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Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Erribert
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Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 1st, 2018, 3:02 am

I have been interested in the PreSocratics for some time. I just got around to rereading Peter Kingsley’s book “Reality” which discusses both Parmenides and Empedocles. Kingsley may go a bit overboard, and is not for everyone. I have to admit I have read all his books, and many of the references he provides. Kingsley’s claim is that Plato really messed Western philosophy up. It reminds me of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence” by Robert Pirsig.

So, while the title above is provocative, I would like to learn more about Empedocles besides what is written in the standard online encyclopedias. Any book suggestions or links would be more than welcome.

Since this is the mythology sector, does anybody else have an opinion on Peter Kingsley?

Fooloso4
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Fooloso4 » May 1st, 2018, 11:49 am

A favorable and informative review of Kingsley:
A short unfavorable review:
The first review points to ‘metis’ - defined by Kingsley as "cunning, skillfulness, practical intelligence ... trickery" as the key. It is a practice that must have informed his writings and so should inform our reading.
Kingsley’s claim is that Plato really messed Western philosophy up.
I thought I read something by him where he ties Plato to a mystical tradition and esoteric writing (in the Hermetic sense of esoteric). I don't think that Plato practiced this form of esoteric writing but I do think there is an esoteric (hidden or veiled) meaning that can be uncovered, without initiation into a mystic cult, by reading carefully and attentively and putting the pieces together.

Erribert
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 1st, 2018, 11:00 pm

Thank you Fooloso4.

Yes, I had read GER Lloyd’s critical review. I think he misses the point. Of course Kingsley is using rhetoric for that is the PreSocratic tradition. However, logic is its basis as pointed out by the Parmidian school of thought (Xeno et al.. Lloyd prefers the so called Truth of Plato. I tried reading Lloyd’s book on “Early Greek Science, from Thales...” but had to put it down since Lloyd appeared to have no idea what science is. I can say this as a practicing scientist of almost 40 years. As I recall, Lloyd also resorts to what philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle had to say about the PreSocratics. They were far from complimentary. It is my opinion that Plato was not an original thinker, but a plagiarist with a good way with words. He dismissed the PreSocratics as if he were the first philosopher in his academic temple. He loved to use the character of Socrates such that he could present so-called dialogues. Funny how Socrates did not write himself and was really only mentioned by perhaps Xenophanes (if my memory serves me). Nothing like an illiterate mentor... :-)

In terms of Plato and esotericism, he may have alluded to this in “Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic”, but I would highly doubt it; I will thumb through it, at least the second half. Plato became infatuated with reason, throwing logic to the wolves.

Plato was very clever, but in the end all he had was words, devoid of logic. Aristotle put the finishing touches on this with his wordy and pedantic classifications (as if they were an important way to comprehend reality, NOT). The illusion cast was through the clever use of reason and the creation of specters. Does anybody really know what The Good meant over 2,000 years ago? As we know words are circular. That is, looking up the definition of a word, and then the definition of such definitions, one ultimately gets back to the same word. This is a form of bewitchment where somebody can appear to be saying something clever without saying anything at all. Still, if it brings meaning to some, then I am all for it.

For me, a lot of Plato is like eating cotton candy. It appears full and fluffy, but is really a small sticky mess. There is certainly a lot of hand waving. However, keep in mind that I am but a scientist and have not been formally indoctrinated into philosophy (even though I do have a Ph.D. Philosophy doctorate...). Western philosophy seems to have only furthered the appearance of saying something meaningful leaving us in a vacuous bubble of really nothing. What can be built out of “Time and Being”, a way of life? Hardly. Since Plato seems to have been a big proponent of this form of discourse he is held in high regard. Well, more fool them, I say. Has philosophy come up with anything meaningful about existence that we can actually stand on as firm ground, or is it all on the shifting sands of strings of words, “Full of sound and fury...”?

In my opinion of course. I am always open to changing my mind and learning something new. I am but an analytical scientist, perhaps with unreasonable standards.

Thanks for the first review, and your time in composing a response.

Fooloso4
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Fooloso4 » May 2nd, 2018, 10:30 am

Erribert:
In terms of Plato and esotericism, he may have alluded to this in “Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic”, but I would highly doubt it …
You are probably right. It was about twenty years ago. I recall him discussing Plato, myths, mystery cults, and Empedocles leaping into the volcano.
It is my opinion that Plato was not an original thinker, but a plagiarist with a good way with words.
What do you base that on, his use of myths or something else? It should be kept in mind that at least some in Plato's audience were familiar with the pre-Socratics as well as other beliefs and stories he retells, but we should not take this to be an endorsement or an indication of what he believes to be true.
He loved to use the character of Socrates such that he could present so-called dialogues. Funny how Socrates did not write himself and was really only mentioned by perhaps Xenophanes (if my memory serves me). Nothing like an illiterate mentor…
One reason he used Socrates was because Socrates represents the tension between philosophy and the city. Another is that he was likely to have been profoundly influenced by him. Xenophon also wrote about Socrates in a deceptively simple style. Aristophanes’s The Clouds is about Socrates’ “thinkery”. Socrates appears suspended in a basket. Aristophanes too addressed the tension between philosophy and the city. Although he did not write that does not mean he was illiterate. Plato's Phaedrus is about the problem of writing. Buddha did not write. Jesus did not write. Lin Chi did not write.
Plato became infatuated with reason, throwing logic to the wolves.
I am not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean ‘logos’ the notion of divine logos? Plato discusses the superiority of reason over the senses, but I do not recall anywhere where he distinguishes between reason and logic.

What does the:
magical techniques for "dying before you died" (31 page numbers from Reality, quoted Shaw’s review)
actually accomplish? Is there physical death and rebirth? What does it mean to go:
"down to the world of death while still alive" (30)
Are these things you have done? If not then the significance they have for you or any other reader must be fundamentally different from that of those who have experienced it, if there is in fact such an experience. Or are such images part of the ‘mêtis’, the trickery or illusion?
"We can insist that the goddess has three routes, or two, or one or none. In fact it makes no difference what we say ... at the heart of Parmenides' message is the need to break away from everything we are familiar with, to discover another kind of experience altogether .... All of the goddess' paths are just a trick. The second is an illusion, the third a joke. And as soon as you put one foot on the first, it stops you in your tracks" (109-110).
A destabilizing image, but where do we go from there? Kingsley says:
The mêtis that allows Parmenides or anyone else to experience reality in the midst of illusion does not develop out of intellectual sophistication; it grows where it has a ground for germination: in our recognition of death, hopelessness and incapacity to see or know anything. Only a nobody (mê tis) can possess mêtis, only someone whose utter bondage and nothingness is consciously exposed can transform his bonds into vehicles of release (285-293).
This is a common theme but can any of us really afford to become hopeless and incapable of seeing or knowing anything? Should we trust that we can come through the other side? Have you?

Erribert
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 3rd, 2018, 3:24 am

Hi Fooloso4,
I wrote a reply but managed to lose it. Therefore I will try to stay away from philosophizing and answer in sound bites.

Did Plato come up with any of his ideas? He certainly does not give credit to the PreSocratics, instead he finds them simplistic. From my reading of the myths in Phaedo, and my knowledge of Pythagorean thought, Phaedo is heavily Pythagorean. That the earth was a sphere as Plato writes, IS Pythagorean. Instead Plato says “somebody told me”. He knew fully well he was copying the Pythagorean philosophy. Yet, no credit is given. The same is true for Timeas. Where are Plato’s references to the many hundreds of philosophers that preceded him. Much of Greek philosophy came from the Phonecians, Sumerians, and Egyptians. There is no way Plato could have made up de novomore than 1% of what he wrote.

I have no idea why he created Socrates.

Logos is The Word. Logic is different. A good book to read on logic is Lewis Carrol’s “The Game of Logic”. Logic proves that nothing moves. If one wants to dismiss logic, then everything moves. But that is no longer philosophy, that is experiential. That is, how our brain is compiling the senses. I have no problem with everything moving, so long as I know where that idea comes from.

Dying before dying is a very common term used in many types of mysticism. Sufis use it, Christian mystics use it, Zen Buddhism uses it, etc. What it means is forgetting what you know and looking at things differently. It is a serious paradigm shift. There are many techniques for accomplishing this. The word death is a metaphor.

Yes, I have done parts of this out of necessity. Many who go through a very serious crisis look at reality different. I am not a Zen Buddhist with their Satori.

I don’t like the word illusion. It has no meaning. The illusion about illusion. I prefer paradigms. A switch in paradigms makes the reality of a previous paradigm look like an illusion.

Metis is simply living entirely in the present and not being lost in thought. It is the attempt to pay attention to as much as one can right now. How you are beating your heart, or breathing. The sensations from your scalp to your toes. Every sound and sight as it is happening. In short, Metis is simply paying close attention to reality. The idea is that way one will not b fooled, and can easily fool others who are lost in their thoughts of how things are, rather than paying attention to how things are. At least that is how I understand it. When one is aboard a sailboat in a storm, Metis is essential. How much intellect is one using in the split second decisions trying not to drown. It is all automatic. Metis.

I love the Goddesses three paths! Basically, we can only know what exists. We have no knowledge of what doesn’t exist. Trying to bring back such knowledge is impossible; a dead end. So, Reality is what is right in front of one’s face. There is no hidden reality. No extraterrestrial fourth dimension, no eleven dimensions from string theory. Except to those who make them up. For them they are real, and they are. The waffling path (#3) is where people say that some things exist and not others. And she is not referring to unicorns, it is a bit more fundamental in regards to examining reality. Those that keep switching paths are truly lost. According to the Goddess (Persephone?) most people are lost because they don’t understand that there is only one path. This idea took me some contemplation to grasp, and it was more visceral than intellectual.

I did not read Reality as a “self-help” book. Peter Kingsley does have a following. I am neither a follower or a leader. That is my cardinal rule. One is based on pride, the other is based on sloth and fear. However, I don’t think Peter is pointing towards some radical mental shift like electroconvulsive therapy :-). My take is what he is suggesting is to keep an open mind, let his somewhat repetitious words (he does this for a reason) and perhaps some seeds will be planted outside your intellect (in your diaphragm I think (?)) and perhaps you will see things differently.

That is why I don’t like the word Illusion. It seems more like a preference. Some people are unsatisfied with how things appear and want to see things differently. Now, if that shift brings them extreme joy, bliss, and freedom, then they made a good choice.

I don’t think there is another side, although I do love The Doors. It’s just a different way of seeing things. That is why Buddhism is called a “Refuge” and not a kingdom. It’s a refuge for those who suffer, are dissatisfied, or are seekers. Some of these people should first try LSD perhaps. :-). I do not condone or promote the use of drugs.

There, I think that covers it. I hope my opinion makes sense. I am never saying it is RIGHT.

Cheers

Fooloso4
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Fooloso4 » May 3rd, 2018, 11:05 am

Erribert:
I wrote a reply but managed to lose it.
I use Google docs. It saves automatically. When I'm done I cut and paste.
From my reading of the myths in Phaedo, and my knowledge of Pythagorean thought, Phaedo is heavily Pythagorean.
The thing is, Socrates does not simply retell the stories, he presents reasons why they fail. Showing that they fail to give a true account (logos) and that we do not know what happens when we die. All such inquiry ends in aporia.
That the earth was a sphere as Plato writes, IS Pythagorean. Instead Plato says “somebody told me”. He knew fully well he was copying the Pythagorean philosophy.
As did his readers. As did you. I think one reason he says "somebody to me" is because he regards them as just stories, not the wisdom of the ancients, or the wisdom of Plato. Plato, like Socrates, was a zetetic skeptic. He knew that he did not know. But knowing that one does not know can lead to paralysis. One must still act and choose. And so he is led by inquiry, the examined life, reasoned deliberation, and self-knowledge.
Logos is The Word. Logic is different.
Logos means to say or speak or give an account. From the root λέγω, to collect or gather. I was trying to make sense of your distinction between reason and logic as it applies to Plato. You have not provided that distinction.
A good book to read on logic is Lewis Carrol’s “The Game of Logic”. Logic proves that nothing moves.
Carroll’s logic is modern symbolic logic. That nothing moves is something Parmenides’ student Zeno attempted to demonstrate through his paradoxes. I see no way in which this can be considered logic in distinction from reasoned argument.
Dying before dying is a very common term used in many types of mysticism. Sufis use it, Christian mystics use it, Zen Buddhism uses it, etc. What it means is forgetting what you know and looking at things differently. It is a serious paradigm shift. There are many techniques for accomplishing this. The word death is a metaphor.
Is that it, just metaphor? Where is the mystery? The mysticism? Did Parmenides only metaphorically travel to the underworld? Is that just mythological window dressing? A sales pitch? What does the reader come to know by reading about this? If the practice is what is important then why all the stories? And why are the techniques shrouded in mystery?
When one is aboard a sailboat in a storm, Metis is essential. How much intellect is one using in the split second decisions trying not to drown. It is all automatic. Metis.
Interesting analogy because it is one that Plato often used. It is the knowledge of the captain that keeps the ship from being shipwrecked. If one does not know how to sail the decisions one makes could be disastrous. It is only the properly trained sailor who makes the correct decisions. They have become automatic as the result of training.

Erribert
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 5th, 2018, 4:07 pm

Thank you for your reply. It helps me understand how you think and choose to debate. I will assume that what you respond to are your disagreements and that you have agreed with my other philosophizing, and philosophology. If not, then you may simply be yanking my chain. I do not see much in the way of philosophy coming from your answers. That is okay since I am sure you are here to learn from others, as I am.

I need to figure out how to copy your quotes to make the reading of both my philosophy and philosophology easier. Since I cannot read Greek (yet) I will leave philology out. Suffice it to say, that the contextual meaning of Greek words were different 2,500 years ago, than they are now. Somebody speaking of gay men 100 years ago may have meant something different, for example.
To begin with, I admire your belief system with regard to the modern belief system of Plato, and those many philosophers that came before him. Unfortunately, I do not share your faith. When Athens invaded other Greek colonies they tended to destroy manuscripts that did not conform with Athenian ideals (Plato), so most of what we have is through the opinions of others (again such as Plato). It seems to me that Plato and Aristotle were very closed minded when it came to those philosophers that set the stage for their attempt to continue on the tradition of Greek philosophy, which was also Phoenician, Minoan, Egyptian, Persian and Sumerian. There was a lot of traveling going on in that area. Both Pythagorus and Xenophanes were originally from the Eastern Mediterranean (Turkey), although there are also claims that Pythagorus was what is now Lebanon. Xenophanes was also a social critic and satirist, so his accuracy comes into question about the so-called philosophers that came before Plato (PreSocratics). LOL.

I am too lazy to look up translated quotes, but both Plato and Aristotle considered Pythagorus to be simple minded, and not a true philosopher, as They saw philosophy. This word PreSocratic is very telling. What exactly does that division mean? My guess is that it was created by Plato…. “ the old thinking as opposed to True Philosophy” . So, Plato was the new True Philosopher and everybody before him are lumped together. Again LOL. Why do people even think this way? It defies common sense. We should instead group everybody as “PreHegelian”. Maybe we will 2,000 years from now when we are exiting those dark ages. .

Okay, so on to the few sound bites you referenced as having a problem with. At least we seem to agree on most of the discussion (again, unless you are just pulling my chain).

When you say Socrates, I assume you are referring to Plato, since we have no idea what Socrates said, if anything. We have no idea what all his other students had to say about his teachings, for example. Plato’s embellishments of this character get more and more expansive as he writes his stories. I am familiar with the Socratic dialogue, if that is what you are referring to. Questioning knowledge. Plato did not invent this. Epistemological debates had been going on forever. Politics is full of them. Just take a look at the media with their “sources”.

Interesting you use the word “true”. Spoken like a Platonist. Yes, that ultimate Truth. You may want to pause before using the word “true”. Just a suggestion.

Who says people don’t know what happens when they die? Who made that rule up. Has it been verified. Can you honestly say you know The Books of the Dead are misinformation? If so, you are saying that you indeed do know what happens after you die. Reincarnation is a much more prevalent belief than Existentialism. Well I guess the vast majority are mistaken. Go figure, what stupid people! I am glad we cleared that misconception. Even Plato believed in reincarnation. If he was wrong with that, it sets a slippery slope as to the value of what he wrote.

Aporia then is no different than we see in political debates these days, and the talking heads that then opine about them! No need to bring religion according to Plato (another subject, of course).

In terms of “somebody told me”, it seems that Plato was dismissing those that came before as having “stories” and I don’t mean this in the same way you did. That the earth was spherical was known long before the Greeks we are referring to. The Egyptians had calculated the circumference of the earth 3,00 years before that. And, pretty accurately at that. That the earth is spherical, is completely obvious, especially to sailors who see ships dip below the horizon. However, then Aristotle screws the West up for 2,000 years. Do you think the Persians thought the earth was flat? The Chinese? The Mayans? No, that was Aristotle with help from Ptolemy and the Christian Church. How could the Sumerians and Greeks (such as Thales) calculate an eclipse with a geo-centric universe? So, these “stories” were actually well studied astronomy. However, it is still possible we live in a geocentric universe. I have personally not experienced otherwise. The current idea that we travel around the sun is still a “story” from Platonism if you wish. The stories scientists tell us, are still just stories we read in a book. Has anybody experienced Darwinian Evolution? Of course not, it is still a philosophy (metaphysics), it is not science (another topic, of course).

Trust me, Plato thought that he knew. Why else would he write anything for others to read? He thought he was explaining things to us. What he certainly did not know is that knowledge arises in the brain from sensations we create. There is no such thing as “Knowledge Out There”. It’s in here. Knowledge is never “discovered”, it is always created (another topic, which I have answered on this forum). In my opinion, of course.

I hate to differ with you, however, Zeno showed that nothing moves purely through logic. It was the logic that set up the paradoxes. That is why they are called paradoxes. A paradox is a contradiction (to our senses) arising out of logic. However, it is possible that “everything I write is false”. 

I believe I have provided a distinction between reason and logic. Logic is mathematical, reason is not. How about you tell me what reason and logic are. So far, I have simply been explaining to you how I see things while you complain about what I say. This was supposed to be about Empedocles. However, I don’t mind scope changes. We can both be special councils.

A true revealing aspect to your style was how you took my word “metaphor” and ran with it. I hope you don’t bring up Hitler in one of your arguments to prove a point. I would simply suggest you look up the definition of “metaphor” before you set off on your train of absurdum. Here is a hint: dying can mean the end of life. The intensity of the word dyeing can also be used in terms of a spiritual awakening (and, please do not disparage this term because you know nothing about it, and you would just sound small minded, sheltered, and provincial; certainly not philosophical). I will leave all of the rest of your rant about metaphors at that. They are just a silly form of argumentation. Study debate.. I will say, however, that Parmenides did travel to the underworld. You can call him a liar if you want, since you seem to know him so well. LOL

In terms of the sailboat analogy, let me just say this: metis, according to Empedocles and Parmenides has got nothing to do with knowledge. Just the opposite, knowledge clouds metis. Reason clouds metis. I guess my sailboat analogy (yes, analogy this time) fell flat. How about running and hiding from a bear. That takes metis, and was does not have to be an excellent sailor to do that.

I like Plato’s analogy but it has to do with something else. I have not looked this up, but does Plato use the word metis?

All in my opinion, of course. I look forward to yours. How about we converse about Empendocles?

Cheers

Fooloso4
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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Fooloso4 » May 6th, 2018, 10:28 am

Erribert:
I will assume that what you respond to are your disagreements and that you have agreed with my other philosophizing, and philosophology. If not, then you may simply be yanking my chain. I do not see much in the way of philosophy coming from your answers.
My choosing not to comment on something should not be taken as evidence of agreement. The fact that Plato’s dialogues end in aporia is in general agreement with what Kingsley sees in Parmenides and Empedocles. Whether one thinks that is philosophy or lack of philosophy depends on what one expects from philosophy. The same is true of zetetic skepticism.
I need to figure out how to copy your quotes to make the reading of both my philosophy and philosophology easier.
I copy and paste then highlight and click on the quote tab above.
I admire your belief system with regard to the modern belief system of Plato
I have not presented a belief system of Plato and do not hold to one. I agree with Nietzsche when he says that when it comes to Plato he is a complete skeptic. There is a double sense - he thinks Plato is a skeptic and he too is a skeptic, so he reads him skeptically, not accepting anything without further inquiry into the text. I do not know what you mean by my modern belief system but it is likely that it is not how I actually read Plato. My reading is not what you will typically find in textbooks or histories of philosophy, but is well supported by highly regarded scholars who were until quite recently at odds with a mainstream that is changing in response to their work.
It seems to me that Plato and Aristotle were very closed minded when it came to those philosophers that set the stage for their attempt to continue on the tradition of Greek philosophy, which was also Phoenician, Minoan, Egyptian, Persian and Sumerian.
We cannot conclude that they were closed minded because they did not agree. It is not as if there was general agreement prior to them. Certainly they knew their predecessors better than we can given that they had access to complete works.
I am too lazy to look up translated quotes, but both Plato and Aristotle considered Pythagorus to be simple minded, and not a true philosopher, as They saw philosophy.
Have you read what they said in context? Have you determined the extent to which their their criticisms were aimed at Pythagoras rather than the Pythagoreans?
This word PreSocratic is very telling. What exactly does that division mean? My guess is that it was created by Plato…. “ the old thinking as opposed to True Philosophy” . So, Plato was the new True Philosopher and everybody before him are lumped together. Again LOL. Why do people even think this way? It defies common sense. We should instead group everybody as “PreHegelian”. Maybe we will 2,000 years from now when we are exiting those dark ages.
The wiki article on the Presocratics says the term dates to the 19th century. Given that we only have fragments of their writings, there is necessarily a great deal of conjecture and blind speculation about them. The term Presocratic is no more a value judgment than ancient vs. modern or post-Kantian.
When you say Socrates, I assume you are referring to Plato …
Yes, except when talking about Xenophon and Aristophanes, it is Plato’s Socrates I am talking about.
Plato’s embellishments of this character get more and more expansive as he writes his stories.
The dialogues are not historical documents of the life of Socrates. There have been efforts to identify the historical Socrates but most scholars today simply accept that the dialogues should not be read as history.
Questioning knowledge. Plato did not invent this.
Of course not. Neither did Parmenides or Empedocles. I don't see the point.
Interesting you use the word “true”. Spoken like a Platonist. Yes, that ultimate Truth. You may want to pause before using the word “true”. Just a suggestion.
When I say the stories Socrates tells about the soul fail to give a true account that does not make me a Platonist, nor does it commit me to a notion of ultimate Truth. On the contrary, that the dialogues end in aporia means that they never get at something that could be called the ultimate Truth. That he is a skeptic means that he neither affirms nor denies an ultimate Truth, but rather, it is simply that he knows of no such thing that could be called the ultimate Truth.
Who says people don’t know what happens when they die?
Some people claim they do. Do you?
Can you honestly say you know The Books of the Dead are misinformation?
I can honestly say that I do not know what happens when we die and so have no way of judging whether the claims others make about death are misinformation (interesting how you avoid using the word true). Since I do not know and cannot judge I would need a good reason in order to accept that anyone else does know. Why should I believe that someone knows such a thing? What distinguishes their claims from those of others who say things for which we have no evidence?
Reincarnation is a much more prevalent belief than Existentialism. Well I guess the vast majority are mistaken.
What does any of this have to do with Existentialism? None of the major monotheistic religions believe in reincarnation. What the vast majority of people believe is not evidence that they are not mistaken in their belief. The same argument has been made is support of Christianity. Belief does not become something more than belief no matter how many people believe it.
Even Plato believed in reincarnation.
Did he? He certainly talks about it, but we would need to carefully examine the dialogues in which he talks about it in order to see whether he gives us reasons to reject it. He certainly does in the Phaedo. The myth of anamnesis is fraught with problems. I have discussed this elsewhere on the forum. If you are interested you can search my posts on this. If you believe that other people know what happens after death, well that is still just a belief isn’t it? So, unless you know what death is it remains for you as for me a matter of belief not knowledge.
If he was wrong with that, it sets a slippery slope as to the value of what he wrote.
Two things that Plato tells us in the Phaedrus is that written works are problematic because they say the same thing to everyone. This stands in opposition to Socrates’ practice, as a physician of the soul, of saying different things to different people depending on their needs. Plato found a way of saying different things to different people, as is evident from the number of different interpretations of his work. (That is not to say that he is the first only one who has done this). Second he says that a well written work is like an animal in which each part has a purpose and function as part of the whole. In other words, we must read the dialogues as a whole paying attention to every part to see how it functions in the whole. Taking a statement about reincarnation out of the larger context will lead to misunderstanding. In addition, it should be noted where reincarnation and the myth of anamnesis are conspicuously absent, such as in the Theaetetus where the subject matter is knowledge.
Aporia then is no different than we see in political debates these days, and the talking heads that then opine about them! No need to bring religion according to Plato (another subject, of course).
It is the exact opposite of what we see in political debates. Typically each side defends an ideology. Each side believes it is right. Politics is a practical matter. Even if we know that we do not know what would be best we must still act, and so, we must do what seems best in the absence of knowledge of what is best; but knowing that we do not know we should remain open to revising our views and decisions.
In terms of “somebody told me”, it seems that Plato was dismissing those that came before as having “stories” and I don’t mean this in the same way you did. That the earth was spherical was known long before the Greeks we are referring to.
Again, it must be looked at in context if we are to attempt to understand why he did not name names in this case but does in others. See for example the frequent mention of Solon in Timeus.
However, then Aristotle screws the West up for 2,000 years.
Well, as far as this relates to the shape of the earth, Aristotle said the earth was a sphere. De caelo (On the Heavens), 298a2-10.
Has anybody experienced Darwinian Evolution? Of course not, it is still a philosophy (metaphysics), it is not science (another topic, of course).
We see evolution at work all the time with antibiotic resistance and insect species that survive pesticides that once were previously effective. In addition, there is a great deal of evidence in support of evolution. There is also evidence for the shape of the earth. The same cannot be said of claims about what occurs after death. It is not philosophy or metaphysics, it is unsubstantiated claims and speculation. I really do not see where you are going with all of this.
Trust me, Plato thought that he knew. Why else would he write anything for others to read?
Trust me, whenever someone prefaces a statement with “trust me” don’t. The purpose of Socratic philosophy, and this is as true of Xenophon’s as Plato’s Socrates, is not to impart knowledge. Is it elenchic and self-reflective. If you are referring to the Forms, they are part of Plato’s mythology. The dialogue Parmenides took place when Socrates was young. Parmenides’ arguments against the notion of Forms leaves no question that they lead to irreconcilable problems. So much so that scholars took this as evidence that the Parmenides must represent Plato’s mature post-Forms thinking. But if this were true why put the rejection of Forms at the beginning when Socrates was still young? A careful reading of the Republic, the dialogue in which the Forms are presented as what is seen when one ascends the cave of ignorance in extasis, shows that the Forms themselves are images not things known by Socrates. Socrates say this. They are Plato’s philosophical poesis, intended to take the place of the works of the poets that are banned in the just city. They are Plato’s salutary public teaching. Platonists, however, would not agree.
Logic is mathematical, reason is not.
Mathematical logic is modern logic, ancient logic is not mathematical. Modern logic is symbolic and empty of content, ancient logic is always about something specific, although symbols can be used in syllogistic form . Descartes’ model of reason is mathematics. The term reason itself comes from the Latin for ratio. Logos is often translated as reason, as it is in Shaw’s review.
How about you tell me what reason and logic are.
Following Wittgenstein I think it is a matter of “family resemblance”. There is no single all-encompassing definition of either reason or logic and there are no clear boundaries separating one from the other. Logic is a formal, rule governed system of reasoning. There are, however, various logics including a seven valent logic. A well reasoned argument will be a logically consistent argument, but a logical argument is not necessarily a reasonable argument since the premises may not be reasonable. This is why I could not make sense of your saying:
Plato became infatuated with reason, throwing logic to the wolves.
You still have not said how Plato throws logic to the wolves. If you look at Plato’s “divided line” you will see that mathematics is the model for ‘dianoia’, which is often translated as reason.
A true revealing aspect to your style was how you took my word “metaphor” and ran with it.
I asked about “dying before dying”. You said the word death as used here is a metaphor. But that does not resolve the problem. Metaphor marks the difference between something that happens or is experienced and a way of talking about one thing in terms of another. Death as metaphor and actual death are two different things. Does Parmenides maintain that distinction? Do you?
I hope you don’t bring up Hitler in one of your arguments to prove a point.
You just did what you hope I will not do, didn’t you?
The intensity of the word dyeing can also be used in terms of a spiritual awakening (and, please do not disparage this term because you know nothing about it, and you would just sound small minded, sheltered, and provincial; certainly not philosophical).
Actually, I am well aware of this usage. You are following a predictable pattern here attacking the person who disagrees with you and accusing them of knowing nothing about it.

As I said in an earlier post:
This is a common theme but can any of us really afford to become hopeless and incapable of seeing or knowing anything? Should we trust that we can come through the other side? Have you?
Erribert:
I will say, however, that Parmenides did travel to the underworld.
And there it is. If he actually traveled to the underworld then you are no longer talking about metaphor. If it is metaphorical then he did not travel to the underworld.
You can call him a liar if you want, since you seem to know him so well. LOL
Perhaps it is his use of metis. I pointed this out in my first post.
I like Plato’s analogy but it has to do with something else. I have not looked this up, but does Plato use the word metis?
I don’t think he did in that analogy, but certainly Plato practiced it. Plato’s cunning can be seen in his references to the “wily Odysseus”. In the Lesser Hippias he is explicit: 365a ff. I have been suggesting that an awareness of his cunning is essential to reading Plato.
I look forward to yours. How about we converse about Empendocles?
I think this may be my last post on this matter. I have, for the most part, ignored your personal attacks. Not only are they against forum rules but it is insulting when I put this much time and effort into my responses for you to respond in such a dismissive way. I deliberately do not discuss my background and training and will say only that you have made several false assumptions about me.

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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 7th, 2018, 2:37 am

Hi Fooloso4,

I can see that we disagree on quite a few things. That is grand. I will stick to my stories, and you stick with yours. I prefer not to get into arguments over semantics. Communication is really only useful between those who have shared similar experiences. That is why Empedocles wrote lyrically his intention was to make us think. Unfortunately philosophy seems to have become much more left-brain literal, as I see it. What happened to the world of Form that was changed to Numenal? What is really going on “behind the scenes”? ;-)

It is too bad the Athenians seemed to have destroyed most of the philosophical literature that was not Athenian. However, apparently Empendocles and Parmenides had direct followings in Egypt and later in the Arab world. Not in the West. I guess the Arabs helped in that. So, here we are, reading English translations of Latin translations of Arabic translations of Greek. Some of that Greek also went through Coptic and Egyptian first. Alas. We really have no idea what anybody wrote, especially considering the Philology. I suppose all we can do is discuss modern interpretations. Given that, I could say anything that anybody said is accuretaly my opinion.

Thank you for your input on Empedocles as the topic requested. I need to do some more digging. A couple of other forums have not helped either.

. Yes, I am sure the term PreSocratic is a more modern term, just like Minoan and Phoenician. All history is the latest moderntake on what happened. Plato and Aristotle dominate Western philosophy, thus we have our modern mysteries of where Plato and Aristotle actually got their ideas. I find that a shame. But, barring more excavations or manuscripts found in random libraries, we remain completely ignorant.

I am not a big fan of Wiki. I prefer to read books. But that’s just me. The average age for contributors to Wiki is 25 and male dominated. Makes sense since women cannot be philosophers. ;-). I have tried to correct mistakes in science opinions only to find them changed back. As we know, Wiki is an anonymous opinion. When I write articles for peer reviewed journals, I would be rejected if I ever used Wiki as a reference. Wiki is group-think, sometimes at the lowest denominator. Maybe some college term paper. Just my opinion, of course. I remember when Wiki started, and I have seen it grow. This is not to say that I never use it. How can I not since it is always at the top of my search output. We also know that the algorithms used by Google are configured like a popularity contest. Who is miss universe this month on Google LOL. Anyway, enough of that completely random rant! I need to get back to one of my books on the Kabbalah. Thank god for audiobooks!

It has been a pleasure.

Perhaps we exchange of our respective philosophies. I would love to learn more about Athenian philosophers.

Cheers

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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Greta » May 7th, 2018, 3:42 am

Erribert wrote:Yes, I have done parts of this out of necessity. Many who go through a very serious crisis look at reality different. I am not a Zen Buddhist with their Satori.
Yes, just as a major impact can shift a planet's tilt and rotation speed, crises can have a similar effect on someone.

While change may be likely, the nature of the change is more interesting, and it can vary. You are the first I have encountered to find a revitalised path via pre-Socratic philosophy. If you don't mind me asking, was the crisis a matter of facing your mortality?

The reason I ask is that its not uncommon for those in facing their mortality (or in the family) to seek information that speaks to that existential concern. Philosophical monism, however, declines to speak about the situation outside of medicine, psychology and naturalist philosophy; science sees the issue of what happens after death as seemingly unsolvable due to the problem of proof, that we cannot bring back the truly dead to ask them.

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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Erribert » May 27th, 2018, 9:06 pm

Yes, a crisis resulting out of a possible imminent death. Not a concern with mortality. I would not call it an existential concern. More of an awakening, I suppose (whatever that means). I felt blinders dissolve away. Philosophy as per Plato, is based on Reason. Many before Plato, Pythagorus for example, did not rely on the machinations of the brain. Reason is extremely limited and usually circular. Thus much was lost with Plato concerning the human imagination. It became more rigid I believe. This is seen with Western philosophy following what was recovered of Greek philosophy. There are exceptions, of course. I like Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and others from the West. I don’t need Hegel, Kant, etc. That’s just me. Give me Eastern or Indian philosophy any day.

My understanding of Greek and Phonecian philosophy before Athens took over was that it was more mystical. Minoan philosophy would also be included. That is, it did not just rely on thought. Writings from that period were more poetic, thus avoiding the literalism of contemporary philosophy. ‘Homer’s” works were quite poetical with many nuances. I love the Orphic tradition which is mistakenly thought of as religion. Religion seems to be a catch-all term for everything. Plato expousedreligion too. Philosophy should teach us how o think for ourselves. Poetry does that for me. From philosophology I hope to be able to free myself from unimaginative Western philosophy. Thus my interest in the “PreSocratics”.

There is much that we cannot get through our five senses. Modern science covers maybe 5% of our daily reality. I am more interested in the other 95%, which is freely available to us. Science itself is a philosophy although some consider it to be otherwise. Theories and facts are always conditional and will change. Science is far from any truth. Many confuse science with technology. Over the last 100 years technology has advanced despite science. New technologies create new sciences, not the other way around.

Unfortunately most Greek philosophy is lost to us, perhaps forever. Only that which resided in Athens was partially saved. When Athens invaded neighboring states (such as Sicily) they would destroy the philosophy of such regions. This is because Athens wanted to dominate. Of course this is the story of mankind. Christianity destroyed much philosophy as has Islam. Out with the old, in with the new.

I believe I live in a pluralistic world since monism does not make much sense to me. I agree with William James’ essays on this. However, like the Yin Yang triad, an unfathomable monism can be pointed to.

Thanks for your question.

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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by Consul » May 28th, 2018, 11:10 am

Recommended reading:

* Gregory, Andrew. The Presocratics and the Supernatural: Magic, Philosophy and Science in Early Greece. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

The book contains a chapter on Empedocles.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: Was Empedocles a mystic, a sorcerer, or just a philosopher?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 31st, 2018, 4:12 am

Erribert wrote:
May 1st, 2018, 3:02 am
I have been interested in the PreSocratics for some time..
Since this is the mythology sector, does anybody else have an opinion on Peter Kingsley?
A individual cannot be bound by another person's set of categories. Empedocles was a mystic, a sorcerer, and a philosopher to differing degrees according to your definition, or mine, of these words. He cannot fit any of them exactly and none of these categories are mutually exclusive and the post heading implies.
This is a common enough mistake of making a fetish out of the label and forgetting the whole.

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