexual desire. Men and women judge one another subconsciously, whether the woman’s hips are wide enough to bear children, or whether the male has the features that is worth passing down to children. During ovulation, women experience sexual fantasies with other men, and are more prone to cheating on their partners. Hence, there exists a chemistry beyond actual compatibility, backgrounds, beliefs, values, etc. Although there is a distinction between infatuation and love, between finding someone attractive and falling in love, it is grounded in biological realities – not some cloud-cuckoo-land of simplistic romanticism or obscurantist cock and bull that it is a “mystery.”
Love isn’t ineffable or indescribable, for it is an emotion, which means it also has an intentional structure, a way that puts the world one experiences in order. The Intentional Structure has to do with putting one’s beloved in a special position. The intentional structure of love allows the lover to see and appreciate all sorts of charms and virtues in the beloved. This is the process Stendhal called “crystallization” in his book on Love. Therefore, love can be described, and its description refers to the beloved. However, this description ends in an irresolvable paradox, and that is a topic for another thread.
There is no doctrine to be found anywhere in the Dialogues. This means the Republic is little more than a commercial for philosophy.
The arguments are intended to be fallacious in the Republic, because this Dialogue was written in order to demonstrate the problems of a fanatical pursuit of justice. It admits philosophical Eros is unattainable, given the dilemma of the philosopher who is torn between the desire to rule and the declination to rule.
One of the forbidden fruits of philosophy is the Siren call of politics, where the foundations of the perfect city beckons. This exotic fantasy offers relief from our profound boredom with the banality of life.
I disagree with the traditional reading, for Plato’s adoption of the dialogue form should indicate his intentions, how he is to be read: non-dogmatically. The literary features of the dialogue are crucial for a robust exegesis.
Contra the traditional reading, I don’t think it is legitimate to presume that Socrates (or Timaeus, the Eleatic Stranger, or whosoever leads the discussion) was the mouthpiece or the spokesman of Plato. Rather than singling out a character in order to locate Plato, it is the entire dialogue who speaks for Plato.
The traditionalist may object and insist that there are recurring patterns across the Dialogues, but these patterns, the so-called theory of Forms or the force of Eros, are far too general to constitute a doctrine. At best, they are thought experiments.
It matters not that the Dialogues had philosophical content, or whether Plato himself held doctrines, but that they established the art of debate by offering up positions for critique. The reader is shown how philosophy is done, how to think and speak, and that he has an open invitation to the game of philosophy.
For example, in the 1st book of the Republic, Plato shows us how the question is always more important than the answer. That is the minimal doctrine, if one must be found. Another example is Diotima, whose presentation of the Forms is actually in doctrinaire form, rather than aporetic. Yet her vision lies beyond the limits of knowledge much like an oasis in the desert.
Therefore, the Dialogues are non-dogmatic because they are experiments in philosophy. Instead of dictating what is the case, or what Plato believed, these Dialogues actually show us how to think for ourselves.
On my (now defunct) boards, a Hyperborean asked the following:
Do you see it as a critique of Plato’s theory of forms where Plato gives up the theory, or a critique that causes Plato to revise his theory in The Sophist?
I answered: I doubt Plato gave up his theory, and instead he took the more difficult path of self-criticism. Something most philosophers lack the gumption to do: subject their earlier theories to severe critique and getting over the critique as well. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…