Sunday, December 10, 2023

Philosophy and Philodoxy

Socrates was born in what later turned out to be 470, and died in 399. Thus, not only did he not know his life was leading up -- or counting down -- to something big, nor did he know when he studied them that they were called "pre-Socratics," because that would have been weird. (Pre-me? What is that supposed to mean?")

Nevertheless, it says here that Socrates noticed a couple of things about these predecessors, first, that they all disagreed with one another, and second, that there was no way to arbitrate between their conflicting opinions.

And here we are.

Has anything changed in the interim? Is there a single thing on which all philosophers can agree?

We can't even agree on what philosophy is, let alone of what it consists. 

Athens and Jerusalem, Socrates and Jesus. Neither man wrote down a single word, and both were murdered by the state. What are the chances? 

It seems that Socrates pissed off the wrong people as a result of his so-called "method," and to this day our elites hate his method, which consists in asking them simple questions. Look what happened to those university presidents as a result of a few innocent questions. 

Socrates was "a disruptive and subversive influence. He was teaching people to question everything, and he was exposing the ignorance of individuals in power and authority."

If, as Voegelin says, politics is about order, -- i.e., the basis on which our individual and collective lives should be ordered -- then you can't just go around ridiculing and calling this order into question. Such a thing is liable to get a man canceled if not indicted if not killed.

Let's define our terms, beginning with philosophy, and as always, we'll go to our go-to guys, beginning with Schuon:

philosophy -- the “love of wisdom” -- is the science of all the fundamental principles; this science operates with intuition, which “perceives,” and not with reason alone, which “concludes."
Subjectively speaking, the essence of philosophy is certitude; for the moderns, on the contrary, the essence of philosophy is doubt: philosophy is supposed to reason without any premise, as if this condition were not itself a preconceived idea; this is the classical contradiction of all relativism. Everything is doubted except for doubt.

But a philo-sophy worthy of the name

could not possibly be this intellectual suicide that is the promotion of doubt; on the contrary, it lies in having recourse to a source of certitude that transcends the mental mechanism, and this source -- the only one there is -- is the pure Intellect, or Intelligence as such.

This is a Bold Statement, because it goes to our very first step, which is either Doubt or Certitude. Now, be careful, because supposing you choose the former, are you sure about that? Are you certain that doubt is the way to begin?

Then your doubt is in the context of a kind of "meta-certitude" that must be its ground and sponsor, so to speak. 

Way back in grad school I internalized the meta-certitude that The answer is the disease that kills curiosity. But this can only be properly understood in the context of a vertical ontology that is conditioned from the top down. 

As such, the answer only becomes diseased to extent that it is detached and reified; truly truly, such an answer is a kind of literal cognitive suicide, because it is enclosed in in its own unjustifiable certitude.

Yes, there's a better way of expressing this, so let me think...

Philosophy is not fundamentally a noun, but rather, a verb -- again "loving wisdom." Therefore, it is both an activity and a relationship. Indeed, it is a way of life. For Voegelin it is

The love of wisdom in the sense of transcendental truth..., characterized by the realization that one does not actually possess transcendental truth but is oriented toward it through love (Webb, emphasis mine).

This is in contrast to lesser pursuits such as philodoxy and philomythos, the former a love of opinion, the latter of myth. Here again, philo-sophy 

is inherently ordered to further inquiry through openness to the Question, [whereas] philodoxy is the expression of a desire to put an end to questioning and thereby to escape from the "tension of existence." In this respect, philodoxy is a principle manifestation of "closed existence" (ibid.).

Or it is "anti-philosophy." So philosophy is not only all about the love, but of rightly ordered love. But at the moment I'd really love to forget about the tension of existence for a few hours and watch the Rams game, so, to be continued...

1 comment:

julie said...

That right there is probably why the Man rarely gave a straight answer, certainly never in public, for any important issues. First, because the unvarnished truth would likely be incomprehensible for the vast majority of listeners, hence the need to explain to the inner circle, but even there they really didn't understand. Except maybe Judas, who understood that his plans were diametrically opposed to His plans. Really, the only way to receive the answer is to simply enter into the mystery and experience it first hand. Anything less isn't actually an answer, it's just a place holder.

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