A Blog by Virgilio Rivas

Philosophy in Dialogue (cont. MSN Critical Theory Group)

Note: Highlight with your cursor the white tables to see the messages and replies.

From: ver Sent: 2/12/2003 12:19 AM

Arcite,
If you’re trying to connect learning philosophy to its artistocratic origin, with all the connotations of luxurious mental kalistheniks,this connection will matter only as a criticism of the form through which learning philosophy since then has assumed, much to the idealistic contempt of Socrates who identified this activity to the rhetoricians and the sophists. Aristotle, of course, did not completely shed himself of the powerful influence Socrates had on him through Plato, and this pretty well continued up to his ethical writings.For Aristotle, anything that is studied or learned for its own sake must be desirable in itself. But this ought not to be confused with some idea of a natural light condescending upon the human intellect such that its desirability is something not up for subjective choice of what is really desirable, the good itself. Indeed, man is free, his will is free. But choosing or deciding for what is desirable might not stand a chance before the more seductive power of pleasure that challenges the quest for knowledge for its own sake. Aristotle saw the solution to this apparent impaling horn of a dilemna through the notion of habit.Habit both enforces the human will and the non-decidability of matters which resist deliberations. At first, habit is a choice; you decide freely for things you want to orient yourself consistently. But habit soon acquires a quasi-independent power over the person that resist deliberative acts. Habit is a self-surrender to a power that you freely decide to obey. Habit splits the self between free will and obedience; their seeming contrast is decided by how much each of these forces could impose a form, that is, a dominant character on the self. Habit always pressuposes a contradiction that opens itself to an agonistic balance that keeps the wheel of struggle turning.Philosophy, studied for its own sake, could only mean a virtuous habit for Aristotle. Its lucrative connotations are mostly reserved for the perfection of the self through agonistic struggle. Habit commands the self for the sake of the self. And since habit retains the shade of free will that made it possible in the first place, it could only but perform obedience to the self while directing it. Certainly, Aristotle did not mean the ‘for the sake of itself’ independent of the contradictions that attend to the practice called philosophy. Philosophy, therefore, is agonism for its own sake. Philosophy is this agonism.

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From: hawk Sent: 2/12/2003 12:53 AM

Inquirer,#8   Philosophy is active in and central to the activity of digging food out of garbage cans. For one thing, the digging in garbage for food is the result of an ultimately philosophical decision to do that rather than bash some vulnerable indivitual over the head with a brick and purchase food with the money so obtained.Additionally, obtaining food, in any manner, like breathing, precludes the simultaneous pursuit of philosophy only for those who choose to refrain from such pursuit. Speaking only for myself, I have found that philosophical activity is often enhanced, made more effective, by the existence of external circumstances which repel my attention. Examples, again, my own, include being in the presence of a boring and otherwise irritating and repulsive speaker who, for pragmatic reasons, I refrain from either escaping or silencing, as well as being the subject of drilling type dentistry without anasthetic.   -Hawk

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  Sent: 2/12/2003 4:39 AM

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From: Arcite Sent: 2/12/2003 4:41 AM

Ver; he could of deluded himself all he wished. But the true end is so apparent nonetheless! He did is for himself- no matter that he attempted to humble himself in the face of his own genius. Do you think his reasoning was free from seductive powers? You are wrong. He was guided by one of the most prominent seductive powers of all: the pursuit of reason. It is your assumption that we are mindless masturbating monkeys lest we focus on some other cause that must be questioned.-Arcite

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From: ver Sent: 2/12/2003 12:44 PM

Arcite, Aristotle is not free of all seduction, much less the seduction called reason. But, my point is philosophy is an agonistic struggle to cast a balance to the self. And yet this balance will always escape its conclusive ambition. What is desirable in philosophy is that its preaching of the aristocracy of the mind within the extent of individual technology of discipline clings to a hope for a better direction for humanity. I agree, though, that philosophy is paradoxical: while it seeks balance, it can only effectuate changes in the individual; the larger society looms large unresolved. This is the reason why Plato wanted a Repbulic outside of the discursive possibility of the city.

  

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