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dream_weaver

Philosophic cycles

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Leonard Peikoff, in his lecture "The Founders of Western Philosophy", makes a comment regarding cycles of philosophy - that philosophy appears to have cycles going from the application of reason, to the application of rationalism to the application of skepticism; repeat. So far, touching base on Thales, Hereclitis, Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle, he points out what might be considered merits and/or demerits of each in a summary. Cycles appear in many aspects of existence. Positing a cyclical philosophical observation does not seem that far fetched. From the age of enlightenment, to today's skepticism - the cycle appears to be reaching either its solstice or equinox. Does there appear to be any merit to this, or is it more likely grasping at historical coincidences?

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The relationship between philosophy and politics would be one of the gists of the DIM Hypothesis.

I see that literature is another one, and if you include movies, it seems there's quite a bit more fascination today with zombies and vampires; Is this the reflection of philosophically lifeless society? I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi, and a diehard Trekker, so I kinda see today's literature as an appeal to cynicism (as opposed to "boldly going where no man has gone before"), or a validation of Jimi Hendrix's, "there ain't no life no where", but perhaps I'm reading too much into it...

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I see that literature is another one, and if you include movies, it seems there's quite a bit more fascination today with zombies and vampires; Is this the reflection of philosophically lifeless society? I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi, and a diehard Trekker, so I kinda see today's literature as an appeal to cynicism (as opposed to "boldly going where no man has gone before"), or a validation of Jimi Hendrix's, "there ain't no life no where", but perhaps I'm reading too much into it...

I'm with you. I love sci-fi and fantasy literature and it is very dismaying to see trends take the positive aspects out of it.

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Zombies, vampires, philosophically lifeless. Those bring to mind Rand's comparision of altruism to a vampire coming out at night to drain the blood of the living.

As a complete aside, my wife once elegantly made a comment about Vampires (she likes the classic genre) that I loved, “They took a dark romantic predator that gave women the excuse to engage in uninhibited sex, in an age of repression, and turned him into an emo that sparkles.”

I always thought that was a rather uniquely interesting take on things and pretty much summed up the corruption of ideas in modern terms.

Edited by Spiral Architect

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The enjoyment derived by Sci-Fi (Star Trek) and Fantasy (Lord of the Rings) is only amplified when contrasted against 1/2 a work like "50 Shades of Grey" (1/2 being the amount read thus far).

 



Good satire, IMHO

Edited by dream_weaver

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As a complete aside, my wife once elegantly made a comment about Vampires (she likes the classic genre) that I loved, “They took a dark romantic predator that gave women the excuse to engage in uninhibited sex, in an age of repression, and turned him into an emo that sparkles.”

I always thought that was a rather uniquely interesting take on things and pretty much summed up the corruption of ideas in modern terms.

You see that as a corruption of ideas? Weird. I see it being very Randian.

Romanticism's darkness and "bad boy" appeal (including in the horror genre) isn't a representation of "philosophical lifelessness" or "corruption." Quite the opposite. The idea in experiencing art isn't to make immediate, shallow interpretations of surface issues or to rush to condemning oneself and/or others for enjoying something about a dark experience, but to go deeper and reflect on why the art appeals to good people who value their lives and existence.

From the Journals of Ayn Rand (p22):

I do not think, nor did I think when I wrote this play, that a swindler is a heroic character or that a respectable banker is a villain. But for the purpose of dramatizing the conflict of independence versus conformity, a criminal – a social outcast – can be an eloquent symbol. This, incidentally, is the reason of the profound appeal of the "noble crook" in fiction. He is the symbol of the rebel as such, regardless of the kind of society he rebels against, the symbol – for most people – of their vague, undefined, unrealized groping toward a concept, or a shadowy image, of man's self-esteem.

That a career of crime is not, in fact, the way to implement one's self-esteem, is irrelevant in sense-of-life terms. A sense of life is concerned mainly with consciousness, not with existence – or rather: with the way a man's consciousness faces existence. It is concerned with a basic frame of mind, not with rules of conduct.

J

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As to this thread's initial question, I think that "cycles" appear to people who go out looking to find them. I think they appear, whether they exist or not, to people who look at everything through a distorted filter of philosophical freneticism.

J

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As to this thread's initial question, I think that "cycles" appear to people who go out looking to find them. I think they appear, whether they exist or not, to people who look at everything through a distorted filter of philosophical freneticism.

J

This will have to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Are the cycles correlative or causal is the deeper underlying question. The Sophist's and Pathagorian's were nonintentially omitted from between Parmenides and Plato.

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You see that as a corruption of ideas? Weird. I see it being very Randian.

Romanticism's darkness and "bad boy" appeal (including in the horror genre) isn't a representation of "philosophical lifelessness" or "corruption." Quite the opposite. The idea in experiencing art isn't to make immediate, shallow interpretations of surface issues or to rush to condemning oneself and/or others for enjoying something about a dark experience, but to go deeper and reflect on why the art appeals to good people who value their lives and existence.

From the Journals of Ayn Rand (p22):

I do not think, nor did I think when I wrote this play, that a swindler is a heroic character or that a respectable banker is a villain. But for the purpose of dramatizing the conflict of independence versus conformity, a criminal – a social outcast – can be an eloquent symbol. This, incidentally, is the reason of the profound appeal of the "noble crook" in fiction. He is the symbol of the rebel as such, regardless of the kind of society he rebels against, the symbol – for most people – of their vague, undefined, unrealized groping toward a concept, or a shadowy image, of man's self-esteem.

That a career of crime is not, in fact, the way to implement one's self-esteem, is irrelevant in sense-of-life terms. A sense of life is concerned mainly with consciousness, not with existence – or rather: with the way a man's consciousness faces existence. It is concerned with a basic frame of mind, not with rules of conduct.

J

I think you misunderstood – She was taking to task the current version that turned Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi into what she dubbed as “Emo the vampire slayer”. She’s a big fan of the original book and movies however and I was inevitably dragged to the movies several times in the early 90’s when Bram Stoker’s Dracula was remade. That is why she has strong words for the current version.

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As for the original question my only issue with cycles is that it implies determinism. The fact we have volition would have to mean ultimately humans set the trends of our future, not cycles of events outside of our control.

But a quick review of the basic historical periods does show a cycling of trends, however:

Pre-Hellenic

Greece

Rome

Dark Ages

Medieval Period

Renaissance

The Enlightenment

Modern Era

So there is something evident by basic observation. But what is it?

The reason might just be the lack of reason dominant in human history. The history of philosophy is one of moving from mysticism/supernaturalism to reason and back (skepticism joins the party at some point) with trends through the current ideas in a culture. Reason based ideas survive in ages of mysticism and mysticism/skepticism survives in ages of reason. Trends usually result in one eventually over riding the other through growth and displacement.

Although I’m not as fluent in the earlier era’s philosophers outside of the big ones, as a rule you can point to philosophic trends of one era really being started in the previous era then coming to fruition later and reinforced at the beginning of a new era, while that era sees an underground of new ideas that will ultimately influence trends towards to the next; Locke in the Renaissance versus Marx during the enlightenment for example. It can get messy on a micro scale and not so clear however as most philosophers are not internally consistent with their system of thought (Kant’s defense of individual rights versus the Categorical Imperative comes to mind). This makes for trends being a long range view as ideas wax and wane through the years, likely based on current events combined with which ideas slowly win out. It would be tempting to say that bad ideas corrupt good ideas in the long run but the influence of Aquinas during the Medieval Period would suggest it can also go in a positive direction. There is probably a good argument for plotting the essentials of a system in there but someone better at epistemology then I will have to take that one on.

As a final thought I have to think the modern proliferation of information and communication has to be a game changer in all of this. We, as people, are not restricted to associate based on where we live (see the German school of Philosophy in the 19th Century) but can gather and spread ideas based on what we think (the internet). Plus all of this information is one easy click away. A thousand years ago it would be a life-time achievement to get a copy of the works of Aristotle but today any kid can get it while sitting at home.

I’d have to really think on this more to come up with something more concrete, but just from typing this out I’d say that philosophy is not cyclical quo philosophy but it is cyclical if man does not act to control the ideas that shape his life. He will be the billiard ball if he does not choose to stop and think between stimulus and response.

The classic adage of business planning comes to mind: If you don’t manage your time, time will manage you.

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As for the original question my only issue with cycles is that it implies determinism. The fact we have volition would have to mean ultimately humans set the trends of our future, not cycles of events outside of our control.

But a quick review of the basic historical periods does show a cycling of trends, however:

Pre-Hellenic

Greece

Rome

Dark Ages

Medieval Period

Renaissance

The Enlightenment

Modern Era

So there is something evident by basic observation. But what is it?

I’d have to really think on this more to come up with something more concrete, but just from typing this out I’d say that philosophy is not cyclical quo philosophy but it is cyclical if man does not act to control the ideas that shape his life. He will be the billiard ball if he does not choose to stop and think between stimulus and response.

The classic adage of business planning comes to mind: If you don’t manage your time, time will manage you.

Peikoff transitions from the Greek to Hellenic.

Epicurians, Stoics, Plotinus are portrayed as variations of Atomists, Sophist and Plato moving from rationalism to skepticism to a more explicit otherworldly mysticism

Most men adopt the ideas they absorb from the world around them. Your mention of billiard balls conjurs an image of philosophers holding cue sticks. Aristotle's strategic game of snooker. Plato's 8 ball with slop.

And if you won't manage your mind, your mind won't manage you either.

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I think you misunderstood – She was taking to task the current version that turned Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi into what she dubbed as “Emo the vampire slayer”. She’s a big fan of the original book and movies however and I was inevitably dragged to the movies several times in the early 90’s when Bram Stoker’s Dracula was remade. That is why she has strong words for the current version.

Ah, I see. I did misunderstand. Thanks for clearing that up.

J

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There were skeptics in the age of enlightenment too ;)

As I learned it, it was the appearance and refined tolerance of 'skepticism' what differentiated the religious, purpose-driven late middle ages (purpose as in Crusades, Reconquista, and Conquista or Age of Discovery, which was a continuation of a frustrated Crusades) from the Enlightened Renaissance and Baroque/Industrial ages. Not the other way around.

In any case, there are some factors that are outside our control, and the civilization and stage we're born into undoubtedly cause (but not determine) some things which can not be chaged by will.

To determine, is to decide, or to affect an outcome willfully.

Chance can cause things but it cannot decide them.

Only conscious entities can chose, decide or deterine.

Objectivism is 'against' Determinism because we conclude that Determinism can only make sense with a universe that is concious of itself, something Ayn Rand and Aristotle both cover in their definition of existence.

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