The Philosophical Apprentice

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” Albert Einstein

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Plato’s not so bad

I read the Euthyphro last night and was pleasantly surprised. I’d read a few dialogues before but I was undoubtedly not ready for them and I didn’t get much out of it. But last night Plato came alive for me. The most shocking thing about them was how funny the Euthyphro is, I mean laugh out loud funny. The character of Euthyphro is priceless “why they even mock me as if I were crazy”. All through the dialogue I kept wondering if Euthyphro would come to the realization of what a dolt he was and near the end he must have realized that self-realization was perilously close but he chose to retain his comfortable illusions and beat a hasty retreat.

In keeping with the Platonic theme I loaded some teaching company lectures by Michael Sugrue on the Platonic dialogues onto my mp3 players and listened to them on my long run this afternoon.  Sugrue’s lectures are without doubt the best I have ever heard on Plato. He’s also very funny in his own right and his commentary on the half-wits and nit-wits in the Euthydemus had me chuckling while I ran.

Sugrue also gave me a deeper appreciation of Socrates. I’d always harbored the suspicion that Socrates, as smart as he was, was in reality a bit of a horse’s ass.  As I’ve learned more about Socrates this semester I realize that the social situation in Athens and the rise of the Sophists meant that Socrates really was providing a service to his fellow citizens by showing up knuckleheads like Euthydemus and Dionysodorus.  The tragic part was, Sugrue points out, the influence of Sophists such as Gorgias was the real corrupter of the Athenians not Socrates. Just how intellectually corrupted the Athenians were was pointed out to good effect by Sugrue when he noted how dumb the Athenians were when they stood around cheering the imbecilities of the nit-wit Dionysodorus.

All this has, I think, some important ramifications today where the Sophists have been resurrected and now populate our schools and our news media, not to mention the internet.  The only real antidote to this is a return to classical education.

And now on to Plato

I finished all my required readings on the Presocratics last night – specifically, the sophists. Phew! Glad to be done with that. The worst part was wading through Gorgias’ arguments which ran to almost 4 pages of text in the Cohen, Curd, and Reeve book on Ancient Greek Philosophy with no paragraph breaks. I ended up mostly skimming that section.

It would probably be a good idea to run back through that section at a later date and map out the arguments since they are undoubtedly fallacious. It’ll be a good spur to get me back to studying my logic on a daily basis. Speaking of which, I had been slowly going through Martin Cothran’s book on Traditional Logic but was thinking I might add a little from Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic book?

As always so much to do.

Gettin’ away from it all

I wish. With a wife and two kids plus a job I’m not going anywhere. Still I’ve found the necessity of solitude if I’m going to get any reading done for my class. In desperation I’ve cleaned out one of the house’s storage rooms and turned it into a private study. It’s not exactly luxurious but I do have a couch and a makeshift stand up desk. I came up with the idea earlier in the summer but used it only sparingly since it lacks an air conditioner.

Now it’s cooled off considerably and I’ve decided to visit my private lair more often. The change in weather comes at the right time since I’m behind in my class reading. Spending a week at my parent’s house did not help in that regard.

To make it easier I’ve tempted myself with a cold beer and a cigar; both of which I’ve discovered are essential to the philosophic life. I’ll have to be careful with the spiders though. I’ve discovered that in the South you cannot leave a room unoccupied for more than about five minutes without having our eight legged friends take over. I’ve already killed one Black Widow spider in my study cave.

Resources for my Ancient & Medieval Philosophy Class

I’ve been gathering together some resources for a deep dive into Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. These include:

  • From Religion to Philosophy – A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation by F.M. Cornford
  • An Introduction to Greek Philosophy by J.V. Luce
  • The History of Philosophy – The Hellenic Age by Emile Brehier
  • The History of Philosophy – The Hellenistic & Roman Age by Emile Brehier
  • The History of Philosophy – The Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Emile Brehier

I’m also planing to reread some material I’ve already read or already possess such as:

  • The Presocratics by Phillip Wheelwright
  • Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers by Kathleen Freeman
  • A History of Philosophy, Volume 1: Greece and Rome by Frederick Copleston
  • A History of Philosophy – The Classical Mind by W.T. Jones
  • A History of Philosophy – The Medieval Mind by W.T. Jones
  • The Age of Belief by Anne Freemantle

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