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Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

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Fooloso4
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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 24th, 2018, 1:56 pm

chewybrian:
Well, as much as I do enjoy the air conditioning, I don't know that we have altered the fundamentals much yet.
But advances in medicine, sanitation, transportation, communications, and information have.
But, he also willed and proved to his own satisfaction the existence of God.
I think that was simply a rhetorical defense to mask his real intentions. He took his motto from Ovid:
He who lived well hid himself well.
Two stories from Genesis help to see what he was up to. When man gained knowledge he became like the gods, but he was denied immortality. He was prevented from eating of the tree of life. The tower of Babel represents another way in which man was prevented from being a god. The destruction of the universal language put an end to man’s ability to do whatever he willed to do. We have three features of what it means to be a god - knowledge, immortality, and the ability to do whatever you will to do. Descartes equates the soul with mind, and since the mind is simple and indivisible, it cannot be destroyed. This accords with the Christian notion of the immortality of the soul. And so, all the parts are in place for man to become a god. Man is infinitely perfectible - the mind continues to solve for every unknown and is thus able to will and accomplish more and more without error; man becomes more and more like God - the perfect being. Descartes was not concerned with proving God’s existence, but with showing men how to become gods.
I tend to end, rather than begin with Descartes
I neither begin nor end with him. I see him as an important player in an ongoing tradition, where the central players speak to each other across the ages.
I appreciate the philosophy of ethics over the philosophy of science, and I think there is a danger of moving on to the latter until we have done good work on the former, which we have not.
I do not think we can forestall the advance of science. I do, however, think it should not be free of ethical considerations. One problem is “scientism”, and this includes treating ethics as a science.
I think we have lost track of many great insights because we wrongly assume the ancients have little to teach us.
There has been an increased interest in the ancients, especially in political philosophy and ethics. The overconfidence of the Enlightenment thinkers has been played out long enough to make the limits of its ambition clear.
It's quite frustrating to me that modern philosophers are busy 'proving' we can not be better people, because we 'have no choice', rather than teaching us the methods by which we might become better people, and celebrating good choices.
Free will is not something that has ever been of much interest to me. It has its roots in theology and more recently was taken up as a form of scientism. It is, however, not something I have encountered much in the major philosophers.
If Diogenes was not properly impressed with Alexander the Great, I don't think he would have much love for bubble cars and jet packs, either.
But this may say more about Diogenes than the accomplishments of Alexander or anyone else. I take seriously the notion of philosophy as a way of life, but I would not want to live as Diogenes is purported to have.
We no more have things worked out than they did in his day, and have little reason to be any more pleased with ourselves for our achievements than they had.
I agree to the extent that philosophy as a way of life is a matter of living the examined life, and I do not think we have made much progress on answering the question of how we ought to live. Still, if given a choice, I would prefer to live here and now.

A personal note: when I entered college I wanted to study sociology and help solve the problems with the world. Soon after I began to studying philosophy I realized that what I really needed to do was work on myself. Whatever I saw as the problems of the world were based on my own questionable judgments.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by chewybrian » November 25th, 2018, 9:42 am

Fooloso, thanks for a very thoughtful and interesting reply.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 24th, 2018, 1:56 pm
I think that was simply a rhetorical defense to mask his real intentions. He took his motto from Ovid:
He who lived well hid himself well.
I've often wondered from Socrates on how many philosophers were serious about their religion, besides Kirkegaard or Anselm and a few others maybe. From Socrates' time right up to today many people had the choice to say they believe or die. In the case of Descartes, I took his efforts at face value, but perhaps I should examine his argument again.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 24th, 2018, 1:56 pm

Free will is not something that has ever been of much interest to me. It has its roots in theology and more recently was taken up as a form of scientism. It is, however, not something I have encountered much in the major philosophers.
I was quite surprised to see it as the most popular and divisive topic in this forum. I consider free will a cornerstone of ethics, and of the entire experience of being human. I see its denial as the ultimate case of "The Emperor's New Clothes", where people are so anxious to show their devotion to logic and science that they are willing to deny their own experience to do so, when their own experience is in fact all they have!

Although it is comforting that you say it is not much of a subject for major philosophers, I still fear that it is becoming so. I fear that such ideas being sealed with the stamp of science might then be accepted without question by people who don't understand the science. I wish the stamp of philosophy carried the same weight, and people would simply accept ideas like "virtue is its own reward" just because it came from a philosopher. Really, I wish more regular folks would think for themselves rather than looking for a stamp of approval, but that doesn't seem likely.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 24th, 2018, 1:56 pm
I take seriously the notion of philosophy as a way of life, but I would not want to live as Diogenes is purported to have.
Yes and no. I don't want to live in a pot, but I think he was on to something in denying the value of material possessions. You can choose to enjoy life whatever your station or situation in almost every case, and I give him credit for going to extreme lengths to prove it. If he could enjoy that existence, then maybe the rest of us can make do without a boat or a vacation. Choosing to live simply has taken a lot of stress out of life for me.
Fooloso4 wrote:
November 24th, 2018, 1:56 pm
A personal note: when I entered college I wanted to study sociology and help solve the problems with the world. Soon after I began to studying philosophy I realized that what I really needed to do was work on myself. Whatever I saw as the problems of the world were based on my own questionable judgments.
It took me longer to see things this way, but I have come to that conclusion. You can't 'change the world', but you can change yourself. You can't change others on the whole, but you might enlighten them if they are willing to listen, or provide an example to them if they bother to notice. But, first and foremost, you can change yourself, and thus have a better experience, making the world a better place (for you, at least). Your presence as someone enjoying life can then make the world a slightly better place for others. The world is not broken, nor can it be fixed, it just is. People are often damaged and might be repaired, if they are willing to participate in the work.
"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."

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 25th, 2018, 1:29 pm

Chewybrian:
I've often wondered from Socrates on how many philosophers were serious about their religion, besides Kirkegaard or Anselm and a few others maybe. From Socrates' time right up to today many people had the choice to say they believe or die. In the case of Descartes, I took his efforts at face value, but perhaps I should examine his argument again.
In the appendix to his “Philosophy Between the Lines” (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/sites/me ... pendix.pdf) Arthur Melzer provides about one hundred pages of quotes from Homer to Wittgenstein regarding the philosophical practice of hiding what you are saying from most of those who will read your work. This was at one time a well known practice but most today will regard it with skepticism or disdain. The evidence that it was practiced is clear. Whatever one might think as to the appropriateness of such a practice an awareness of it is central to reading and understanding the philosophers. One must learn to read between the lines, connect the dots, and not assume that everything that is said is what the author holds to be true.

A point of clarification: Philosophical esotericism is the practice of hiding one’s true thoughts. It is not the esotericism of the mystics who believe in secrets that are passed down through the ages.

Some examples from the appendix:

The ancients distinguished the ‘exoteric’ or popular mode of exposition from the
‘esoteric’ one which is suitable for those who are seriously concerned to discover the
truth.
– G. W. Leibniz, New Essays on Human Understanding, 260
But not just the ancients:
I cannot even imagine that M. Descartes can have been quite seriously of this opinion….
He only made pretence to go [there]. It was apparently one of his tricks, one of his
philosophic feints: he prepared for himself some loophole, as when for instance he
discovered a trick for denying the movement of the earth, while he was a Copernican in
the strictest sense.
– G. W. Leibniz, Theodicy, 244
Is this pointing away from himself intended to make one ask about Leibniz himself?

Even believers saw the need to hide:
Near the beginning of the Summa Theologica, Thomas asks “Whether Holy Scripture Should
Use Metaphors.” He answers in the affirmative, and among his reasons are these: “Because
thereby divine truths are the better hidden from the unworthy.” And also:
The very hiding of truth in figures is useful for the exercise of thoughtful minds, and as a
defense against the ridicule of the impious.
– Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1:6-7 (pt. 1, ques. 1, art. 9)
Here is one from Kierkegaard:
One can deceive a person for the truth's sake, and (to recall old Socrates) one can
deceive a person into the truth. Indeed it is only by this means, i.e., by deceiving
him, that it is possible to bring into the truth one who is in an illusion. Whoever
rejects this opinion betrays the fact that he is not over-well versed in dialectics,
and that is precisely what is especially needed when operating in this field....
Direct communication presupposes that the receiver's ability to receive is
undisturbed. But here such is not the case; an illusion stands in the way.... What
then does it mean 'to deceive?' It means that one does not begin directly with the
matter one wants to communicate, but begins by accepting the other man's
illusion as good money (Point of View, 39-40).
chewy:
I fear that such ideas being sealed with the stamp of science might then be accepted without question by people who don't understand the science.
At the same time a trend in the opposite direction - the rejection of science in favor of mysticism, the occult, astrology, cosmic forces, etc. Or, some combination of the two - an appeal to pseudoscience as evidence of the supernatural.

I think this is the background against which philosophy has always operated. One of Melzer’s themes is that it is a mistake to see the philosopher as a product of the times. The philosopher’s work is, as Nietzsche said, “untimely”. While some bristle at any mention of elitism, the philosopher stands apart and above the rest of us.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by ktz » November 25th, 2018, 1:40 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 1:29 pm
Chewybrian:
I've often wondered from Socrates on how many philosophers were serious about their religion, besides Kirkegaard or Anselm and a few others maybe. From Socrates' time right up to today many people had the choice to say they believe or die. In the case of Descartes, I took his efforts at face value, but perhaps I should examine his argument again.
In the appendix to his “Philosophy Between the Lines” (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/sites/me ... pendix.pdf) Arthur Melzer provides about one hundred pages of quotes from Homer to Wittgenstein regarding the philosophical practice of hiding what you are saying from most of those who will read your work. This was at one time a well known practice but most today will regard it with skepticism or disdain. The evidence that it was practiced is clear. Whatever one might think as to the appropriateness of such a practice an awareness of it is central to reading and understanding the philosophers. One must learn to read between the lines, connect the dots, and not assume that everything that is said is what the author holds to be true.

A point of clarification: Philosophical esotericism is the practice of hiding one’s true thoughts. It is not the esotericism of the mystics who believe in secrets that are passed down through the ages.

Some examples from the appendix:

The ancients distinguished the ‘exoteric’ or popular mode of exposition from the
‘esoteric’ one which is suitable for those who are seriously concerned to discover the
truth.
– G. W. Leibniz, New Essays on Human Understanding, 260
But not just the ancients:
I cannot even imagine that M. Descartes can have been quite seriously of this opinion….
He only made pretence to go [there]. It was apparently one of his tricks, one of his
philosophic feints: he prepared for himself some loophole, as when for instance he
discovered a trick for denying the movement of the earth, while he was a Copernican in
the strictest sense.
– G. W. Leibniz, Theodicy, 244
Is this pointing away from himself intended to make one ask about Leibniz himself?

Even believers saw the need to hide:
Near the beginning of the Summa Theologica, Thomas asks “Whether Holy Scripture Should
Use Metaphors.” He answers in the affirmative, and among his reasons are these: “Because
thereby divine truths are the better hidden from the unworthy.” And also:
The very hiding of truth in figures is useful for the exercise of thoughtful minds, and as a
defense against the ridicule of the impious.
– Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1:6-7 (pt. 1, ques. 1, art. 9)
Here is one from Kierkegaard:
One can deceive a person for the truth's sake, and (to recall old Socrates) one can
deceive a person into the truth. Indeed it is only by this means, i.e., by deceiving
him, that it is possible to bring into the truth one who is in an illusion. Whoever
rejects this opinion betrays the fact that he is not over-well versed in dialectics,
and that is precisely what is especially needed when operating in this field....
Direct communication presupposes that the receiver's ability to receive is
undisturbed. But here such is not the case; an illusion stands in the way.... What
then does it mean 'to deceive?' It means that one does not begin directly with the
matter one wants to communicate, but begins by accepting the other man's
illusion as good money (Point of View, 39-40).
chewy:
I fear that such ideas being sealed with the stamp of science might then be accepted without question by people who don't understand the science.
At the same time a trend in the opposite direction - the rejection of science in favor of mysticism, the occult, astrology, cosmic forces, etc. Or, some combination of the two - an appeal to pseudoscience as evidence of the supernatural.

I think this is the background against which philosophy has always operated. One of Melzer’s themes is that it is a mistake to see the philosopher as a product of the times. The philosopher’s work is, as Nietzsche said, “untimely”. While some bristle at any mention of elitism, the philosopher stands apart and above the rest of us.
Very interesting. I'm getting flashbacks to the shock of discovering, years after an initial reading of The Prince for a high school English class, that Machiavelli may have been writing from a satirical position and was in fact, as argued by Gramschi, an intense left-wing radical, or as he puts it, the first "Italian Jacobin".

This is quite a stimulating discussion between you two, I appreciate your contributions.
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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 25th, 2018, 2:22 pm

ktz:
Very interesting. I'm getting flashbacks to the shock of discovering, years after an initial reading of The Prince for a high school English class, that Machiavelli may have been writing from a satirical position and was in fact, as argued by Gramschi, an intense left-wing radical, or as he puts it, the first "Italian Jacobin".
A few from or about Machiavelli:
For some time, I never say what I believe and I never believe what I say; and if it sometimes occurs to me that I say the truth, I conceal it among so many lies that it is hard to find it out.
– Niccolo Machiavelli to Guicciardini, May 17, 1521
It is as if he said to his fellow citizens, read well this work. If you ever accept a master, he will be such as I paint him: here is the ferocious beast to whom you will abandon yourselves.... Chancellor Bacon was not fooled [by The Prince] when he said: this man teaches nothing to tyrants; they know only too well what they have to do, but he instructs the peoples about what they have to fear.
– Denis Diderot, “Machiavelism,” Encyclopédie
... in The Prince, Machiavelli’s true intention was “to show how cautious a free multitude should be of entrusting its welfare absolutely to one man.”
– Baruch Spinoza, Political Treatise, 315 (5.7)
eing attached to the Medici household, [Machiavelli] was forced, during the oppression of his homeland, to disguise his love of freedom. The choice of his execrable hero [Cesare Borgia] is in itself enough to make manifest his hidden intention.

His “hidden intention” was this: “While pretending to give lessons to kings, he gave great ones to the people. Machiavelli’s The Prince is the book of republicans.” But Machiavelli’s target was not only the throne but also the altar. Rousseau continues: “The court of Rome has severly forbidden this book. I can well believe it; it is the court that he most clearly depicts.”
– J. J. Rousseau, Social Contract, 88, 88n

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by h_k_s » November 25th, 2018, 9:41 pm

[quote=Achievable post_id=324021 time=1542681431 user_id=48571]
My name is Austin Rouse. I am a 22 year old from South Florida, USA.

I need help to understand what I need to study in order to impart immeasurable, positive, everlasting impact on our world. I am lost in the sense that I do not know what it is I need to know to pursue this desire. Due to my father’s criminal operation, which he is now imprisoned for, I lack formal education to a severe degree. I obtained my GED a little over a year ago.

Following that, I feel the need to qualify myself. I am the Founder & Inventor at LED Cultivation, Inc. I am the holder of the only patent-pending product line in the world for optimized lighting arrays for horticulture applications. I’ve assembled a large team, spanned across the globe, and established powerful connections, which should ensure I am properly funded throughout my endeavors.

I created my company with the intent to fund my interest in medical research. This includes designing/constructing a neurological/psychological/psychiatric research compound – Where the aim would be to solve the mystery of the human psyche. I believe this could lessen the negative impact of important things, such as: Intolerance, mental illness, mass-violence, war, suicide, poverty, etc.

However, I am also aware that my severe lack of formal education is an obstacle I must overcome if I am ever to be afforded the opportunity to even make a proper attempt in pursuing such a desire. My current primary interests are: Solving complex problems; Psychology; Social Engineering; Medicine; Science; Mathematics

My company is one in which, by the grace of God, I will in due time be afforded true time freedom. This will enable me to vehemently pursue education, full-time. It also looks like the company will be a fantastic source for continuous income generation. I’ve been advised that my interests are expensive, and that I was wrong in my belief that money is not important. I’ve been taught, that if I want to actualize anything that I dream about incessantly, then I am going to need to secure a method by which I can receive continuous income, while also having the time to study whatever it is that I need to study, in order to make a calculated attempt to optimize our world.

I want to be a student. I want a real education. I am merely a product of being born within a generation of incredible technological advancement, improvement in reliability regarding our connection to the internet, and continuously positive evolution of the internet as a whole. I am also obsessed with www.dictionary.com – and I passionately believe this is an integral component behind my ability to navigate information efficiently.

I will leave the discussion open with that.

With Love,
Austin Rouse
[/quote]

Several great entrepreneurs have bailed out of college to promote their ventures and as such they have proved that great wealth and success are not dependent on college. Like professional athletes who do the same thing, I would recommend going back and finishing college in some major field that you are interested in.

Having done so, then I would simply pick a classic topic of rescue and get involved in that. The 3 classic divisions of rescue are rescue of the Earth, rescue of people (either starving or homeless or sick), or rescue of animals (dogs or cats or horses etc.).

If I could devote my whole life to anything I would like to rescue feral cats. But that's just me. I have a rescued cat (he has me, actually) and I love him dearly. He is the best friend I have ever had.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by chewybrian » November 26th, 2018, 12:18 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 1:29 pm
In the appendix to his “Philosophy Between the Lines” (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/sites/me ... pendix.pdf) Arthur Melzer provides about one hundred pages of quotes from Homer to Wittgenstein regarding the philosophical practice of hiding what you are saying from most of those who will read your work. This was at one time a well known practice but most today will regard it with skepticism or disdain. The evidence that it was practiced is clear. Whatever one might think as to the appropriateness of such a practice an awareness of it is central to reading and understanding the philosophers. One must learn to read between the lines, connect the dots, and not assume that everything that is said is what the author holds to be true.
Tacitus declared, in oft-quoted words: Seldom are men blessed with times in which they may think what they like and say what they think. – Tacitus, The Histories 1.1
That was really interesting stuff--totally worthy of its own thread, and I skimmed through and found some surprising entries from unexpected sources. You would assume that philosophy is a search for truth, and so it would be inappropriate to say one thing and mean another, to hide your motives and beliefs, to have one set of statements for your faithful followers and another for the public at large. Does the end justify the means, if the deceit somehow helps the information to get through when it otherwise might not have? Is the philosopher absolved from the need to stick to the truth if his safety and well-being will be put at risk by doing so? Are certain subsets of the public 'unworthy' of receiving the truth? Who is the philosopher to decide who is worthy? How could the unworthy be expected to move forward if the truth is withheld from them in this way?

Image
And as for Montaigne himself: I speak the truth, not my fill of it, but as much as I dare speak. – Ibid., 611 (3.2) In these memoirs, if you look around, you will find that I have said everything or suggested everything. What I cannot express, I point to with my finger. But if you have a penetrating mind, These little tracks will serve the rest to find [Lucretius]. – Ibid., 751 (3.9)
Does "as much as I dare speak" get him off the hook? We could all understand that Seneca could not give an honest opinion of the rule of Nero, for example. If he was not in fear for himself, perhaps he stayed silent so that he could write what he was able, to push progress as far and fast as possible. Even today, there are many countries where one may not speak their mind without fear of retribution. We could say a philosopher should honor the truth and consequences be damned, but we can also let them off the hook if we wish in such cases.
Voltaire (1694-1778): Our miserable species is so constructed, that those who walk in the beaten path always throw stones at those who teach a new path....every philosopher is treated as the prophets were among the Jews. – Voltaire, “Letters, Men of Letters, or Literati,” Philosophical Dictionary, 349
In many other cases where this fear of retribution is not justified, what fair reason(s) can be given for hiding the truth? Does expediency suffice?:
In a similar vein, Descartes writes to one of his more imprudent disciples:
Do not propose new opinions as new, but retain all the old terminology for supporting new reasons; that way no one can find fault with you, and those who grasp your reasons will by themselves conclude to what they ought to understand. Why is it necessary for you to reject so openly the [Aristotelian doctrine of] substantial forms? Do you not recall that in the Treatise on Meteors I expressly denied that I rejected or denied them, but declared only that they were not necessary for the explication of my reasons?
– René Descartes to Regius, January, 1642, Œuvres de Descartes, 3:491-92, quoted and translated by Hiram Caton in “The Problem of Descartes’
Sincerity,” 363
Do we owe our fellow men equal rights, equal opportunity of access to ideas such that they might have the chance to improve themselves? Or, is philosophy like a dangerous power tool which should not be operated without reading the safety manual and putting on all the right safety equipment?
Our highest insights must–and should–sound like follies and sometimes like crimes when 93 they are heard without permission by those who are not predisposed and predestined for them. The difference between the exoteric and the esoteric, formerly known to philosophers–among the Indians as among the Greeks, Persians, and Muslims, in short, wherever one believed in an order of rank and not in equality and equal rights –…. [consists in this:] the exoteric approach sees things from below, the esoteric looks down from above…. What serves the higher type of men as nourishment or delectation must almost be poison for a very different and inferior type…. There are books that have opposite values for soul and health, depending on whether the lower soul, the lower vitality, or the higher and more vigorous ones turn to them; in the former case, these books are dangerous and lead to crumbling and disintegration; in the latter, [they are] heralds’ cries that call the bravest to their courage. Books for all the world are always foul-smelling books. – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 42 (aph 30)
I recall reading Sartre in high school and getting it all wrong, reading into it what I wanted to see, rather than what I should have taken from it. I simply was not ready for it. I took the idea of authenticity as being true to my desires, rather than to what I perceived as the best way I could live my life. After all, I reasoned, what was Sartre doing out in the real world?
According to Annie Cohen-Solal, who wrote a biography of Sartre, his daily drug consumption was thus: two packs of cigarettes, several tobacco pipes, over a quart of alcohol (wine, beer, vodka, whisky etc.), two hundred milligrams of amphetamines, fifteen grams of aspirin, a boat load of barbiturates, some coffee, tea, and a few “heavy” meals (whatever those might have been). He—surprise, surprise—would become terribly ill and would cut back on the tobacco and drugs once in a while.
http://www.critical-theory.com/9-insane ... ntialists/

Wasn't this what it meant to be "authentic", to do just what you want instead of what society thinks you should? So, I may have been worse off for having been exposed to it without foundation or proper explanation of its true meaning. But, who is to decide the risk or reward of putting information out there? In the states, we have decided that the benefits exceed the risks, and I agree.

Even the stoics? Say it ain't so...
The Stoics also say that by the first Zeno things were written which they do not readily allow disciples to read, without their first giving proof whether or not they are genuine philosophers. – Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 255-56 (5.9)
Bottom line, I would say there is little valid reason to withhold or disguise your intentions or what you perceive to be true, at least in a free society. One of the reasons I choose Epictetus as my favorite is clarity. He uses a metaphor not to hide but to expose and explain the truth, not to hide his message but to help you to get it. The message is therefore out there for just about anyone to grasp. Accepting what the message implies for the way you choose to live your life is perhaps the hard part for some. I would argue that doing so makes life easier in the end, though.

I find the idea of holding the good bits back for the elite who can decode the message to be very distasteful. It amounts to a lie, even when it is not an outright lie. As such it is against the spirit of philosophy, which is to seek the truth. I want to believe that philosophy has a chance to change almost anyone's life for the better, and this chance should not be denied them by any means. And, many of the concepts in philosophy are difficult enough for people to understand or accept without adding unnecessary layers of mystery to them.
"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."

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Fooloso4 » November 26th, 2018, 3:33 pm

chewybrian:
That was really interesting stuff--totally worthy of its own thread
I have been thinking about doing that. I have made mention of philosophical esotericism in various threads the past but there was not much interest. This was before I found out about the list of quotes.
Bottom line, I would say there is little valid reason to withhold or disguise your intentions or what you perceive to be true, at least in a free society. One of the reasons I choose Epictetus as my favorite is clarity.
I just did a brief search on stoicism and esotericism. I have not listened to the podcasts so cannot comment: https://shwep.net/podcast/

And this:
I start from the assumption that Epictetus is deceptively simple to read, or, rather, that he is a complex author with patterns of thought and intention, including irony, that have been scarcely appreciated …

Yet I am also convinced that a good many candidates for such passages are ironical or at least rhetorically motivated by reference to cultural conventions, his educational programme, and its youthful audience.

I prefer to call the surviving record of his work dialectical lessons, in order both to call attention to his persistently conversational idiom and to register his deliberate affiliation to Socratic dialectic. Socrates, rather than any Stoic philosopher or even the Cynic Diogenes, is Epictetus' favoured paradigm, not only as a model for life but also as a practitioner of philosophical conversation. The point is not that Epictetus refrains from sermonizing or haranguing; that is one of his styles. But it is a style he adopts in response to a specific audience. (https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile. ... 20Life.pdf)
Irony, addressing oneself to a particular audience, and dialectic are all features of esoteric writing. I do not know what one might find between the lines of Epictetus, but one should not be too quick to assume that there is nothing there. As the author, A.A. Long, points out, however, what we have are not writings of Epictetus but what his pupil Arrian chose to record.

For me the question of the appropriateness of the art of esoteric writing is secondary to the appropriateness of the art of esoteric reading.

A few reasons why esoteric writing might be appropriate. The most obvious is that what you say can get you in trouble. The acceptance of the value of free speech and loss of power of religious authorities has made this less of an issue. Nietzsche raised the problem of “deadly truths” - that there is no Truth. Here is where the other side, exoteric teachings, come into play. These are salutary teachings, such as Plato’s Forms (which Plato presents as if they were esoteric truths discovered by those who have escaped the cave). The salutary teachings, in a word, Christianity (what Nietzsche calls Platonism for the people) were undermined by the Enlightenment quest for truth, deadly truths, God is dead,are no longer hidden and have led to nihilism. This is illustrative of the problem - in the absence of truth something must fill the vacuum, and whatever that is is called the truth. Many misunderstand Nietzsche and think that he proclaims the truth of nihilism, but this is wrong. Nietzsche does not reject values, he simply acknowledges that they have no ultimate foundation. He calls for a new public religion, a new salutary public or exoteric teaching.

Another reason is that the philosophers do not want to spare us the difficulty of thinking. Philosophy, from this perspective, is not about providing answers but asking questions. It is zetetic. It is skeptical in the Socratic sense - knowing that we do not know. Here the notion of esoteric doctrine can be misleading. It is not always the case that the hidden teaching is a doctrine. What is hidden may be the aporetic nature of philosophical inquiry - the desire to know does not lead to knowledge, except to knowledge of our ignorance.
Again the need to fill the vacuum may be irresistible and so some look for the answers, the hidden answers, according to the philosophers who resist providing answers; but not because they wish to keep the answers hidden, but because they do not have the answers.

chewy:
I want to believe that philosophy has a chance to change almost anyone's life for the better, and this chance should not be denied them by any means.
But that is exactly what the public salutary teaching is intended to provide. Plato’s image of the ascent to truth, knowledge, and the good continues to inspire and guide us. If, as a close reading of Plato will show, that this is merely an image, that Plato, like Socrates before him and Aristotle after him, were skeptics, that they knew that they did not know, that philosophical inquiry leads to aporia, is this something that will better the life of anyone? Is it better for most to believe in something that will promote truth, justice, and beauty or to that these are things that we do not know, that we are, as Socrates said, ignorance of the most important things?

The means between these is reasoned deliberation, the attempt to figure out for ourselves what is best. But how many are interested in doing this? How many simply accept with little or no critical thought the opinions they are given? How many are capable of such thought (and this is a question not simply about intelligence but of character, temperament, and desire)? How many lead an examined life?

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by mr533473 » January 11th, 2019, 10:59 am

Five possible responses;

1.) You need to know that if someone was to tell you what you need to know to change our world and you were to listen to them, you would not then go on to change our world. You would merely be changed by that person whose advice you took on board. Your approach is flawed.

2.) "to change our world". That's right, 'our' world. 'You' don't get to change 'our'... only your own. Regardless, even if you could, you have in your discussion here demonstrated that you are not the man for the job.

3.) You really don't get a choice. Everything you do changes the world... If you want to do it on purpose then go kick a rock.

4.) If at any stage you feel as though you have worked out how the world would be changed for the better and are about to implement the changes on behalf of the world, know this; you're wrong and we don't want you to change our world.

5.) Was you father's criminal operation a hydro set-up?

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Belindi » January 11th, 2019, 2:26 pm

It's not possible for anyone to be other than subjective to some degree, and Austin Rouse is no exception, therefore what he needs to do is decide pro tem at least what his moral (and political) principles are. Thereafter if Austin decides to go ahead and try to make the world a better place he will get his hands dirty, unfortunately unavoidable.


I hope that Austin will be a left wing liberal socialist who has read Spinoza; I too am subject to my own prejudices. Objective good is impossible and subjective good is IMO expressed best by Axial Age ethics with a liberal input of post-Enlightenment science.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by boywonderlord » January 11th, 2019, 7:02 pm

Uh
Well
You will die relatively soon.
We all will.
And all of history will be forgotten.
Eventually the planet will explode.
We will be a part of this grand cosmos.
None of this matters.
And none of it will.
So why are you worrying about something like that?
Go have fun!!!
Be Don Juan!

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Eduk » January 11th, 2019, 8:50 pm

@boywonderlord you don't know nothing matters. Also stuff matters to me, which is good enough for me.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by boywonderlord » January 11th, 2019, 10:49 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 11th, 2019, 8:50 pm
@boywonderlord you don't know nothing matters. Also stuff matters to me, which is good enough for me.
I know universally nothing matters. I also know that everything is relative, so sure, everything matters as well. If you want to change our world, you can pick up a rock. Camus would tell you that the man who works at a post office has as much impact as the man who rules the world so long as he is eager for new experience. I say this with the caveat that you are not aware of the gratuitous nature of changing the world. Perhaps I am wrong, you indeed are fully aware, exemplify the nature of the absurd, and should be embraced with open arms. I can see you now, a Kirilovian sending one last breath, one last image, no illusion of an end of suffering or grandiose change, but an indignation, a fire within you for revolt, and finally, the mask alights to an audience in shock, a stunning conclusion for a man who was once destined for greatness. Tell me Kirilov,god of men, what do you say?

"All is well"

But until that fateful sacrifice is made, I can only hope you choose to pick up a rock instead.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by Eduk » January 12th, 2019, 6:00 am

@boywonderlord no you don't know that universally nothing matters.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Please help me to understand what it is that I need to know to change our world

Post by boywonderlord » January 12th, 2019, 4:08 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 12th, 2019, 6:00 am
@boywonderlord no you don't know that universally nothing matters.
You are quite right. I am under the impression that there is no universal meaning. Out of all things, the universe somehow having language and then giving definition and emotion on its own to that language before humans, let alone this planet came along, would be a strange one. But,the speck that I am knows very little regarding all things. I do know, however,that everything can hold as much meaning as you want it to. To torture yourself by trying to change the world in grand sweeps, never having accomplished enough, is not, in this invalids opinion, the path to satisfaction. It will just lead to further invalidation of yourself and suffering. Maybe spend some time with the homeless, just get to know some people. Make a few people happy. Or just start by making yourself happy. Why do you WANT to change the world? What is creating this desire? A desire to be seen and heard? Perhaps getting to the root of that can be your practice.

Or maybe start a cult, go on a warmongering rampage across the west, and become a conqueror! You can also change the world by doing that.

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