Aristotle by birth and circumstances was marked for being a boon companion to the royalty. His father was the physician to the king. He had access to the court of King Philip of Macedon and naturally he would be asked when the time was ripe, to undertake the education of his son who later was known as Alexander the great. When he was seventeen he approached Plato to be admitted into his famous Academy. It marked a definite break from his roistering carefree life. Soon his independent spirit and inquisitive mind impressed Plato to refer him as the “mind” of the Academy.
After a seven year stint in Macedon as the tutor he returned to Athens to found the Lyceum which later would be known as the Peripatetic School.
Next he turned his attention to piece together all the learning of the past and present, under different categories and make them available to study for the future generations. In his book Organon he set down six treatises on logic and scientific reasoning. Deductive reasoning that he advocated would later be challenged by inductive approach that was based observation from results of many experiments. In the Metaphysics Aristotle explored the fundamental nature of reality and being, which is the foundation of philosophy.
Aristotle for all his breadth of knowledge and study would espouse an aristocratic point of view naturally imbibed by circumstances of his birth and circumstances.He averred that some are marked from birth for ruling and others for obeying. One would think herein lies the paradox of intellect. Your conscious mind argues impeccably but unconscious mind slips in a few home truths where your own experience and pet peeves half buried, give it an altogether twist.
He agreed with Plato that education should be in the control of the state.
At the age of sixty-one he entered the last phase of his life that began with the news of the death of his patron Alexander the Great. The Macedonian faction at home lost the power and Aristotle by association was vulnerable. He was denounced for piety and went into exile and chose Chalcis, his mother’s homeland where he died in the following year.
Aristotle is said to have written some on thousand manuscripts during his lifetime, unfortunately only a few of them are extant.
From the fifth to the fifteenth, Aristotle was regarded as the fountainhead of all knowledge. Dante considered him as the Master of those who know.’ Reaction came with the Renaissance and Francis Bacon. In whichever case past his admirers and detractors his impact is immeasurable and his synthesis of wisdom owe to his own keen faculties but in the way he spread them as coherent whole ever since at the disposal for all to profit and furtherance of human knowledge is his unique achievement.
Posts Tagged ‘ethics’
Among the floating clouds a Giant lived a life of ease and untouched by age or want. Though the many islands surrounding his domain melted regularly to form rain pelting the earth below he suffered no injury. He for all his largeness didn’t let any fleeting thought escape. Once he thought a profound thought ‘if I were large there must be those forms larger than me. Next he thought there must be on the reverse scale miniscule atoms as well.
Buoyed up by his new run of thoughts he said,’I would like to meet one.’ It was not out of vanity but to exchange some ideas he had lately dwelt upon.
Indeed eons later he came across one which said he was proceeding to look for the largest form he could possibly find.
‘ Do you have a form, if you please?’ the Atom asked.
‘Can you not see my form?’ the Giant was amazed.
The Atom with an apology asked if he could probe first if it were worth his while.’Afterall having to describe things by another medium is a dubious practice. I can only make sure by taking a leap into whatever.’ With these words he whirled through the Giant and coming other side he said,’I felt at home as I did every other form. It assured me immeasurably that any further probe was unnecessary and a waste of time.’
The Giant felt humble and he asked,’ Who or what are you?’
‘I am Truth.Wasn’t it obvious?’ The Giant shook his head.
The Giant asked,’Do you have parents?’
‘What for?’ the Atom almost wanted to say but he checked himself,’It will complicate matters. He shall only distract himself from understanding what I am or he is to me.’
Searching for truth is for many is a useful tool to distract themselves from knowing what they really ought to do something about. This we have so many religions ,and folderol, believers, that render them unable to profit from truth which is in the very warp and woof of their existence. Man who tries to bend another to his ‘belief’ insults truth that is in all.
According to Spinoza God is the Essence or causa sui and Nature are events in mode revealing truth about that Cause in many telling ways. Man who is sensitive to his place in the scheme of things shall lay emphases differently than where religion does. Religion is more concerned about its organizational health than moral health of the flock .Result of this is evident in our present times.
Posted in personalities, tagged atheism, Bruno, Descartes, dualism, Dutch, eternal order, ethics, excommunication, Goethe, inquisition, modes, Philosopher, Uriel a Costa on August 24, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Spinoza, Baruch (1632-1677) Dutch
The greatest of the modern philosophers brought rational approach to the enquiry of great questions like God and human destiny. He laid the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment. His masterpiece Ethics never found light of the day in his lifetime. The reason was simple. He was excommunicated* for his heretical thinking from the Jewish community in Amsterdam and the odium of it had preceded his brief life; however stoicism of his race was in his blood as a result of persecution running through centuries, and made him think his own thoughts and make a living by an useful trade of polishing lenses. If he, despite all odds became the greatest ( Frederick Hegel on one occasion speaking to his contemporaries said thus: ‘You are either Spinozit or not a philosopher at all.’) it still owed to his Jewish identity. The fact that he was born a Jew was both a curse and a blessing.
All his works were put on the proscribed list (index librorum prohibitorum) by the Roman Catholic Church. He was greatly influenced by Bruno (1548-1600) whose dictum, ‘all reality is one substance’ naturally would make him oppose Descartes’ mind-body dualism. Bruno perished under inquisition and if the Catholic Church proscribed Spinoza the reason was obvious.
Spinoza’s thinking however latched on to an idea of Descartes that all forms of matter had a ‘homogeneous’ substance, and it propelled him in the direction his precocious mind was taking, and served as light clearing many dark recesses of doubts on way. In 1656 he was excommunicated on charges of heresy and the upshot of it was his father refused to receive him and his sister tried to cheat him out of a small inheritance. (He contested the case in court and won. He duly handed the bequest over to his sister.) Rejected by his family and friends, an assassination attempt on his life made him leave Amsterdam. He changed his name to Bernard de Spinoza and disciplined his life to extreme thrift. He was happy living within his modest means and many influential men of his day found him stimulating and his company congenial. Some of them offered help but he refused stipends and money saying, ‘Nature is satisfied with little; if she is, I am also.’
He finally settled in The Hague in 1670 economically secure and surrounded by rich and powerful friends who looked up to him with great respect.
As a person he was of middle size, his face pleasing, and skin somewhat darker and his hair curly and eyebrows dark and long stamping his Portuguese ancestry in his looks.
Spinoza chose not to found a sect and he founded none and yet philosophy after him was permeated with his thought. The great German polymath Goethe was converted after one reading of Ethics and also was cured of wild romanticism of his past. Spinoza supplied what his yearning soul had sought, dass wir entsagen sollen-‘that we must accept the limitations Nature puts on us.’
There is a statue of him at The Hague erected from public subscription collected from every part of the educated world. At the unveiling of it (1882) Ernest Renan made a moving speech at the conclusion he said thus.’ This man from his granite pedestal, will point out to all men, the way of all blessedness which he found; and ages hence, the cultivated traveler, passing by this spot, will say in his heart, ‘the truest vision ever had of God came, perhaps, here.’
In 1656 the 24-year old Spinoza was summoned before the elders to answer the charges of heresy. One of the sticking points was his doubt regarding the belief in another life. The Synagogue was concerned such a view, contrary to the essence of Christianity would seem inimical to the community that had welcomed them into their midst. For their security in the host country the Dutch Calvinists had to be appeased and no cost was to be reckoned too little. The same mindset that had prompted Caiaphas to say about Jesus was alive in the elders of his time. (‘It was expedient that one man should die for the people’- Jn.18: 14) If the Synagogue had not spared Jesus or Uriel a Costa it was not going to spare the young Spinoza either.
The young skeptic was offered $500 in annuity for his silence and outward loyalty to the Synagogue and his faith. He refused.
On July 27, 1656, he was excommunicated with all the somber formalities of Hebrew ritual. During the reading of the curse, wailing of the great horn was heard and lights were put out one after the other, indicating the quenching of spiritual life of the man under curse. Spinoza took it under quite courage. He did not join another sect for comfort and determined, as he was to seek his own salvation. The form of the Synagogue and shape of elders that guided it was a mode far from the ‘substance’ of God that moved him. Mode pandered to circumstances and compromised wherever it suited while his soul was ever fixed. His life was his proof to his thought.
(ack: Will Durant- The story of Philosophy: Pub. The Washington Square Press-1964)
There are those who swear by Truth and yet like some witnesses who lay their hands on the Bible only to perjure. They cannot help it. They are habitual offenders. Is religion guilty of such a crime?
Was Moses deceived when he saw the burning bush or obeyed the voice that said, ‘… put off thy shoes … for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. ’
Truth which is enshrined in the soul of man must be matched by his material nature. While Religion merely speaks in terms of absolutes it fails when one looks at the manner it is put into practice. Moses’ confrontation with God is a turning point in his life. He became the spokesman for Him. The prophet who speaks for the Highest may have had some genuine religious experience. The founder of Islam also had similar experience. Whether it is a projection of his soul in symbols or in a pure material plane cannot be settled. So let us leave Moses and Prophet Muhammad to their ‘moments of glory’.
In the life of Moses the burning bush was one such. Is it possible for Soul to set such a ‘picture show’ by which a man like Moses would overcome his ‘slow of speech and slow of tongue?’
Soul as I described in the beginning of this section has access to truth as an individual has hold on his wakeful and dream state. Man who can think so rationally and give considered opinions on his moods or state of mind does not lose control of himself even when he is dreaming. His REM merely reveals he is witnessing certain images. Soul knows much more than you may care to admit. Hence you feel sense of guilt or bad conscience.
Our dream state transcribes our private hopes, fears in symbols. Truth cannot be laid aside whether we experience life in wakeful or dream state. Only that rational beings that we are we do not give the same emphases to what we undergo in two states of being.
Inherent weakness of religion is that man invariably latches on to one part and disregards the rest. Hypocrisy is the trail of one who makes such cut and paste job of Truth. A hypocrite has so many tricks in his bag and each trick is, alas half truth.
God showed a spot of earth and he asked Moses to remove his shoes. The place where Truth speaks to our soul is a holy ground. There can’t be a place on earth that can be excluded since ‘Earth and the fullness thereof belongs to God. What does religion tell you? That Jerusalem or Mecca is the holy place? Those who consider Jerusalem as city of peace show no qualms of leveling Gaza Strip to powder. Hypocrites come in the guise of religious leaders in order to commit murder and mayhem and such deserve no consideration. Their religion is riddled with lies and blasphemy.
Tailpiece: the word saunter is derived probably from Middle English santren to muse. To my purpose the word Sant terre is more apt: holy earth. When you saunter you are not driving a Caterpiller or some other earth cutting machine at breakneck speed to denude an entire rainforest before lunch so you have made some extra profit for the day.
In our interaction with people we bring our upbringing into open. In no way we would want others to know certain aspects that tend to show us in a bad light. Only the best foot forward, in a manner of speaking. Religion similarly should remain where it belongs. Very private.
Agastya, a householder from Tulu desam, who lived in the middle of two constantly fighting neighbors Ambu and Subbu, had enough of his life. He went to Kailas to meditate. He received in due course enlightenment and his mentor asked him to choose a gift. He chose a deity in gold as large as a man’s palm.
“Chance it is called.” The mentor commented.
“It is a good gift to make my going back to my folks worth remembering.” Before he reached his home he came along a river where one man was about to make a hole in the river. “Don’t,” Agastya ran up to him. “It is chance which brought me to save you.” To his great surprise he was Subbu, his neighbor.
Yogi Agastya gave him his image and said,” Remember Chance has saved you.” Not long after Subbu went on a journey and he carried his image for his protection. While passing through a forest he was waylaid by robbers and was killed for the gold he carried.
As soon as news reached his home Ambu the other neighbor went to the Yogi and fell at his feet and said “Chance which you brought was for my rescue. Was it not?”
Chance has to be explained in terms of total interaction of life-forms. There is a wise old saw’ An open door may tempt a saint.’ Human nature being what it is, god-man or whom we call a saint upon insufficient evidences, is a scoundrel waiting to be found out. The saint sees an open door and think of chance. But if he takes it what is he? Certainty is settled by actions.
Our viewpoints represent our absolute positions. Each of us is unique and as yet Truth, the absolute value gives its common base: soul as our essential self. If my soul cannot delineate what I am no amount of words are going to save me.’ Our communication ought to be yes or no and whatsoever is more than these things comes of evil,’
A nation has no viewpoint as an individual has. ‘In God we trust’ is a motto of Great Seal of the USA. In practice we see a nation works just contrary to everything so enshrined in marble and gold. How ironic that if each viewpoint of individual when added together should lead to such cutthroat competition? It is somewhat like the Council of Gods sat together to design a horse and ended in the creation of a jackass. Where did we go wrong?
Truth in its absolute sense applies to individuals and how they work with should have something higher and more noble. So if a nation should show up immoral and unjust we are at fault. We have let it happen in our personal lives and its accumulated weight shows up. Me-Factor is a term that explains responsibility of you and me in whatsoever state humankind may find itself in time and space.
My truth for better or worse is weighed down by a ball and chain of mankind. Nothing that I say shall redeem me from that shame except with my acts. Truth of action should express my soul and it may serve as an example for another to express his.
Monk Anselmo was a young man who idled his time since his skills were not much appreciated in the court of King Pipin the Hot. He ruled the Kingdom of Blissfully Ignorant. King Pepin barely learnt to read or write and yet he had great ambitions. Having heard of the great library of Alexandria he enquired discreetly with Monk Cuthbert if he would have some greatness rubbed into him if he also had a library. Monk Cuthbert nodded. The king was interested. The monk suggested the name of Anselmo for the purpose.
Thus Anselmo entered the services of the king as a librarian.
His task? To set up a library. He started from the scratch writing everything down. The king had given him a free hand and so he could write whatever he thought was worth noting down. Months and years went by and Monk Anselmo set up a library. The king twice came around to see the work in progress and said, “ Ooh”. Before he went for a war he told that the library was all his in case he didn’t come back.
The king died in a war and Monk Anselmo was left with a library. As he left for the town Pie In-The Skye he called on Monk Cuthbert who wanted to read a sample of his work.
Monk Cuthbert was aghast. The book was full of egregious blunders. Anselmo defended that the king was satisfied with his work. The old monk said, “ Still your work must be set against Truth. Your scholarship can it hold against those who are your peers?”
How we delineate truth may pass for truth among those who are like King Pepin. But Truth like Monk Cuthbert is the arbiter. It is to Truth we should address all our actions. Truth of Action.
* If we study history we see who gets to the top. Those who lie and cheat seem to get what they want. In 2000 we saw how George Bush got elected. Did God put him there as he seems to have said in public? For all that did his success make any headway with policies he set in motion? Whatever he touched didn’t it turn into failure? In my view America will have a great cleaning up act in their hands for the next 30 years or so. Truth may be silenced but It has its own way of undoing the actions of the unjust and fools.
Let me define a fool.
A fool is one who misses the opportunity to do the right thing when opportunity is given. And such an opportunity comes perhaps once in a lifetime. Instead the foolish think of it in terms of dollars and cents.