When did it begin? When did humankind depart from the path of thinking wisely instead of glamorously? And easily moving on the margin of faked realities!?
Well, apparently ist was not before 1927-28, the year of the
GIFFORD LECTURES DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH BY ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD.
In the book emerging from there:
PROCESS AND REALITY. AN ESSAY IN COSMOLOGY
we read on page 39:
There is no point in endeavouring to force the interpretations of divergent philosophers into a vague agreement. What is important is that the scheme of interpretation here adopted can claim for each of its main positions the express authority of one, or the other, of some supreme master of thought-Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant. But ultimately nothing rests on authority; the final court of appeal is intrinsic reasonableness.The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradi- tion is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the. systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writings an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.
May be at some stage then some people thought they can write a new body text, leaving the area of footnotes. Seeing posters, advertising a new Amazon Echo, I was getting curious what this is about – and looking it up here, I read
Amazon had been developing Echo devices inside its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts since at least 2010 in confirmed reports.
And I am wondering if they don’t have any better ideas about spending their time there …? Maybe reducing rubbish heaps instead of filling them up?
Sure, you may thoughtfully ask if I do not have anything better to do than commenting on it. – Yes, I do, and yes I can do and think other things – from a lovely lunch with friends, making jokes while going for a walk to tackling more profound questions, actually trying to define questions and problems instead of providing solutions to problems we do not have.
Hey, listen Mr Steve Amazon Gates, but that is exactly the point: creating and duplicating text blocks, and pretending they are more than footnotes to Plato. They are not more, they are just a stupid way of distracting reading the original – even if we are told we can make things our own.
And they are ways of distracting from reality, whitewashing as it was called, photoshopping as it is called.
Without distraction, we may then read in Plato’s Republic:
If the entire soul, then, follows without rebellion the part which loves wisdom, the result is that in general each part can carry out its own function—can be just, in other words—and in particular each is able to enjoy pleasures which are its own, the best, and, as far as possible, the truest. … When one of the other parts takes control, there are two results: it fails to discover its own proper pleasure, and it compels the other parts to pursue a pleasure which is not their own, and not true.
In which case, I imagine, the tyrant will be furthest removed from true pleasure – how own proper pleasure – while the king will be the least far removed.
Plato: The Republic; Edited by G.R.F. Ferrari; translated by To, Griffith; Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press: 306
- We have to add: there and then the king, the ideal king, was understood as philosopher.
- We have to ‘complete’ from today that the market is our contemporary tyrant.
- – it is surely worthwhile for everybody to read a bit further, to be ore precise to read what had been written before the quoted conclusion had been made.
So, looking at Plato’s teacher, we may have to accept the following:
Standards of beauty are different in different eras, and in Socrates’s time beauty could easily be measured by the standard of the gods, stately, proportionate sculptures of whom had been adorning the Athenian acropolis since about the time Socrates reached the age of thirty. Good looks and proper bearing were important to a man’s political prospects, for beauty and goodness were linked in the popular imagination. The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass. Socrates let his hair grow long, Spartan-style (even while Athens and Sparta were at war), and went about barefoot and unwashed, carrying a stick and looking arrogant. He didn’t change his clothes but efficiently wore in the daytime what he covered himself with at night. Something was peculiar about his gait as well, sometimes described as a swagger so intimidating that enemy soldiers kept their distance. He was impervious to the effects of alcohol and cold, but this made him an object of suspicion to his fellow soldiers on campaign.
We still speak of them, admiring, criticising and even with this acknowledging their ongoing meaning. We will not know, but may ask: who will really admire, criticise and with this acknowledge Mr Steve, when possibly standing in about 2500 years at some gates that open the way across the amazon.
For my part, I am happy coexist merely as footnote, even as footnote of footnotes – and of course, I am happy when I can help students and scholars a little bit to understand the body texts of humankind and their meaning [for] today.