Sunday, September 17, 2017

Aristotle and the Seven Immortals Walk Into A Bar

The Metaphysics of Aristotle opens with these words: 

To satisfy this common urge the unfolding human intellect has explored the extremities of imaginable space outside and the extremities of imaginable space within, searching for a relationship between the one and the all; the grand effect and the cause; the spirit and the substance of the spirit; the illusion and that which we may effectively label as the reality. 

Regarding reality a little closer to home, Plato wrote: "He who has not even a knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone is a man among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy, is a God among men." 

Essentially our role in the natural world is determined by the quality of the thoughts we consider. If our minds are enslaved to bestial instincts we are on par with the brute. Those whose rational faculties ponder domestic human affairs belong to the category of common man or common woman (i.e., ordinary, average); but those whose intellects are elevated to the consideration of higher realities is already a demigod, for this individual's mind is in proximity to the luminosity his or her reason has considered. 

In other words, the grander our thoughts, the closer our minds to the grandeur we call existence. In his encomium of "the science of the sciences" Cicero exclaims: "O philosophy, life's guide! O searcher-out of virtue and expeller of vices! What could we and every age of men have been without thee? Thou has produced cities; thou hast called men scattered about into the social enjoyment of life." 

In other words, we would be lost without the ability to philosophize, organize, categorize, rationalize, consider, and then act in relation to those summations. But unless you're speaking with a professor of philosophy, the word philosophy has little meaning in modern society. Even among philosophers it has little meaning unless accompanied by some other qualifying term. 

Philosophy is the proverbial elephant one must eat one bite at a time. (Creighton William Abrams, Jr.), which means: Start small. 

The whole of philosophy is broken up into numerous isms; each more concerned with disproving each other's fallacies than considering the sublimer issues of cosmic order and humanity's role (or, lack thereof) in it. Ideally philosophy is to serve as the stabilizing influence in human thought. By virtue of its intrinsic nature philosophy should prevent the mind from establishing unreasonable codes of life. 

Genis Carreras

Philosophers and philosophy students delve headfirst into narrow paths which are supposed to illuminate the straight path of rational thinking, but really most just get lost in a Wonderland of their own making, without understanding the overall map and its outstanding systems of philosophic discipline which have kept philosophers questioning since ancient times (some twenty-seven centuries). 

So, Avatar Alice, where do we begin? 

Aristotle &
The Seven Immortals
Walk into a Bar

Or, so the story goes, according to the Greek busybody Diogenes Laertius: 

Feeling parched, Thales, Solon, Chilon, Pittacus, Bias, Cleobulus, and Periander decided to go to a local tavern in Turkey. Wet-blanket Thales wanted a glass of water, served in a tall glass with a little floating boat umbrella: "To replicate the primal principle or element, upon which the earth itself floats like a ship. Look ... If I shake my glass, the little quakes hitting the edges of my glass are the result of this universal sea."  
"Oh, Thales, give it a rest, already!" exclaims Anaximander, the first of the last Ionian philosophers (Anaximenes, Anaxogoras, and Archelaus). That joke was dead in the water when the Ionic school ended. 


The Greek school of philosophy had its inception when upon the seven immortalized thinkers the appellation of Sophos, "the wise" was first conferred. 

"Soph?" asked Avatar Alice, "Are you named after the Sophos?" 

"The Sophos had an empty spot on their bench, I just sat down," said Soph. "I guess you could say that my mind is in proximity to the luminosity their reason has considered." 

And with that, Soph laughed, and is still Laughing. 

No comments: