Beside a small pond
with endless life and movement
I am not a philosopher in the sense that I can quote famous philosophers or understand all the different chapters from the history of philosophy. I might have some insights, but I have no story to tell or a system to unfold. I have my preferences and I can get aroused by a good book but that’s about it.
I have many thick books on my bookshelf, I bought these books because I’m interested in them but also as an investment. I knew that I was not ready for these books with condensed thoughts in them. The people that wrote these books where good at their job and I can admire them for that. These books helped change the world but…how much? Did they?
Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them. Aristotle
This quote is more than 2000 years old and for me it says something about how you should treat other people and go through life opposed to living for material wealth and appearances.
I think that a lot of people could agree with this, but the reality is that the clear majority can’t or won’t live according to this suggestion of Aristotle. We westerners see goods, likes and freedom as ”honor” badges we wear, in religious minded people wearing a book, following the rules and prey is there badge as a sign of there piety. With these badges some people think they deserve praise, but they are often pined on an empty shell.
Aristotle told these words thousands of years ago, and around that time you could find, in countless different cultures, similar sentiments. He told these words and since then countless learned people have read these old works and refined them, and refined them but with what result?
We might not kill our neighbor, or raid the village next door as in the olden day’s but at the same time we praise our global economy and borderless internet, is our willingness to let thousands of children starve in poor countries not the same as letting your neighbor starve 2000 years ago? Did Aristotle let his neighbor die?
We wear our badges of material goods and pious behavior and think where good, but should we not throw these symbols away and act like the world is one small neighborhood? This is what (some/in general) philosophers are trying to tell but the massage is not understood. You might say that this has made all of philosophy pointless, but I hope that it is a fundament for future generations to finally find a way to tell the story that the ancient thinkers started in a languish that is understood by all.
What do you think?
I am reading a book by Laura Secor, Children of paradise. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s about Iran and tells the story of different scholars, writers and poets and their connection with the Iranian revolution.
I knew already that Iran was a country with a long and rich history but if you had asked me last year how to describe Iran and its people than an image of Khomeini as an imposing person pops up in my mind that I saw every now an than growing up in the eighties. Modern Iran is for me a county where a lot of people want to live free and a modern life but can’t because of overbearing religious rulers.
After reading a book from Ray Takeyh, Guardians of the revolution I read the book mentioned above and Slowly the vail of ignorance begins to withdraw, but its still there. I will keep on reading because its an interesting story.
The thing that struck me earlier today while reading the book of Laura Secor was how active the people she described where in developing there understanding of the world they live in. I would die (they did sometimes) for some good conversation about philosophy, Popper, Heidegger, Marxism or determinism like they had. I live in a world where revolution is just a word, and no one feels the need to dive into these subjects beside some scholars.
Off coarse I wouldn’t like to live in a country in turmoil like Iran in the eighties. But from my perspective I sometimes feel like I live in a world where all life is drained out, where the dumbest person can become president and most people care more about likes and memes than honest reflection.
Philosophy and religion have never worked Serious and self-proclaimed important people might pretend it is important and it works but without our technology we would not be distinguishable from a person living in Rome 2000 years ago. Without our cushy lives we would still be barbarians, our own grandparents where that literally when the slaughtered each other in two world wars and if you look to close at what we do now in the west your stomach will turn to.
That’s why I like the idea of a society in discourse over the course of there future. And I know that even in Iran it was just a relatively small group of people that actually participated in these discussion, and it let to nothing but just the idea of people sensibly talking about the fundamentals of our society… imagine.
David Hume wrote in his famous book “an enquiry concerning human understanding” that the things we think about are made of the things we have seen earlier. Like the golden mountain we can imagine, it’s made of the gold and a mountain we have seen before. The book goes mush deeper than this and is recognized as an important book in the world of philosophy. I don’t do it justice by highlighting this particular idea and taking it out of its context, but still I do.
Have you ever thought about where your thoughts come from? Do they just appear? Does something in you make those thoughts out of nothing? Where were your thought that you have now when you were 5 years old? Do we collect the parts of our thoughts over time? Are we just combining bits and pieces, things we gathered, into our thoughts?
I think it is difficult to be an original thinker. No matter what we do we have to use the things we learned to form our own thoughts and only the exceptional person can combine the things he or she has learned into something truly original. It is not for nothing that thinkers like Plato or Aristoteles are still studied. They had drawn such profound conclusions from their experiences that hardly anybody since has come close to them.
If I look around in the bookstore or at social media, it seems that everybody has an opinion and often put it on the same level as …someone that has made it its life work. Climate chance springs to mind as an obvious example where so many people seem to now the answer where even the experts struggle and work hard to understand it and find an answer. As if they, the opinionated modern man, know the answer without the experience necessary.
We can not imagine a golden mountain without seeing a mountain and gold beforehand, the opinionated modern man can dismiss climate change without ever study biogeochemical cycles, ecological and agroecological systems, human-environment interactions. Do does people question there dentist or car mechanic with the same certainty?
Its humility we need, I don’t know anything about climate change so I trust the people that do just like I listen to my doctor or trust Hume more than myself if he talks about our mind.
What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call ‘thought’.
8. What alone can be our doctrine? – Because no one gives man his qualities, neither God, nor society, nor his parents and ancestors, nor he himself (- the absurdity of this last idea has been rejected as “intelligible freedom” by Kant, perhaps even taught by Plato). No one is responsible for ensuring that he’s there, so and so constituted that he is that he is under these circumstances in this environment. The fatality of his nature is not disentangled from the fatality of all that was and what will be. It is not the result of an intention, a will, a purpose, not with him, an attempt is made to achieve an “ideal of man” or an “ideal of happiness” or an “ideal of morality,” – it is absurd his Being (Sein) in any way trying to pass a purpose. We have used the term “purpose” invented in the real world… lack of purpose it is necessary, it is a piece of calamity, one belongs to the whole, it is on the whole, – there is nothing that addressed our being, measure, compare, could condemn, because that would mean the whole set, measure, condemn, compare… But there is nothing out of the whole! – That will make no one more responsible, that the nature of existence can not be attributed primarily to a cause, that the world is neither as sensorium nor as ‘spirit’ is a unity, this is only the great liberation – thus only the innocence of becoming (Unschuld des Werdens) restored… The term “God” has been the greatest objection to existence (Dasein)… We deny God, we deny the responsibility in God: we only deliver to the world. – (Wir leugnen Gott, wir leugnen die Verantwortlichkeit in Gott: damit erst erlösen wir die Welt).
Twilight of the idols, Translation by Daniel Fidel Ferrer, 2013