« Philosophize This!

Episode #014 ... The Hellenistic Age Pt. 5 - A Race To The Dark Ages

2014-01-18 | 🔗

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Middle Platonism and the Race to the Dark Ages. We learn how Philo of Alexandria reconciled Judaism with Plato's vision of God as a master craftsman, and find out how this relates to building an IKEA bookcase. We also discuss the important distinction Plutarch made between a flatterer and a friend, and why he would have absolutely hated Facebook. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For more information about this or any episode of the podcast check out the webs Philosophize, this dot org. We have additional content further reading scripts of every show. All pre, of course, But if you value the shows an educational resource and you want to help keep it going, you can find out more about how to do that at dot com philosophize this or at credibly you're buying something from Amazon. This week, anyway, concern clicking through our banner it's at the bottom center of the landing page at philosophize, this org small percentage goes back to the show. It may just be a click for you, but every little bit adds up there key for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday, and I hope you have a show, however, one I'm Stephen West. This is philosophize this for the last several episodes, we've been talking about the hellenistic age. And, as you know, by now this was a period of uncertainty and many too. Chaos for the average citizen living in the Mediterranean Sea region, but the hellenistic age is just one segment of time. That's part of a much.
The larger hold its known as classical antiquity. Classical antiquity refer as to the events in the Mediterranean Sea region. In Greece, ITALY, North Africa, Exe during the entire span of time, from around eight hundred BC right when the first Greek Epic poem stopping written to about the first few centuries. Eighty that whole span of Time The end of antiquity is really marked by the ascendancy of Chris, the and the fall of the roman empire, which obviously didn't really happen in tandem or on a specific date. Now, if you listen to the podcast from the beginning, we've almost covered this entire time period. We started with the pre presocratics, some of the early of them like tales and pythagorus living living. What historians would call early antiquity and we made it. All the way to the end of the Hellenistic age now a time that sometimes called the post hellenistic age when referring to philosophy but historic speaking we're moving until late antiquity. The events about to unfold right here,
the end of the hellenistic age, both politically and philosophically, they are the reason why, before you even clicked on this podcast to begin with you, part of the names, Plato and Aristotle, and he had never heard of people like four example Xeno Citium, or they are the reason why people wrongly just, think of Epicurus as a guy that weighed six hundred pounds and had a hundred girlfriends and nothing more think of this time period. The period of time from the end of the hall MR gauged, the end of antiquity. Think of it as a race to the dark ages. We ve lot about for schools. It gained popularity during the hellenistic age, but where the follow Plato and Aristotle during all this. If their founders are such big names today, if this time here It is a race to the dark ages. Then you're about to find how Plato and Aristotle or Sea biscuit they started out slow, but they break late.
And on that last straightaway that eighty pound man wearing that weird helmet is drive and under the triple crown they're gonna win. This thing. Quite a lot has changed in the political landscape from early antiquity to where we are now see. Athens used to be the culture centre of the world without in the centre of the world. When it comes to philosophy, I mean being a greek city state under first the protection of the powerful athenian Navy and then under the protection of the greatest army on the planet under Alexander the great that allowed for a while a stability. That's the big But he allowed philosophers living in Athens to make Athens enter a philosophy. Then it all changed, Alexander the great died the whole world. As far as He knew it descended into chaos and all of us
It was a fight for control over the entire region, and Athens began to fall from grace when it comes to their prevalence as the sole centre of the philosophical world, the something called a pyrrhic victory, I'm pretty sure people use it in the United States as a colloquialism, but, to be honest, have only had a couple people use. It brought my entire adult life, people use it when their referring to a situation where technically they have won technically there's a victory here, but it came at a severe cost in that severe cost makes it almost like it wasn't, even a victory to begin with people use, when they're, talking about doing something like driving through the Costco Parking Lot right, it's pandemonium in the streets and the Costco Parking lot. If you've ever been there, people walk across the road at the slowest pace ever recorded. It's like the anti Olympics. It's a glacial pace, across the street. Your screamin at everybody, you're angry people are trying to tether giant.
Wheels of cheese to the roof of their car and rolls past your car, you gotta slam on your breaks. Finally, after navigating the parking lot for twenty minutes. You finally find a parking spot. It's it's out on the edge Town somewhere, it's not even in the same zip code as the Costco anymore, and congratulations Now you can walk twelve miles to the front door of Cassio and Safe third, sense on that. Fifty five gallon, from of almonds that you went there to get that's a pyrrhic victory because yeah you got a parkinson you're going to save the money, but is that sacrifice their well being and the two weeks he said bracted from the India or life worth that parking spot people would call that a pyrrhic victory will losing their position of dominance and as the sole kings of philosophy that was a situation. Many other greek city states went through as well during the hellenistic ages, just in different ways. That period is the origin of the phrase, pyrrhic victory c
Carter Greece align themselves with a guy named purists of pirates, he was a general, a very great general for the record. During this time period, a few different parts of Greece came together and asked purists to lead an army against the Romans who were just dominate in everything at the time. And to pierce credit. He did a really good job. I mean he won several big battles. He had a extravagant army. He had close to fifteen thousand soldiers The stories of him even borrowing some war elephants from policy. The second there's all these great stories of the elephants charging into battle and defeating the Romans and running away, but even despite losing The Romans were so powerful and so on. To reinforce so much more quickly than the Greeks were that these victories ended up costing Paris the war Plu Tart gives a really great description of the quandary. Paris found himself in that led to his demise. Here, quote the army separate
and it is said, purist replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him, for he had lost a great part of the forces he had brought with him and almost all his particular friends. The principal commanders. There were no others, they are to make recruits and he found the Confederates in ITALY backward on the other hand, as from fountain continually flowing out of the city, the roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with freshmen not at all a and encourage for the loss they sustained but and from their very anger, gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war. End quote. This account is a perfect microcosm of the hellenistic ages, Macro, Rome made some brilliant decisions and, as a result of that became an
unstoppable tsunami, just taking over everything one hundred years after Paris lost Magna Gricia Athens would be under full roman control. Now, instead of Athens being this philosophical oasis, now there were other places that were cultural hubs. seeing notable philosophers appear in places like Alexandria and Rome, I mean, after all, if Lastly, at least in some capacity reacts to the political events of the day, and a certain amount of stability is needed for people to spend their entire lives. Stunning philosophy, that's understandable, then why I live in Rochester New York when you can live in New York City. Why live in peace. Like western China. you can live in a city like Beijing or Hong Kong, just to clarify yes, our schools we've already talked about continued to argue against each other after the Helen, stick age all during this time period and yes in Rome, stoicism, took hold and became the dominant philosophy. We ve already talked about that
but under the surface a storm was brewing, a storm that people didn't realize the full significance of until it came to a climax and three hundred. Eighty right, at the end of late antiquity, with a guy named plot Pinus and the founding of NEO Platonists M Neo Platonists M changes everything right now. You may be saved yourself, NEO platonists. Doesn't that mean New Clayton ISM, whatever happened to non NEO platonists Well, we've already talked about Plato right. We've already talked about that period of seventy five years after Plato's death and the people that had control over the academy, only expanding upon in defending the positions that Plato held while those but would be some of these non NEO platonists, their known as the dogmatic platonist dogma. Being a word. That means you lay down things to be absolutely true. In this case, the doctrines of Plato Bobby
and what comes, after those guys right, the sceptical academy, the complete opposite of those people. These are the people that questioned everything. How can you know anything for certain, let alone, but Plato had to say well after a while people got tired of it, skeptics philosophy as a whole, started shifting in a more dogmatic direction, and this dogmatic shift most evidently scene in the return to dogmatic politeness, and nobody really knows for certain. I philosophy started heading in this direction. It doesn't really matter. I mean it's not like. People are sick at each other, throwing their arms up in the air clueless as to how it ever could have happened. There are men, theories to it and because why it exactly happened. Isn't that important in the grand scheme, a philosophy, I'm not gonna bore you with all them here, but my personal favorite and probably the most popular. The theories is that, like the rest of the culture and thought during the hellenistic, eight people eventually started becoming disappointed with the chaotic time period.
They were living in and they started looking to the past four things from when times were better and philosophy was no exception. In this way, the Hellenistic age serve the same purpose that the warring states period served. The nice philosophy I mean when people like Confucius and louts and look to the past for systems of thought present when things were better, it's kind of the same thing and that's exactly what these platonist we're looking for a complete system and these people recognize it Plato. Have a huge body of work that was compatible with these new monotheistic religions that were cropping up at the time to quick recap: there were the original politeness, be dogmatic, Platonist platonists, who live near the time of Plato, then neo plates from three hundred and eighty onward. So these platonists that we're talking about plates that lived after the decline of the skeptical academy and paved the way for protagonists in the NEO platonists? These people are now
as the middle lateness. This is the final chapter of the Hellenistic age, even though most of it happened long after the Hellenistic age, the four schools, Cynics the stoics, the sceptics in the epicurism- are all around during this time, but this is about the rise of the last two schools making six in total NEO, platonists, em and arrest italian ism. But let's start with the middle platonists right, the Middle EAST Agnes can kind of be seen as mad scientist sent away, taking the best parts from this creature and abusing them what the best parts from this creature and eventually making a Frankenstein monster of all the best stuff like a mad scientist. They would take this great idea from this philosophy and combine it with this great idea, from this philosophy, usually small things, because all of it had to be compatible with Plato, The Frankenstein monster that they were making was NEO platonists, but they didn't know it, for example, from an ethical standpoint stoicism in play,
I actually have a lot of similarities. They actually agree on the most fundamental of ethical points. Back then, both believe that the key to living a happy life is living a virtuous life, but they have disagreements and much like a red Sox fan and a span watch in sports together on Sunday they could have been friends. They have a lot in common, but unfortunately they disagree on. It issue that was much more important to both of them, how the universe was created to begin with sea, the stoics knew for a fact that the universe was and that everything was formed by this conflagration a fire and air called Panama, but a pantheistic outlook like that wasn't compatible with the three religious groups of the time. Paganism, Judaism and Christianity. Plato's outlook was, for the most part and to explore and why I think it's best to discuss it in relation to one of the most noteworthy and brilliant, the Middle Platonists fellow of Alexandria, first and foremost
follow of Alexandria lived in Alexandria. The city of Alexandria, was named after Alexander. The great. Founded on the North coast of Africa, three thirty one b c, and he created this- entirely new Extror every kind of city there was an island called fair. It was about a mile off shore of Alexandria at the time and because the egyptian coast is really jacket for the most part, you can't make a port city on a very jagged coast, because boats can't land their consistently, but Alex to circumvent this problem, built a giant causeway from the shore of Egypt. All the weight this island, which created a man Artificial harbor that also connected likely to the Nile and on this island of faroes, so that Every ship passing in the night would know exactly where this new city was. He built one. Seven wonders of the ancient world, the law House of Alexandria. It became
one of the biggest cities in the ancient world. But that's not it this Eddie itself was magnificent when Alexander conquered the area actually embraced a lot of the egyptian culture so instead of just raising their cities to the ground, burning them down and building more greek cities, Morn Alexander's image, the people of Egypt, embraced him and then to the building these huge beautiful temples and monuments that are a really interesting fusion of greek and egyptian architecture. Not only that, but then one of the biggest and most influential libraries and all of the ancient world, and by the time FILA, was living in Alexandria. It would have been a busy prosperous nexus of cultures. So that's where he's working and if there were three main religious groups at the time, we're gonna talk about one philosopher that heavily influenced each one of them. For Judaism.
It was file of Alexandria, but this isn't the same. Follow that we talked about in the last episode about scepticism. Fellow was jewish, but he was also a plate and he spent his entire life trying to reconcile these two things, but in fairness to follow, he didn't think there was very much to reconcile because his favorite philosopher, even over Plato, in his eyes, not only the godfather of all philosophy, but the greatest. Possible who ever lived was Moses, John MILES. Dylan was a philosopher from the nineteen thirty's any talks in his book about how file or thought of Moses here quote his guiding principle was that Moses was a great philosopher. In fact, it turns out, in practice a great Middle platonist, that all parts of his work are replete with philosophic content and are coherent and consistent with each other. How one may ask does Moses come to be not just a greek philosopher, but a few,
fledged middle platonist. One half of this answer lies in files, view of the history of philosophy which I have allowed it to earlier. According to this view, Plato was a follower of pathetic grace and Pythagoras was follower of Moses John goes on later that paragraph for pilot this was not only a philosopher but the very father of philosophy from whom all greek thinkers take their best ideas. End quote think back to our Plato. Episode for a second Plato was heavily influenced by Pythagoras Filo knew this and based on evidence that later became heavily disputed. Filo also thought that Pythagoras was taught and heavily influenced. By the followers of Moses, finally recognise Plato's brilliance. He was a platonist after all, but really he just stopped Pythagoras as an extension of Moses and Plato as an extension of Pythagoras Plato's
Ah, you was that he was a relatively modern guy that encapsulated all of this ancient wisdom that Moses laid out incredibly well, but, more importantly, he gave people knew philosophical works. To study I mean without Plato. What would these middle platonists be read Pythagoras, never even wrote anything down and Moses. Lived long before, and it was because of this view that he thought that other western things, like Aristotle, in the stoics and all the other, subsequent greek philosophy. Schools were just restate. What Plato and Moses had already said these are some wild accusations, some pretty big statements, and where is he coming from with all this? While he got from reading the philosophical works of Moses, or at least he sought that we see the first five books of the old testament are known as the Torah These first buy books are not only incredibly important to Judaism as a whole, but there also supposed to be Writing of Moses himself. You know that varies.
Important groundwork that God laid out. The ad our nation, on which your eternal fate rests. God told Moses to just pass it along to the rest of us will find I thought this was double awesome. I mean for him. This was like Elvis Justin Bieber doing a concert together. If you like those guys FILA was jewish and he loved Moses. So it's not too big of a surprise that he spent his life trying to interpret the Torah, not just as a divine proclamation on behalf of God, but also as a philosophical text. From the philosopher Moses as far as FILO thought, there was much more to the first five books of the Bible than meets the eye. He, through its line by line writing commentary, not just interpreting what the average reader might initially think it meant, but giving an account of what he thought. Work obvious allegories, underneath the surface purposefully written by Moses, this was revolutionary, really mean a modern person, it may seem really obvious that you can read the Bible or
some other religious texts for that matter and think these stories in this explanation, for how it happened, isn't actually how it happened, but these numbers and characters and stories symbolize other things, much greater things well for the people of I lost time. It wasn't obvious. In fact, final was kind of a genius He may be one of the main reasons, it's obvious to me, a new that you can do that and if you look at file or through the scope of philosophy as a whole, this is the most important thing that he brings to the table. The idea that you can look at the Bible, you can Look at these things that just seem like stories on the surface, but underneath the surface there are broader philosophical overtones at work. Here, that's huge fight LA was a pioneer in this field. Some people even thinking maybe the sole reason that once Christianity became so dominant in the western world, the philosophy could, even exist alongside it in a small capacity. He may be responsible for that. Here is an example of what am talking about. We ve all heard about this.
From the Bible of how the earth was created in seven days, right now First glance. This seems like a fairytale like how can God have a day if he's not orbiting around a sun right- it's seems like a nice story created by ancient humans to explain things to other ancient humans. Before they realize the implications of what day and night actually are. But if you look at this account like filer, did he said that it wasn't that had happened in seven days? That's ridiculous!. Filo said: why would an all powerful God takes seven days to do anything? He obviously did it instantly, but finally said the real significance of the story was that Moses was kind of speaking in code here The creation story of the Bible goes that on the first day, God created light on the second day he said raided the waters etc the whole story, but five
the fact that the thing Moses said was created on each day corresponded with something else, mostly the properties that each number inherently holds the properties later see the pythagoreans talking about on their commune. Remember the Pythagoreans thought that number had certain properties. The number six was a perfect number because it was equally The sum of all the number second divide into it besides itself, in this case one two and three, the add those together equal six file, said that this is why God created the physical world on day six that perfection, it's a perfect number, but even stop there. He had one for each day. He thought that animals were created on day five because they have five senses: those sorts of things while human, through the entire torrent. This first by verse, first giving the interpretation that most people would have the one that's only on the surface and then the true Phil.
Sophia, meaning, as he saw it, underneath the text and how the universe was created was the most important part to him, because he and to find a way to reconcile his interpretation of the Bible with Plato in his story. About how the universe was created and Plato gave his creation story and his famous work called the timaeus. We had to reconcile the Judaism creation story with Platos. To me, And it really wasn't as bad as it could have been. I mean the burden Definitely, some similarities at the start on the hand you have the book of Genesis, talking about one Supreme God that has on question Apple dominion over everything and, on the other hand, you have Plato who believes that the EU First was created by a master craftsman, a master craftsmen who looks to the world of forms as a pre existing blueprint for how to make each individual thing left the best way to understand how Plato thinks the universe was made, to think of yourself as a master craftsmen. Nine on all about you guys,
not even a mediocre craftsman, let alone a master craftsman. In fact, the only time I even feel like a master craftsmen and come to think of it only time I ever build something from a plan at all is when I get something from IKEA. When I build something from IKEA. I feel like a master craftsman, so bear with me here. Ikea is the world of forms Just imagine yourself as a master craftsmen God, why through the isles of ikea- and you come across some bookshelf called in alike, one of the IKEA names, organ blogging, something some bookshelf called organ blogging and you buy it now imagine if, when you're looking at that organ blog and Book shelf on the sales floor for IKEA. Imagine if that was the only blueprint you ever had to put it together when he got home. Just imagine if you had to look at the bookshelf perfectly put together at IKEA and go home and try to make exactly like that, one. What you're, probably wouldn't, do an absolutely perfectly you'd, probably
not like me when I have a blueprint to study. Half a full of screws left over. You probably end up with an inferior copy of that book shelf at IKEA. Your bookshelf is never going to be as perfect as that one at IKEA, but it's still a bookshelf right. Well, in that case, I here is the world of forms the IKEA store up in the sky, with the perfect version of the in table that you're gonna build, be perfect version of the bookshelf. Think of the bookshelf you put together as the inferior copy of that bookshelf or the physical world, Full of inferior, copies as created by the master craftsman of Plato, Tomas, see Plato, thought that the world of forms exists separate from the master craftsman and that the master craftsman creates the world using these forms as a blue. Print Fino said that the creation story in Genesis wasn't talking about the creation of the earth, but the most
was really laying out an explanation for the creation of the world of forms. Then FILA points to specific passages. Much later on in Genesis to make a case that that is the actual time that the physical world was created, not the world. The forms the importance of this is that it how's the fundamental ideas of Plato like his world of forms and his creation story slightly tweaked? Their compatible with Judaism now see. Plato thought this master craftsman of his was only that a craftsman role was only to put the universe together. He had these perfect forms he was seeing in the world of forms or an IKEA, see the universe Plato's. Master craftsman was kind of like one of those sample living rooms. They haven't IKEA. You know you, so you can see how things would look in the context of an entire room. This master craftsmen was
looking at the organ blog login bookshelf right next to the the stuck lobby, nightstand next to the entertainment system, and he was recreating it, but Platos Timaeus wasn't wasn't perfect for failure. There still needed to be some tweaks because Platos, count of how the universe was created, isn't very friendly with the monotheistic outlook that God is an all powerful supreme, being that has dominion over everything. Plato almost puts God in this older forms on the same level, I mean how different is. From a modern day, religious monotheistic outlook that God is just a guy that put everything together, there's no fortune teller. There's no divine providence. There's no wish granting, or anything like that. So final had to make adjustments and with a very slight adjustment, FILO says that God is in fact a supreme being and that the form really only exist in his mind. There's no separate world of forms that he's looking to God can still look at. These forms has a plan,
He just doesn't have to drive all the way down to IKEA to see the world of forms. He has them in his mind. So, basically, in the context of our example, God has a photographic memory. He sees the bookshelf perfectly and his mind like what he asked to say or not. I think Philo is a genius. It's not just played of Timaya city reconciles. He manages to take even the ethics laid out in the Torah and reconcile them with Plato's ethics. The idea that happiness lies not in bodily pleasures or external goods, but in living virtuously is something that's touched on in not only Plato's ethics, but Aristotle's ethics and stoic ethics as well. See final thought that all of these ethical positions are derived from the same guy Moses Follow said that the Torah, like Plato, Aristotle in the stoics, strongly rainfall This is the idea of turning away from bodily pleasures and towards virtue anyhow one of the stories of the Bible to go along with it. He didn't think man actually be.
Again, his existence with One man, one woman in some paradise garden somewhere. He thought that the garden, You didn't symbolized virtue Adam and Eve submit. into that persuasive, talking snake and the subsequent eating of the fruit chile, represents a submission to bodily pleasures. Any departure from virtue plus we seen before there can also be a semantic scheme at work here. The definition of what virtue is varies from philosopher the philosopher. Her Philo virtue means adherence to God. Now, if FILO of Alexandria was the Middle Platonist representing Judaism, then the Middle Platonist, representing paganism, was a guy named Plutarch. Plutarch was born into a very pro. Watch life. His family was extremely wealthy, unsuccessful and Plutarch didn't waste this gift that he was given. He became a priest at the local temple for the Greek on APOLLO at Delphi, but on top of that he be,
a magistrate in his home town of sharing NEA and what that entailed, as he would. Travel around and represent his home at the various places where they needed a representative of his town. Now, despite his obvious differences from fellow of Alexandria, he still dedicated the time he spent, as Middle Platonist to reconciling the teachings of Plato with something compared. Or with modern religious beliefs of his time. The most notable philosophical work of his life was a clarification of Plato's creation story. The times that we just talked about that allowed the timaeus to be completely in harmony with Plato's ethics, see Plutarch noticed like many others, that there were a couple lines and two completely different treaties by Plato that seemed to say the opposite thing from each other in the Timaeus Plato says that the universe was created by a master craftsman, but in another were called the Phaedrus. He says that because the men, soul moves around all by itself based on that,
The soul is eternal and wasn't created by anything. Plutarch manages to clear this up by saying that Plato is talking about to complete. Different kinds of souls in these two books, one of them is an irrational, eternal soul that isn't created by anything a soul? That's in each one of us now created by the master craftsmen in God, did create the world, but hidden create the stuff that he makes world. Out of so because this irrational soul as part of that stuff, because it isn't made by a perfect creator its irrational. However, the man, Mr craftsmen does make a rational soul for the entire universe, and it was that rational world sold Plato was talking about in the timaeus. This is a view that unique Plutarch and its obvious. This is one of those Frankenstein monsters. The combination, of multiple elements from different philosophies that we talked about earlier. You know both Plato
Aristotle in the idea of the soul having a rational and irrational part, constantly dueling against each other. It had the stoics and the spark of debt I'm reason that governs all things being inherent in every one of us and obviously Plato and his creation storing the timaeus. It was a combination of all those things. This irrational part of the soul is something that Plutarch refers to all the time in its philosophy, even ethic things that are not virtuous appeal to the irrational part of our sole people who are destructive or fake, appeal to the irrational part of our sole put our actually. A lot to say about friendship. Yet a lot to say about how to treat your friends and what makes a good friendship he actually wrote. An entire book called how to tell a flatterer from a friend and it's exactly what you expect. He lays out a comprehensive argument for what a flatterers, how to identify a
flatter versus a friend how to treat flatters and not sacrifice your own virtue in the process even spend the last twelve chapters of his book sounding like Dr Phil talking about the proper way to speak to your friends honestly. This topic was obviously very important to him and it makes sense. I mean park was born into a rich family and he had a prominent standing and local politics. If you were someone else to flatter someone to get some sort of selfish gain. Plutarch is the exact type of person. You would target, there's no question. He dealt with tons of these people all the time, but the most important part of his work. How to tell a flatter from a friend is how much of it directly applies to relationships today. So what is the difference between a flatter and a friend? well to Plutarch. Friends are incredibly important to our individual happiness and well being for various reasons for one they bring us companionship. You know we talked about that a little bit.
It's nice to know, no matter what happens, someone is always going to be there for you, but the most important thing, the biggest value friends, have to us as far as Plutarch sees it is that they can be honest with us. I mean think about it, who Can we actually rely on to be that voice of reason? For us, one hundred percent of the time who can the actually rely on the call us out when were lying to ourselves or were actin like an idiot somewhere strangers. They might but sometimes, but can we really rely on them? For that I mean most strangers just mind their own business and go on about their day We rely on our enemies to do that. What course not way too much is at stake to rely on your. Enemies for anything in your enemies? Don't have your best interests in mind anyway, we need friends. Sometimes we need to do instead of eyes other than our own. To look at ourselves and tell us were being an idiot, no you're, not gonna, go out in public wherein that Fanny Pack.
I don't care if you're trying to be ironic or not you're, not going outside net wolf, T shirt. Sorry, just imagine! If the only things you could ever improve about yourself we're things that you were not only perceptive enough but honest enough with yourself to notice meat. Think of how slowly you'd improve it. Everything think of how little but ever even notice, was wrong. We need this other objective set of eyes No, it's gonna be working in our best interest. Plutarch says that this is because we delude ourselves: it even easier to be a flatterer to yourself. He said quote: we must eradicate self love and conceit, because by flattering us beforehand they render us less resistant to flatterers input. Has somebody ever invited you over to their house and the minute you walk in the front door. A cloud of old food and dead animals. Stench hits you and almost knocked over not like these people are spray and die
feces scented for breeze around their house or something of not what they like that smell? They just can't smell what you smell, because they are immersed in it constantly revile heard the phrase a fox can't smell ozone hole dear friend, their house just smells like air, but an eject about cider, like you knows better just how this person is enabled. Hell that something is wrong, despite being around it all day long. The same thing applies to the way they behave or the way they look or the way they think friends offer an objective, honest perspective that we can rely on and the value of and is priceless now only by understanding how important friends are. Can we truly understand how dangerous flatterers are two Plutarch? If the value of France, lies in their honesty and the various ways that honest enriches our lives, then the Danes,
There are flatterers lies in their dishonesty and the various ways that that dishonesty destroys our lives. But what exactly is a flatterer? How do we even know we're talking to one Plutarch? Isn't scared dancer this at all and even refers back to work? we are talking about before the irrational part of the soul versus the rational part of the soul. The flatterer appeals to the irrational part of the soul. Plutarch says quote the flat. Is always covertly on the watch for some emotion too pamper. Are you angry punish them? Do you crave anything by it? Are you afraid fleet? Are you suspicious give it credence input Plutarch goes on paragraph after. Paragraph giving an extremely detailed account of not only the common mannerisms of these flatters, but the common tactics they use to try to get what they want. He paints a picture of how these people go about their lives in a methodical fashion to try to find victims.
They find someone that has something they want, something that they can give them. Keep in mind this. The need to be money or staff. This could be anything. This could be a womanizer. This could be someone that, just once a ride down to the convenience store any way to use you, and once these people find the person that has something they want, they pretend to agree with them and products as the reason why Are they pretend to agree with you? Is that their pretending to have similar interests in similar ways of thinking like they're, your friend, Plutarch, says quote? Why should the parasite insinuate himself under that disguise, and yet he as counterfeit gold imitates the brightness and lustre of the true always puts on the easiness and freedom of a friend is always pleasant and obliging and ready to comply with the humour of his company and quote so. Did you catch it? He actually refers to these people as parasites. These people weren't just an inconvenience to people
talk. They were toxic. A parasite by definition, is an organism that lives by consuming nutrients at the expense of its host, and that's what these flatterers were in that really underscores the difference between a friend in a flatterer to Plutarch. It was a question of motives, a true friend always acts in your own best interests, no matter what the immediate cost is to you or them, because that's what's in your best interests, a flatterer just always tries to please you, because they want something from you. One slight shifted motives, and there is a huge difference. You know the other day I was reading a book about world war. Two in the book I was reading was talking about how, whenever one of Hitler's top girls would come to him with information or results about something that was not entirely positive, that bad things. What happened to that person the person they gave him bad news, would get they get fired, they get shot. Something bad would happen. Well, problems didn't just stop happening. People just stop tell
about the problems? So eventually, Hitler didn't even have the ability to fix anything because he didn't have any one that was willing to tell him the truth for fear of what might happen to them Hitler and the closing days of world war. Two, basically surrounded himself with flatterers, I dont think I need to tell you guys how that ended. Up working out for Plutarch said quote, the flatter thinks he ought to do anything to be agreeable, while the friend, by always doing what he ought to do, is up agreeable and sometimes disagreeable, not from any desire to be disagreeable. He is like the physician who administers and unpleasant remedy end quote. So what should we do about these people that selfishly damages for their own personal, gain pretending to be our friends, so they can get whatever they want on that note. How do we know someone is a flatter for certain? How can we know for certain whether somebody is just a really clever, flatterer or actually, our friend will Plutarch suggests a couple, different courses of action to find out for sure, but my
and one of the best ways to know for certain if you're dealing with a flatter park, says to feign ignorance about something he says to give them terrible advice, advice, it's so bad. Nobody could ever actually do it. It's supposed to be ridiculous, so you're supposed to pretend your stupid, but you got to do it with a perfectly straight face and you got to sell it because if he thinks you're serious, then he's going to agree, If you about anything right and if he agrees with you about your terrible advice, will then is definitely a flatterer Plutarch says quote now to discover the cheat which these insinuations of our own worth might put upon us a thing that requires no ordinary circumspection. The best way will be to give him a very absurd advice into animal Bert, as importantly as may be upon his works, when he submits them to your censure, for if he makes no reply but Grant and approves of all you assert and applauds every period with a eulogy of very right incomparably. Well, then, you have prepared him and it is plain though he counts.
Asked he played another game to swell you with the a union of a name input Plutarch, actually started free styling at the end of that court. That's how easy the stuff is. In modern times, we think of friends slightly differently, in particular circumstances right. The main thing I get from how to tell a flatter from a friend is that if Plutarch live today he would have hated Facebook if a flatterer as someone who falsely represents themself for personal gain. Then everyone's Facebook list is full of flatters me, no one talkin about there was a guy I used to work with who was completely miserable. He was always angry about something he constantly spoke about, how much he he hated his wife and kids he'd be attacking people buying their back. That I remember one time he said vacation is worse than working and working makes him want to kill himself. The guy was twenty eight years old, with with crows feed around his eyes, but at what
because he grew up in Hawaii and couldn't afford sunglasses. He had crows feet because he was always a glaring about how Mammy was about something. I worked in close pressed Seventy two, this guy for a good year and I can honestly say that I never heard him say a single thing that wasn't disingenuous conversation or a complaint. It was one of those two things always one day, quietly randomly. He was taken a picture with someone and instantly his expression changed. He was smiling for the camera and it was weird I had never even seen him smile before I, even though it was possible. I mean I'd seen him at work outside a work with his family. Never he never smiled now far hundred years from now, when someone looks at that guy's Facebook page when they look at his time line of pictures, they're gonna, say here's a guy who's obviously a happy guy that worked hard. He loved his family and he enjoyed life,
I mean look at him. He's smiling in all his pictures. Here's a list of All the things he's passionate about here's, a list of the places that he went. He must have really enriched the lives of everyone around him. Right is a facebook profile, a true representation of a person, or is it just who that person wants you to think they are to me. The things that make people unique and interesting are their flaws The things they initially wouldn't be inclined to tell you about. The things wouldn't dream of, including on a facebook page. Therefore, identity, interacting with the false identities of others, but its unavoidable, social media profiles will never be truly accurate for the same reason that reality, tv will never be reality once the cameras are turned on Plutarch. What a pointed out now this person, as nine hundred friends on Facebook, but how many of those people are being totally honest with them. How many of those people can make truly say, are always working in their best interest and how
Many of them are parasites that occasionally please them so Plu tart were middle plates of Plato, who moved away from the skeptical academy and towards a more dogmatic reading of Plato, bring the best things from a few other philosophers to eventually make a sort of Frankenstein philosophy that would dominate late antiquity, called NEO platonists now there surgeons of Aristotelian. Isn't during this time is a little less straightforward and not entirely relevant to be there are certainly more going on for Aristotle during the post, hellenistic age than in the actual hellenistic age, but all of its insignificant compared to the dominance he gains later on many have you listen to this may already know that the dark ages was well among many other things, a time in the west. When polite If he didn't have much going on and as we'll talk about, then most people think it can be entirely attributed to the dominance of Christianity at the time. But that's not entirely true. Many people say that Aristotle
at least indirectly played justice big of a role in the stagnation of the dark ages, as Christianity did maybe even more the right of ism during the time period. Leading up to NEO Platonists M mostly, was the terrific commentaries that sort of microwaved last
it left over Aristotle so that the Middle Platonist could take it pick out the best parts of it and apply it to their system. Alright time for the question of the week, we talked a lot about Plutarch and his views on friendship. Today he has some pretty strict rules for what constitutes a friend I mean I can only think of a few people that are so close to me that they would pass blue tarks test. I think I consider most of my friendships transactional. Maybe that's a crude way to put it, but I don't think that makes me a bad person. In fact, I think most relationships, most friendships are mutually beneficial and people expect it to be a give and take. Maybe the point that you become a jerk is when you start thinking of these relationships as transactions, you start to dehumanize people, which I certainly don't so this week, I'm
I'm not gonna. Ask you how many of your friendships would pass Plu Tarks test, I'm not going to ask you to take a close look at your friends and a close look at yourself and figure out which of them are actually always acting in your best interest and which one just appear to be acting in your best interest. That would be way too obvious and boring of a question to ask you at the end of an episode. My question to you is how many people, if they were asked that question, would look at you and say that person is truly. My friend have a great week I'll talk to you guys soon, hey guys, if you love, philosophies this and want to make sure you never miss an episode considered signing up for email notifications. Whenever new episode is released, I will personally send you an email telling you it was released along with it, short summary to peak your interest picture guaranteed to make you smile and pretty much anything else. Interesting in the philosophical world that week, you can sign up on the front page of Stephen West Show,
and as always thank you for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday.
Transcript generated on 2020-10-01.