Tuesday, November 13, 2012

427: The Art Not to be an Egoist 2

The basic concept of a talk show is something like this. You pick a subject, put three or four experts together and add a host to lead the debate on the subject.

Joe Franklin, an American radio and television personality, hosted the first television talk show. The show began in 1951.

But the "inventor' of the concept was Plato (424  - 348 B.C). Because he did not yet have television he had to write it all down in his dialogs. His talk show host was Socrates.

The shows were always discussing fundamental issues, like "What is knowledge?", "What is the good life?", How do we know the Good?"

It's always the same crux however, with the enlightened ones, from Plato and Buddha to the Pope or the Dalai Lama. In fact it is always a dull discussion, because they already seem to know all answers.

Socrates is a kind of dictator, demanding of his followers and readers actually a clear decision: They should commit themselves to be good, 

and renounce all other temptations. A radical life stands before them, trained by the iron disciplinarian Plato.
But how should this life look like? 

The old, in Ancient Greece widespread issue was: How do I handle life with the sensual pleasures? Do they make life good? Or do they interfere with the good life? 

For Plato this is a key question: reason or lust - which makes long-term happiness? The answer is pretty straightforward: feather weigh fleeting comforts of lust against the permanent satisfaction of a good and righteous life. 

According to to Plato, the body with powerful drives and needs only slows us down in the pursuit of happiness. Again and again it leads us into temptation and astray. Only those who free themselves of it are actually free. 

A truly happy life - Plato's word for it is eudaimonia, - is freed from judging the life by cheap standards of pleasure and pain.  The true philosopher transcends his sensual needs.

Since all sense pleasures are temporary and as each sensuous happiness can turn into its opposite, Plato chooses a way of life with inbuilt risk insurance: evading pain in stead of gaining pleasure. 

The enormous impact on European cultural history can not be overstated. As Plato's philosophy is revived again in the Middle Ages, it inspired Christianity to an ascetic and anti-physical ideal in a devastating way.

The goal of life is to overcome the primitive sensuality as much as possible.The bottom line is for Plato: The pleasure principle is not sustainable.  So lust can not be the quintessence of a good life.

Not sexuality, money, food or other pleasures make lasting happiness, only the philosophical abstemious lifestyle. And who measures his life according to the criterion of pleasure and pain, selects a wrong scale.

But if you choose for such a life that only focuses on knowing The Good, there must be some pleasure in it, wouldn't it? So isn't there a relation between the Good and pleasure?

Plato has no answer. The best he offers is a metaphor. Like the sun  is life to earth, so is the Good life to our soul. No clear description of the Good.

Yet, when the soul has knowledge of the Good, it will know in every situation what morally is right and good. How we can acquire this knowledge Plato doesn't tell unfortunately.

But if we knew the Good….and we all would be so nice to each other, wouldn't that be a really dull life. Not to mention the question: Is such a life possible for us?

The basic idea is, that to be a good person you have to know the Good. Knowing what is the Good, doesn't come for free. You have to abstain from lust. Then  you will live a happy and fulfilled life!

That made me think of something which is now apparently the new religion. Today the definition of The Good = physical health.

Thence, if you are physically healthy, you will enjoy a happy and fulfilled life. That is what they want us to believe.

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you.... ^_^
[13:24] Hermine: who is they?
[13:24] Merlin Saxondale: Very interesting today Herman :)
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:24] Merlin Saxondale: I am trying to get away from that puritan ethic of denying myself things. Some religions encourage you to 'take what you need' of life.
[13:24] herman Bergson: Interesting remark Hermine...WHO ARE THEY...
[13:25] Hermine: yes seriosly
[13:25] herman Bergson: I can answer that....
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes..it is serious indeed
[13:25] herman Bergson: and it is a good appraoch ...
[13:26] herman Bergson: ok...let's focus on this "THEY"
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont: do we have to do what THEY say or want..can't we think for ourselves?
[13:26] herman Bergson: First of all the general attitude is....we have to be physically healthy....
[13:27] herman Bergson: plz...wait....
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: it is advertisement for example, no special person, something like Zeitgeist
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Lizzy...
[13:28] Hermine: i would say its the society
[13:28] herman Bergson: But the point is that the new god in this world is physical health...
[13:28] herman Bergson: the hospitals are the new churches and the doctors are our priests
[13:28] Hermine: but health is important to lead a happy live^
[13:28] Vadaman: Here here
[13:28] herman Bergson: That is what THEY make us believe...
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:29] Hermine: well i would say no
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:29] Hermine: to live a healthy live
[13:29] Lizzy Pleides: it is worth striving for beauty, health and richness
[13:29] Hermine: not to go to the doctors^^
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: well since we are going to live so much longer ... they ... may be right
[13:29] Hermine: i think also that the health systems makes us ill
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Hermine...
[13:30] herman Bergson: Told you...this is a complex issue....
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: Yes-ah!
[13:30] Hermine: yes its our own responsibility to stay healthy
[13:30] herman Bergson: What we are after here is What is good....what is a good life...what makes me a good human being....
[13:31] Hermine: help ppl
[13:31] herman Bergson: and after Plato Christianity has told use
[13:31] Catt Gable: Chu, yes if you have the means and conditions around you to do so
[13:31] herman Bergson: but that didn't work...
[13:31] Hermine: beeing friendly
[13:31] herman Bergson: we still are sinners
[13:31] Hermine: lol
[13:31] Hermine: mostly yes herman
[13:31] Bejiita Imako:
[13:31] Hermine: we are all weak
[13:31] herman Bergson: but this idea...this belief in that ONE THING....
[13:31] Merlin Saxondale: That sounds like the Original Sin idea
[13:31] herman Bergson: our wish to know WHAT is GOOD....
[13:32] herman Bergson: we all want to be good people, don't we?
[13:32] AnnieBrightstar: Do we?
[13:32] herman Bergson: and now we are made to believe that when you liv en a physically healthy body you are a good person...
[13:32] Hermine: i guess that is a fabric of the entire society.
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: but where is the moral aspect?
[13:32] herman Bergson: mens sana corpore sano...
[13:32] Merlin Saxondale: Dale Carnegie said in his book that everybody thinks of themselves as good... Example give was Al Capone
[13:33] Hermine: moral creates the entire society.
[13:33] herman Bergson: old saying...and they believed it
[13:33] Hermine: and a good moral and what is good is build in a group of meanings
[13:33] Hermine: i guess
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: aha
[13:33] herman Bergson: Here I object Merlin....
[13:33] Merlin Saxondale: There are not enough resources in the world for every one. we have to compete at the expense of others
[13:33] herman Bergson: with good we mean morally good here
[13:33] Merlin Saxondale: Oh?
[13:34] herman Bergson: killing people is not good in this sense...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: indeed thats the worst thing ever
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: to do
[13:34] Merlin Saxondale: Well I don't think Al Capone was good, but He did
[13:34] Hermine: yes everyone knows, but they are still killing in the name of god
[13:35] herman Bergson: what the individual person thinks is not the point here....
[13:35] Merlin Saxondale: yes thats an example too Chu
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:35] herman Bergson: because then you plead for absolute relativism
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: Jihad and such horrible things
[13:36] herman Bergson: The point is that Plato introduced a belief in a Good....
[13:36] herman Bergson: that transcends our individual being...
[13:36] herman Bergson: that penetrated our culture deeply...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: so plato is the origin of all that?
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: I see
[13:36] Merlin Saxondale: Remind us.. Was Plato and Socrates before Jesus?
[13:37] herman Bergson: and in that sense I say that the idea pf 'health' has replaced that transendental idea of the good today
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes Merlin 400 years BC :-)
[13:37] Merlin Saxondale nods
[13:37] Merlin Saxondale: I think there were a lot of ideas being passed around at that time
[13:38] Hermine: and we have still the same questions
[13:38] Merlin Saxondale: John the Baptist, Ancient china etc
[13:38] Hermine: and no answers^^
[13:38] herman Bergson: JB was 400 years after Plato..and China was unknown to the Greek in those days
[13:39] Merlin Saxondale: 3 kings from the orient?
[13:39] herman Bergson: The amazing thing is the way Plato thought about life....
[13:39] Merlin Saxondale: I think ideas could spread, even if there was no knowledge of the place they came from
[13:39] herman Bergson: which was strongly influenced by the world around him in those days...
[13:40] Merlin Saxondale: Some Indians believe their ideas were passed to Jesus an co
[13:40] herman Bergson: Plato lived in a politically and socially collapsing world...
[13:40] herman Bergson: You mean people from India Merlin?
[13:41] Merlin Saxondale: Yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes there can be connections....
[13:41] herman Bergson: To give you an example...
[13:41] Merlin Saxondale: ty
[13:41] herman Bergson: Aristotle was our first great logician….
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: at the age between 12 and 30 there's nothing in the bible about jesus
[13:42] herman Bergson: but inIndia logic was already developed much more
[13:42] herman Bergson: in those days
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: ok
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: Almost Lizzy, yes
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: just his birth perhaps ;)
[13:42] Lizzy Pleides: time enough to go to india
[13:42] herman Bergson: So what did Aristotle know about Indian logic???
[13:43] herman Bergson: well...communication was primitive...
[13:43] herman Bergson: books were really rare objects...
[13:43] herman Bergson: and so on...
[13:43] herman Bergson: but the idea is fascinating
[13:44] herman Bergson: Our starting point was...we don't want to be bad people,but good people....
[13:44] Merlin Saxondale: I get the feeling the people of Jesus times were hungry for spiritual knowledge and that such knowledge was passed by word of mouth
[13:44] herman Bergson: today a first attempt....
[13:44] herman Bergson: Plato's answer...
[13:45] herman Bergson: But he tells us to leave all goods thins in SLife behind...and stare at our pixels only!
[13:45] herman Bergson: only
[13:45] Hermine: oh ha yes^
[13:45] herman Bergson: I think we need another lecture :-)
[13:45] Hermine: haha
[13:45] herman Bergson: so
[13:45] herman Bergson: thank you all for your participation....
[13:46] herman Bergson: See you all an Thursday again ^_^
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed :-))
[13:46] Vadaman: Thank you Herman.
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: thank you Professor
[13:46] Hermine: i will be here next tuesday again;-)
[13:46] AnnieBrightstar: thank you
[13:46] Hermine: thank you for the lesson!!

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