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1.The principal purpose of philosophy is to go against the trend by creating a new system of organized thought.
2.Greek philosophy arose because their culture was faced with specific needs for knowledge. Our job here is to understand those needs and become able to apply that type of thinking to our own lives. This is to say, to not take the ideas of the Greeks of that day as truth eternal, but to adapt those ideas to our own lives. As with all historical knowledge, it must first be understood in terms of the context in which it arose, as the first step in applying it to new situations. All knowledge is historical, in the sense that it was created before the present moment, and all knowledge (abstractions) is incomplete in the sense that, in the process of application, one must complete the concept by considering the unique elements of the present situation.
To ignore this admonition is to become enslaved by old ideas, blinded by failure to examine the assumptions upon which the principles were based. The following are the bedrock assumptions of the classical Greeks: 1) Mind and body are separate entities that can be considered in isolation. 2) Homosexuality is an essential ingredient for creativity. 3) Women are inferior to men, both intellectually and socially. 4) Other races are inferior to Greeks. 5) The laws of nature apply to social life. All five of these assumptions destroy society because they represent a gross distortion of reality.
Our tendency is to believe that the way we think is “natural” and logical. The term “natural” we define as logical and descriptive of the natural environment, with the exception of social life. In other words, “Greek thinking,” as ERH defines it, recognized only laws of the natural environment, and his hypothesis is that social life is essentially different from sticks-and-stones and therefore demands different principles to understand it. What we must do to understand social experience is the major topic of this entire series of lectures. ALL OUR MODERN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY IS BASED ON GREEK THINKING. These two streams of thought serve different gods; science studies facts of nature, and philosophy attempts to understand – it is an exercise in “wonderment.”
3.Philosophy also determines how to define types of reality. For instance, science, by categorizing, shows us the parts of complex phenomena such as the many types of plants, minerals, people, etc. These distinctions are essential to all understanding, allowing us to identify what we see and what we will be blind to, what we believe to be right and wrong, good or bad. EACH PHILOSOPHY IS A SEPARATE “SYSTEM,” EACH OF WHICH HAS A UNITY AND PROVIDES A VISION OF A DIFFERENT REALITY. Obviously one needs to comprehend these predispositions to thinking of different people if one is to understand their experience and respond to it appropriately.
4.Three senses of wonder would allow one to see the world freshly each day, and this type of wonder is the first step in removing distortions of reality we carry around in our mind. 1) Wonder about things outside you (i.e. in the world). 2) Wonder about God, or the creative force of the universe. 3) Wonder about the nature of humankind. Philosophy helps create these senses of wonder.
5.Society, and therefore ourselves as individuals, cannot continue to exist without paying attention to natural things, to God, and to society, and such attention defines cultures, what they value and reject.
6.Greek Philosophy has 4 historic periods: 1) Pre-history, 800-600 BC, Homer’s era, (The first Olympic games were held in 776 B.C.). 2) The Classical period, 600- 50 A.D. (This included the work of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). 3) 50-529 A.D., (The period when Greek philosophy competes with Christianity.) And finally, 4) 529-877 A.D. (Greek philosophy hides within Christianity.) Each of these periods describes a different situation and therefore different interpretations of Western reality during these times.
7.Our modern view of Greek philosophy is distorted because it was rediscovered in modern times by Western culture, in a reverse order, of the historical sequence. Aristotle was rediscovered around 1230 AD. by St. Thomas Aquinas, Plato was rediscovered in 1450 A.D., and the pre-Socratic era rediscovered in 1840. Understanding of “The Enlightenment” was distorted because these historical “foreign spirits” were only understood in a limited version. When ideas are taken out of context and sequence it is not possible to see how changes evolved. The original spirit of the Greek philosophers was changed by successive events of cause and effect, and this reality was, for the most part, not perceived by 19th and 20th century thinkers.
Greek philosophy had already been changed by Christianity by 1230 A.D. Originally the Greeks 1) assumed men superior to women, 2) assumed the necessity for slavery, 3) assumed homosexuality was a necessary motivator for creativity, and 4) assumed human nature could not change. Christianity never assumed any of these four postulates. But the scientific thinking of the Greeks had been absorbed into Christianity.
8.The churches today are therefore Greek in orientation; Catholics are Aristotelian (Thomistic), and Protestants teach Plato. Neither teach Christ. Today Christianity has decided how to interpret both Greek and Jewish tradition, as of the enlightenment. ERH claims this has led to Bolshevism and Nazism in the sense that these ideas are Platonic, following the Republic. The U.S. today is dominated by Greek thought. This means the iron laws of nature will be utilized for prediction and control of social events as well.
9.Christianity is not for everyone because it makes life more complicated. It questions old ideas, offers new ones and requires a pragmatic attitude (i.e. knowledge is given meaning by application and analysis of results).
1.To philosophize, means being able to think for one’s self!. Now the strange story of Greek philosophy is, “..that every thought that the human mind can think up about the universe, about man, and about the directions of man’s life in the universe, or the treatment of man by the universe has been thought before.” (p.1)
2.Paradoxically, the act of trying to be original, renders one to be un-original! (p.3) This sounds strange, but to seek truth requires one to respect truth, which is to follow what has been done. But if one is a Platonist (respecting ideas over experience), one cannot be truly original. To find truth, one must test ideas with experience, i.e. be a scientist. In the process one finds new truths by testing existing theories, or finding old theories to be false. “Truth demands from us submission, obedience to truth.” (p.3)
3.One creates a future only by obedience and service. One cannot be self-seeking and find the truth or build a future. Science must be respected, as must art, literature, and even ethics and religion. To serve is to know what a command is. To serve philosophy is to serve a sense of wonder about what the universe is. We need both philosophy and prophesy because we need to ask, “What is the world like and what shall we do about it? ” (p.5)
4.This voice that pushes us to respond to commands is the voice of God, from an invisible part of us. What is behind you, you cannot see; but you do see what is before you? (p.7)
The Greeks emphasize what has come before us, to “make everything visible.” The Jews neglect the eye. The inner eye, idealism, is a Greek concept, but to exemplify God by trying to see him is pagan. The Jews say, “Listen to God’s commands,” rather.
THESE ARE TWO BASIC TENDENCIES WITHIN US, TO TRY TO SEE BY MAKING THINGS VISIBLE, AND TO BE MOVED OR PUSHED FORWARD BY HIDDEN FORCES WITHIN US. WE SEE, ON THE ONE HAND, AND TO LISTEN COMMANDS ON THE OTHER.
As example would be to assume the future of America lies in manifest destiny (possession of territory), or, by respect for humanity. One is visible, the other hidden. TO SEE THINGS IS NOT TO KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM! Each represents only half the truth. (p.8)
Philosophy can never deal with things that cannot be seen. (p.9)
5. If you read the Bible right, you must be grateful that in one great case, you know all the consequences when people do not obey orders from the invisible. And in Greek tradition, you can see what happens when people neglect reason, neglect the search for nature, and causes, and science, because the Greek philosophers have founded all the sciences we enjoy today. (p.9)
Greek thinking, philosophical thinking, represents the powers of seeing. Jewish thinking represents the powers of responding to commands (the invisible).
6.The 1900’s represent the height of Greek influence in Europe.
7.The chief reason philosophy cannot be the sole nourishment for the mind is that it comes too late. It can only occur “after” an event has become manifest or corporeal in the world. To act at the right time requires an intuitive sense, which is to say a sense of listening to an inner voice, or to a command.
8.Christianity is a coalition of Israelic, and of Greek philosophy; Of prophesy (listening to commands) and of trying to see the world, of ethics (religion) and of science.
Here ERH breaks into an engaging analogy between the power of polarity and the increasingly higher forms of life, especially creative life. Inanimate life has no polarity, it is just there; algae has divided cells; mammals have female and male. Now, when it comes to the spirit, “…the embrace, the mutual polarization is even more needed.” (pp.13,14) We need, not just love, but also enmity, i.e. one must love the enemy if one is to respond and see all of reality.
9.The notion of combining opposites is the condition of seeing more of the universe, of reality. To marry (truly), to belong to groups, to combine opposing religions is to see more reality, to transcend beyond the individual to the greater, more inclusive form of which the individual is only a part.
This is, of course, a paradox, that the individual reflects the whole, and the whole includes the part; neither can exist without the other. Subject and object cannot be separated in understanding reality. The scientist is the subject, and he/she must be objective about his work. But he cannot be true to his work unless he loves it, and to love is to be subjective and creative. Thus, the scientist can never explain his passion for science by using his method. One deals with the outside (Greek thought), the other with inside (Jewish thought). It is a puzzlement, a paradox!
Any intellectual act has two sides to it, faith and reason! Religion and science – one must believe (have faith) that one knows enough to act when necessary; otherwise, knowledge without action is impotent. Truth must eventually be actualized. This does not mean that all knowledge per se must be acted on, but that which is acted upon must be related to the effect of that action on the welfare of the community.
10.The acquisition of the truth is philosophy, but that truth must permeate the individuals’ being if it is to have power. To permeate means one is impelled to act on it, and to act on it requires faith. FAITH AND ACQUISITION MUST NEVER BE SEPARATED IF KNOWLEDGE IS TO BE POWERFUL.
To begin action requires faith, because one doesn’t know how that action will come out. Thus, “…faith and knowledge pertain to the same content.” (p.22)
11.Friendship, love, loyalty, hate, and other emotions are acts of faith. Faith is based on passion, knowledge upon reason.
12.Ancient Greek philosophy was based on an integration of reason and religion, upon knowing and believing, upon receiving a command and acting upon it, upon seeing and believing. Contrast this with today, where we have philosophy only and no felt need to believe. Contrarily, religion today is based upon believing and even acting, but without questioning and interpreting the consequences.
1.All second-hand life, such as book knowledge and knowledge acquired from others, is not real life. It is painless; there are no commitments to be made, only the work required to acquire it. TO ACQUIRE TRUTH AND UNDERSTANDING IS DIFFICULT!
a.Youth, metaphorically, can be defined partially as absorption of information before judgment is acquired. The act of acquisition is more or less mechanical, often automatic, not requiring analysis except perhaps with abstractions like learning mathematical formulas.
b.The act of acculturation, of growth occurs when one needs to apply the knowledge. Then one begins to participate in real life. Acculturation takes courage, but its result is understanding.
c.As one becomes more understanding of life, as one comprehends real meaning, knowledge becomes more organized as it becomes associated with your own life experience. (p.1)
2.Knowledge at inception may have no meaning for us until we need it; it doesn’t speak to us, and we can best store it in memory for future use. Only when we need it and apply it, only when we use it to engage in problems of our personal experience, do we then understand. When we apply knowledge and analyze its consequences, when we philosophize we are really living; only then are we awake, so to speak. Many people go through life half-awake at best!
Each sunrise, each repeating experience, like getting up in the morning, is different, effecting us differently depending upon our readiness for it; and no two people see the same experience as the same. (p.3) THIS STATEMENT IS RELEVANT TO THE CREATION OF MEANING AT EACH MOMENT OF APPLICATION, AND IS CRUCIAL TO UNDERSTAND. THE MEANING OF FACTS IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING. It varies with different approaches to life.
3.Man is a riddle, and his life full of mystery. The process of acquisition and understanding is mysterious. ERH points out that Lucretius, in the beginning of his work, THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE, recognized his need for all the help he could get. He begins by invoking the muses:
“…yours is the partnership I seek in striving to compose these linesOn the Nature of the Universe for my noble Memmius. For him, great goddess, you have willed outstanding excellence in every field and everlasting fame. For his sake, therefore, endow my verse with lasting charm.” (p.3)
We hope for answers to three questions: 1) about the world, 2) whether our teachers will care enough to speak the truth to us, and 3) whether they have something of value to say to us. In short, to be creative, to think and learn for ourselves, is difficult, and we need all the help we can get! Lucretius recognizes this, and is asking the mysterious powers of the universe to be his partner.
His creative act begins with an invocation, which is to accomplish 3 things, 1) insight into what he is going to treat, 2) understanding for his intended audience, and 3) authorization for himself to treat it (i.e. for original work, the spirit that enables one to write it).
4.All of this is necessary because our own thought and actions under our control represent only a small portion of the forces that determine the outcomes. When we marry, when we speak out in a forum, when we create a hypothesis and test the elements of its success, these acts begin as a mystery to us. One would say then that “SUCCESS LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE GODS,” only partially under our control.
To act, to learn, to understand anything of basic value is always difficult, and we should recognize this, be humble before the forces that overwhelm us.
You must understand, gentlemen, that with all your cleverness and all your conceit as modern men, for the great actions of your life, like marriage, you totally are in the hands of the gods. (p.7)
To act, to risk, to suffer the pain of original thought is to have faith! Lucretius, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche all were atheists, but they invoked THE SPIRIT OF THEIR FATHER. Original thought, by definition, is a turning away from all teachers, accepting risk, and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
5.The Muses in antiquity were the powers by which one participated in the divine mind. One prayed to have muses “participate” with them to engender their creative thought. We cannot be alone in the world, we depend upon others passing things on to us. It is the same way in a higher plane, invoking the Muses to participate with us.
Thus, prayer is essential to knowing the world.
6.We can understand only if we are open to experience and have that experience.
You can talk about love, but before you have fallen in love, you don’t know what all the talk really is…
I must not go astray. I must stick, to speak, to what I really can test every day by my palette, and by my skin, and by my hands. That’s all I really know. All the rest is dangerous abstraction. (p.13)
This is but another expression of the notion that we live in two worlds, one of concrete nature, and the other the world of ideas. Each must be understood as part of the larger whole that is reality.
7.It is important also to see that these ideas, idealism and materialism, philosophy and religion, are not opposites, but a matter of emphasis in time. To begin to see reality, one must begin the command to action, then have the experience, then describe what happened, then analyze (be scientific, and reasonable as to what is to be generalized from it). The first is faith, the second sensual, the third linguistic, the fourth scientific.
8.In real life there can be no absolutes; because we are mortal, everything to us is relative. (p.14) This is why we need friends. One is never defined by him/herself alone. Someone else must be willing to speak for you, or in your behalf, in order for you to be believed. Our own persona is thus relative to and dependent upon others, the community, a friend, a husband or wife, one’s working group.
9.In making an invocation, one is admitting they are in constant fear and trembling, as Kierkegaard put it. ” `Tell me O Muse,’ – It is a prayer. It is an imperative, and then when the Muse tells, I must obey.” Thus, the writer tells under whose orders he is operating in order to do this.
10.The truth can be, and often is, dangerous. Commands may be very unpleasant to carry out, but if they are important imperatives they must be.
The truth is admitted to any country only to that extent as people are willing to suffer for it… (p.21)
11.Dedication: We must also tell readers by what right we must be listened to. What is our source of authority? God (the Muses), or the world (of knowledge)?
a.Theology deals with the power that makes men speak.
b.Philosophy deals with the things about which we want to speak.
c.Sociology creates the environment within which we speak.
All of these factors are incorporated within the invocation. “Anyone who speaks believes in God, believes in the world, and believes in society.” (p.23) Regarding society, one goes insane when there is no listener. The universal truth of the unity of humankind is that all these three things are always with us, whether we know it or not.
1.In the beginning ERH seems to continuously to put philosophy in context, contrasting it with other things. First, he points out that as we age our mood changes; Homer wrote the Iliad as a young man, and the Odyssey as an old man. The first is about war, and the last about peace.
He points out that Homer, who was a poet and not a philosopher, created a foundation for Greek Philosophy lasting until the end of the classical period (St. Augustine, 376 AD). Finally, he differentiates poetry from philosophy. Poetry can deal with anything, because it is “just singing.” Philosophy, by contrast, is about systems of thought, and therefore must define subjects specifically. (pp.3 to 6)
2.Poetry is “first impression,” philosophy is “second impression” (analysis). Philosophy (second impression) is very difficult and painful (in terms of intellectual effort) to come by. To remain a poet one remains naive. To arrive at philosophy is to arrive at old age, metaphorically speaking. Figuratively speaking, childhood is poetic, maturity is reflectively philosophical.
1.The early Greeks and Jews lived very difficult lives because they had to struggle to evolve the ideas behind philosophy and prophesy. “You wouldn’t like to be a Greek and you wouldn’t like to be a Jew in antiquity. The burden was too heavy.” (p.1) But our lives are better because we now can learn to live between the two extremes. The early Greeks and Jews sacrificed in order to work through their ideas. Sacrifice is essential for all progress.
You can all reach your destiny. You can be blessed. You can be a saint. You can be a hero. You can be a mother. You can be a good man. But you can’t be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a chimera. (p.1)
Happiness is a by-product; you can’t aim for it. You can look at the wrapping of the sandwich. “I am interested in the sandwich. You are interested in the wrapping.” (p.2) Happiness always has a price, and the price is paid by people who sacrifice for those who find happiness. All heros and martyrs have a life of tragedy, but those acts help others.
2.Life is not here for enjoyment, life is here to be lived, and it is serious business. All of this speaks to the notion that in youth we look for happiness, while in older age we look for the serious business of living, of becoming philosophical.
3.One needs both philosophy and prophesy because these are integrally related by time, two parts of a sequence. Because philosophy is analysis, it comes after events. But what is to motivate us to enter events? What is to get us to go into the “cold water” of the unknown? Obviously this must be by command, by the prophesy of what will happen if we don’t. (p.3)
4.Experiment is not first impression, it is set up, and is second impression. But we cannot live by second impressions alone! We must act before we know all about what we need to do, and thus our expectation, the command we might follow, must carry us into action.
5.Speech allows us to see the relationships between all parts of our experience, between things, between relationships, and even in our inner life, between our emotions and our soul. The animal, by nature, lives in fragmented pieces of life. BUT LANGUAGE ALLOWS US TO NAME AND SPEAK ABOUT THESE RELATIONSHIPS, TO VERIFY THOSE IMPRESSIONS WITH OTHERS, AND TO FIND UNITY IN ALL THIS.
Adolph Portmann, a Swiss biologist (c.a. 1956?) wrote about this difference between animals and humans, that humans are formed in a major way by speech, by being told what to believe. We can thus teach people to burn other people (witches, for instance), or persecute others ala McCarthyism; in short, we are unavoidable products of the powers of speech. Portmann described animal passion in intercourse, and contrasted this with human needs for love, compassion, sacrifice, the cultivation of noble feelings all interconnected. One act of animal passion cannot be looked at without injecting these other elements of our experience that are pure creations of speech. Animals are accepted as rapists, humans are considered subhuman who do the same!
6.ERH goes on to point out that, while we are rooted in nature, our future (logos) depends upon society. That there are two points of view, 1) that we can remain “natural,” which he believes would condemn us to remaining animals, OR, 2) we must strive to be supernatural, that is, we must try to become civilized. To become civilized we must take the influence of our speech seriously. (p.9)
7.He continues on this theme of the necessity for language as a basis for society. Logos is created by the authority that makes us speak and tell the truth. (Several pages later he calls this “duty” to the community, to create a future for the community, inferring that as individuals we are nothing if we do not do our duty.)
Ethos is our behavior toward our neighbor. Phusis, the contacts with the elements of reality that do not speak, those not related to us through human speech.
The usual division today is a dualism, ethos (society) and phusis (nature). But in this country today, ERH asserts, we have omitted logos. Following the dualism, one addresses what natural laws dictate; we must eat and we must have friends (friendly relations). “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TRUTH (that must guide us?),” ERH asks?
He mentions Dale Carnegie, pointing out that to win friends and influence people is not enough. To reduce the realm of our experience to nature and society does not ask the question, “What is important for me to do? Shall I go against society, or my human nature?” He tells the story of Dorothy Thompson who saved the life of a European who had a different point of view, and who thought she was foolish for having done such a heroic act. He knew he would not have done the same for her, and she knew it too, but she acted humanely, helping him regardless. It became an example for others.
8.The whole world is run by sacrifice.
…if you cannot see your parents go down on their knees, or being contrite, or being overwhelmed by authority that is greater than their purely physical existence, you will always misunderstand life. (p.14)
To sacrifice, to do one’s duty, to create a future comes before everything, but also at times one’s duty may be to oneself. (Especially if one believes the community is wrong – to survive individually for the purpose of trying to change the community can be one’s basic duty.)
The child is born and developed primarily under the power of logos, of understanding that his/her parents are contrite, are unsure of themselves before the overwhelming powers of the world. To be so overwhelmed is why we must pray, pray for the courage to make a considered decision, pray that we see reality itself, pray that we will be up to doing our duty, sacrificing ourselves instead of pleasuring at the country club. (p.15)
9.To say something that hasn’t been said before in the process of uniting a group requires metaphor, a metaphor that those who speak disparate languages can understand. Metaphor likens something new to something that is known. [RF – From here to the rest of the chapter, his exploration on “naming” seems incomplete. I admonish to reader to go back to the text.]
1.Remember, philosophy deals with “second impressions;” it is the product of analysis which comes after “first impression” experience.
2.ERH then makes a distinction between Homer and Plato (as representatives of philosophy). Myth, he explains, means personal witness (intended truth that hasn’t been verified by others). It is partial truth, therefore, until given “second impressions” by others. Myth is a perfectly honorable term without which one couldn’t live, because we often cannot wait to act on second impressions. It is the difference in science between anecdotal accounts and the average of many stories. First impressions are always unsystematic
3.Another distinction between Homer and Plato, between poetry and philosophy, is that poetry deals with small things, with individual things. Philosophy classifies; it deals with types. It is the difference between the particular and the general. In classification one cannot address individuals, one can only deal with abstractions, with ideas of generalizations!
1.Humanism means that truth is respected, even listened to by our enemies.
All chivalry, all international law, all behavior of truth between modern lobbies, farmer’s union, Republican Party, bankers’ interest, are still based on the humanistic creed that there will be a limit to their mutual slander and the pursuit of their interest. (p.1)
It (humanism) has something to do with admiration, a virtue, a central virtue for everyday living. In the end it means teaching children ethics, whom to admire, what qualities to admire, and fairness.
2.A FIRST PRINCIPLE OF HUMANISM. All powers to love (admire) are limited. There must be a limit to love or hate; we cannot have an unlimited ability in any direction, because this unbalances our judgment. To love God, ourselves, others, things, or ideas in an unlimited way is to become unbalanced. Just as all items in an organization’s budget are limited, all of the parts of operations are necessary, and one cannot be valued above others, except of course for a special case; but on average they must be balanced.
Believe it or not, friendship is limited. We only have time to be a friend to so many people, “…you can’t make friends with everybody. There isn’t time.” We have only so much energy, and must therefore economize and balance our powers, just as we do when achieving or solving a problem. Just as no tool in the carpenter’s tool box is more important than others, and just as the carpenter doesn’t have time to become expert in everything.
3.A SECOND PRINCIPLE OF HUMANISM. It forces the expansion of the circle of our admiration. THERE IS A PROBLEM HERE! How does one make a decision? If our country goes to war, and we know the enemy’s side has a point, what are we to do? This decision therefore cannot be made on the basis of logic, of our reasoning. IN THIS SITUATION, TO ACT HUMANELY IS NOT ROOTED IN LOGIC.
4.A THIRD PRINCIPLE: For example, the rich man treats the beggar nicely because he knows that he himself could be in that position some day.
5.TO TEACH AND LEARN, one must either love the subject or the teacher (and students?). The pivotal term here is LOVE. Love is not based on logic. Any teaching that is to stick, MUST focus love on one of those two, the subject or the students. “If the subject matter is boring, then the teacher tries to make it interesting and is loved by the students for this effort.” (p.8)
6.One must always be both specific and general. Philosophy, in the process of generalizing, strips all particulars, such as specific names as compared with names of “classes” of things. Poetry insists on naming the specifics. TO DO BOTH IS TO BE HUMANISTIC.
7.HUMANISM is the cult of friendship, with the friend valued over all else. ERH points out that in France after the revolution there were two religions, the Catholic church and the cult of friendship. In other words, the humanist values friendship at least as much as, if not more than, above wonder at the universe, its creator, and all its mysteries. (p.11)
8.We all need cults, of course, these minor gods may be our goals (such as completing a book), ideas, money, or some other idol. These keep us going, and we value these loves or we fall ill. [RF – by extension I believe he implies, that such “need” comes with the territory of feeling creative, and in some control of our lives.]
9. In all real societies, there are no synonyms. You cannot call the president of the United States “great chief.” He is the president of the United States…If you don’t call him the president you turn him into a tyrant….All original speech is metaphorical. (p.12)
This statement is completely consistent with the previous point (several chapters back) that second impressions (philosophy) speak in terms of categories, and first impressions, (speech relating directly to experience), speaks in specifics. To call God a “supreme being” would put him in the same category as the head of the Freemasons, as a class of “types.” A real society is one in which people speak to and about each other, not as classes. To classify is to kill off the individual personality and make someone into “one of many.” The use of metaphors in poetry is an attempt to return to the specific, the uniqueness of an individual.
Homer’s Achilles was not just “another human being,” he was a lion among men.
Philosophers cannot create obedience and loyalty, which are essential to the first orders of life, essential for friendship and community building. This is because their “forte” is generalization.
10.We know who we are by whom we address. To say “father” or “mother” means one is a son or daughter; to say “brother” or “sister,” one is a sibling; to address “Mr. Smith” or others, we increase our status. Prayer is the formal addressing of the power over us, “…a desperate attempt, prayer,…to sing yourself into your proper place in the cosmic order.” It elevates us in status as the children of God. (pp.18-19)
11.Real prayer is specific, and it cannot be printed because it must be said at a specific occasion; at another occasion it has a different meaning. THE GREATEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE THE MOST FRAIL – A LIFE, A STATEMENT MADE AT THE RIGHT TIME (WHICH HAS THE MAXIMUM INFLUENCE), A PRAYER. LANGUAGE (SPOKEN HONESTLY, SENSITIVELY, AND AT THE RIGHT TIME) CANNOT BE BOUGHT OR PUT IN A SAFE. There is no opportunity to recapture those moments, to repeat them.
Wars are not ended unless each side prays for peace. Otherwise, war is still in some hearts and it goes on, waiting for an opportunity to rise to the surface.
Life goes on by specific statements, not generalizations, this is why the Greeks were conquered, first by Alexander, then by the Romans; at those times they were still fighting among themselves, victims of thinking in terms of generalizations, of not speaking about specifics. Peace, any type of peace, cannot be made by philosophers or by poets, but only by those who pray for peace.
12.The first one third of the phases of Greek Philosophy, roughly from Thales to Socrates, was to speak only in generalizations, only 2nd person (he, she, it), to eliminate first impressions. Socrates said there were some good things in unique events – that is where life is lived. Parmenides was at the height of this period. Descartes (1596-1650) did the same. He was Greek in this thinking! He sought generalizations without specific experience first!
13.The genius of Thales of Miletus was that he conceived the idea of the common denominator, that is to say, classes of things. To classify is the essence of philosophy.
1.ERH begins by making a distinction between “public” and “people” The former an assembly of individuals with no common spirit which would unite them. Their characteristics would be interest only in the present, in entertainment or immediate gratification. The latter consider themselves a community; their characteristics would include, a common spirit, interest in maintaining a community and in building a future.
2.Homer wrote to a “public,” for their entertainment. (p.13) When one goes “public,” one has entertainment. When there exists only public, one has tyranny, or the foundation for tyranny, because a “public”, as disparate individuals, has very little power to resist. (p.13) By definition, a “people” have enough power to resist. Whenever we philosophize, we gather people we do not live with from day to day.
3.ERH points out also that the purpose of poetry is to relieve the everyday tensions by way of stories, (even though those stories have mostly metaphorical wisdom). Poetry also is for the purpose of inspiring. But art does not solve problems, win wars or begin movements.
4.The great problem of philosophy is to ennoble. With our leisure time we can attain entertainment, but we also need to spend time creating a future, and that is what philosophy will help do. But it must be supplemented by other activities, right action, in addition to our monetary work.
5.Paradox – atheists and gods: We live with and must create paradoxes. Humankind is not mathematical, we must try to find balance and unity among contradictions in life. For instance: 1) We must leave our family, eschew them when we are mature, when we marry. We must protect the integrity of the two unities (our own new families and the home of our parents). We must, in other words, attempt to remain part of both. 2) We must be atheists, invoke the gods, and speak from the authority of our teachers. All authorities act in the role of a god by virtue of the truth they proclaim. Each god competes with the other, but we must find unity and balance between them, or we cannot make life’s decisions with fruitfulness – imbalance would tear us apart just like an unbalanced flywheel.
Examples: Lucretius is an atheist, an Epicurean worshiping the material world. Yet he invokes the gods (Muses) and speaks through the authority of his teacher, Memmius. Nietzsche likewise pronounced “God is dead,” then went mad and (crossed himself – so much was he instilled with Christianity). Gods represent the source of strength and creativity within us, whatever we believe a source of power might be, i.e. materialism, money, knowledge etc. Public pronouncements are not necessarily the indicators of our “gods”, until they are backed up by actions!
Further examples: Our different social roles are often contradictory. To be a father, son, friend, husband, community member all may demand different (contradictory) behavior. The secret of balance must be in the specifics of the situation. That is, each action must be the right action at the right time. One time we may need to emphasize our fatherhood, sacrificing other roles at that moment, and so on.
In another context, there is a time to philosophize, a time to be a poet or listen to poetry, a time to act. In short, we must balance these contradictory purposes, acting (overall) in a balanced way. Scientific inquiry would be another example; there is a time when science should be limited. The atom bomb, and gene splicing would be examples of perhaps not doing something just because it can be done!
6. …philosophy is the perpetual sense of wonder to distribute in us our power to find new truth, our power to get along with our fellow man, and our power to dominate dead matter. And to distinguish what is dead matter, what in you and me, for example, is just routine, is a question for our changing concept of nature, our changing concept of theology, and our changing concept of ethics, or of mores, or morality of the social sciences. (p.21)
7.Thales is the driving power of Greek philosophy because he showed the world the tremendous power of generalizations. Generalization, in turn, allows different civilizations to find common ground. It thus has a civilizing effect. The effect of Thales was, for instance, to eliminate the severity and much of the sacrifice of the many local cults in Greece. (p.22)
8.Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes tried to establish three ideas about the universe: 1) We must generalize to find common qualities of things so that the cultures can communicate about the universe (i.e. all matter is one). 2) Thatthe source of matter has no limits, and therefore cannot be called by a specific name; it must have a general name. And 3) We exist in a living universe (natural and social), as compared to one which is purely physical (i.e. dead). The universe experienced by man is created by his consciousness of it! IF THE UNIVERSE IS NOT TREATED AS ALIVE (AS IT IS NOT BY THE AVERAGE PERSON) THEN ONE FEELS FREE TO KILL OR TO POLLUTE IT. LIVE THINGS SPOIL, DEGENERATE, AND DIE. WHEN WE TRY TO MAKE FOOD THAT WILL NOT SPOIL, FOR INSTANCE, WE DETRACT FROM ITS NUTRITIOUS VALUE.
1.We live by making decisions, about what is important, about what is alive, about what must be acted upon, etc
2.Russian Communism was ultimately seen as impotent because it saw the universe as dead consisting only of dead matter. [RF- I believe he means by this that human beings in this state follow iron rules of nature. I have spoken to any number of scientists in the U.S. who believe the same.] America has made the opposite mistake, that every country is as alive as every other country. The former and latter are both untrue; the universe is alive and all countries have a different level of aliveness (vitality – a different ability to regenerate themselves at any given point in their history).
3.One must attempt to see reality as best he/she can. During ones lifetime one must try to make one original statement (be creative), as did Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, or Heraclitus. Their bit of originality was not great, but that enough for them to have lived for 2500 years in the history books.
4.Religion means sacrifice, to practice it truly is demanding, to live such a life is not easy. For Greek philosophy to have become established, for Christianity to have become established, for any religion to have become established was brought about by great effort, sacrifice, bloodshed. Quite something!
Bloodshed in itself is not wicked. There is good and bad bloodshed. To spill blood in an effort to throw off tyranny is good, freedom is always bought by blood.
5.Parmenides is more original than Plato or Aristotle in that he pronounced the radical aim of philosophy is to “…penetrate against his own local times and his own temporal limitations.” (p.10)
The implication of this is fundamental, it is a turning inward, to live in the mind only. In the mind anything is possible, it is a dream world where one is completely in control. ERH asserts that Parmenides was the first to create a community based on homosexuality, a community that could engage in sex without consequences, without worrying about social taboos, etc.
…Greek philosophy is an attempt to get outside first impressions, and that always means to get outside the city. And that always means to try to do without the community and its austere rules of chastity, and of probity, and of honesty….and so you can have various ways of escaping. (p.11)
So the “life of the mind,” taken to extremes, can be a way of escape from community demands, but extremes always destroy the community. Robinson Crusoe was a story about such escape. To escape for a limited period of time may be beneficial in the short term or in one instance, but as a permanent act it would destroy society! It means as well that one is selfish, that one would not sacrifice for the community.
6.Parmenides represents the beginning of IDEALISTIC philosophy. It creates, as the true reality, that which lasts (for the life-time of man on earth), the reality of essences of things, the idea behind the material reality. It would be like viewing the world from on high, like an eagle, lacking all detail of the unique. This is the tendency of “The Ivory Tower,” attempting to gain a foothold in the everlasting, the eternal truth. ERH likens any isolation, college, sickness, 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, for instance, as necessary but not to be mistaken for the norms of everyday living.
7.ERH contrasts “first impressions” with the establishment of truth. First impressions describe “the way of opinion,” they are raw facts or data, yet unfiltered by either your own experience or that of others, subjective, personal, unique. But this personal experience may bear little relationship to the experience of others. Language and community must be based on common agreement, a very different order of information. Therefore, another name for what we call “truth” becomes a political issue, established by common agreement. Common agreement, however does not tell us anything about the social effect of acting on information. “Truth” as a term describing social experience must be differentiated from the truth of natural science. The meaning between the two is very different. Social truth must be tested in terms of its effect, damaging or efficacious, to the community. This is why three generations are required to establish, “the way of truth.” In Biblical terms, this is the meaning of the phrase, father, son and Holy Spirit, representing three generations to establish social truth. The way of first impressions describes personal life, the way of social meaning becomes the basis for communication and a path to a future of social peace. Parmenides was trying to escape the transience of opinion and that was why he is acclaimed as a great original thinker.
8.The genius of Heraclitus (succeeding Parmenides by a century) was that he said we must find truth, not just in terms of second impressions, but also within the realm of first impressions. This, ERH claims, is the essence of the Christian contribution, that truth must be all-inclusive of experience. (p.20)
This notion of Heraclitus went against the opinion of the day, and no doubt would go against scientific and Humanistic opinion today. It would go against the scientist/philosopher who worships “second impressions”, and against traditional Christian religious opinion today, which, in reality, represents the same scientific philosophy. It also opposes the sensualists (first impressionists). Truth must include felt experience, as well as generalizations. HERACLITUS WAS THUS AGAINST BOTH THE EPICUREANS (FIRST IMPRESSIONISTS), AND THE RELIGIONS, thus he suffered. and …..
…anybody who is willing to be the underdog, who is willing to suffer, can know the truth. (p.21)
9.ERH claims the worst destroyers of community are the “luke warm”, those who go along with the powerful, but will not stand up to them when necessary. The luke war represent the majority of any population.
[RF – Now for the first time I understand the difference between philosophy, as defined here, and Christianity as he defines it, although it would seem that by this definition Christianity has become corrupted into reflecting second impressions only. Jesus, according to ERH, symbolized the merging of first and second impressions by his honoring the law, on the one hand, and breaking it on the other. That is, he (Jesus) realized that rules were essential to community, but by themselves they were always incomplete, oriented toward past experience, not considering the new. In breaking the law he reflected the necessary path to seeking the truth, his suffering on the cross symbolized the sacrifice necessary to correcting the law and therefore helping the community survive. ]
10.The remainder of the chapter presents readings of translations from Parmenides.
1.The purpose of this chapter is to show the “idiocy” of the view that “second impressions” are of superior importance to actual experience, as if they could be separated. . Another way of stating this, ERH implies is to say that “observers” are superior to “participants” in social events.
2.The fundamental notion of the Parmenidean theory of criticism is – looking at any event only after the fact. Parmenides failed to see the difference between natural and social events.
“The general plebiscite in this country among the college students is that the critic is cleverer than the poet…The critic is paid for passing silly judgments. Costs him nothing. Absolutely nothing.” (p.5)
Parmenedean philosophy, “nature first,” means dead things first. It is like saying that “the laws of nature are more true than the laws of men.” If this were true, ERH asserts, then no country would ever exist because no laws of man, or country, or improved community occurs without sacrifice and often bloodshed!. (p.6) One might observe that modern psychology seems to follow this trend, as it seeks the “laws of nature” to find out how man behaves, omitting, it would seem, the notion of how man should change according to what would be right socially. For instance; greed is natural, selflessness is an effort away from this tendency, and must to taught if we are to create peace.
3.Nature doesn’t contradict you, nature, as with animals, doesn’t know progress, doesn’t know the human spirit, doesn’t know self-denying ordinances. Nature isn’t ascetic, it cannot renounce any claim. Marcus Aurelius followed nature and destroyed the Roman Empire by putting his own son in as his successor, as Claudius did before him. Vital decisions, i.e. those related to regeneration of human community, are not natural. (p.11)
4.Parmenides is followed in time by Sophistry, by people who attempt to cheat you by way of isolating situations from the stream of history; all of which is then followed by tyranny; the price paid for cheating. Our mass media, and most, if not al,l institutions lean in this direction today. They tend to be self-serving rather than working for the benefit of society.
5.Sophists were the original community consultants. In the beginning it was an honorable profession, later evolving into corruption.
6.Those who ask questions are always “outsiders,” and those who claim to answer are insiders; these are basically two different societies. Those who are willing to test for answers can be said to be “within,” included as part of a group.
Questions can be derived only from answers; many questions (most) either cannot be answered, or are nonsense, which in either case they should not be asked. Does God exist? has no answer. One can ask a question to establish a fact.
As long as you try to answer every question of a child, you are their slave, but not their educator. Because there are wrong questions and right questions. Certain questions can be asked, and certain cannot be asked. I am not against asking questions,… (p.19)
Parmenides originated raising questions about things, and the Sophists asked many questions. The next step in the evolution of philosophy was to determine what questions were worth asking.
7.Socrates represents the beginning of this third period. He says, THE LAW CANNOT BE QUESTIONED. Especially, one cannot ask, “When can I disobey the law?” The questioner has no right to ask this if they may profit from the answer. One can ask it, if one asks in behalf of others! (p.20) Heraclitus anticipated Plato on this issue. Socrates proved his point by being willing to die for it. The law of the community must be obeyed unless to question it will not profit the asker.
8.In sum, questioning in the abstract is, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, can be destructive to community. Many, many questions are asked for which there is no single or clear answer; the result is endless speculation. Questioning can only be beneficial in a specific situation where a specific problem is presented. In this case the outsider, the consultant, the “observer” who has no direct stake in the consequences of any decision (answer) is always secondary in importance to those who are “insiders,” those who do live with consequences!
In sum, certain questions can be asked in a given situation, and otherscannot, otherwise decadence will occur, just as the child is allowed, even taught that he/she has a right to question anything and so asks endlessly. There are certain questions he must not be allowed to ask!
9.The point of the Socratic method is to question the questioner, ask, “Who is asking and why?” Those who are insiders, who are members of an institution, have a right to ask and criticize their own institution, but outsiders who do not live under those rules have no understanding of the consequences. A CRUCIAL QUESTION TO THE QUESTIONER IS ALWAYS, “WHO IS ASKING?”
10.In Greek history, Parmenides represented opening analysis to outsiders; all things could be discussed, he said. Heraclitus previously had maintained that the laws of the city had to be obeyed. But unlimited questioning, just as unquestioned laws, represented an unbalance. Socrates represented the bringing of these two in balance, of limiting the rights of each, where BOTH THE LAWS OF THE CITY AND THE QUESTIONER CAN BE QUESTIONED.
Socratic philosophy meant that man must both question the city, and be patriotic.
1.One may need several philosophies to get through life, one for each different mood.
2.A nation is “…a unit of man plus a spiritual center that contributes to mankind.” (p.2) America is a nation because of the Declaration of Independence. A nation also needs a church to nourish the spirit of the people, who in turn nourish the government. Governments do not nourish people, it’s the other way around.
3.Philosophy, because it attempts to seek truth and these truths may offend persons of certain values or beliefs, may not be acceptable to some cultures. HOWEVER, because it seeks the truth, it becomes a common ground by which one nation can speak to another nation. Philosophy goes against trends; that is its purpose. Philosophy contributes a standard of truth to all parochial dialogue.
4.Textbooks should be filled with a history of the people who suffered during some crisis, e.g. a revolution, or the McCarthy era, then students would know the purpose of a revolution and the price paid for reform.
5.Common sense is “the trend” in thinking today, but it is by definition from the past. Philosophy is against common sense because it represents a new way of looking at things. Every great advance in thinking has its origin in a new way of looking at the world. Old and new represent one of the many paradoxes of experience. We need both.
6.The price of change is always pain, – in the extreme. This may mean war and bloodshed. All new things must pay this price for existence!
7.For a democracy to exist, there must always be a separation of church and state, because theologies are always monistic, and all people would not be given freedom if it were otherwise. In Russia the head of the state is also head of the party (communism is a religion by any definition). This always leads to tyranny.
1.Nationhood: a nation is a group of people who can live together with a common spirit, a common philosophy, so to speak. A mass of land with people on it is not by definition a nation; it is a miscellaneous conglomeration where anarchy may break out at any time unless tightly controlled by force.
2.To have a nation, there must be a cohering philosophy. Today in the US such a philosophy is represented by the university. Its function is to criticize the elements of everyday life. TO SO CRITICIZE, ONE MUST HAVE SOME CONCEPTION OF WHAT THINGS IDEALLY SHOULD BE LIKE.
…before you know how society should look, how can you know what to do about juvenile delinquency?…I mean, don’t you see that juvenile delinquency’s importance can only be stated after you know what’s important? (p.3)
3.Philosophy is the first step in preparation for action, and the taking of action is crucial to the meaning of our pronouncements. Part of our burden is to sense when action should be taken, otherwise opportunities are missed, and it becomes too late. Desired change cannot occur until another propitious moment comes. Much more suffering occurs in the interim.
4.It is often the martyrs who speak up first about what is wrong. ERH cites Billy Mitchell, who said after the first world war that the job wasn’t finished; he was court-martialed for this speech. At times we need more martyrs.
5.THE GOLDEN MEAN: We have no idea what this is unless we know the extremes. Stevenson and Eisenhower were political examples in the 50’s. Democracy is maintained when there is a balance of power. When politics, philosophy, and law are singularly controlled, then civilization collapses. THE GOLDEN MEAN results from tremendous suffering on each side. The golden mean results when someone “sticks out his/her neck.” It does not mean the middle road all the time, but rather, a balance of actions over time. There is justifiably a time to take extreme actions occasionally.
Thought cannot be bought with money, it only occurs when independent thinkers compete and interchange ideas.
6.Independent thinkers are expensive; it would be more economical to have only one around, but then the issues of life cannot be measured by the criteria of the marketplace. Competing individuals, competing universities, competing cities all represent vitality, but are expensive in commercial terms.
Small is beautiful; to many people doing the same thing diminishes the importance of the individual. The principle is that the presence of masses always diminishes the importance of the individual. In Greece, the great philosophers came from small towns. Bigness is a principle of commerce, but not of vitality, just as one wife is more precious than a hundred. “That’s why businessmen are all Moslem, they would like to have any number of wives.” (p.12) For “practical” things numbers may seem good, but for precious things, it is the opposite. A true friend is better than 100 chums.
In another context, vitality, creativity, original thinking comes from the ability to be astonished! But this means as well that one must choose to be astonished over only a few things, one at a time with time to think about them. The general tendency today is indifference toward many experiences, we seem to be astonished over insignificant events however, and be astonished every day, but only momentarily. .
These notions about vitality, of creative thinkers (people who can think for themselves), cannot be educated by mass production, by commercial principles. This means yes/no testing, identical curricula for 1000 students, standardized testing, only teaching for memorization, does not promote independent thinking.
7.The principles for governance, for economics, and for vitalization of people, must differ. As an example, for economics, economy of scale is important because monopolies decrease cost; for government, interest in protecting the country’s economics of scale should be less important than vitality, ideas, defense, etc. For the individual and original thinking, smallness is the incubator.
8.Modern times, roughly since 1900, are modern because some basic relationships have changed. Before 1900 AD, the economy followed from the larger, more pervasive institutions of church and state. Today it is just the opposite, as the economy is the major international concern in every country, and philosophy and government must follow. We do not have a one-world church or state, but we do have a one-world economic order. Oil is an obvious example.
“…we have to try to find a language of philosophy, of criticism, of freedom…which stands up under the impact of our economy..” (p.18)
[RF – the inference being that today economics has undue influence on all other crucial elements of the country such as justice and freedom. Another example would be that, it makes no difference what country controls the Suez or Panama Canals because they must be geared to a world economic order.]
9.In past times philosophy, theology and government stood for unity. No longer is this so; it is economics. ERH also reminds us that this is another example of the dominance of the economic order over concerns for the health of the living part of nature.
…`nature’ is what you see out of the window when you look out of your family livingroom. That which is not your immediate self you call `nature,’ which is separate from you, which you can only see with the help of your family through their eyes, through their education, and through the faith they have implanted in you… You live without philosophy, but with the World Bank. The Greeks couldn’t live without philosophy, because the philosophy gives them direction. (p.19)
Nature, to the Greeks, was something to be looked at, to find something to do with. Today the world has been “economized,” and there is no more “outside.” To look at nature in terms of “the outside” is to think in the Greek mode. It breaks up our experience, separates the “inside” from the “outside.”
This point of view is the same with all parochial thinkers, who see the world only in the form of “them and us.” “Us” is inside, “them” are outside, outsidemy church, outside my profession, outside my culture, social class, trade, family etc.
10.The opposite point of view is to see the world as one, a creature of God our creator. We are then part of the world of the stars, of the forests and animals, of other cultures, all as God’s creations.
11.Today, the economy seems so big that we feel little power to influence it, either by theology or philosophy, or by government. WE FEEL POWERLESS, AS ROLLO MAY ASSERTED:
Cassandra: Apollo was the seer who set me this work…
Chorus: Were you already ecstatic in the skills of God?
Cassandra: Yes; even then I read my city’s destinies.
–from Agamemnon, by Aeschylus
The old myths and symbols by which we oriented ourselves are gone, anxiety is rampant; we cling to each other and try to persuade ourselves that what we feel of love; we do not will because we are afraid that if we choose one thing or one person we’ll lose the other, and we are too insecure to take the chance.
The bottom then drops out of the conjunctive emotions and processes–of which love and will are the two foremost examples. The individual is forced to turn inward; he becomes obsessed with the new form of the problem of identity, namely, Even-if-I-know-who-I am, I-have no-significance. I am unable to influence others. The next step is apathy. And the step following that is violence. For no human being can stand the perpetually numbing experience of his own powerlessness.
–from LOVE AND WILL, Rollo May,pp.13,14 New Delta edition, 1989
12.Our grammar indicates how we see the world. First and second person, you and me, are alive, we respond to each other and recognize each other’s integrity as an individual human. To call something “it” means that it is outside us, something for us to be objective about, to possibly conquer, something to “use”. “Its” have to be investigated by you and me, and examined, because they have no self-consciousness. ( p.25) Native Americans on reservations are treated as “its” for example.
13.There is clearly a paradox here. Unity is a necessity in life, because when we see objects or peoples as separated, as fragmented from ourselves or from each other, they become alien to each other. Our wisdom, in other words, stems from the ability to see constantly larger “unities” in the world. For instance, our economies are effected by many factors, including demand, attitude toward the environment, our need to consume, our technology, etc. To see these factors as separate blinds us from seeing the disastrous economic effects in the long run. The same is true for all problems, well almost all.
Unity can also tyrannize. A sustained diet of centralized social control always leads to oppression, because there are no alternatives to submission. How then are we to see or rather to understand the unified concept of “the universe?” Paradoxically we need a balance between separateness and unity.
14.Of course, we must have both, for at one moment we must decide to see others, or other things outside us subjectively, as equals, as having as much right to exist as do we ourselves. This would be an ethical attitude. In another moment, we will need to see something or someone outside us objectively, as a scientist might see them. . Each moment forces this type of decision upon us. Each point is represented by either religion (seeing ourselves as children of God, and therefore seeing God within other life) or science, as seeing all the world outside us as “objects.”
To always see the world from one point of view or the other turns us into monsters, leading us astray. For instance, to believe in ideas (i.e. God within everything) is tantamount to acting irrespective of the evidence before us. But to look only at evidence from a self-serving point of view sets us at war with the everything outside us. (pp.28,29) In essence ERH says that at times we should feel ourselves “above” those outside us, and at times we should feel “below” those outside us. Love is a good example of the latter he asserts. We feel inferior to that which we love, and willing to sacrifice for it. It would be true at times of our country, of our race, or of our friends.
1.Insular thinkers, people who come from politically stable communities, do not philosophize. Only when one is in a small country and is forced to reconcile (communicate and relate) with the rest of the world does one need to evolve general concepts.
2.ERH goes on to point out that the Greek philosophers immigrated all around the Mediterranean – Italy, southern France, north Africa, Egypt, Asia Minor. Athens produced very few philosophers; those who came from the smaller cities and travelled, were the ones who philosophized.
3.These philosophers were trying to find their place as new colonies; they respected the opinions of others and tried to incorporate those opinions with their own.
4.Plato had all of these cities, their ideas and spirit, represented in his academy. (p.12) These men evolved universal ideas, which gave Greeks a common spirit, a common platform for thinking about the universe, a method of unifying the universe. They were first, men of action, “…bold pioneers in action. And they were the wonders of the age.” (p.13); They were pioneers, and they sought methods for action in the world.
5.Plato attempted to put all of these different philosophies into relationship. ERH asserted, that Plato was the supreme thinker of the time, attempting to synthesize all previous thought.
6.Democritus put forth the corpuscular theory of light, Pythagoras the wave theory. The former thought the world could be explained in terms of atoms, the latter in terms of numbers. ERH speaks of the universe being made up of people. The decision as to how to look at the universe IS, OR WAS, A LIFE AND DEATH MATTER TO THE GREEK THINKERS.
…the question: what is the small community and the large universe,..to me? and how do the two fit together: how much have I to be loyal to the laws of my community: do I have to go to war for my country: do I have to become a citizen of the world?–all this has been thought out here–very carefully, and much better than you think it out. (p.19)
To repeat once again, the genius of the Greek thinkers was that their thoughts were basically original issues that we still must deal with today. What is a species? for instance was the same problem that Aristotle dealt with.
7.Greek thought, however, dealing as it did with secondary impressions (objectively, that is), was not enough. One can know things objectively, but this isn’t wisdom. Objectivity leads to exploitation, but not to new insights. To find new insights, one must love and be willing to sacrifice.
8.Original thought comes only through being dissatisfied. One cannot seek to be content, or to set out to love some specific thing. Pleasure, contentment, happiness can only be by-products of commitment and love.
9.One must understand facts of life; that it takes the efforts of many to create successes. Many run in a race, but there can be only one that comes in first. That person would have found no invention without the contributions of all the others. Plato would have had no ideas to integrate if there hadn’t been 100 other philosophers who contributed original work, work that we have never attached their names to.
The point of all this is that the primary ingredient to a fruitful life is to understand that we can never control fame and fortune for ourselves, but our sense of satisfaction must be within us. The primary criterion for anyone’s success is that he/she kept trying, that he acted on what he knew, that he persisted, and to do this takes love of the subject. If it is success that one always seeks, one is very likely to either give up, or go insane.
10.More differences in meaning between “first” and “second” impressions:
A.First impressions, personal experience, is uniqueness, which, in turn means the basis upon which love, dedicate ourselves or our community and country; indeed the only basis upon which we claim any individuality. It is the basis for our idiomatic language (english, egyptian, german, etc.) as contrasted with the universal languages of art, music, and mathematics. To live, individually, means we are not a number, but have a unique name. Names of our city, country, individuals, songs all represent the notion of our sensual world.
B.Second impressions, are products of thought which thinks in terms of generalizations, of universals, of classes of things. Numbers indicating quantities are not alive. The weight of our bodies is not alive, but is part of us that is. Second impressions define the dead things in life which last longer than one lifetime. Theories, numbers, musical notes, etc. which have no uniqueness. The note “C” in the musical scale is always the same in every song. Parmenides attempts to destroy idiomatic language. Pythagoras attempts to replace idiomatic language with numbers.
In contrast to all of this, Heraclitus believed that, to know reality we must include the meaning of both first and second impressions, thus utilizing all languages which have been developed for each of these phenomena. The world of emotion is described by art, including idiomatic language. The concrete world is described by number. Both utilize logic.
11.Our universe is made up of two entities at this time, human society and nature and this lays out the need for two sciences to describe the nature of each. The ultimate creator, God is a power which cannot disappear. Pages twenty seven and eight of this lecture go on to describe details of these relationships.
1.Socrates lived in 470-399 BC, Plato in 428-348 BC, Aristotle in 384-322 BC. Plato spent his professional life developing Socrates’ ideas, and in the process founded his Academy. Aristotle was a student of the Academy for 20 years. Plato was a founder, Aristotle a classicist (that is, born into an established method).
2.The evolution of the Greek ideas was that in expanding (generalizing) the learning of the different gods, the Greek thought became more universal. Alexander’s conquests replaced those of Egypt, Babylonia, and Syria; replacing their parochial thinking with the common Greek (more universal) thought. Rome carried on that tendency after they conquered the Greeks.
3.Socrates was executed because he disobeyed the laws of Athens. Plato founded the Academy, to the effect of being allowed to conduct free thought (beyond that of the Athenian gods). ERH likened the Athenian Council to McCarthyism. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, HE POINTS OUT THAT THEY WERE BOTH RIGHT. SOCRATES WAS RIGHT IN INSISTING ON MORE FREE THOUGHT, AND THE COUNCIL WAS RIGHT IN INSISTING THAT THEIR LAWS BE OBEYED. PROGRESS COMES WHEN THE LOGIC OF THE THINKING CAN ACCOMMODATE PREVIOUSLY DISUNIFIED IDEAS INTO A LARGER, MORE INCLUSIVE CONCEPT. Such is the way of progress, and to found a new idea, as in this case of Athens, the law had to be changed. Socrates paid for that change.
Socrates was a tragic character; concepts of “second impressions” came into collision with concepts of “first impressions.” (p.7) The difference is between abstraction and concrete reality, the world of the mind and of “things.”
4.ERH enlarges on the foundations of progress and unified relationships. It was not that Marxism was wrong per se, he asserts, but that the Russians claimed it was the ultimate doctrine. Lack of change means death to the culture. This is why the new idea of generalization was so progressive for the Greeks. Every age, he claimed, in order to maintain vitality needs a new genius to expand its thinking. It needs original thought, like a Freud, or a Marx, or Einstein. The act of jogging peoples’ thinking is the crucial act, equally or more important than the substance of their ideas!. (p.9)
And therefore there are three miracles in the world, gentlemen. The logical miracle, they are great minds, in seeming contradiction in every generation renewing the life of our race. The ethical miracle, that although at first they sound impossible and madmen, we finally bow and make room for the current which they create, for the stream of life which they impart. And third, that the universe looks different when we bow ethically to the logical power of these spirits. (p.9)
His reference to madmen here is directly related to Socrates as an example of why he was put to death for moral corruption of the youth.
You will find it again and again that without this careful division of the logical, and the ethical, and the physical, you have no philosophy. Today man in modern society has no philosophy, because he treats genius also as physical, and God also as a fact. God is not a fact,…It’s a power that makes you say something new. That’s something quite different. (p.10).
Pythagoras discovered the power of numbers.
5.Our great problem today is to understand the limitations of the thinking of our age so that we may change and progress. We tend to have ears and not hear, or eyes and not see the logic of our age by which our thinking has been invested, and therefore limited.
6.The succession of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle demonstrates the notion that three generations are necessary to establish an idea. All three were necessary. One alone could not have established Greek thought. Just as John the Baptist (who prophesied the coming of Jesus), Jesus himself, and the establishment of the church, beginning with the Apostles, were all three necessary to establish commonly accepted Christian ethics.
Also, the four cardinal virtues of man – courage, justice, prudence, and temperance – and the three mystical virtues of regeneration (God) – hope, faith, and love, are examples of the notion of Pythagoras, that numbers have importance, and mean more than how the scientist uses them to quantify. (p.14) All of these examples indicate the three divisions of labor needed to establish an idea; they also indicate how complex the interactions must be. It is not easy to establish a positive movement, as contrasted with how easy it is to create disastrous consequences.
The complexity of the idea of virtues is indicated by the fact that there is aspecific sequence of events as well as a specific division of labor. Thus the three represent a unity in which neither one nor another has meaning outside the context of the others.
7.It is very strange, ERH asserts, that in order for one person to be the same (person), he/she must change at different stages in his life. It is very strange, but true.
In order to be the same, because an element of your sameness is that you are, for example, vital. Now you can’t be vital if (you) only do for 20 years long the same thing. (p.20)
8.It is clearly difficult to remain vital, to see when and how one should change one’s views, to understand that this represents an example of human power – of the art of living. Great writings, re-read, have a freshness because of our change in perspective over the years; we understand them in a different light. Therefore, great works must be re-read. IT IS THE SAME WITH PEOPLE. AT EACH STAGE IN THEIR LIVES THEY MUST BE SEEN IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.
9.Socrates’ contribution was to blend second and first impressions, abstract thought with the consequences of using that thought in the community. Art for the sake of art, experience for the sake of having experience, anything for its own sake leads to disaster, madness, social sickness, etc.
Plato, writing a Utopia (which means “no place”), means that theory must be put into practice if it is to have meaning.
1.Greek thought, for the first time in human history, fragmented reality (experience). Tribes tell its members, 24 hours a day, what to do, what is right with regard to the spirit, what and how to say things, what is expected from them (in prayers, songs, and ceremonies, etc.). By contrast, Greek thought began to separate logic, physical events, and ethics. “Homeric man is a new invention. The `Greek mind’ is something that hasn’t existed before.” (p.1)
This was quite revolutionary. The unity of pre-Homer was the community and the gods that supported it; they were all one. By contrast, there became many gods, e.g. commerce, the physical world, the church. Today, for example, the god from Sunday School didn’t need to carry forward into the god of business, beginning Monday morning.
2.Unity in the universe means that we do not have to think, as all is known and understood and agreed- upon. THE MOMENT THESE ELEMENTS BECOME SEPARATED, one must think, one needs a philosophy to bring some unity back to experience.
3.God is the power that makes you do something you didn’t think you could do. (p.4)
4.Another distinction between Greek thinking (philosophy) and …”life”. It is simply that “the universe” as a physical entity is dead, and therefore it cannot die. Greek philosophy, emphasizing “universal truths” as it does, makes no distinction between living and dead things. Life, by contrast, you and I, the human spirit, can die – and we fear death and do not wish to die. Greeks did not fear death! Modern psychology does not begin with a fear of death.
They (modern psychologists) dismiss it. They investigate your retina reactions, and they investigate your muscle….But the general experience of humanity is that we must die…What you call the “soul”, is the power to anticipate your death. The soul is the power in man who, for the very first days of a child being spoken to anticipates the death of the child. The soul is not born at birth, but the soul comes into you as anticipation of your death. That’s what we call the soul. (p.7)
Another aspect of the greatness of Socrates is that he showed us how to die. Jesus, on the other hand, showed us that we should live fruitfully. [RF, didn’t Socrates show this also? ERH tells us that there is no relation between the two, because Socrates was unafraid to die, Jesus agonized on the Cross. The meaning of Jesus’ death was in the fact of death itself. The meaning of Socrates’ death was the cause of the city, its law.]
5.Here is the paradox (dichotomy) man always faces when he philosophizes. He is a member of the city, but thinks beyond it (these two roles are in conflict). He looks for the laws of the universe while being temporarily under the laws of the city. [RF – interesting parallel here with the anti-abortionists today who break the laws of the city “for a higher law.”]
6.Plato, speaking of governing the “Republic,” wants the government workers to take a vow of poverty. MONKS MAKE THREE VOWS, HE REMINDS US; OBEDIENCE, CHASTITY, AND POVERTY. Obedience comes from the Jews, Chastity comes from India, but Poverty comes from the Greeks, from Plato. ERH asserts the question remains open, “is it better to be governed by poor or by the rich? Lincoln was one example of the former, but for the most part we are governed by the rich.
7.In Plato’s idea of governance, the leader, the physician, or any other worker must find happiness in serving his clients; he should not find happiness for himself per se. The notion behind this dictum is that, to serve others (to do God’s works), one must tell and follow the truth, and ERH asserts strongly that no one likes the truth. Thus, there is always hostility toward persons who tell the truth. (p.20).
The word “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence meant, in 1776,salvation to the founding fathers; ERH asserts that the word happiness was used because it was secular, representing the lowest common denominator of the word salvation. Thus, to say “…in pursuit of salvation…” would not be gross. If one tells the truth in order to serve his clients, then he is helping regenerate the other person(s) and the community, but that will not have that he will be without hostility in the course of his work.
Jesus on the cross, by having sacrificed himself was saying to the people, “Forget happiness and you will be saved.” (p.22) The same with Socrates three and one half centuries before. One must do right and not consider the consequences for himself.
1.The beginning of life describes the fact that our first experience in the world is social, not of nature. By the time we can look out the window we have been nurtured by laws of the family and community, and have been given language by which to describe nature. Thus, we see nature from the standpoint of the social situation.
[RF – THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE, BY INDIRECTION, HE IS SPEAKING ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE LIVE – THE WORLD OF NATURE (DEAD THINGS), AND THE WORLD OF SOCIETY, (OF MIND AND SPEECH.]
2.ERH points out that, of course, man is a natural evolution of nature, but on the other hand, nature in part is the product of the community, of the seeking of “truth,” of our ability to communicate, to agree on what is real to us.
The meaning of truth, beauty, and goodness is that truth refers to nature (the non-speaking world of what is observed), goodness refers to (the goal of) the community (mankind), and beauty is common to both. THIS IS PLATO’S NOTION, THAT BEAUTY CAN BE COMMON TO BOTH NATURE AND POLITICS. THIS IS THE TRINITY OF THE HUMANISTS, PARALLEL TO THE TRINITY OF CHRISTIAN DOGMA.
3.Christianity, on the other hand, has the trinity that means the continuation of human society, of mankind, through unifying the generations. The father, son, and holy spirit is the sequence of events – to reconcile the age (teachings) of the father with the age of the son (his reality that is different), through the holy spirit.
No true Christian believes in an unmitigated beauty of nature and of man. In society there is ugliness (greed, violence, malice, etc.) Thus, mankind is both good and bad, beautiful and ugly. “When you see a picture in which Jesus is beautiful, you know it’s by a Greek (thinking) painter…most people today are Greeks.” (p.6)
4.THE EXISTENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL is caused by language, without which there is no consciousness of ourselves. Therefore, society is not a product of nature, per se, but rather a product of communication, of language. KNOWLEDGE IS DETERMINED BY VOTE OF THE PEOPLE, THE PRODUCT OF AGREEMENT HANDED DOWN FROM OUR FATHERS OR GENERATED IN OUR OWN TIME.
I have no consciousness, You have no consciousness. But we have consciousness…What’s the truth? That which I also have to believe…Nobody has (a mind of ones’s own). I certainly have not. That’s why I have a very good mind, because I have never the illusion that it is my mind. (p.3)
He likens truth and the holy spirit to the light in a light bulb. You and I may have light, but the power source comes from elsewhere.
5.The universe, to the Greeks, is purely space-driven; it is timeless, eternal, and the “idea” lies out of time. There is no death to the Greeks. Death is ugly, it concerns us individually, we don’t wish to die, and we fear it.
In Christianity by contrast, we must recognize death, recognize that we are corruptible, that we care about things, that some things are beautiful and some are not. Christianity is steeped in time, and also recognizes space. Of course the scientist recognizes time, but it is a very different type of time than that of human consciousness, it is a timeless time, with no beginning and no end.
6.With Greek philosophy, truth is like money in the bank, it can stay with you once you have it. It is a release from the fear that nothing is permanent.
THE NOTION OF IDEALISM, is that through thought and numbers we can describe the universe and gain a mental picture of it, and through our imagination, we can describe a picture of good, and both are beautiful and everlasting. In this concept, thought and nature stabilizes the world. It is an idealism, and is therefore beautiful. But these remain SPACIAL ideas, i.e. inside and outside. Truth is found outside, and good is found inside; beauty combines both, and the inside is equal to the outside.
7.Finally, ERH points out that the average person cannot be an idealist in any meaningful sense of the term, because he does not have time to know both the heart and the universe. He/she can only know one, and (normally) the twains never meet. One must be an unusual person to achieve true idealism. (p.8)
8.Utopia means nowhere. Utopian belief is that some place is perfect, no greed, hunger, avarice and most of all, peace. This is a product of the mind, just as are truth, goodness, and beauty. These are difficult to experience in real life with any permanence; they are mental products, but not reality. Utopia was originally a Platonic creation.
By contrast, in Christian thought, eschatology is an expectation of something; it is time-bound, considering the beginning and the end. Eschatology is therefore the opposite of utopia. ERH asserts that today most Catholics are Platonists, as heaven is a physical concept of a utopia, a place “out there,” an ideal. It is a place in space, but beyond the space of the physicists.
9.*A BASIC DISTINCTION BETWEEN GREEK AND CHRISTIAN THOUGHT. TRUTH, BEAUTY, AND GOODNESS ARE ABSTRACTIONS WITHOUT A VOICE AND EARS OF THEIR OWN. THEY CANNOT SPEAK TO YOU, NOR YOU TO THEM. IT IS JUST THE OPPOSITE WITH FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. TO THE IDEALIST, THE UNIVERSE IS SPEECHLESS. Ideals cannot comfort you, nor advise or criticize you. An ideal is of your own making, you can neither commune with it, nor it with you. You therefore cannot commune with nature. You can only contemplate it.
Now with Christianity, your father and son can speak and listen to prophesy, command, chastise, and comfort confront you.
10.*The important fact of prayer is not the content, but the invocation. Whom does the speaker address? In more immediate contexts, the speaker acts in the role of father, and the listener as son. Obviously the roles reverse during the conversation.
11.*To speak and tell the truth to others, to converse, means that one believes in the holy spirit; the holy spirit is the common understanding about truth (knowledge) that is the basis for communication. (p.21)
1.*We cannot trust our personal view of the world until we have verified it with others, especially those who are more alive than ourselves, the wise, the artist, a pretty girl or handsome boy; in this process we join others to agree about what is reality, then feel more secure. This act quite literally “creates” our reality and allows us to “…join up with life.”
In the process, we have an understanding of our culture, because language becomes connected with acts and thereby gives them meaning. This we call culture, or the “holy spirit.”
2.Every hour we are conscious we try to join up with people who are more alive than we are; it confirms or creates our sense of reality. Those whom we wrong, i.e. attempt to manipulate, we don’t love, we treat them as “things.”
3.Science, dealing with objects, things outside us, can understand what they mean. By their writing and speaking, we can understand scientists’ descriptions because they deal with dead things (things that can’t speak back). But with people, we don’t know what the words mean unless we experience their behavior. What, for instance, does good mean? It can mean many things, especially in different cultures. (p.4)
4.We must judge people as being either good or bad. But our responses to the acts of others are always emotional. “Physical facts can be expressed in the form of indicatives. But all ethical facts can only be expressed in emotional form of `yes’ or `no’,…in the sense of let us do this, or let us avoid it. (p.4) One must remember ethics are always more important than things not alive.
5.The moment we judge others, we put them outside our circle of associations, outside our personal “unity.” Thus, we do not judge friends, or family, or loved ones unless we are through with that association. Ethical rules cannot be generalized into absolutes without creating injustices. There are times, for instance, when lying to a loved one may save their sanity. In the same sense, law always requires interpretation in the light of particulars. Paradoxically ethical and legal and other types of rules must be seen as both absolute and changeable.
ERH cites an example of this point. Once while in the army he found one of his officers asleep on guard duty, a boy of 18 years. Instead of ruining his life by a court-marshal, he slapped him in front of others, which was punishment enough. The young soldier was immature, still little more than a child, he should not have his life ruined. Ethical statements aren’t always good, or bad. It depends upon the situation. As described below, exceptions to law are acceptable when validated by, and in the presence of others.
6.The relationship between ethics and law is a movement from ethics toward“physis.” Law is outside nature. The evolution is from act – to precedent – to law – to natural law.
By the concept of the law, ethics are always transformed into physis. Law is experienced act, respected as precedent, transformed into rule and regulation,..and finally applied to the world outside as always having this implication, (p.11)
[RF – All of this seems to be related to the act of judgment (freedom to make interpretation). The idea is that, when we are under law or ethical prescription we have less freedom to make judgment. To interpret the situation in context, one makes two judgments: 1) When it is questionable whether it is covered by law, one can assume freedom to make an ethical judgment. 2) When there is clearly a rule, but application of the rule would create devastating consequences beyond reason, then one asks the consent of others in judgment.
This is what ERH did with the young officer, therefore not having to submit him to court-marshal. If this action is committed before others who approve of the action, then justice is judged to have been achieved, and peace returns to the community. ERH exercised the freedom to so act, and saved the man’s future. Jesus commonly did this, as in his response to the adulteress.
There is another qualification to this type of judgment I feel impelled to mention at this point because I see it so often the case, what I consider a malfunction of justice. That is, the conflict of interest situation. It is to me a foreboding thought that, in the U.S. today, conflict of interest seems to be ignored by these in public service and with the public alike.]
The rule or law that is absolute (perhaps one of the very few) is that if one is to exercise the freedom to so interpret a situation, then one must first have listened to the experience from the past —
…if you cannot hear the voices that contradict your move, that warn you against it,..If you are just in a frenzy, you must expect the full fury of the law, and of wisdom, and of precedent coming upon you, because you have acted, you see, without listening…The word precedes the act. And the act precedes the law. (p.12)
The words of the past, the words of wisdom, the words of experiences, the words of suffering, the words of love and sympathy a man must listen to….You must listen to the law. But you can also create for this friend, you see, a refuge from the law. (p.13)
One must both respect the law, but also solve an immediate problem if a just alterative to the law is available. Basically there must be justice, and one must know when to act within the law, or alternatively when to break it. THIS IS WHY SOCIAL LIFE IS SO FULL OF PARADOX. The situation determines what the “good” action or “good” response would be, and sometimes it would be one way and sometimes another. IT IS THESE DECISIONS THAT WE ARE CALLED ON TO MAKE FROM HOUR TO HOUR (if we are alive that is, or if we are to develop a soul).
IN CONCLUSION, OUR CONSCIENCES MUST BE INFORMED AND SYMPATHETIC IN THE PROCESS OF BRINGING ABOUT JUSTICE, if we are to be creative in our acts. The act of judging should be humbling, and one must quiet critics by reminding them that at any moment they themselves may be the subject of judgment (and how would they like to be judged?).
7.The word Bible means, “Book of Books,” which means that all other knowledge takes its meaning from this, which means the measure of all things is in society. [RF – The humanists say, that the measure of all things is “man”; but they seem to think this means one man, or if it is also plural, they dichotomize it into man/community. ERH enlarges this concept. The center of science lies in a measurement of space, and the center of human society lies mainly in both time and space. But “inside,” or non-spacial measure, since it is not concrete, must lie in time.
Ethics has always to do with timing…. These are the real problems in life…Ethics is the problem of timing. Physics is the problem of spacing. ..what makes you an expert on a thing, where to put things…But when to say things, and when to be silent, shows that you are a human being….If you have only physis and logos, then all knowledge is good. If you have any ethical situation,..then knowledge has to be timed. (p.20,21)
In other words, one cannot know beforehand how one will act in a hypothetical situation, one must await the moment.
8.ERH goes on to show that to rule a state (and by intimation one’s self), one must know ethics, that is, what to do next, what would be both ethical and just. This cannot be determined by law-absolute, as has been asserted by fundamentalists.
He further points out that the ideal Platonic state, as in the philosopher king of the REPUBLIC, has generalized all situations and leaves no freedom to correct possible injustices. Plato’s Republic therefore rejects the issue of paradox.
[RF – The implication of all of this is profound; ethics is knowing when to reveal knowledge and when to keep it secret. For effectiveness, for justice, one must have the right amount of knowledge at the right time. Otherwise, since we cannot know everything, we cannot understand the meaning of anything out of context. And ethics deals with meaning, or it is nothing!]
9.All great art begins with the knowledge (anticipation?) of the outcome. What is interesting is how it all evolved, and why, not who was guilty. This is why ERH believes mystery stories are uninteresting; he isn’t interested in who did it, but why it was done and how it might have been prevented.
1.Our dilemma is not only to be a good American, but also to be a good “individual.” Thus, our ultimate goal is not America, per se, but our (and its) humanity. We make judgments on each side of this question, knowingly or unknowingly. To do this we need philosophy. The problem, then, is not only to attempt to philosophize well, but to insure that we do not build our philosophy on some passing prejudice, or upon some other’s thoughts, without having thought them through and taken responsibility for upholding them ourselves. (p.2)
2..Ethics is related to what you DO, as contrasted with what you say. If you are a hypocrite your words don’t match your action. And with ethics, “the word,” what we say, must be re-thought in relation to the consequences of our actions. What we do and say we are doing, may not turn out the way we anticipated. Then, our ideas must be revised accordingly. One changes beliefs in the light of experience. Then one must begin anew. (p.4)
3.Logos, the viewing of the universe, comes to us in two different ways. Exterior things, the stars and stones, come to us through our senses. But with people the first route by which the universe comes to us is language, from our parents. We are provided for, we are spoken to, and so we learn to understand part of the universe by being told what to anticipate.
4.The speaker and the listener must always trust each other, otherwise there can be no communication in any real sense, because one will not believe the other, and vice versa. The weak aspect of Greek philosophy, its failure, is that it assumes language is natural. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cratylus, Plato’s dialogue on language, treats it as a tool, as a natural formation of man.
5.Philosophy does not deal with groups, with being “inside” or part of a group, it deals with concepts. To be a member of a group you must love it, accept it. Even if one is critical of it, it must be for the purpose of improving it, of not allowing it to die.
6.Defining People: Unlike “things,” people cannot be defined completely, unless one has stereotyped them (declared them dead in terms of vital, changing human beings. People who utter empty phrases (who congratulate everyone else’s efforts automatically, and whose remarks we therefore dismiss as unthinking) would be an example of persons rightfully “defined” as spiritually dead. BEWARE OF AUTOMATIC PHRASES.
This notion is fundamental: To make an absolute judgment of another means one has ceased to allow them the freedom to change. In this case, one never anticipate that they will act differently. To never change is to never learn. Such a state of mind virtually destroys all possibilities for meaningful relationships!
…the more a person is alive, the more it is impossible and harmful for you to try to define him. You cannot elect a president of the United States for everything he has done before. You must expect from him that he will do something that you couldn’t do. (p.10)
So please, the greatest heresy in all your minds, gentlemen, is that it is meritorious to begin a speech by saying, “I shall define my terms.” On no important thing can you do anything but speak English. And English is much richer than the definitions which you can give any term. You just look up the dictionary; every word is a poetical word, and it has 10,000 shades of meaning. And it is your business to use the word so that the other person gets all the shades of meaning which you wish to stress. It’s no business of yours to define it beforehand; that’s making the speech trite. (pp.10,11)
7.The difference between natural science and social science methodologies:
…the road of nature is through the senses to the concept. The road of the community is through reciprocity to agreement….Speech is mutual before it is definable. (p.12).
We deal with nature by way of concepts because “natural objects” can’t talk back. Addressing people makes all the difference and requires different rules for interpretation of meaning.
Thus, the road to knowing the “universe” has two parts, one through mutual agreement and the other through concepts.
8.Speech is not natural, it is political We develop only when we are spoken to, only when we are named, only when we have an “inner life”, only when we have speech. We can only obtain a more complete concept of reality with both the natural (outer) view and the (inner) contemplative view, not of the eye, but of the heart (spirit). (p.14)
9.Only with both (outer and inner, physis and politics) can we obtain the power to change, to grow, and this can only occur through community. Otherwise the family of man would have obliterated itself eons ago. TO GROW WE MUST THEREFORE RISE ABOVE NATURE AND BECOME “SUPER-NATURAL” – THE CARRIER OF ENTHUSIASM, OF DIVINITY. P.18/18
10.In Greek philosophy the mind is in charge and the heart follows, and courage follows. No Christian believes this. (p.23)
Plato organized the city with the mind (logic) the highest, the heart in the middle, and the passions below, and therefore the state must organize the same way as our human “endowment.” And, ERH claims, our Constitution is “Platonized” in this pattern. “The secular society of today is still thought of very much in the Platonic pattern.” (p.24)
11.All of this Platonizing leads to a natural or physical (physis) view of humanity, i.e. “millions of objects,” whereby, if one has ethos (is led by the heart), one has community.
Lecture – 19
1.There is a crucial distinction between the terms NATURE (that which occurs regardless of man’s intervention) and society (that which is created by humans). These two realities are contradictory. Nature is merciless (we are killed in earth quakes, hurricanes, war, and disease, unrelated to our worth), but society which accredits even the worst criminal with rights.
Nature and society are thus opposites, and connected by the human mind. LOGOS is the attempt of the mind to find the same meaning and the same truth and the same revelation and the same wisdom in both the stars and the human heart. (p.1)
Nature treats everything in the universe as “things,” all tyrants like Hitler treat people as things, as does anyone who believes people to be “natural.”
Business people who exploit the environment, destroy animal habitats, and treat workers as commodities, assume society follows the laws of “nature,” as contrasted with laws of ethics. ERH points out that early in this country’s history, farmers were allowed to “squeeze the soil dry,” then move on to another plot to do the same. The two opposites, nature and ethos, if unified by the concept of logos would not allow this. Europe, for instance, has the same percentage of forest as it had in 1100. (p.4) [RF – By contrast, the US is eliminating theirs, there is now less than 10% of the old-growth left since the last 200 yrs.)
2.With “ethos” man is understood to be the steward (mouthpiece), of all other animals, and with no right to exploit or destroy them.
Our ethical problem is that since man must live off the land and forests, there is a constant need to reconcile the needs of the two.
Logos…is the apportionment, the apportioning of ethics, and ethos, and physis to reality. (p.5)
3.NAMES — In the world of ethos, names move people, they “…create tremendous emotions and tremendous actions.” The name Hitler evokes emotions, The Battle of the Bulge in WWII evokes emotions, calling you a liar evokes emotions. The names professor and student describes social roles, and with them emotions.
In society we “experience” how others treat us. We experience nature, of course, but with a very different attitude. “Natural things” in the universe we give names to, but these things cannot respond to us; we therefore divide up the natural world into different classes of things, constantly fragmenting its parts.
The law of society is to find unity, solidarity, peace – otherwise we have war, degeneration, revolution and anarchy. When any part of our experience in reality addresses us, we cross over from experiencing nature to experiencing ethos.
4.In nature incest is natural, as most animals practice it. In human society, incest is taboo because it weakens the genetic strains.
5.FAITH: one aspect of faith is to believe in what we know. ERH points out that many people know things that they don’t believe. To “know something” implies that it must be acted upon in one way or another. To know someone is unfaithful means we must not trust them. To know we destroy the environment means we must act to rectify it.
6.SPACE AND TIME: Space, we experience as a whole, then subdivide it. Time, we experience in fragments, but that experience can be given meaning only when those fragments are unified into courtships, marriages, communities, and nations – cycles of unified phases of social processes.
The unity of time and the division of space is the achievement of the logos, arbitrating between the space of physis and the time of society. (p.15)
We must make room for a nation, create peace from the beginning to the end. People “grant” each other the right to live among themselves.
7.ERH credits Plato’s SYMPOSIUM as his greatest work, in the sense that it demonstrates or reflects an ideal, that man is a micropolis (not a macrocosm) of a community, and a community is a macropolis of men. Also, the Symposium represents “heaven,” an ideal community. Nature is based on selfhood, on impenetrability, on resistance, on gravity, on no escape. Society is based on interpenetration, on mutual understanding, on reciprocity, and on inheritance.
Lucretius, Epicurius, Democritus and others saw the world (society) in terms of physis, in terms of nature. Heraclitus, Socrates, and Plato struggled to restore a balance to our view of reality.
8.The philosopher can teach (if he rules himself), but cannot rule (other than himself). This is because he knows the “truth,” and would tyrannize the population – they would have no freedom. Others must then rule who can lead, and listen and bring about concordance. Leaders, by definition, must possess the skill to bring unity (concordance).
It is the same with the church. The church must never rule, for the same reason that the philosopher cannot; he teaches, criticizes, instructs, corrects, prophesies, but never rules. Remember the inquisition! THIS IS WHY THERE MUST BE A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. “This Plato did not know.” (p.20)
9.A living soul must be greater than its mind. its love of reality (meaning truth) must dominate, rather than cleverness!
10.Back to the SYMPOSIUM: The college should be analogous to heaven, there must be trust, logos, admiration, tolerance of other opinions. “…two, three people can meet in the mind. That is neither logos, nor ethos, nor physis. That’s Heaven.” ERH claims that the seed of Plato’s thought lies in the SYMPOSIUM, and not elsewhere. In the seventh letter, “I have never written down what I really mean to be the kernel of my philosophy,” (except in the Symposium). (pp.27,28)
1.One of the most fundamental problems in philosophy is that of UNIVERSALS, and this is the primary problem raised by Greeks, namely Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In this time there was recognized no universities, only “schools” (representing single points of view).
Plato’s ACADEMY was not the first university, it was a school (reflecting his ideas only). The idea of a university (multiple schools) was a Christian idea. (In antiquity, you had to break with one school to attend another.)
2.ERH is interested in how several people form a unity of ideas, which in turn represents a yet more powerful idea. He cites, for instance how Hayden/Mozart/Beethoven form a “miraculous unity” – just as does Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
3.As a digression, ERH asserts that there is never an infinite number of possibilities of ideas (citing Hindemith on atonal music, which he wrote because other possibilities of harmony, rhythm, etc. had been developed). THERE ARE ONLY FINITE POSSIBILITIES, THEN VARIATION IN REPETITION.
What he is driving at is that in philosophy one cannot be original, one can only patch together different (established) thoughts. “Greek mentality is a complete story of the human mind.” (p.5)
THE IMPORTANT QUESTION THEN IS, WHAT DID SOCRATES, PLATO, AND ARISTOTLE CONQUER?
4.Socrates’ contribution was to make doubters aware of what they doubt, as well as where, and in what context, that doubting should lead to! This is a positive contribution to thought, as contrasted with doubting or curiosity for its own sake. (p.7) Curiosity, doubting, questioning must serve the purpose of regenerating the community (or it isn’t worthwhile). Significant questions, unanswered endanger the city. “Socrates asks for the better.” to improve the city.
5.*Plato asks for the best, “What is the ideal?” Aristotle asks, “How do we measure where we are, against the ideal?” (p.8)
ERH points out that our “democracy” in this country is only an emphasis. At times we need a dictatorship (as in war). So the unity of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is, “What will make the community better – what will make it best – and what is the nature of the existing order?”
6.Logos is “creative conversation.” It forms a unity of thought. ERH asserts that thought DOES NOT precede speech, it is the other way around. All clear, organized thought is in the form of words. Thought is our dialogue with ourselves. Speech is a response to an event.
He describes thought as built on three pillars – first experience and response, then description (narrative) of experience, then analysis. Logic belongs to the last part. Thus, LOGOS represents the unity of these three parts.
7.In Aristotelian rhetoric we gain the audience by application of “the whole man,” by the process of logos, by including all three parts of understanding. Logic is mere repetition of a formula, as with a syllogism. (p.11) Today, ERH asserts, logic has replaced logos. “Any boy in high school can use logic.” The creative part of speech, the convincing of another, requires creative effort. ERH cites the attempts to logically prove the existence of God, which cannot be done. In the same way, he suggests, we cannot prove our patriotism logically.
8.ERH cites another example of logos, with the old syllogism of Socrates being, mortal. Obviously part of him is dead (and thus mortal), but also another part has lived for 2500 years. So logic has a limited truth, not the whole truth – and this perhaps best describes the difference between the notion of man’s whole experience and only a part of that experience.
Another aspect of the unity of logos, between Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is related to skepticism. The steps of the method are raising the skeptical question, the question of standards for judgment, judgment about the meaning of a specific event.
ERH calls this “…my trinity, my human trinity.” (p.14) One is a “criticist,” one an “idealist,” and finally the “realist.” THIS IS THE TYPE OF FUNDAMENTAL IDEA THAT ENHANCES OUR ABILITY TO DESCRIBE OUR EXPERIENCE, AND THUS, TO SERVE EACH OTHER. NO ANIMAL CAN DO THIS.
9.The ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle need to be understood as coming from separate persons, and not from only one. The reason is that in our lives there are times to take these separate roles – as contrasted with a different meaning if all ideas were rolled into a single set.
10.NOW TO THE ISSUE OF CATEGORIES AS RELATED TO CREATIVE THOUGHT! Categories are an important issue because they describe a class of unique objects. One cannot understand the singular unless there is some notion of the “context”, or plural. Categories represent generalizations, but all events in real life are singular or particular (unique).
But what is a generalization, a common denominator? Universals can only be discerned AFTER THE FACT, they are the sum of common properties of many events. It is the mind’s arbitrary classification. BUT THERE ARE TWO OTHER TYPES OF UNIVERSALS. The “ideal” is one that precedesthe fact. That is, one cannot identify a particular unless one already has a category, such as animal. To have a standard as a criterion (type of generalization), it must precede the time of specific judgment.
a.With sophists, the universal, the category occurs as a result of summarizing common properties; thus the act occurs “post rem,” after the fact. The plural follows the singular.
b.With idealists, the universal comes before the event, one enters an experience with a preconceived notion of categories, thus it is called “ante rem.” Ideals exist before the event. All naming is therefore Platonic in form. The plural precedes the singular.
c.The third form of universal occurs during the event in which both plural and singular are considered at the same time. This is Aristotelian; the universal occurs “in rem,” during the process, or experience. Plural and singular follow each other closely.
11.All of this is important because to utilize the full power of speech and thought, one must realize all forms of categories, or universals. Our tendency is to think only in one form, as Platonic, as Sophistic, or as Aristotelian. To think creatively, to identify a unique experience, to categorize it appropriately so that truth may be achieved, one must be prepared to employ all three. FOR LIVING EVENTS, THAT IS, HUMAN EVENTS, ONE MUST EMPLOY LOGOS. (p.24,25) (This type of logic is analogous to the mathematics of algebra, where one is attempting to find an unknown, beginning with one or two knowns. One must determine what is arbitrary and what is necessary for creative thinking.
When we speak, we reveal how we see the event, and thus we reveal ourselves to others. If we are sophists, we do not commit to any category as a necessity, and therefore shield ourselves from others. ONLY IN A COMMUNITY WHERE PEOPLE SPEAK WITH EACH OTHER, WILLING TO REVEAL THEMSELVES, CAN WE HOPE TO HAVE A CIVILIZED WORLD. SOPHISTRY, POST REM, IS ONLY FOR DEAD THINGS.
1.The first four-six pages of this chapter is a castigation of our teaching methods in American colleges and an exploration of his teaching philosophy. He begins with the problem statement, skips around until one gets a sense of the structure of the argument. For example, in this lecture, “…Philosophy is an attempt to see wholes…” is difficult to fathom. (p.3)
ERH warns us, If a book is worth reading, read it again and again. Read a body of work on the subject to get a picture of the whole (of a man’s work). Only books that are difficult are worth reading,
The story of the human race, is the transmission of acquired faculties. That is, to transmit faculties that did not exist in the cave man, but in the process of the ages have entered the race, the bloodstream. (p.7)
Faculties (ways of thinking and acting) that have allowed for social evolution, must be continued.
2.The contribution of Greek Philosophy was to think either materialist, realist, or idealist. But we know now that each of these ways of looking at experience is limited and our thinking today must include all three. We must learn when and how to apply each in the process of evaluating our experience through life. Our goal in thinking is to outgrow our physical development and counterbalance it with a growth of wisdom in aging.
ERH goes on a bit about learning. Real learning is when we are taught and convinced to do voluntarily what needs to be done, rather than believing the purpose of schooling is to pass required assignments. (p.11) He sets out to convince the reader that the PROBLEMS WE FACE IN ATTEMPTING TO UNDERSTAND OUR EXPERIENCE ARE THE BEGINNING OF ORGANIZED THOUGHT. Finding Truth about the meaning of experience can only be arrived at by employing the method of “logos.”
History is educational because it tells us the problems past cultures had in their experience, how they thought and solved them, and the consequences of those applications. Students need to learn this process because they must re-interpret past knowledge in the course of living.
3.The teacher and student, the old and experienced and the “empty” (youth) need to come together. In the Phaedon, sometimes Socrates and Plato see that “immortality” derives from the empty and the old, the student and teacher coming together and passing on truth. “We have to die very real. Then we may come to life again…” (p.13) That is, the method for rising above the fact of our physical death is through passing on the spirit of our thinking to the next generation in the faith that they will carry it on. Socrates died physically 2500 years ago, but his spirit lives on in us today.
4.THE PROBLEM WITH GREEK THOUGHT IS THAT IT CAN DEAL ONLY WITH REPEATED THINGS (GENERALIZATIONS), NEVER WITH UNIQUENESS.
That’s why Thomas Aquinas is not a religious founder, but just a theologian. Theology is much poorer than religion….The only unique thing in the Platonic dialogue is the personages of Plato and Socrates..these are the only unique figures in the whole story.” (p.15)
5.The chances of wisdom occurring are greater when people get old, and possibly even physically infirm. Then they have left ambition behind, and are more likely to be interested in truth and ethics.
ERH recalls here the necessary roles of the three ages of, youth, old age and “elder” (the prophet), each having a crucial role to play in the socializing of the community.
Lecture – 22
1.”…the Greek philosopher himself presents the problem of physis (nature), ethos (social life), and logos (wisdom), a co-mingling of the three into a vitality for their culture. It welded three generations together. But it had limitations, as well.
2.Knowledge (his case in point mathematics) is only “real” during the process of being created. Teachers (one might say in his context “mere” teachers) pass on only old knowledge. To truly teach, one must get students to both “create” new knowledge, and re-create old knowledge in the process of putting it to use. IN OTHER WORDS, ORGANIZE THE COURSE AROUND PROBLEM-SOLVING OF SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS FROM LIFE.
3.There is confusion between schooling (regurgitating of information), and creative learning, the act of learning how to learn (to create knowledge). Examinations were unknown in antiquity, and the notion of “finals” is stultifying because it implies something is “finished,” In antiquity, formal schooling was for adults, usually above the age of 25 years because it was considered serious business dealing with the survival of the community.
4.In Platonic dialogue, the only “real” dialogue is THE SYMPOSIUM. But Greek science stagnated because the Greeks never followed up an idea, they only discussed possibilities.
Christianity created the first university out of academies, (which were single-minded; if one thought differently, such as Aristotle from Plato, he had to leave to found his own academy.)
5.Dartmouth, ERH claimed, was “…no worse than any other college…” The Christian idea, that one could “love their enemy,” that opposites could learn to live together in peace, allowed for progress. The Greeks never learned to re-create old ideas, nor to live together in peace with those who held other ideas than those of a master.
Lecture – 23
1.The prime advance of the Christian era was that it asserted the possibility of progress, of change, TO HAVE CHANGE, ONE MUST HAVE REFERENCE POINTS. Reference points are crucial to understanding Christianity. Reference points are before and after indicators of change; indicators that something makes a difference. We are burdened to understand our own time, to understand the context for our ideas and actions, to understand what is different and what will make a difference.
2.Mankind is always in danger of moving in a circle. [RF – Reminds me of Harvard management professor Chris Argyri’s theory of circular thinking – when we don’t learn from our experience, we keep running in circles.] “Progress is possible when we cut this Gordian knot.” (p.2) Once again ERH demonstrates the connection between Christianity and action, i.e. acquisition of knowledge is preparation for action, the action that will prevent us from going in circles. Mohammed forbade his followers to change, to progress beyond his word.
3.The difference between Greek Philosophy and the Christian era is our relation to the future, a dedication to progress, which the Greeks didn’t believe in. They believed in cycles, endlessly recurring cycles.
Humanism and Christianity are irreconcilable. The humanist believes in an automatic future, while the Christian believes the future must be created. The Humanist can memorize, store information, but is not admonished to act on his information. The Christian has a moral obligation to act, and when necessary, sacrifice, to help his community, to create a future that will continue to revitalize itself.
4.Nature (animal instincts) is second rate as contrasted with humanizng social life. Nature is automatic, predictable; social life must be created, or society will die. Today, man acting as a natural being is the scourge of the earth, over-populating, over polluting and destroying everything in his path. “Man is absolutely lost if he is not satisfied to create communities.” (p.9) This is the logic behind the dire prediction ERH makes at the beginning of this essay, that we have been born in the midst of a dying culture. The prediction is not intended to be gloom and doom, however, but rather to call us to action, to insure it does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Nature is general, but human society requires uniqueness as the price for survival through change. To assume the “nature” of which we are born is unchangeable, reduces us to the state of animals. (p.10) Greece came to an end because it couldn’t make this distinction.
[RF – THE IMPLICATION OF THIS IDEA SEEMS TO ME FUNDAMENTAL, THAT THE PRICE FOR EVOLUTION OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT IS CHANGE, USUALLY PAID FOR BY REAL PAIN AND SACRIFICE. THIS IS HOW I UNDERSTAND ERH INTERPRETS THE MEANING OF JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION. WE MUST NOT ASSUME TO ABSOLUTELY KNOW OUR NATURE, AND THEREFORE MUST BE SURPRISED EACH DAY TO REDISCOVER OUR CAPABILITY FOR NEW THINGS. TO THINK OTHERWISE ARRESTS THE VITALITY OF ANY COMMUNITY, CULTURE, OR CIVILIZATION.]
5.The word “creatura” (creature) derives from creation, and is appropriately applied to humans to mean they are capable of being constantly re-created. It should be clear as well that if we are to progress, we need milestones, reference points to identify either progress or retrogression. Knowledge of time, in terms of sequences of stages become concrete indicators of any progress. This is because, in a science of society time cannot be exactly predicted, but we can learn the etiology of social processes for measurement.
6.Social Time: Christianity means to evolve, to create a new future. The Greeks had two types of time, two tenses; mythical time (when founders created things), and present time, or “the time of the law,” as ERH calls it . All times are ordinary except mythical time. The Greek conception of time makes no allowance for creativity in the present or future. In other words, of changing one’s present state (of ordinariness) to one of creativity, to one of founding a new future.
The essence of the problem with the Greek disconnection between the mythical past and “present” (or one’s “own” time) is just that, disconnection, time is not unified What does this mean? It means one cannot connect past, present, and future, and therefore harness the power of cause and effect through the generations. Significant progress takes at least three generations to establish.
The CHRISTIANS, on the other hand, made this connection, and this is why the Bible begins with a naked human couple, Adam and Eve, not with Prometheus or Heracles or any of the other mythical figures. Time as a unity connects different parts of our reality, and thus opens the door for our better understanding of our experience from day to day. That is, seeking these connections between past, present, and future, and how human intervention can be effective. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL TIME AND “NATURAL TIME” is that, in the natural world things happen to animals, in the human social world, we must attempt to shape the course of society.
But the Bible is an attempt to make the people of the past ordinary and the present-day people extraordinary, because it had to correct the Greek mind…The Greek mind says, “The people in the beginning were heroic. And we are ordinary. We are reasonable. We therefore can understand rationally what we’re doing,”…And we can report these miraculous beings at the beginning.
But the Christian revelation says that because man tries to behave as an ordinary man, he misses out about the future. And if he is not extraordinary man, he cannot create the future. (p.19)
ERH asserts several pages later that the problem with the Greeks, the source of failure of their civilization, is that they had not the faith in their own creative ability.
Logos is the power to explain how the clock runs down, and the power to wind it up again. For the Greeks, however, and for you, logos is only logic. (p.22)
Logos is wisdom, not logic, ERH reminds us.
7.ERH goes on to explain how the various sacraments have their origins in transmitting basic processes of living that emphasize the extraordinary things mankind has accomplished, and how we are similarly burdened to do the same every day if we are to survive (create a future). His example is in the Communion ceremony with real bread and wine, which has aged and is awaiting its use to remind us of this.
If you cannot realize this you will always be superstitious with regard to Holy Communion. (p.20)
[RF – I assume he is saying this is an example of going through the procedures of a ceremony without understanding its original meaning.]
8.ERH asserts strongly that whatever we utter in speech we must be willing to be accountable for; only then can we feel part of a truly human community, and only then can we preserve our ability to communicate.
Ultimately then, we seem to fail to solve the problems of our day for the same reason as the Greeks. This makes most of Western societies, including most of all the Christians Greek thinkers.
1.The Greeks believing in truth, goodness and beauty, means, to simply know truth is to act rightly. The Cypriot Zeno introduced the notion in 300 BC, that the “heart” ruled above the “head”, i.e. emotions ruled over logic. This led to the Benedictine movement in the Catholic church whereby knowledge andwisdom was bought at the expense of asceticism, with vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty. All of this was a mixture of Greek and Buddhist/Hindu cultures, which later became manifest in Christianity.
2.What is the difference between the Greek gods and a living God? The living God cannot be characterized by “graven images,” i.e. cast in stone. How, then, can we know of God’s existence? Through mankind. The living God fights death. Fruitfulness (“by your fruits you shall be known”) means the regeneration of life, of a community.
To regenerate, one must be creative. Fruitfulness follows from present action. Thus, Greek thinking began to break down in 300 B.C. with Alexander’s interaction with Buddhists and Hindus, and again after Christ, to the fall of the Roman empire.
3.The real difference between the coward and the courageous man is that the coward runs away in the moment of danger, and the courageous man fears what may happen after the danger, after having withstood the dangerous situation. Jesus’ last words on the cross were, “My lord, why have you forsaken me.”
The courageous man then doubts his truth from time to time, but he does not run away from it.
4.In the classroom we do not live, but only prepare to live.
5.Acts 18, 17 is Paul’s address to Athens, in which he tried to reach the academics.The problem of the secular (logic-dominated mind) is that it learns too late! (p.15)
6.You cannot judge by the facts only. They lead nowhere, because facts always lie in the past. One must know one’s destiny, i.e. THE PROBLEM is always one’s destination, the goal. This, in turn, determines what action to take in the present. (p.16)
7.ON TEACHING – and on creating the future. The prophet, the “sower” of ideas, the true teacher, is condemned to never know what will come of the harvest – never to know who heeds his word, or if it was heard at all.
Today we have too much stimulation and too little philosophy (too little time to be astonished by the world), too little religion (time to plan and anticipate and work toward one’s future).
The secret of the Christian message is the criss-cross between Greek and Judaic beliefs. The teacher is always bound to disappointment if he/she desires to be “recognized” while sowing the seeds of ideas, recognized for our personal wisdom as a teacher of ideas – but this can never be. Only later, when ideas are tested, can one know fruitfulness. THIS PATIENCE TAKES AN EXTRAORDINARY EFFORT.
The future cannot be reached by people who want to live an ordinary life, because they omit that their own ways of life have created extraordinary time…to be a creatura means to be that we are unfinished at this moment, and we still have to expect the outcome of our own creation, tomorrow. (p.20)
The great figures in history have been “creatura.”
8.THE MEANING OF ORIGINAL SIN is that, having inherited something that was original out of the past, we are no longer burdened to think of it ourselves. This is why we are all born into original sin. IN RESPONSE, WE MUST THEN BECOME CREATIVE OURSELVES, TO RISE ABOVE THIS SIN.
Paul tried to reconcile the Greeks and Jews and be respected for it. And of course he failed in this attempt, demonstrating a lack of faith in Christianity at that moment.
9.ERH asserts that the difference between the Greeks and Christianity is that, the Greeks created an ideal, and Jesus created a vitality in us to create. THE DIFFERENCE IS ENORMOUS. Instead of invoking an ideal, as the Greeks do, one invokes instead an example of a life lived creatively. Paul was attempting to logically connect Greek and Jewish philosophy, thus falling into the failed logic of the Greeks.
In a like way, we can (or should) celebrate the acts of genius throughout history, much, much more than the ideals of “systems” they set down. The reasoning is that these systems are always limited and faulty. This is why the principles must be reborn each generation by us – that is to say, interpreted differently in the light of new experience. THIS IS THE CHRISTIAN POSITION OF EVALUATING HISTORY.
The conflict between philosophy and Christianity is that philosophy always comes too late, i.e. analysis after the facts, and the meaning of all facts must be constantly revitalized by us for what new meaning they might have.
Lecture – 25
1.DISTINCTION BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL: To grow, to change, to think anew, these are fundamental goals necessary, for survival. ERH names this as a “first cause” of personal growth. In science the past determines the future, cause leads to effect, etc., which would mean that if we are conceived as “natural,” we are totally determined by certain things. While this is true physiologically, it can never be true spiritually, otherwise we would never be able to be original thinkers.
To love, to propose, to commit an act of charity, to speak out our thoughts against odds, are all acts of being a “first cause” ourselves.
2.Greeks conceived of two dimensions of time, mythical and present, whereall first causes derived from mythical times. (p.1) To think this way is to condemn one’s self to being always a follower, dross in the community.
3.We are admonished by ERH to reverse the Greek time concept, and view the past as “ordinary time” and the present as existing in “mythical time,” where first causes can occur. We all tend to live within today’s myths!
4.Physis, ethos, logos can be characterized in terms of relationships. These are 1) to see one’s self as having a commander (being “overlorded”) which equals logos; 2) as being the commander which equals physis, or 3) as having comrades of equal rank which equals ethos. Each of these are basic experiences in life, where we play out different roles; “That’s the experience of everybody.” (pp.2,3)
5.Of these, only physis can be described by numbers, (p.4) and people experience becomes a constant loss of power from generation to generation, by reducing logos to physis.
To speak of ideas only is to be sterile.
The difference between nature and truth is the difference between being in charge – i.e. giving orders, and being conscious-struck (listening to a higher command).
6.What is the meaning of the Trinity? The Christians were trying to counter the Greek value of treating logos and physis (nature) as the same; that is, thinking only logically (for instance, it is logical and natural to be self-serving). Mind (if seen as the same as logos) is mechanical, logical only. Logos is to understand that we must be commanded by some higher powers (rather than our own self-interest). By 300 BC the Greek spirit of logic had led to decadence.
7.Pneuma, the spirit, the logos, the “Holy Spirit”:
“The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is an attempt to link up the Greek Odyssey, the Greek migration, the Greek exodus from normal humanity into philosophy. This attempt to look at the mind as a mechanism, and to treat it as something that is under law, and whose results can be pre-calculated…The pneuma is an attempt to restore the balance… (p.12)
And in the ancient world, from Paul to St. Augustine, is the attempt by the Christians to bring the Greek philosophers back under the domination of the spirit, to reconnect humanity and philosophy.
8.In many places ERH asserts that in the physical world life precedes death, but in the spiritual world, death precedes life. THIS IS A PROFOUND DISTINCTION, because it means that we must live our lives by bringing spiritual life into our physical life, otherwise we cannot maintain community.
Truth dies when it is not acted on, when it is made into “mere ideas.” We thus validate truth by acting on it, or in the case of truth from the past, we must regenerate it, bring it back to life.
9.To live the life of the philosopher, one believes that one can rule the world with one’s thought. The Trinity was an attempt to indicate how this is a failed view, given the fallibility of mankind. Thus – just as ERH viewed man as multiform and not to be understood except in all his basic roles as individual, friend, and lover, team member and community member – in a like way God cannot be understood except as having three forms of Himself (the ultimate creator and lord of the universe), as being within the Father, who then passes this spirit on in the possession of the Son or Daughter. “That’s the minimum, in order to understand the authority which He has over me.”
The Trinity is a very chaste attempt to place you in the middle of the process between logos, and physis, and ethos. It has nothing to do with denomination. It has nothing to do with the pope in Rome. It has something to do with truth…Because you have to believe in the Trinity, you must be a Christian. (p.19)
[RF – See #7 Lecture 9 for a detailed explanation of supporting logic for this quotation.]
The Trinity is a counter to Greek philosophy, which believes that mankind evolved from dead things and now has the power of life and death over the rest of nature, that everything is less alive than he. “He is perfectly willing to admit that he can be deduced from the `less’ life.” (p.19)
10.We are most alive at our greatest moments of creativity, of courage, of commitment. We cannot be the yardstick of our own truth, it must be tested over three generations of the Holy Spirit from the past, of the father, and taken up and practiced also by the son. Then social truth can be ascertained. And this is why we must believe in the Trinity if we wish to find ourselves and find truth (social truth).
Ministers of the church today no longer understand, because they have neither studied Greek, nor Latin, nor Hebrew, nor philosophy…They are slaves of the fashionable philosophy of our day today, these poor, so-called ministers of the word… (p.20)
Belief in the Trinity is the only remedy against our own mind’s haughtiness and arrogance. There is a constant exchange between different authorities, whereby each of us is on the middle rung of a ladder, and therefore there is a higher authority than ourselves, just as we are lords of things and animals below us. The message of the Trinity is that Greek thinking must come under the authority of the spirit.
11.Greek philosophy tried to make man the master of his own destiny. It failed. At best we are only partly masters of our destiny. We can manipulate nature and our society, but such manipulations are always self-serving, when they are not guided by a power beyond ourselves. [RF – which is most of the time with most people?]
…the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is not a religious doctrine, and a religious experience, but the necessity of expressing the Greek experience in terms that were no longer Greek, but that led the Greeks back into the general experience of the whole human race, that the loss of spirit, the loss of logos, by mere logic, instrumentalism, mechanism, cleverness, had to be rebuilt, or replaced, had to be remedied by making man again able to be inspired by a power higher than he himself. (p.24)
Lecture – 26
1.The fundamental necessity for education is to know “what is necessary in life,” in other words, “What is reality?” ERH reminds us that all life is finite, that it leads to death, and that our basic drive is to extend life as much as possible. To do this we must learn what should be kept for each generation, and what must die, what must end. (p.1)
2.One assumption about reality is that life, especially human life, evolved out of dead things (chemicals), and that at this point in our evolution we are on top, ruling the world.
ERH’s logic is that each day we do many humdrum things, and are therefore not creative most of the time. Only at certain times are we inspired, and this is a higher state of our being. Part of one’s life is representative of much more than the average state of being, overlaid with a large part rather ordinary, functioning at a lower level. So a crucial question is which line of thought 1) looking above ourselves, when we are creative, when we are divine, and 2) which part is just natural?
And the mind itself is neither natural nor divine, but is in this transitional stage from life to death, and from death to life, and we know at no one moment whether we are stupid or wise…(p.3)
3.Our natural tendency (of the mind) is to be natural, is to take the path of least resistance, to take the easy road, to give ourselves the benefit of doubt, to glorify our intentions. BUT IS ALL THAT CONDUCIVE TO TRUTH AND CREATIVITY? Part of the mind is “natural” or follows those tendencies naturally, but it is certainly not the creative part, or the divine part.
Being objective in the way we look at the world takes no more than ordinary talent. This is hardly the source of a creative hypothesis, however. The creative hypothesis is based on asking several questions, namely, “Are my previous assumptions about the world correct?” “What explains my lack of understanding of this problem?” “Is there some other dimension of reality to be considered, and if so what would it be?” “How can I go about exploring this?” It is these types of questions that establish new thinking and progress. These questions are interesting and keep us spiritually alive. SO THE PROBLEM IS TODAY, HOW DO WE INDUCE ENTHUSIASM, INSPIRATION?
4.Truth is that which is valid whether we like it or not, whether we benefit from it or not, and finally, truth occurs when one is willing to present it, “…even if he has to go to the cross.” (p.6)
We will survive (come spiritually alive) by seeking and accepting truth, not by pursuing self-interest.
5.Our problem is to distinguish which part of our mind is alive and original, and which part is merely repeating what has been done or said before. Truth is engendered by “aliveness,” and self-interest leads to death, always. Death and life are intertwined always in our minds.
…where you are in love, where you are courageous, where you are inspired, you begin something. And in other ways of life, you learn, and you repeat…Every one of us is half genius, half inspired, and half routine. (p.9)
6.We are born, not with a soul, but with the potential of developing a soul. We rise to a higher level of life when we give back to the community what we have received from it. This is how a person beginning with a raw animal nature develops into a living spirit. IN OTHER WORDS, THE COMMUNITY CREATES US, AND IF THE COMMUNITY IS TO SURVIVE INTO THE FUTURE, WE MUST BE WILLING TO GIVE BACK TO IT SOME OF WHAT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM IT. This becomes essential because the community needs regeneration to live, just as plants and animals must adapt to changing environmental conditions. The regeneration of society requires fertilization by way of our increasing knowledge of reality.
The importance in any country is that little group that swings the balance which is not swayed by self interest. (p.11)
The assumption in our Constitution is that this small group exists!
7.ORGANIZED CHURCHES TODAY, are so steeped in the Bible that they see its platitudes as “natural” and therefore mechanical, therefore they are pagan. (p.12)
ERH likens this process to “inspiration” and “expiration,” to creativity and to repetition of concepts. In life we require a balance between the two. Like a balance between day and night, between activity and rest or meditation, between creativity and mechanics, between carnation and incarnation, between sowing and harvesting. “Our mind lies fallow during the night of our consciousness.”
8.The central issue in teaching is to inspire, to fire students with the meaning of the subject so that they will think about it “on their own time.” THIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO DO. Can we so inspire students? Can we so embody the “idea” of the subject so that students will be inspired to turn it into action?
For one thing, one must make students understand that they must constantly balance between repetition and creativity. Order is not all that exists, there is spirit also (which expands our understanding of order). In other words, genius creates order, but what creates genius? Both are needed. One is driven by logic, the other spirit. One is a first cause, the other the consequence of a first cause. Each of us must house both attitudes It is not the systems of the Greek philosophers which will be everlasting, but the spirit of the philosophers themselves! (p.21)
9.TO REGENERATE THE GREEK SPIRIT: In ancient times the poet fought the mechanization of the logician. Today the poets have stopped being poets ‑ therefore the philosophers must cease to be rationalists only.
“And therefore we need a meta-logic or pneumatology which balances the mechanics and the embodiment processes which permeates your and my strange being… (p.23)