Saturday, May 9, 2009

16 Marcus Aurelius

Today about Marcus Aurelius..even a philosopher / emperor.... But I thought it might be more interesting to look somewhat closer at Stoicism as well.

Marcus Aurelius was born AD 121and he was a Stoic.What did that mean inthose days?

We are discussing here philosophers and during the course the Stoics are mentioned too. So Stoicism has to be a philosophy. Yes is was....on physics and metaphysics and ethics in particular.

But it was was a way of life. Stoicism i sthat Hellenistic philosophy which sought to make the personal and political lives of men as orderly as the cosmos.

In the course ot its five-hundred year history as an organized movement, some of its leaders devoted themselves mainly to understanding the macrocosmos, and others emphazised the ethical, political end religious life ofr man in the microcosmos.

It all began with Heraclitus with his idea of constand changes, man subardinated to the LOGOS or law of nature, which can be known by man through reason.

Around 300 BC the Stoics developed their basic doctrines and through the centuries their doctrines were taught in special schools. About 150 BC in Athens for instance, where also Plato had founded an academy.

With Marcus Aurelius we are again a 250 years further in history. And Stocism is still a respected way of life. It is more than a philosophy. It is a religion too.

The Stoics defined God as "a rational spirit having itself no shape but making itself into all things". One of their many proofs of his existence was by consent. There is an innate disposition to believ ein God.

One of the Stoics most famous proofs was from providence. Only a providential God could produce such beauty, such interlocking purposes as the universe reveals.

Doesnt this sound familiar to us, though these are thoughts formulated by the hellenistic mind, whose teachers also educated people like Cicero, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

When we turn to individual man, we have three subjects to study:
1. Desires and aversions
2. Impulse to act and not to act
3. Freedom from deception, hasty judgement and anythig else relates to assents
This according to Epictetus (died 135 AD), whose writings were well known to marcus Aurelius.

1 is about following the law of Nature, 2, about ethics and 3 is devoted to logic and clear judgement.

All subjects that should be studied only, they also should be lived according to Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius was one of the last Stoics....soon christianity would take over .

The Discussion

[13:15] herman Bergson: All subjects shouldnot be studied only, they also should be lived according to Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius was one of the last Stoics....soon christianity would take over .
[13:16] herman Bergson: As you see..through the centuries Stoicism also was a kind of educational system. And many of the leading class in society were educated this way in those days.
[13:17] Gemma Cleanslate: it looks as if they adapted a lot of stoicism
[13:17] herman Bergson: This was the last Stoic...
[13:18] herman Bergson: What do you mean Gemma...that we adopted alot of Stocicism?
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: well when you look at the three subjects
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: they appear to lead right into christianity well
[13:18] herman Bergson: all sounds so familiar to me....
[13:19] herman Bergson: yes that is my feeling too.....tho I think the way was already prepared by Philo of Alexandria
[13:20] herman Bergson: A lot of christian thinking looks stoic and a lot looks Judaian
[13:20] Maphisto Mapholisto: and yet Marcus killed a lot of christians
[13:21] herman Bergson: yes....and that was plain politics...
[13:21] AristotleVon Doobie: I can only perceive the Stoics as the transitonal authority frorm free thinking inot controlled thinking.
[13:21] hope63 Shepherd: well.. logic and clear judgents don't seem to me the strongpoints of christian thinking..
[13:22] Maphisto Mapholisto: but if christianity is substantially stoicism, then doesn't it contain a big dash of stoic reasoning?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Wel...I think we should be carefull with such observations.....
[13:23] herman Bergson: Given its context christianity uses logic....but you may disagree with the premisses
[13:24] You: Yes it is entirly logical and reasonable to accept the existence of a God
[13:24] oola Neruda: perhaps there is a gap between theory and practice
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: Of course I feel that is skewed logic.
[13:25] herman Bergson: What fascinates me that there has developed a kind of self image of man and how he should live in harmony with reality, with nature
[13:25] herman Bergson: and the idea that what man calls Nature is filled with LOGOS.....with reason
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: What else can nature be?
[13:26] Sinclair Bracken: it could be devoid of reason
[13:26] herman Bergson: I couldnt answer that Aristotle...
[13:26] AristotleVon Doobie: Not by nature.
[13:26] herman Bergson: Be careful.....we are using a big word...
[13:27] AristotleVon Doobie: Isnt it the essence of reason.
[13:27] Maphisto Mapholisto: the now implicit belief in that logos made newton confident that he could describe 'laws' of nature
[13:27] You: Ta Prof yes Logos is big
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes..and the Greelk thought big too....the LOGOS was everything there is
[13:28] Maphisto Mapholisto: pity we don't look at eastern thought too .... wonder how logos stacks up against Mao?
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes....and Kuhn reduced them to paradigmas
[13:28] Sinclair Bracken: but there are those who think of nature as wild or irrational
[13:29] Sinclair Bracken: or of man's formulations as unconstrained by whatever nature is
13:29] Maphisto Mapholisto: yet we are natural beings ourselves - born free but everyewhere in the chains of multinationals
[13:30] herman Bergson: Oops...Maff...that is a lot in on sentence...
[13:30] Maphisto Mapholisto: i'm being provactive, lol
[13:30] Sinclair Bracken: rather than stoical?
[13:30] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol
[13:30] You: :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes I know.....but I dont think it is the wisest route to take, if you allow me to say so.
[13:31] Maphisto Mapholisto: is that a stoical analysis?
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: aren't we going to hear about marx later?,maff?
[13:31] herman Bergson: I think we have to gather the essential ideas that have developed during those centuries and relate them to our present day ones.
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes.
[13:32] oola Neruda: did the stoics have things that they called good and bad
[13:32] herman Bergson: Marx and even Lenin is in the list....Maff will lecture
[13:32] Maphisto Mapholisto: i'm a maoist
[13:32] herman Bergson: good....:-)
[13:32] Maphisto Mapholisto: ie, neostalinist chit chat
[13:34] herman Bergson: so what I said...what fascinates me is what people in those days thought about themselves, their world and social order and ethics
[13:34] herman Bergson: and then to see how close we still are to those ideas
[13:34] Maphisto Mapholisto: they must be true then
[13:34] herman Bergson: looks like the basics are still the same ...
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is a big step Maff.....the proof by consent, which the Stoics believed in
[13:35] Maphisto Mapholisto: sorry, feeling manic today
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: hah
[13:35] oola Neruda: proof of God you are speaking of?
[13:35] You: illogical to say MUST in this case
[13:36] herman Bergson: for instance....
[13:36] Sinclair Bracken: what were the stoics guiding principals, then?
[13:36] herman Bergson: the law of nature....the believe that Nature was reasonable and in that sense good...
[13:37] herman Bergson: so understanding Nature would make you a wise man, was their believe
[13:37] herman Bergson: But in those days there were real Skeptics too....
[13:37] Maphisto Mapholisto: as in emprical science, or as in rousseaus eduction theories, herman?
[13:38] Sinclair Bracken: who opposed the stoics assumptions about Nature?
[13:38] herman Bergson: Already parmenides did....the Stoics folowed Heraclitus idea of the permanent flux...
[13:39] oola Neruda: did they have things they called good or bad
[13:40] herman Bergson: The Stoics, Oola...yes ....Nature as such was intrinsic good in their opinion.
[13:40] Sinclair Bracken: how did one understand constant flux?
[13:40] Sinclair Bracken: was it governed by laws?
[13:41] oola Neruda: by good and bad i am reffering to what is moral... acceptable or not
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Sinclair....difficult to answer....
[13:42] oola Neruda: because what we said last time made it sound like the stoics ran like animals....
[13:42] herman Bergson: Follwing the law of Nature implied moral good, oola
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: and also the ethics
[13:43] Sinclair Bracken: is there a natural ethics?
[13:43] herman Bergson: Natural ethics.......?
[13:43] herman Bergson: I think the Stoics believed there was....
[13:43] herman Bergson: in fact it is the debate about man: is he good or bad by nature?
[13:44] oola Neruda: or oblivious to both
[13:44] herman Bergson: The Stoics strived for wisdom.....insight by reason
[13:45] Ludwig John: what is good - what is bad: it subjective and mostly relative
[13:45] You: look at the Elephant
[13:45] Sinclair Bracken: did they derive any ethical ideas from Nature?
[13:45] oola Neruda: relative is the the context of stoicism...what is it
[13:45] Sinclair Bracken: that they could identify and promulgate?
[13:46] herman Bergson: A lot of their ideas on the state were based on such ideas Sinclair....
[13:46] Sinclair Bracken: what, then, were their ideas on the State?
[13:47] herman Bergson: Not following our instincts but being social for instance....
[13:47] You: there is Hobbs again
[13:48] You: and the foundations for todays society
[13:48] Sinclair Bracken: is it more ethical not to act than to act?
[13:48] Maphisto Mapholisto: or rousseau and the social contract
[13:48] You: and the Human Rigths agenda
[13:48] You: yes Maff
[13:49] Sinclair Bracken: does clear judgment, as you mentioned, lead to action?
[13:49] You: definately
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: and Disneyland
[13:49] Maphisto Mapholisto: sorry, manic again
[13:49] hope63 Shepherd: didn't solon start all his?
[13:49] herman Bergson: The definition of clear judgement is crucial here.
[13:50] herman Bergson: But I think that in those days they would reason that by knowing Nature or the LOGOS you know how to act.
[13:51] herman Bergson: A common mental construc: strong believes that guide our actions..
[13:51] herman Bergson: and are believes clear judgement.....?
[13:52] Sinclair Bracken: beliefs are not always clear judgment
[13:52] Maphisto Mapholisto: well, in many ways marcus, to get to him, was a fine emperor, so stoicism succeeded in his case
[13:52] Sinclair Bracken: although he killed many christians
[13:53] Maphisto Mapholisto: can't make an ommlette etc
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: Success at what expense to usall?
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: he kiled man others too..
[13:53] Maphisto Mapholisto: he wrote some nice meditations
[13:53] herman Bergson: yes..during his campaings.:-)
[13:54] Maphisto Mapholisto: held back the germanic hordes
[13:54] Sinclair Bracken: of course the question is whether there were better, more reasonable alternatives
[13:55] Maphisto Mapholisto: good point, sinclair
[13:55] Sinclair Bracken: yes
[13:55] Sinclair Bracken: later
[13:56] Maphisto Mapholisto: a prince should be loved and feared, but if he has to choose, choose fear, lol
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: Did the Stoics believe that Logos was in the mind or the soul?
[13:57] herman Bergson: Mind and soul, Aristotle.....they didnt make that distinction yet
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: But religion took it to the soul?
[13:58] herman Bergson: yes but mind/ was one concept not two...
[13:59] herman Bergson: or actually....if you refer to soul as a christian concept...that is another story
[13:59] herman Bergson: but mind in the psychological sense as we use it now, was not within their horizon...
[14:00] herman Bergson: Like the Stoics....what they wrote about was in a way psychological....control one's desires etc....but not in the sense as we would read a book of Rogers or Maslow
[14:01] herman Bergson: we have to wait for cutting up man into mind - body - soul will still take a few centuries to get that far
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: Can't wait.
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[14:02] Maphisto Mapholisto: thought we had an echo there, Os
[14:02] Osrum Sands: thumbs
[14:02] herman Bergson: well Aristotle...I dont want to put your patience to a test, but you will have to wait till Freud
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: Very well.
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: long way to go
[14:03] herman Bergson: yes indeed Gemma
[14:03] Sinclair Bracken: perhaps Aristotle can learn to control his desire from the stoics
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: lol.
[14:03] herman Bergson grins
[14:03] Maphisto Mapholisto: which aristotle?
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: :-))
[14:04] Osrum Sands: Ah the dreaded diciplined mind
[14:04] herman Bergson: Well...after this educational observation I think it is time to relax and look forward to the real Skeptic onThursday....
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: What a name, Sestus.
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: Sextus
[14:05] herman Bergson: Sextus Empiricus
[14:05] Osrum Sands: sounds like a monty life name
[14:05] Maphisto Mapholisto: sounds like a BDSM handle
[14:05] Osrum Sands: monty python that is
[14:05] AristotleVon Doobie: Or an SL handle.
[14:06] Gemma Cleanslate: Maphisto what did you have to eat today too much sugar???
[14:06] herman Bergson: Well..maybe it will all that fun as we see how he opposes to all main currents of his days
[14:06] Sinclair Bracken: perhaps he forgot to take his meds
[14:06] Osrum Sands: is he a friend of Bigus Dickus
[14:06] Maphisto Mapholisto: dunno, but having trouble sitting still, lol
[14:06] Maphisto Mapholisto: lol, Os
[14:06] AristotleVon Doobie: :)))
[14:07] Gemma Cleanslate: the class distintergrates
[14:07] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes.
[14:07] herman Bergson: Ok..Maff...grab you poseball and go play outside...:-)
[14:07] Maphisto Mapholisto: up Sextus!
[14:07] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL\
[14:07] Osrum Sands: in the end laugther is wonderfull
[14:07] herman Bergson: and thank you all for your attention..:-)
[14:07] Osrum Sands: ta Proff
[14:07] AristotleVon Doobie: Yes, it soothes the mind.
[14:08] Maphisto Mapholisto: thank you herman - i needed that
[14:08] Gemma Cleanslate: thank u Herman interesting as usual
[14:08] Sinclair Bracken: very enjoyable
[14:08] AristotleVon Doobie: Thaks a lot, Prof.
[14:08] herman Bergson: thnx..
[14:08] Maphisto Mapholisto: thanx everyone - all good stuff
[14:08] AristotleVon Doobie: Most enjoyable day today.

Posted by herman_bergson on 2007-11-07 01:54:11

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