So Socrates was a kind of gadfly. He was a sort of philosophical urban gorilla hanging around in the middle of Athens, asking these peculiar questions of everybody - important people, young men, slaves - questions that had to do with ultimately what's the life that's worth living. And Plato was one of the young men who hung around him, a very aristocratic young man, came from a very old, important family.
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I think one reason is that philosophers are more insecure to speak accessibly because non-philosophers are skeptical that philosophers have any special expertise. After all, all people - not just philosophers - have attitudes and points of view on various philosophical questions, and they rather resent being told that there are professionals who can think about these things better.
Philosophers feel a little more cautious about letting down their technical guard lest the general public doesn't recognize their special credentials. It's the fact that philosophy is of general interest that, paradoxically, keeps philosophers from wanting to speak in a way that's accessible to the general public.
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Our humanist community should be thinking more about demonstrating the fundamental truth that goodness requires neither God nor the belief in God by organizing together as a community to do good. Less money spent on billboards that just make us feel good about ourselves and more on soup kitchens and organized visits to the sick and dying.
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Children, who have so much to learn in so short a time, had involved the tendency to trust adults to instruct them in the collective knowledge of our species, and this trust confers survival value. But it also makes children vulnerable to being tricked and adults who exploit this vulnerability should be deeply ashamed.
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Quite often we are led to aporia, an impasse, unable to proceed a step further. Socrates is almost always there, but even he is only a supporting character. The starring role is given to the philosophical question. It is the philosophical question that is supposed to take center stage, cracking us open to an entirely new variety of experience.
Participation in the collective life of the polis both restrains the extraordinary individual and enlarges the ordinary individual, allowing him to participate in the extraordinary. An individual can achieve participatory excellence via the accomplishments of the polis and need not always be caught up in the agnostic struggle to outdo his peers.
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one evangelical scientist who had felt his doubts falling away from him when he was hiking in the mountains and came upon a frozen waterfall-in fact a trinity of a frozen waterfall, with three parts to it. 'At that moment, I felt my resistance leave me. And it was a great sense of relief.
how irrelevant the belief in God can be to religious experience-so irrelevant that the emotional structure of religious experiences can be transplanted to completely godless contexts with little of the impact lost-and when he had also, almost as an afterthought, included as an appendix thirty-six arguments for the existence of God, with rebuttals, his claim being that the most thorough demolition of these arguments would make little difference to the felt qualities of religious experience,
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It has been claimed that Plato was an egalitarian; it has been claimed that he was a totalitarian. It has been claimed that he was the utopian, proposing a universal blueprint for the ideal state; it has been claimed that he was an anti-utopian, demonstrating that all political idealism is folly. It has been claimed that he was a populist, concerned with the best interests of all citizens; it has been claimed he was an elitist with disturbing eugenic tendencies. It has been claimed he was a romantic; it has been claimed that he was a prick. It has been claimed that he was a theorizer, with sweeping metaphysical doctrines; it has been claimed that he was the anti-theorizing skeptic, always intent on unsettling convictions. It has been claimed that he was full of humor and play; it has been claimed that he was as solemn as a sermon limining the torments of the damned. It has been claimed he loved his fellow man; it has been claimed he loves his fellow man. It has been claimed he was a philosopher who used his artistic gifts in the service of philosophy; it has been claimed he was an artist who used philosophy in the service of his art.
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Richard Nixon had made a fatal error in ignoring the politico-meteorological dimension when he announced the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia on April 30, 1970. The invasion of Laos, on the other hand, happened in February 1971, and the campuses were quiet. Who wants to stage a walkout in February?
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For the ancient Greeks, who lacked our social media, the only way to achieve mass duplication of the details of one's life in the apprehension of others was to do something wondrously worth the telling. Our wondrous technologies might just save us all the personal bother. Kleos is a tweak away.
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When you didn't force yourself to think in formal reconstructions, when you didn't catch these moments of ravishments under the lens of premises and conclusions, when you didn't impale them and label them, like so many splayed butterflies, bleeding the transcendental glow right out of them, then... what?
I don't only act out of my character; my character reacts to my actions. Each time I why, even if I'm not caught, I become a little bit more of this ugly thing: a liar. Character is always in the making, with each morally valenced action, whether right or wrong, affecting our characters, the people who we are.
Colleges seem to want candidates that are so well-rounded they'd have to be two different people use together with mutually exclusive characteristics! They have to be gung ho athletes and sensitive artists, studious nerds and gregarious social networkers, future rulers of the universe and selfless altruists.
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If there is such a thing as philosophical progress, then why - unlike scientific progress - is it so invisible? Philosophical progress is invisible because it is incorporated into our points of view. What was torturously secured by complex argument comes widely shared intuition, so obvious that we forget its provenance.
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When we call a philosopher distinguished, we are not saying that she is worthy and not saying that she is recognized, but we are saying that she occupies the intersection of both - that she is recognized and worthy; even that she is recognized because she's worthy. In the case of arate, the direction of the "because" can seem a little vaguer, so that it can sometimes seem almost as if someone is regarded as worthy because they are recognized.
(As Plato:) There is nothing superstitious about forcing bad consequences for the hubris of paternalistic utopianism. Humanity should never be frozen into a vision of the best. A creative society must be willing to tolerate some degree of instability because creativity is inherently unstable.
McCoy: Oh, there isn't any shortage of views clamoring to challenge my own. That's what we call the viewpoints of the pinheads, and fortunately nothing forces me to pay any attention to them. Plato: Except your own self-interest. McCoy, laughing: This just keeps getting better. I'm supposed to pay attention to the pinheads out of my own self-interest? Plato: Otherwise you must do all the hard work of challenging your own positions all by yourself. Isn't it better to get some help with so difficult a task? And wouldn't you call those who help you out your friends? McCoy: Why should I challenge my own positions? That's the job of my enemies, who it's my job to vilify. Plato: I would have thought it the job of your most valued friends. McCoy: I can't tell whether you're putting me on or not. Is this some kind of Ali G or Borat scam you're trying to pull here? Just answer me that. Are you putting me on? Have my stupid staff screwed up again and let in some Sacha Baron Cohen operative? Plato: I am sincere. McCoy: So I'm actually supposed to believe that you think friends are the ones who try to refute you? Plato: Certainly, when what I say is wrong; and I can't be certain it's not wrong unless I hear the best of the refutations that can be offered. And I hope I am a good enough friend to return the favor. -from the chapter entitled "Plato on Cable News, " pp. 350-351
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Are there experts, ethical experts, that's very offensive to all of us? Because it's part of our humanity to have a stake in these questions to feel that we ourselves know the difference between right and wrong. And then along come these experts, philosophers, claiming, you know, an expertise, a special training, a special skill, a special talent.
Does God have a reason for wanting us to be charitable, to take care of those who can't take care of themselves? Either God does or God doesn't, it's just logic. If God has a reason then there is a reason independent of God and whatever God's reason is we should figure it out for ourselves. There is a reason and God doesn't really ground morality at all. God wants us to give charity because it's the right thing to do.
God doesn't help. I think that's a knockdown argument. I think that it really shows that whatever moral knowledge we have and whatever moral progress we make in our knowledge or whatever progress we make in our moral knowledge is not coming really from religion. It's coming from the very hard work really of moral philosophy, of trying to ground our moral reasonings.
I would say to anybody who thinks that all the problems in philosophy can be translated into empirically verifiable answers - whether it be a Lawrence Krauss thinking that physics is rendering philosophy obsolete or a Sam Harris thinking that neuroscience is rendering moral philosophy obsolete - that it takes an awful lot of philosophy - philosophy of science in the first case, moral philosophy in the second - even to demonstrate the relevance of these empirical sciences.
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Everybody have equal rights to a life of full flourishing. Philosophy slowly, slowly has given us arguments saying, look, you already committed to your own life flourishing, and you're being inconsistent if you don't expand it. So philosophy often works in trying to show us that there's an inner incoherence in our points of view. We're all committed to one thing when it comes to us and our own kind, but we're not willing to expand it and we're guilty of inconsistency.
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Our society is falling back increasingly on rampant consumerism and self-promoting social media as a way for people to feel that their lives matter - self-centered means of numbing the questions of mattering. Culture has relapsed back into the self-aggrandizing, glorifying answers that the Athenians had presumed, which had Socrates railing against them until he got so annoying that they killed him.
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