Hey PL,

Yeah, it doesn't quite answer the question I'm asking in the way that I'm looking for, but... let me digress a bit. I've been doing a little research on the subject and came to realize that the debate we're having is summarized pretty well in Plato's (Socrate's) "Allegory of the Cave":

It describes in a good way the practical problem of "enlightenment". Once enlightened, what next? As the problem in the allegory suggests, once you've become enlightened to the outside world, you appear completely crazy to the people still living in the cave.

It seems that there are a couple of different takes on this "allegory". One, and I believe this is probably yours, is that it's the true calling, even the duty, of the philosopher to keep trying to inform people in the cave of the existence of the outside world. The second is that the whole thing is meant as a sort of satirical paradox in that the philosopher can know the outside world but perhaps because of that very knowledge, can't possibly himself actually enlighten anyone in the shadow world, and would drive himself mad trying to do so.

I've managed to find a few arguments for both. But I guess that's the true crux of the debate. And in essence another way of looking at my question, "why poke the angry bear?"

I believe as Greek philosophers are concerned, my instinct is that you're probably most interested in Socrates and Plato and their search for the pure truth. But also perhaps for their criticism and their contempt of the Sophists who use argument, and discourse as a tool for gaining the upper hand.

I can't dispute the value of Socrates and Plato for their pure philosophy and pure truth seeking. But I also feel that Aristotle in his "Rhetoric" makes a very good argument that although Plato and Socrates work was theoretically important, it was only a piece of the puzzle. He picked up where Plato left off, when Plato finally recognized the importance of rhetoric in "winning the soul through discourse", Aristotle, took that and ran with it in his "Rhetoric".

And there's no doubt as you'll find in just the index of this book (I admit I have only barely thumbed through the text - it's very long!), that there is definitely a lot said in it about proper discourse and language and lol - "avoiding meanness" (Book 3, Chapter 2).

Anyway, I'm not trying to continually condemn your tactics, (I know it may appear that way), but I hope you recognize that what I'm saying about practical discourse over, (or in addition to at least) pure truth does hold a valid point of view, and I would hope that you'll recognize that this is not me thinking "dualistically" in any way. It does have significant historical context and an important place in the national debate. And if Aristotle is right, then it's a completely essential element to the national debate.



There is indeed a place for both approaches - seeking the "higher" big picture Truth, and simultaneously, living, communicating, teaching and operating in the world as it currently is, the "small picture" truths. I have tried in my career, my personal life and on this blog to combine the approaches of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. In fact, when I taught my 3-year training institute classes, my model for teaching and learning was that of the ancient Greeks, operating in a democratic forum, exploring the nature of reality together.

Many of my students and patients, upon attaining a certain level of enlightenment, have asked me - "What do I do now? Everyone around me seems crazy, and I seem crazy to everyone else!" Ha! That's enlightenment!

My answer is - "Just be yourself, live your life and trust the rest to the greater Universe around you. Then, you cannot help being a light for others. That is the only real way to effect change, and yes, it does involve discourse, but not trying to convince. Just exposing, demonstrating and shining a light on things, even if it is a light that some may find harsh."

There's an excellent book on this subject called, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield.

The idea is not to end up living alone in a monastery or on a mountain top after attaining enlightenment, but rather to set about doing the work you came here to do, whatever that may be.

Very gratifying having these dialogues, isn't it, especially when they actually lead somewhere?!

Rock on, L56!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'll have to check out that book. It sounds interesting.

"Very gratifying having these dialogues, isn't it, especially when they actually lead somewhere?!"

Yes it is! And is my point exactly!! Which is to say nowhere in our conversation did you call me a lazy, fat, overweight, naive, immature, pig-headed sophist. Despite the reality that most of that is probably true. You... pig-headed, elitist, sophomoric, old, decaying, big-government-touting, socialist, ex-wanna-be-hippie.



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