Euthyphro Dilemma


Socrates: We shall know better, my good friend, in a little while. The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

– Plato, Euthyphro

1/x mmxv


In 1933, Mussolini met 93 mothers at the Palazzo Venezia who had produced over 1300 children – an average of 13 each.

The largest vein of gold ever discovered is in Antarctica, but international law prohibits mining on the continent.

It is held that Plato had five wives and a lifelong male companion.

Ants can survive in a microwave: they are small enough to dodge the rays.

The Italian town of Viganella gets no direct sunlight for about seven weeks each winter.  In order to solve this problem, in 2006, a computer controlled mirror was installed which is approximately 25 feet by 15 feet.  The mirror is controlled such  that it reflects sunlight into the town’s main city square during the day time.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Plato, Dogs and Philosophy


‘Would not he who is fitted to be a guardian, besides the spirited nature, need to have the qualities of a philosopher?

I do not apprehend your meaning.

The trait of which I am speaking, I replied, may be also seen in the dog, and is remarkable in the animal.

What trait?

Why, a dog, whenever he sees a stranger, is angry; when an acquaintance, he welcomes him, although the one has never done him any harm, nor the other any good. Did this never strike you as curious?

The matter never struck me before; but I quite recognise the truth of your remark.

And surely this instinct of the dog is very charming; your dog is a true philosopher.

Why?

Why, because he distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing. And must not an animal be a lover of learning who determines what he likes and dislikes by the test of knowledge and ignorance?

Most assuredly.

And is not the love of learning the love of wisdom, which is philosophy?

They are the same, he replied.’

– Plato, The Republic (Book II)

A Contrast Between Greek and Roman Women


‘In Greek political and philosophical thought, there seem to be two different ways to look at women. One is epitomized in Plato’s Republic. Plato proposes that the only difference between men and women is biological: “that females bear children while males beget them” and thus women are physically weaker (5.454d). Therefore, women are to participate in the state just as men are. But in emphasizing the similarity to men and their nearly identical roles in the kallipolis [the name Socrates uses for his utopia in Plato’s dialogue The Republic – Ed.], Plato neuters the women guardians. In the kallipolis, the family unit is destroyed because it divides the city. Women, except for “professional” wet nurses, no longer fill the maternal role. On the other hand, less utopian Greek visions of society focus on the differences between men and women. In Herodotus and Thucydides, women serve minor roles if they are present at all. In a few cases, groups of women are shown to be vital to the war effort: Thucydides offers us a picture of women up on the rooftops, pelting invaders with rocks. But they are a faceless mob; there are no strong female heroines. Even less complimentary is a more common role for women: wailing vainly about the doom of their city.

In contrast, in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, a Roman work written in Latin, this action is turned into a positive one: women wail, but their cries have a positive influence over the Roman men. Women are also more than just wailers: they are military heroes like Cloelia, ambassadors like Veturia, and priestesses like the Vestal Virgins. Livy sets out to show how “courage … filled the female sex with … patriotic ardor (2.13).” However, this patriotism manifests itself in a distinctly feminine way. His conception of feminine traits is nothing new. Women are still the emotional sex, the maternal caretakers of families and educators of their children, with a tendency to congregate in groups. However, unlike earlier Greek thinkers who saw these traits as limiting the glory women could achieve, Livy sees these traits working in women’s favor. Women play important roles in the Roman republic; like men, they are war heroes, ambassadors, and priests, or rather priestesses. At the same time, they bring a unique feminine grace to their role and thus are often more successful than the men in performing similar duties. In fact, this communalism is even contagious: in the stories of the Vestal Virgins, Lucretia, and Verginia, the women inspire the men to adopt and act on a typically feminine communal mindset.’

– Abels. K. (2005) Livy: Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Citizens Yale.edu p. 2-3

A Philosophers’ Guide To Art


What did the world’s foremost western philosophers think about art?

Plato (428-348) Beauty as an ideal

What matters is a higher, perfect beauty; a harmony which we do not immediately appear to see. If you want to see a copy of reality, you might as well buy a mirror. We should strive to look for something of a higher nature instead of repeating the things we see.

Aristotle (384-322) Art as an organic unity

Works of art are an organic unity. The work is whole. It is, beginning, middle and ending, in itself complete. Works of art are artistic; that is to say, they express a perceivable harmony. Its elements are organised, and none of its parts can be replaced or removed without it losing its value.

Kant (1724-1804) Pointless purpose

It is important that art conveys a sense of order and harmony. Everything seems to be finely tuned. The internal coherence of the work of art is immensely close nit and complex, as if it was designed to serve a certain purpose. Like the parts of an organism are dependent upon the organism’s will to further exist. The work of art, however, possesses this strong coherence without any purpose whatsoever.

When the work of art has been created, we can see that it is good, but we could not have thought of any parameters or rules of design beforehand. The relations within the composition are only purposeful within itself and create a formal unity of universal beauty in which everything is carefully coordinated.

Hegel (1770-1831) Development of the self by means of estrangement of the self

Art is an absolute necessity. We learn about ourselves by means of the work of art. The artist is irrelevant; however, we can learn from the image which he provides. In doing so, that is, by expressing ourselves through a certain material, we learn more about ourselves. Consequently, the world becomes less and less peculiar.

Schopenhauer (1788-1860) Art as a haven in this heartless world

The work of art is a harmonious and selfless entity, and is heavily contrasted with the reality of human life. Happiness is unthinkable. The work of art is an escape from the chaos of everyday life. The acceptance of this is an ideal and the form it takes is art. In aesthetic bliss we can experience how joyful life should be; because when we behold and enjoy beauty, our soul is calmed and comforted. The work of art releases us from the world in which we live – art stops the wheels of time, she always achieves her purpose.

Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Art as an escape from life

Art reconciles us with life; however, this reconciliation is not perfect. When one gazes at art, one does not gaze at reality. We are allowed to have a haven, but we are not allowed to shy away from living. When one purposefully elevates one’s life, life becomes a work of art. And when life is beautiful, ethics and aesthetics become one. The work of art pleases us in a moment of elation – it makes life seem shorter.

Nietzsche (1844-1900) Life as work of art

Art is for art’s sake, that is, art justifies itself and has the quality of dispensing with a purpose – moral or rational – since only through the aesthetic production can the world be justified.

Art may well be said to be the bridge between Man and the superhuman, the übermensch, the bridge to perfection and eternity. Through art, Man transcends the confines of his own ego and secures oneness with the universe. Clearly, it is established: the role of art as means of self-transcendence.

Wittgenstein (1889-1951) The unsayable and the image

Art is intransitive. Aesthetics cannot be enunciated in a clear linguistic form. The work of art does not tell us anything and requires no further explanation; however, it shows the unsayable, and provides the right perspective.

Heidegger (1889-1976) The disclosure of the concealedness

Art has its place within the idea of the world and reality. Art concerns itself with truth and we should look for what it can show us. This disclosure in the face of concealedness is not a state but an event, it is something that happens. Disclosure also means that focus shifts. And since reality is not a total presence, reality is always more, the work of art shows us concealedness as concealedness.

“How does a body, a nonmental object, come to ‘embody’ or ‘express,’ for our aesthetic imagination, values which it does not literally contain? Why should colours and shapes and patterns, sounds and harmonies and rhythms, come to mean so very much more that they are?”

– Louis Arnauld Reid

Sapphic Love‏


Sappho was a poet from the island of Lesbos who lived between 630 and 612 BCE. She wrote many love poems addressed to women and girls. The love in these poems is sometimes requited, sometimes not.

Orlai Petrics Soma: Sappho

Orlai Petrics Soma’s Sappho

Sappho is thought to have written close to 12,000 lines of poetry on her love for other women. Of these poems, only about 600 lines have survived. As a result of her fame in antiquity, she and her native island have become emblematic of love between women.

The term Sapphic love‏, therefore, has become synonymous with lesbian love.

On a related note, the great philosopher Plato mentions lesbianism in his Symposium; he discusses women who “do not care for men, but have female attachments.”

Ganymede


Ganymede is the young, beautiful boy that became one of Zeus’ lovers. One source of the myth says that Zeus fell in love with Ganymede when he spotted him herding his flock on Mount Ida. Zeus then came down in the form of an eagle or sent an eagle to carry Ganymede to Mount Olympus where Ganymede became cupbearer to the gods.

Ganymede

Ganymede

Upon hearing that Ganymede was to be cup bearer as well as Zeus’ lover, the infinitely jealous Hera was outraged. Therefore Zeus set Ganymede’s image among the stars as the constellation Aquarius, the water carrier. Aquarius was originally the Egyptian god over the Nile. The Egyptian god poured water not wine from a flagon.

All of Zeus’ scandalous liaisons have allegorical meanings. Some sources say that Zeus’ affair with Ganymede was a (religious) justification for homosexuality within the Greek culture, yet others state that this is merely a reflection of Greek life at that time. Before the popularity of the Zeus and Ganymede myth spread, however, the only toleration for sodomy was an external form of goddess worship. Cybele’s male devotees tried to achieve unity with her by castrating themselves and dressing like women.

Ganymedes was frequently represented as the god of homosexual love, and as such appears as a playmate of the love-gods Eros and Hymenaios – the gods for love and marital love respectively.

Apollodorus argued that this myth emphasized the victory of patriarchy over matriarchy. This showed that men did not need women to exist, therefore they did not need the attentions of women. The philosopher Plato used this myth to justify his sexual feelings towards male pupils.

In our present-day astronomy, the name Ganymede is honoured as one of the satellites of Jupiter, the largest moon in the Solar System.

Akrasia


Akrasia, occasionally transliterated as acrasia, is the state of acting against one’s better judgement.

The problem goes back at least as far as Plato. Socrates, in Plato’s Protagoras, asks precisely how this is possible:

“If one judges action A to be the best course of action, why would one do anything other than A?”

In the dialogue Protagoras, Socrates attests that akrasia is an illogical moral concept, claiming “No one goes willingly toward the bad” (358d). If a person examines a situation and decides to act in the way he determines to be best, he will actively pursue this action, as the best course is also the good course, i.e. man’s natural goal.

An all-things-considered assessment of the situation will bring full knowledge of a decision’s outcome and worth linked to well-developed principles of the good.

A person, according to Socrates, never chooses to act poorly or against his better judgement; actions that go against what is best are only a product of being ignorant of facts or knowledge of what is best or good.

On a Biblical note, in Matthew 23:25 Jesus uses it to describe hypocritical religious leaders. The Apostle Paul also gives akrasia as a reason for a husband and wife to not deprive each other of sex (I Corinthians 7:5).