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2655Re: [neoplatonism] "dialectic" and dialogue (was: Conference)

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  • Thomas Mether
    Aug 28, 2009
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      Hello Michael,
      We are in considerable and substantive agreement, then. My analogy with an ashram was not firm and I don't think any following of a guru should be uncritical. There are types of centers where people gather once of twice a week. Sometimes have a longer residence. Other times an annual retreat. Yet they still have their ordinary lives to conduct. In terms of dialectic and dialogue (partly in reply to Bob), Gelukpa monks are trained to debate philosophical positions because it is the training together that sharpens the reasoning and analytic virtue to help with the insight aspect of meditation just as the samadhi practice helps with the clarity aspect of meditation. The Hesychasts also have debates on Athos and a study of the logical fallacies as intellectual vices that point to something deeper about character is actually similar to the Tibetan practice. In the Hesychast tradition and the Ishraqi tradition, these practices are part of an ethos within
      which Aristotle's Posterior Analytics is read as a treatise in mythical theology on the perfection of the intellectual faculties. There is even a Buddhist reference to the work in this respect, namely, prajna parctice of insight meditation is perfection of dianoia while samadhi practice as the clarity aspect of meditation is perfection of the nous. And of course, I doubt Buddhism and Hesychasm are both wrong that sila practice or praxis (in both cases, practice of the moral virtues) can only be done midst the presence of real people in real interaction. And this is also part of the context for the debate, dialectic, insight, dianoetic training for one reason because the dianoetic part can run on as our inner self-justifier and gossiper. Part of the ancient exercise in philosophy, faithfully practiced by Cato the Elder and Cicero, for example, of the evening review breaks up this pathological (in the ancient sense) pandering to self that the dianoetic
      part gets caught up in. Anyway, I also agree with you that some philosophers, in the real sense, don't need "credentials". So, it seems to me we are basically in agreement about much.
      Thomas Mether
      --- On Mon, 8/24/09, Goya <goya@...> wrote:

      From: Goya <goya@...>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] "dialectic" and dialogue (was: Conference)
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Monday, August 24, 2009, 11:58 AM


      > Well, Michael, why do you say that? More specifically, what do you think
      > is the point or lesson for us modern philosophers of Hadot's book? And
      > following that, what value and purpose was behind translating it in your
      > mind?

      M.C. If I've devoted a large part of the last twenty years or so to the
      translation and study of Hadot's works, it's obviously because I think
      they're of very great importance indeed. Like Hadot, I believe philosophy
      was a way of life in Antiquity, rather than a subject by means of which
      professors can show how clever they are. As I've said elsewhere, I
      believe, following Hadot that both Analytic and Continental philosophy
      have largely abandoned the what was ancient philosophy's main goal: the
      transformation of the student's mode of perception and thought, with a
      view to transforming his or her mode of existence and thereby achieving
      increased happiness.

      I don't believe, however, that this implies any kind of an ashram-like
      lifestyle or uncritical attachment to a guru. Philosophy as a way of life
      has been practiced throughout the centuries in a wide variety of social
      and political circumstances, by emperors (Marcus Aurelius) and by slaves
      (Epictetus). The kinds of spiritual exercises it employs have many
      parallels in other traditions (Indian, Islamic, Taoist, Buddhist), and in
      such current techniques as MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction). It's
      entirely possible to live *in* the world, as a socially conscious and
      active citizen, *and* practice philosophy as a way of life.

      Much academic philosophy today is not philosophy, but talk about
      philosophy, and a highly limited portion of philosophy at that. Much of it
      has only incidental relevance to the way we live our lives and the
      questions we face every day, but attempts to achieve respectability
      through the use of pseudo-mathematical formulae and scientific-sounding
      jargon. Like much else in the Western intellectual world today, university
      philosophy has largely relegated itself to insignificance through its
      parochial specialization and frequent arrogance (based on insecurity and
      envy of the prestige and money of their hard-science colleagues). Its role
      today is often that of dog-in-the-manger, angrily denouncing anything that
      does not fit within its canons of what "real philosophy" should be,
      governed, all too often, by an outdated, positivistic scientism more
      appropriate to Newtonian physics than to recent scientific developments.

      That's the way it seems to me, anyhow.

      Best, Mike

      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76

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