The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
User avatar
Mark_Lee
Posts: 24
Joined: November 8th, 2017, 9:42 pm

The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Mark_Lee » November 3rd, 2020, 2:56 am

I consider myself a philosopher at my very core. I'm 29 years old now, and I began my philosophy journey since I was 26 years old. I've spent those years building knowledge, learning new things. But something is urging me to delve deep into specialization, namely with Stoicism. It feels like a very masculine way of life, but I've sworn never to specialize in any school of philosophy of any era until I first truly build a foundation of encyclopedic knowledge of all things philosophy. Right now, I can't decide whether to continue learning new things, or finally take "The Path of Wisdom" and live like a philosopher instead of learning like a philosopher.

What should I do now?

Thank you very much.

User avatar
Jack D Ripper
Posts: 516
Joined: September 30th, 2020, 10:30 pm
Location: Burpelson Air Force Base
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 3rd, 2020, 6:59 pm

You can live like a philosopher while continuing to learn. Or, in other words, you can be a stoic and continue to study other philosophies.

In ordinary times, I would suggest going to your local community college (or the equivalent thereof in your country, if available) and enroll in Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, and whatever other philosophy courses they offer. Although it is possible for one to learn on one's own, most people don't do a good job of learning on their own.


Since you express an interest in stoicism, you probably already know that the best short introduction to stoicism available today is the Enchiridion (or Handbook) by Epictetus. Here is a link, in case anyone is interested:

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

After that, if one wishes to read more stoicism, his Discourses would be a good choice, or for another stoic, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, or some of the works of Seneca. It is unfortunate that we don't have the works of Zeno of Citium (not to be confused with Zeno of Elea, known for his paradoxes, or any other Zeno), the founder of stoicism, so we are left with the writings of later stoics like Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius for most of our ideas about stoicism. I rather wonder how much these later Roman stoics changed, or did not change, the original Greek ideas about stoicism.


One of the interesting things is how similar the practical advice is to what the Epicureans advocated (for clarity, I mean followers of Epicurus, not "epicureans" in the modern English sense of the term, which means almost the opposite of what Epicurus advocated). For a sample of Epicurus, one can read his Principle Doctrines:

http://epicurism.info/etexts/PD.html

What makes it interesting (that the practical advice is similar) is the widely different foundations of their systems, of the widely different ideas about how the world works, between, say, Epictetus and Epicurus. There are stories of stoics and Epicureans not liking each other due to such differences, and yet if one were living next door to you, you would be hard-pressed to tell whether the person was a stoic or Epicurean unless they told you which they were.

Epicurus had a remarkably modern overall idea of how the world works, though all of the particular details are wrong. He was an atomist, believing that everything is made up of very tiny particles, too small to be seen. Epicurus did not come up with the idea of atomism; that goes back to Leucippus and his student Democritus. But enough of this; you might be interested in taking a look at Epicurus, though the foundations are quite different, his practical advice is quite similar to Epictetus.


So, to your original question, go ahead and live the life of stoicism, while reading other things. That is what I advise you to do.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

User avatar
Mark_Lee
Posts: 24
Joined: November 8th, 2017, 9:42 pm

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Mark_Lee » November 4th, 2020, 3:22 am

Jack...

I have a question about Logic in general. Specifically about the Syllogism of Aristotle...

It's really simple... Right? Major premise, minor premise, then a conclusion. Yet I have a feeling I'm gonna be bombarded with very long essays about Logic and its many details that I may not even understand unless I spend a whole week in deep study of it. But really, isn't it just as simple as the majorpremise-minorpremise-conclusion format? Isn't it just that simple? Come on... Right?

I'm almost afraid to ask.

User avatar
Mark_Lee
Posts: 24
Joined: November 8th, 2017, 9:42 pm

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Mark_Lee » November 4th, 2020, 3:27 am

Jack, I also gotta mention that I have Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.

It's a great book if you are ready and willing to accept the emperor's words wholeheartedly. It's like the Bible for Christians. A Christian reading the Bible will see things differently than an atheist reading it.

I'm a little confused here. In one of the passages in Meditations, I remember reading a somewhat subtle implication in a text where Aurelius asserts that we are, like what Epicurus believed, a random collocation of atoms, indestructible and ETERNAL. Yet he was explicit with his belief in the gods. What's the deal there?

Thanks a lot, Jack.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 991
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 4th, 2020, 7:56 am

Before you read anything else, read William James "Pragmatism". That will prepare you for anything else you read in philosophy.

User avatar
Jack D Ripper
Posts: 516
Joined: September 30th, 2020, 10:30 pm
Location: Burpelson Air Force Base
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 4th, 2020, 1:34 pm

We see now that some wish to push their views on you, rather than suggest you seek your own path. If I were to do that, I would suggest reading Hume. But he is important enough that if you do a serious study of philosophy, you would stumble upon him anyway. The same is true of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant. But you could easily ignore William James, even if you majored in philosophy.

It might be worthwhile for you to read encyclopedia articles on various philosophers, to get a tiny taste of what they wrote about, or, at least, what others say they wrote about. You can then decide if you want to read the writings of those philosophers or not, though you might want to look at multiple sources before absolutely deciding not to read a philosopher. Or, rather, one can always change one's mind later and read one who was previously not considered.

But if you just want to be a stoic, there are certainly worse things you could have picked, and I have no wish to stop you from doing that. If you are good at it, following what Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius or Seneca wrote, you would make a fine neighbor. I might disagree with you, but that is okay. We do not have to all agree. Which is a good thing, because we won't ever all agree.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

User avatar
Calico
New Trial Member
Posts: 5
Joined: June 14th, 2020, 8:42 pm

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Calico » November 4th, 2020, 1:41 pm

Personally I think it's a mistake to think that this is an either/or situation. I can think of no reason why you can't do both.

User avatar
Jack D Ripper
Posts: 516
Joined: September 30th, 2020, 10:30 pm
Location: Burpelson Air Force Base
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 4th, 2020, 4:40 pm

Somehow I missed this before.
Mark_Lee wrote:
November 4th, 2020, 3:22 am
Jack...

I have a question about Logic in general. Specifically about the Syllogism of Aristotle...

It's really simple... Right? Major premise, minor premise, then a conclusion. Yet I have a feeling I'm gonna be bombarded with very long essays about Logic and its many details that I may not even understand unless I spend a whole week in deep study of it. But really, isn't it just as simple as the majorpremise-minorpremise-conclusion format? Isn't it just that simple? Come on... Right?

I'm almost afraid to ask.

I am not entirely sure what you are asking.

But if you are interested in Aristotelean logic, you might want to read this:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-logic/

However, modern logic is commonly taught in a logic class, without specific reference to Aristotle, though it is not entirely dissimilar. Whether that would be of more or less interest to you I do not know.

Normally, what I recommend for someone who is interested in logic, particularly if they have an interest in symbolic logic, is to get a copy of an old edition of Introduction to Logic by Irving Copi. I recommend an old edition because you can get it cheap, and the main ideas are the same, though the newer editions add more materials, and add in more modern examples. Copi's book is the only logic textbook that I have seen that properly explains material implication. I don't know why there are so many who fail to explain it properly, making it a bit of a mystery to many students who use their books instead of getting a proper explanation.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

User avatar
Jack D Ripper
Posts: 516
Joined: September 30th, 2020, 10:30 pm
Location: Burpelson Air Force Base
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 4th, 2020, 4:50 pm

Mark_Lee wrote:
November 4th, 2020, 3:27 am
Jack, I also gotta mention that I have Marcus Aurelius's Meditations.

It's a great book if you are ready and willing to accept the emperor's words wholeheartedly. It's like the Bible for Christians. A Christian reading the Bible will see things differently than an atheist reading it.

I'm a little confused here. In one of the passages in Meditations, I remember reading a somewhat subtle implication in a text where Aurelius asserts that we are, like what Epicurus believed, a random collocation of atoms, indestructible and ETERNAL. Yet he was explicit with his belief in the gods. What's the deal there?

Thanks a lot, Jack.

I think you are probably remembering him talking about the Epicureans, though if you have a reference, that might help. Here, though, are some passages where he mentions atoms:


Recall to thy recollection this alternative;
either there is providence or atoms, fortuitous concurrence of things;
or remember the arguments by which it has been proved that the world
is a kind of political community, and be quiet at last.


http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.mb.txt


There he seems to be suggesting that the atomic theory is false.

and


Alexander the Macedonian and his groom by death were brought to the
same state; for either they were received among the same seminal principles
of the universe, or they were alike dispersed among the atoms.


http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.mb.txt


There he seems to be suggesting that the atomic theory is one of the possible options.

and


About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into atoms,
or annihilation, it is either extinction or change.


http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.mb.txt


There again he seems to be suggesting that the atomic theory is one of the possible options. Epicureanism, by the way, was a popular philosophy of his era, as was stoicism. The other passages mentioning the atomic theory seem to fit into one or the other of these things, where it is either presented as something not right, or as a possibility to consider.

It is worth mentioning that he wrote the Meditations for himself, rather than as a book to be read by others. So it was such that it was enough for him to think about whatever he wanted to be reminded of in his book; it was not intended as a textbook to teach others about stoicism. However, it works for that purpose, though, perhaps, not perfectly.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 3017
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Sculptor1 » November 4th, 2020, 5:07 pm

Mark_Lee wrote:
November 3rd, 2020, 2:56 am
I consider myself a philosopher at my very core. I'm 29 years old now, and I began my philosophy journey since I was 26 years old. I've spent those years building knowledge, learning new things. But something is urging me to delve deep into specialization, namely with Stoicism. It feels like a very masculine way of life, but I've sworn never to specialize in any school of philosophy of any era until I first truly build a foundation of encyclopedic knowledge of all things philosophy. Right now, I can't decide whether to continue learning new things, or finally take "The Path of Wisdom" and live like a philosopher instead of learning like a philosopher.

What should I do now?

Thank you very much.
Reject Stoicism, and enjoy your life whilst you can. Epicureanism is the only way forward. At least you shall die having had some fun and smiles along the way.
The path of wisdom is the path of knowledge. Part of the fun of living is to find out more and more about the world. This knowledge gives you wisdom. There is no actual path of wisdom,it is not the type of thing you find in a book.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 991
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 5th, 2020, 4:10 am

Mark_Lee wrote:
November 3rd, 2020, 2:56 am
I consider myself a philosopher at my very core. I'm 29 years old now, and I began my philosophy journey since I was 26 years old. I've spent those years building knowledge, learning new things. But something is urging me to delve deep into specialization, namely with Stoicism. It feels like a very masculine way of life, but I've sworn never to specialize in any school of philosophy of any era until I first truly build a foundation of encyclopedic knowledge of all things philosophy. Right now, I can't decide whether to continue learning new things, or finally take "The Path of Wisdom" and live like a philosopher instead of learning like a philosopher.

What should I do now?

Thank you very much.
Ironically, wisdom is also knowledge. Wisdom is knowing which knowledge to apply to which problems.

User avatar
chewybrian
Posts: 824
Joined: May 9th, 2018, 7:17 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus
Location: Florida man

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by chewybrian » November 5th, 2020, 7:44 am

If you had to accept one philosophy and treat it like a religion, I would choose stoicism. But, of course, you don't have to choose that way and you should not. Take the wisdom where you find it, and decide for yourself what is true and wise and just and useful to you. When you look at stoicism in that way, you are bound to find that much of it rings true and has value.

Go ahead and decide to be a philosopher. That means all your ideas should be held up to constant scrutiny, but this scrutiny must be brutally honest and fair. Each day that stoicism survives this test, it can continue to be a guiding force for you. In my opinion, it always will survive such a test. But, if you find something better, then you should move on. Just because you have yet to find something better does not imply that you should stop looking. But, in the meantime, you should try to live up to the best principles you have found so far.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

User avatar
thrasymachus
Posts: 115
Joined: March 7th, 2020, 11:21 am

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by thrasymachus » November 5th, 2020, 11:24 am

Mark_Lee wrote

I consider myself a philosopher at my very core. I'm 29 years old now, and I began my philosophy journey since I was 26 years old. I've spent those years building knowledge, learning new things. But something is urging me to delve deep into specialization, namely with Stoicism. It feels like a very masculine way of life, but I've sworn never to specialize in any school of philosophy of any era until I first truly build a foundation of encyclopedic knowledge of all things philosophy. Right now, I can't decide whether to continue learning new things, or finally take "The Path of Wisdom" and live like a philosopher instead of learning like a philosopher.

What should I do now?

Thank you very much.
Three years and you are a philosopher to the "very core"? If you really want to explore the extent of your core, then you have no choice on this: you MUST read the the most difficult philosophy, the long and tedious theses spelled out in ways that presuppose previous reading, and these presuppose others. But in time, in comes together. Yes, this is Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, and on and on. Start with Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

Now, you may already be reading these.....Let me know what you think.

User avatar
Steve3007
Posts: 8236
Joined: June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Eratosthenes of Cyrene
Location: UK

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by Steve3007 » November 5th, 2020, 11:29 am

If the game here is "pick one philosophy and live by it" does it have to be a single, well established and defined "-ism"? Could I just say that I'm going to live by the philosophy known (to me) as Steve3007ism? Or is that cheating?

User avatar
thrasymachus
Posts: 115
Joined: March 7th, 2020, 11:21 am

Re: The Path of Knowledge versus The Path of Wisdom

Post by thrasymachus » November 5th, 2020, 1:28 pm

Steve3007 wrote
If the game here is "pick one philosophy and live by it" does it have to be a single, well established and defined "-ism"? Could I just say that I'm going to live by the philosophy known (to me) as Steve3007ism? Or is that cheating?
Absolutely not cheating. One does not, should not, live in the thoughts of another (unless one is teaching it. This is the rub of being a professional academic: So busy analyzing and synthesizing for publication, presenting the philosophy of so and so clearly and accurately, there is no time to bring ideas to life independently. Every utterance is, well, Quine tells us...., or Sartre's thoughts here are....).

I think philosophy is nothing if not taken as an integral, interpretative part of living. It should be one's "religion".

Post Reply