Saturday, May 9, 2009

14 Philo of Alexandria

A remarkable man, Philo of Alexandria. When Jesus was born he was about 20 years old, living in Alexandria. Son of a rich Jewish family of priests. He died in 50 C.E.

He was well educated in two cultures, the Judaian and the Greek culture. And he used the Greek philosophy to justify Judaism, the Hebrew biblical thought.

In the process, he laid the foundations of Christianity in the West, as we know it. He developed the philosophical and theological foundations of Christianity.

Before we continue to look at his philosophical ideas, we have to accept one importan axiom: There exist only one god. In Judaian tradition this is not a question but just a fact, which you dont question.

Recall the main ideas of his time: only reason leads to virtue. The body is a source of pain and pleasure, that has to be balanced, controled. Only reason leads to certainty of knowledge. Through reason we can know things, have insights, which we cant obtain by simple sensory experiences.

And then there is the Judaian tradition and the new developments of his days: followers from someone named Jesus. It is even told, that I would have met Paul in Rome.

It is fascinating to read all he has contributed to our culture; too much to discuss here, but let me try to get the quintesssence.

According to Philo man was created by God, at first as an idea in the mind (PLATO!) and next as a corporeal being, possesed by an immaterial soul (Judaism/Greek).

Because of this confuguration man is an "inhabitant of the border between the divine and non-divine". The material body belongs to the world and the mind/reason to the divine.

Then he uses the Aristotelian idea of 'telos' / goal to explain that the goal of man is to become like god, to reach for the divine by contemplation, get as close to our real origin...the idea in the mind of God.

The key emphasis in Philo's philosophy is contrasting the spiritual life, understood as intellectual contemplation, with the mundane preoccupation with earthly concerns, either as an active life or as a search for pleasure.

And here we see elements of Epicurus and the Stoic: the active effort to achieve virtue, using reason to find the balance between pain and pleasure, using reason the achieve the proper emotional state of balance.

So who have we here.....a philosopher...a theologian. Why is he in my list? It is because the influence he has had on those after him. He was the one who linked Platonism with christian thinking.

This is our 15th philosopher...and with every new philosopher I am more in astonishment. Just imagine....a world in which every book had to be written on papyrus. 100 copies must have been a massive edition.

These books, simple drops in an ocean, were spread over the world, where traveling was hazardous. Yet they got to other places..other thinkers.....lead to new handwritten books..even a hundred year later..

And here we are, 2007 C.E., reflecting on the thoughts of those men, who probably are even less than dust at this moment. It is amazing to me..........

The Discussion

13:06] Manoly Demina: hi all
[13:06] Cailleach Shan: Hey Manoly
[13:07] Manoly Demina: hi cailleach
[13:08] herman Bergson grins
[13:09] herman Bergson: two students took off...
[13:09] herman Bergson: they liked eachother more than the philosopher we are discussing
[13:09] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:09] Cailleach Shan Cal giggles
[13:10] herman Bergson: well..if philosphy leads to love cant be a bad thing
[13:10] Ewa Aska: lol
[13:10] Redik Tomsen: love it's self is philosophy.....
[13:10] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:10] Maphisto Mapholisto: love of the mind, reason and all higher things is waht we find in hallowed halls, herman
[13:10] herman Bergson: that is a nice one Redik
[13:10] AristotleVon Doobie: A mystery for sure.
[13:10] Redik Tomsen: ty
[13:11] Maphisto Mapholisto: love is more chem-mistry than mystery
[13:11] Cailleach Shan sings All we need is love..... la la la la la
[13:11] Ewa Aska: lol
[13:11] herman Bergson: Maff stop it....:-)
[13:11] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:11] Gray Cardiff: alchemy map
[13:11] Maphisto Mapholisto: blame Os - he started me off
[13:11] herman Bergson: lol...ok
[13:12] You: well...
[13:12] Redik Tomsen: smile Love is complex
[13:12] Osrum Sands: well
[13:12] herman Bergson: nevertheless I have a special philospher today
[13:12] You: actually ..special because I myself wasnt known with him that a kind of new to me too
[13:13] herman Bergson: Hello Linden
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks..feel free..:-)
[13:23] Maphisto Mapholisto: that's why philosospy is a kind of commumion of saints, heramn
[13:23] Redik Tomsen: I think Antient Greek sprit level and Philosophy.....
[13:23] Redik Tomsen: is kind a diferent with Hebrew
[13:23] Redik Tomsen: and it is very dificault even to try to compair
[13:24] herman Bergson: I dont think so Redik
[13:24] Redik Tomsen: their culture...history...minds.....maker of so wonderfull things we enjoy today
[13:24] Redik Tomsen: ok
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: It is amazing to me how reason and superstition can be related.
[13:24] herman Bergson: hold on every one...:-)
[13:24] Redik Tomsen: Hebrow history we know only form Bibile
[13:25] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:25] herman Bergson: Just a moment..hold on...
[13:25] Maphisto Mapholisto: not sure that is correct, Redik
[13:25] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:25] herman Bergson: there is a very interesting thing to what you say Redik
[13:25] Maphisto Mapholisto: Josephus?
[13:25] Cailleach Shan giggles at everyone talking at once
[13:26] herman Bergson: How could a jewish priest understand the politheistic greek belief
[13:26] herman Bergson: Homer talking about fighting and jealous gods and things like that
[13:26] herman Bergson: He came up with a brilliant idea...
[13:27] herman Bergson: which not only applied to the bible but also to greek mythology
[13:27] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:27] herman Bergson: the many gods which the greek had were only symbols
[13:27] herman Bergson: you shouldnt read it literally as stories about persons
[13:28] herman Bergson: Athene is the symbol of reason
[13:28] herman Bergson: Aphrodite is the symboll of love
[13:28] herman Bergson: if a story talks about a quarrel between athene and aphrodite it is about reason and love in man
[13:29] herman Bergson: this was his way of incorporating greek thought into judaism
[13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: early deconstruction
[13:29] Gray Cardiff: was philo`s thought somewhat comprimised by the greek influence surely philo`s thoughts were comprimised by the greek influence if not overwhelmed
[13:29] Redik Tomsen: ok may I say somehting?
13:29] Redik Tomsen: The aincient greeks,
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes the greek influence was considerable
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: did use gods as the simbols
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: But
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: there is a diference
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: in way of thinking and cultural level, education, in music, poetry, etc
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: when Apostlel Paul came to greece
[13:30] Redik Tomsen: and preached
[13:31] Redik Tomsen: he saw a statue
[13:31] Redik Tomsen: that said .....ONE GOD
[13:31] Redik Tomsen: and he was amazed
[13:31] Redik Tomsen: and that made his work there even better
[13:31] Redik Tomsen: and since we are talking about greeks, and Judaism
[13:32] Redik Tomsen: it is very dificult to compair to nations
[13:32] Redik Tomsen: it is like compair today USA with UGANDA
[13:32] Gray Cardiff: feel better herman
[13:32] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:32] Maphisto Mapholisto: but the gospel of john is riddled with greek thought - "In the beginning was the Logos"
[13:32] herman Bergson: ok..(sorry:-) but let's stick to the subject
[13:32] herman Bergson: Philo of Alexandria
[13:32] Redik Tomsen: Logos means WORD
[13:32] Linden Markova: Herman, I can see parrallels between his thinking and Platos, but surely later, people like Descartes who followed Plato's epistemological project, used reason to break free from what he saw as religious dogma, reason and the idea of God were the antithesis of each other
[13:33] You: Philo was concerned with Logos
[13:33] Redik Tomsen: agree
[13:33] Cailleach Shan thinks.... mmmm Logos.... Widsom?
[13:33] herman Bergson: stop...!
[13:33] Maphisto Mapholisto: :D
[13:33] Redik Tomsen: Logos means Word in greek
[13:33] Cailleach Shan: Wisdom.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Linden..Descartes didnt break free from God
[13:34] herman Bergson: ok..he took a special turn to keep him alive..:-)
[13:34] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:34] Redik Tomsen: nice one
13:35] herman Bergson: `Maff....the gospel of John....
[13:35] herman Bergson: a special case
[13:35] herman Bergson: I once thought he was a drugs addict
[13:35] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:35] Redik Tomsen: very ture
[13:35] Redik Tomsen: but as u said herman
[13:35] Maphisto Mapholisto: and the writings of luke, the greektrained physician, aren't?
[13:36] Redik Tomsen: we cannot take everything literally
[13:36] Redik Tomsen: yes
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: Only what we choose?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Hey....Luke is our favorite with Xmas...
[13:36] Redik Tomsen: hehe
[13:36] Maphisto Mapholisto: what about Sanata, *sniff*
[13:37] herman Bergson: He is the only one who told use about the manger and the sheperds and angels..:-)
[13:37] Redik Tomsen: hmmm
[13:37] Redik Tomsen: interesting
[13:37] herman Bergson: didnt you know?
[13:37] Redik Tomsen: I read old and new testemony
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: OK, religion and truth, how did Philo marry them together?
[13:38] Redik Tomsen: so I do....but I think there is more parts in old and new testemnt about it
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well get back to philosphy....
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: Herman do we have time to talke about Philo's concept of the Logos?
[13:38] herman Bergson: Philo was a Judaian believer...
[13:38] herman Bergson: and as I said before...
[13:39] herman Bergson: who is he..a philosopher or a theologian?
[13:39] Redik Tomsen: maybe both
[13:39] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes I think so to Redik
[13:39] Redik Tomsen: he tries to find somehting beyiond
[13:39] Redik Tomsen: of the minds of his time
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: A theologian I believe.
13:39] Redik Tomsen: and that is why he was not understood....then....
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: How can anyone see religion as rational?
[13:40] You: dont go there Aristotal
[13:40] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: It makes so sense to me.
[13:40] Cailleach Shan give a long sigh
[13:40] herman Bergson: an interesting thing is that he was ignored by the jewish community..I mean his philosophy
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: Is that the reason for the Christian path?
[13:41] herman Bergson: but it was absorbed by early christian thinkers...
[13:41] Maphisto Mapholisto: a certain point in history, a fusion (uncomfortable maybe) between hebrew and greek thought occured that gave rise to western christianity - thanks to Philo and Greeks converts
[13:41] Redik Tomsen: he was the way out of the times
[13:42] Redik Tomsen: Greeks had a different aproach
[13:42] Redik Tomsen: the was more paganists
[13:42] herman Bergson: well...I guess you might have a point there Maff....but I think the movement was wider
[13:42] herman Bergson: but even when you have a point here Maff..
[13:43] herman Bergson: it is amazing that ONE human being and his writings have such an influence on history
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: indeed
[13:43] Redik Tomsen: it is amazing in deed
[13:43] Maphisto Mapholisto: well, and i thought philo was just a pastry maker - what did i know?
[13:43] herman Bergson: how those scrolls were by other people..and we are talking about two or three maybe
[13:43] Cailleach Shan laughs out loud...... philo pasty....hehe
13:44] You: he was a bit flaky a
[13:44] Cailleach Shan: lol
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: lol
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: but the point is
[13:44] You: sorry Herman
[13:44] You: I'll shut up
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: many ppl
[13:44] Gray Cardiff: the poower of his family must have been very influential in helping his works
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: still
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: read
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: and thinking
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes he was from a powerful family
[13:44] Redik Tomsen: and that is the most powerfull
[13:45] herman Bergson: but nevertheless....what those people wrote in those was of high intellectual level..could have been written today
[13:45] herman Bergson: and it all survived in history
[13:46] Gray Cardiff: i cant help feeling money talked herman
[13:46] Redik Tomsen: power or written...when the one who writes...put on the paper what his soul try to say...
[13:46] You: what has changed Gray
[13:46] Gray Cardiff: smiles
[13:47] herman Bergson: No..Gray I dont think so..
[13:47] Maphisto Mapholisto: money is not enough ... if philo had written nonsense, no one would copied or preseved his writings
[13:47] Gray Cardiff: his thought were recorded unlike many others
[13:47] herman Bergson: real philosophy isnt enforced on people by money
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: Influence.
[13:48] herman Bergson: so were Plato's thoughts
[13:48] Gray Cardiff: that was my point herman
[13:48] herman Bergson: word on Gray's point
13:49] herman Bergson: when you look at society there is a social stratification
[13:49] herman Bergson: there is a so called upper class
[13:49] herman Bergson: not related to money but to intellectual power
[13:49] Ewa Aska: yes
[13:49] herman Bergson: there is a realtion between intellectual power and money
[13:49] Burton Schnyder nods
[13:49] herman Bergson: for this power is related to good education
[13:50] herman Bergson: so...
[13:50] herman Bergson: the well educated people in a society are also the most wealthy peole...generaly speaking
[13:50] herman Bergson: and in those old societies as those of the greek it was absolutely the case
[13:50] You: Bacon and Faulcaut Knowledge is power
[13:51] herman Bergson: but that doesnt change a bit in respect of the thoughts these people had
[13:51] herman Bergson: the questions they asked
[13:51] Redik Tomsen: Knowledge is the most valuable thing in the world
[13:51] Cailleach Shan thinks this still applies today
[13:51] Ewa Aska: agreee
[13:51] Redik Tomsen: and they gaind form that knowledge
[13:52] herman Bergson: oh yes Cailleach..nothing has changed in this respect
[13:52] Redik Tomsen: the final point is
[13:53] You: more of the universal themes appearing
13:53] Redik Tomsen: if somebody at that time was not educated ....
[13:53] Redik Tomsen: and if he try to understand.....
[13:53] Redik Tomsen: had no chance...
[13:53] Redik Tomsen: and most ppl reject what they do not understand
[13:54] Cailleach Shan: Not like today when we can 'self educate' if we choose.
[13:54] You: still do today
[13:54] Redik Tomsen: yes
[13:54] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: Ignorance is from the absence of thinking, not just education.
[13:54] herman Bergson: Well....let me come to a conlusion......
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: true, Redik ... and wouldn't be interested ... would be too busy picking his nose ... but what does that tell us about philo?
[13:54] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:54] Redik Tomsen: I think
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: Philo was just wondering
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: is what I been told in my nation......
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: about God, believes etc
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: is it all acceptable?
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: he knew about greeks
[13:55] herman Bergson: On the one hand least looking at the period we are dealing now with seems to be a luxury of the rich
[13:55] Redik Tomsen: and he was a philosopher
[13:56] Redik Tomsen: with time and money
[13:56] herman Bergson: plz Redik
[13:56] Redik Tomsen: he just make his point to the world
[13:56] Redik Tomsen: sorry herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: as I said..philosophy as a playground for the rich and wealthy
[13:57] You: there is Mazlow again
[13:57] herman Bergson: indeed it was the top level of society that could afford that
[13:57] herman Bergson: but...
[13:57] herman Bergson: you can look at this in two ways..
[13:57] Ewa Aska: smile true
[13:58] herman Bergson: the one is from a sociological political standpoint
[13:58] herman Bergson: and ignoring that standpoint ..from a view regarding the content
[13:59] herman Bergson: and here we are dsicussing philosophical thoughts
[13:59] Maphisto Mapholisto: wouldn't Marx ask how one would be able to separate the two?
[13:59] Redik Tomsen: smile
[13:59] herman Bergson: not the socio-political backgrounds of the philosophers
[13:59] herman Bergson: tho I dont want to ignore that fact
[13:59] Redik Tomsen: yes in deed
[14:00] Redik Tomsen: the baground though is very important
[14:00] herman Bergson: well Maff....
[14:00] herman Bergson: who cares who invented logic...the law of contradiction which makes reasoning possible...whether it was a rich man or a poor man
[14:01] Cailleach Shan shouts.... yay.... three cheers for that Herman.
[14:01] Redik Tomsen: the idea is still alive....
[14:01] You: bingo
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: The mind contains no lucere.
[14:01] Redik Tomsen: smile
[14:01] herman Bergson grins at cailleach
[14:01] Gray Cardiff: feels bad about mentioning money
[14:02] Ewa Aska: smile
[14:02] herman Bergson: no is an importan thing to keep in mind
[14:02] Maphisto Mapholisto: feels bad about mentioning the Cultural revolution
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: Money can provide an audience.
[14:02] herman Bergson: knowledge...power...the possibility to is a story
[14:02] Gray Cardiff: its in my mind a lot herman lol
[14:03] herman Bergson: in our society it even is essentail
[14:03] herman Bergson: or looking at the US....when I see what education costs there...
[14:03] You: money is really just frozen energy !
[14:03] Gray Cardiff: come back diogenes all is forgiven
[14:04] Redik Tomsen: lol
[14:04] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol, gray
[14:04] Redik Tomsen: nice one
[14:04] herman Bergson: but...let's dismiss class first....for we are leaving the path of philosophy..:-)
[14:04] Redik Tomsen: smile
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: I think with the inclusion of religion Phil odeparted from the path,
[14:05] You: never
[14:05] You: just got bigger
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: The truth?
[14:05] Maphisto Mapholisto: what is truth?
[14:06] AristotleVon Doobie: It is not mystical.
[14:06] Redik Tomsen: smile it is a question is it?
[14:06] You: the lonley voice of youth cries
Gray Cardiff: smiles at osrum
[14:07] herman Bergson: Students...class is dismissed..:-)
[14:07] Redik Tomsen: smile
[14:07] Maphisto Mapholisto: whoopeeeee
[14:07] herman Bergson: but plz continue the talk
[14:07] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, Herman.
[14:07] Maphisto Mapholisto: thnx teacher
[14:07] Ewa Aska: Ty Herman ..........
[14:07] herman Bergson: lol...Maff
[14:07] Redik Tomsen: thank you Hrman for your time
[14:07] Amari Vella is Offline
[14:07] Josily Jinn: thx herman
[14:07] Maphisto Mapholisto: good one today, everyone ... thanks all
[14:07] Linden Markova: Thanks herman

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-11-02 04:33:17

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