|The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis David (1787). (Notice the index of the left hand pointing up)|
Some of us seem to bravely ignore and constantly deny the fact that, philosophy of course IS a lifestyle attitude. On the contrary, most scholars mistakingly focus on the scientific part, which is only just a small part of any philosophical system.If philosophy is not a life attitude then how can one explain the life of Diogenes or the death of Socrates?
Let me now be more clear, since we seem to examine things very superficially,always on the basis of modern science and most of the times through an academic atheistic specter .
Ancient philosophers were undoubtedly the first scientists ,in a time when science was a single study field.Examining the physicals automatically meant examining the metaphysical,thus dealing with the creation of space and universe,the creator Himself or what ever they thought as creator and finally the purpose of it all.
Of course all the above are very much related to religion but for some reason we always seem to forget this aspect, because most scholars and the younger students are atheists and not only they don't believe in anything except science thus making them naive and narrow minded in terms of interpreting philosophy, but they fall to the typical mistake of anachronism as well, since they try to interpret ancient Greek philosophy exclusively in terms of science, in an era when not believing in God(s) was simply UNACCEPTABLE!
I have no problem with any religious or nonreligious or atheistic believes and perhaps i even agree in many things considered, but when it comes to examine the ancient philosophers only by the sterile scientific point of view, well then actually I DO have a problem and is a big one.
To return to my previous line of thinking and to help spot the difference between the ancient Greek philosophers and the modern scientist-philosophers from the 13th century on, i will only say this, which most of you probably already know but in a mysterious way many of us always forget.
Diogenes, the man who "commanded" Alexander the Great to step aside because he was blocking the sun,lived in a clay tub, hanging around only with dogs,he only possessed a mug made also from clay, but when one day he saw one of the many dogs surrounding him, drinking water from a small pond, he threw it away saying that if a dog doesn't need a cup to drink, then why should he. Or when he released his only slave, saying that if the slave could manage to live by himself without needing a master,then of course he could also live without needing a slave.Please don't start again with the historical context (please God no) because we are talking about a time when every citizen had at least 3-4 slaves at his house.
|Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury|
But here lies the magic element of the Greek philosophy, which to me is even better and far grater than any religion or science one may follow.
Those masters had incorporate their teachings into their lives,to them unlike most modern people (including religious,church people and modern scientists) philosophy WAS a life attitude,their words matched their living.
Of course the Greek philosophers are not to be remembered so much for the scientific accomplishments, having pure lack of experiment and no scientific tools ,but alas for creating with their lives and teachings the basis of human thinking in every aspect of life and far most creating the values of life itself for mankind to step upon and discovering the means to reach not only prosperity but bliss personal and common!
To end this once and for all.
What is philosophy?
Μοst of us will answer philosophy is ontology,philosophy is ethics or even aesthetics,or epistemology or metaphysics, as taught by the academics in the universities...
Well NO, it's all wrong,these are all from the margin as my favorite late professor Mr Liantinis used to say.
Philosophy is one thing only,THE THOUGHT OF MAN OVER THE FACT, OR THE PHENOMENON OF DEATH,at least defined in this way, from one of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of all time,Plato,where in his dialog Phaedon clearly gives the following definition "Philosophy is the study of death" or in Greek "Φιλοσοφίαν εστί μελέτη θανάτου"
Α dare definition,absurd and surrealistic which is nowhere taught at this point of view and thus the distant relation with philosophy which to some specialists professors is the words of Des Cartes,Berkson,the Zenons (one from Elea and the other from Citum)and Laertis.
Philosophy unlike all these is very simple,philosophy is constantly thinking and trying to find the best way available,if possible, that suits the individual to live his life leading to a preferable ending or a happy death if we may say so, which not only is desirable and acceptable with no sign of fear at all,but sometimes can go far beyond that, to the point of dreaming, anticipating or even fantasizing your own death,until you become in love with the idea of an ideal death and in the end long for it!
|Diogenes sitting in his tub. Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1860)|
That's why even then, in the time of birth of science,science itself was not the purpose, but the mean to achieve this higher purpose,which was conquered first through a theoretical life and finally through death.
|Diogenes with his lantern, searches for an honest man. Painting attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein (c. 1780)|