When reading Plato, keep in mind that he was a poet before becoming a philosopher, or you might miss, as I did for so long, that his dialogues are just as much poetic as philosophic, which leaves you with much less than half the picture he sought to paint with you.
For Plato, traveling down to the harbor of Piraeus and the 'new' alien religious festivals of Bendis being celebrated there in place of the traditional Athenian beliefs at the older more respectable harbor of Phaleron, was for Athenians such as Socrates, the symbol of the new, crass, decadent imperial Athens; for us to experience the equivalent of that Athenian judgment, we might imaging ourselves descending down from the heights of the Founding Fathers… to Gov. Blagojevich; from Thomas Jefferson attending church services in the capital, to the WA Gov displaying an atheists insulting manifesto next to a Christmas display; from Madison vetoing a bill with "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents" to Paulson telling the leaders of the nations leading banks that they will sell the Gov’t shares in their corporations, paid for by our politicians embezzling of a trillion dollars of the taxpayers money, in order to pull off a defacto nationalization of wall street and probably Detroit too.
That is the sense which "I went down to the Piraeus yesterday..." should evoke.
An equivalent descent into the muck today, can be had by any lover of wisdom who attends a lecture on Justice at one of our 'prestigious' universities. The gulf separating the tightly integrated and wide ranging true education offered at colleges such as Princeton, Yale and Harvard in our Founding Fathers day, and the disintegrated, particularized drivel dished up on today's college campuses, is horrifying.
Horrifying, if you take into account what Abraham Lincoln said,
"The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow"
, and when you consider that while the education the founders received, produced... well... the Founders themselves, you have to then realize that the education we are delivering today is producing scum such as Blagojevich ... a product of recent decades education... but the real rotten fruits of todays crop, will fall upon our heads in the next couple decades hence.
As I said, horrifying. If you take a look at this lecture by a Professor Sandel on "Justice A journey in moral reasoning", you'll soon see what I mean. When I first happened across the page, it seemed like it might be quite a find, a rare nugget on the net:
"Hundreds of students pack Harvard's Sanders Theater forWo! Count me in! (yeah... I'm that bad) I wasn't much deterred by the second paragraph,
Michael Sandel's "Justice" course—an introduction to moral and political
philosophy. They come to hear Sandel lecture about great philosophers of the
past—from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill—but also to debate contemporary issues
that raise philosophical questions—about individual rights and the claims of
community, equality and inequality, morality and law."
"Despite the size of the course, Sandel engages students in livelyYeah, well, difficult to get away from the multi-culti today, I thought, even so, still looks like my idea of a fun time! At least until the first minute of it had unreeled. Then I felt I was in on watching the deliberate mangling of hundreds of innocent students minds, souls, and their ability to ever even recognize Justice.
discussion on topics including affirmative action, income distribution, and
same-sex marriage, showing that even the most hotly contested issues of the day
can be the subject of reasoned moral argument. This film, which contains
excerpts of several classes, is part of a project to make this legendary course
an educational resource that reaches beyond the Harvard classroom."
The opening credits roll promisingly with snippets from the lecture,
"What is the supreme principle of reality?... Suppose that individual rights and liberty were at stake... is that a natural way of thinking about justice?... is that the right thing to do?... we need some answer to these questions everyday."
Cool! This is going to be good! Sandel then walks out before hundreds of gazing students, and launches directly into:
"This is a course about justice, and we begin with a story. Suppose you're the driver of a trolley car, and the trolley car is travelling down the track at 60 mph, and at the end of the track you notice 5 workers working on the track, you try to stop but you can't, you feel desperate because you know that if you collide with the workers, they will all die. Let's assume that you know that for sure. You feel helpless, until you notice that, to the right, a side track, and at the end of the track, there's one worker working on the track. Your steering wheel works. So you can turn the car if you want to, onto the side track, killing the one, but sparring the five. Here's our first question: What's the right thing to do?"
This is lifeboat ethics, even the very scenario of Marc Hauser that I noted in Dehumanism, and it is truly nothing but unethical. Having hamstrung them right off the bat and asked for a show of hands and explanations, he then launches into
"What if you were instead standing on the bridge above, and a fat person is next to you who you know will stop the train if shoved over the rail, and save the 5 workers, what would you do?"
The express purpose of such a scenario, is to put the student into a situation where he has no time to think, and must just react, in order to 'do the right thing'. Somehow.
Look at that again.
A philosophy course, an introduction to philosophy, the study of wisdom, and in this case focused upon the central point of the jewel of Justice, which seeks to resolve issues into what it is good to do and what is wrong to do... dealing with the highest concepts and truths, requiring the most deliberate and refined practice of reasoning... and as an example of entering into this, the most concentrated form of thinking, of reasoning upon vital life changing issues, we are given, as the introduction, your 'first impression' which you never get a second chance to make, and as the choice made for setting the tone for the entire course, is chosen, chosen, a situation designed "to put the student into a situation where he has no time to think".
Where, I want to ask, is the Justice in that? He then rolls on with questions of Marxist derivation, and anti-justice thinkers such as Rawls… the students rapt attention at the entertaining philosophical vivisectionist at work upon them… horrifying.
This is very much representative of the 'teaching' professors employ in philosophy classes today.
My oldest son just finished an intro to philosophy class at our community college, an introduction to the vast expanse of philosophical thinking, ranging from its roots in ancient Greece, where all of the significant questions in philosophy were first conceived and answers to them first proposed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others, and following those ideas in their journey to the present, passing through and over Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, James, Dewey, Heidegger, Popper... and... Habermas? Habermas. Wiki notes:
"Jürgen Habermas considered his major achievement to be the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject"
A currently popular but insignificant little pipsqueak of a modern philosophical scribbler, who only partially escaped the nazi & marxist frankfurt school of thinking he was raised in, by fusing together some contrived glop of marxist, hegelian, pragmatist and linguistic goo.
It is unjust enough that someone like Habermas was even mentioned among that list of heroes (and villains), but to add insult to injury upon Sophia... the question on Habermas in the final exam for his course was worth 50% of the grade.
Love of wisdom? Justice? With apologies to Juliet, Wherefore art they that?
I've been reading back through Aquinas and Plutarch this week and others , getting ready for my next posts I want to cover on Law, and in doing so it just wallops me upside the head, how obvious it becomes, that when juxtaposing our past thinkers, against the most recent, how unaware the moderns are of not only even the proper meaning of Law, but that they are utterly unaware of the meaning, or apparently even existence, of Justice – though they throw the word around… liberally.
It's enough to make you sick. Does anyone really dare ask why the world is as it is?