Philosophy Course 605 at The University of Cambodia–Readings on Plato and The Greeks


September 17, 2015

For Philosophy Course 605 at The University of Cambodia-Readings  on Plato and The Greeks –led by Adjunct Professor Din Merican, Tech Sen School

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/Philosophy-Plato-Philosopher.htm

 by Geoff Haselhurst, Karene Howie

This is the latest Plato introduction – based on two principles for writing on the internet – truth and simplicity!

Read the Plato quotes – Plato was brilliant, astute, charming, amusing, profound, practical, sensible, logical, enquiring, seeking, exploring by considering the simple and obvious.

Plato Quotes on Philosophy Truth and Reality

And isn’t it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato)

The philosopher is in love with truth, that is, not with the changing world of sensation, which is the object of opinion, but with the unchanging reality which is the object of knowledge. (Plato)

Truthfulness. He will never willingly tolerate an untruth, but will hate it as much as he loves truth. … And is there anything more closely connected with wisdom than truth? (Plato)

What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy. (Plato)

The object of knowledge is what exists and its function to know about reality. (Plato)

One trait in the philosopher’s character we can assume is his love of the knowledge that reveals eternal reality, the realm unaffected by change and decay. He is in love with the whole of that reality, and will not willingly be deprived even of the most insignificant fragment of it – just like the lovers and men of ambition we described earlier on. (Plato)

Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Plato the Philosopher

I have great affection for Plato, who is without doubt one of the greatest philosophers of the past 2,500 years. Thus it is unfortunate that many people imagine our post-modern society to have gained such knowledge that the Ancient Greek Philosophers are now irrelevant. In fact the opposite is true. As Bertrand Russell observed (History of Western Philosophy), it was the Ancient Greek Philosophers who first discovered and discussed the fundamental Principles of Philosophy, and most significantly, little has been added to their knowledge since. As Einstein wrote:

Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

It is therefore both interesting and important to consider the foundations which caused the blossoming of Ancient Greek Philosophy. First and foremost was the realisation that ALL IS ONE, as Nietzsche writes:

Greek philosophy seems to begin with a preposterous fancy, with the proposition that water is the origin and mother-womb of all things. Is it really necessary to stop there and become serious? Yes, and for three reasons: firstly, because the preposition does enunciate something about the origin of things; secondly, because it does so without figure and fable; thirdly and lastly, because it contained, although only in the chrysalis state, the idea :everything is one. … That which drove him (Thales) to this generalization was a metaphysical dogma, which had its origin in a mystic intuition and which together with the ever renewed endeavors to express it better, we find in all philosophies- the proposition: everything is one! (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Greeks)

Further, the Ancient Greeks realised that Motion (Flux / Activity / Change) was central to existence and reality, as Aristotle writes:

The first philosophy (Metaphysics) is universal and is exclusively concerned with primary substance. … And here we will have the science to study that which is just as that which is, both in its essence and in the properties which, just as a thing that is, it has. (Aristotle, 340BC)
The entire preoccupation of the physicist is with things that contain within themselves a principle of movement and rest. And to seek for this is to seek for the second kind of principle, that from which comes the beginning of the change. (Aristotle, 340BC)

Only recently (Wolff, 1986 – Haselhurst, 1997) has it been possible, with the discovery of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter (WSM), to unite these ideas with modern Physics, Philosophy and Metaphysics. And let me first say that it is ironic that the main problem for human knowledge also came from the Ancient Greeks, with their conception of matter as discrete Atoms (Democritus, Lucretius). Unfortunately, Physics took the path of the atomists (Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Lorentz) and this led to the creation of ‘Forces / Fields’ (generated by particles) to explain how matter interacted with other discrete matter at-a-distance in Space.

It seems that many people believe that Reality / Physics is too complex for them to possibly understand (and I suspect that Physicists enjoy this reputation as being the ‘high priests’ who comprehend such complex things). In fact the opposite is true – Truth is ultimately simple because Truth comes from Reality (as Plato correctly realised) which must be founded on One thing. And there is nothing more simple than One Thing. (This explains why Philosophy is also known as the discovery of the obvious!)

When you read the quotes from Plato below, you will also find Plato’s ideas to be very simple. This reflects his greatness as a philosopher, and partly explains why his work has endured for thousands of years. To me, it is his realisation that philosophy is fundamentally important to humanity, that without philosophy, without truth, there can be no wisdom – which leaves humanity blind and the future treacherous. Reason tells me that Reality has been discovered, that the source of all truth and wisdom has finally been found. And in our currently troubled times there is no more important knowledge than true knowledge of reality – of what it truly means to ‘Know Thyself’ as the foundation for living wisely and ensuring survival.


Plato - I don't know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. Plato ‘The Republic’ Quotes

I don’t know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. But when it comes to ordinary conversation, such as the stuff you talk about financiers and the money market, well, I find it pretty tiresome personally, and I feel sorry that my friends should think they’re being very busy when they’re really doing absolutely nothing. Of course, I know your idea of me: you think I’m just a poor unfortunate, and I shouldn’t wonder if your right. But then I don’t THINK that you’re unfortunate – I know you are. (Plato)

Plato is an astute and important philosopher, who writes beautifully and with great power and elegance on Truth and Reality. His work is still profoundly important in today’s Postmodern world, and can be easily understood due to its simplicity of language and engaging style of dialogue. The following quotes are taken from Plato’s great work The Republic, and speak grandly for themselves, thus I largely leave them as they are, with little commentary or analysis (though I of course hope that you will read them with the Wave Structure of Matter in mind).



Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato Quotes on the Understanding of New Ideas

We are like people looking for something they have in their hands all the time; we’re looking in all directions except at the thing we want, which is probably why we haven’t found it.(Plato, 380BC)

‘That is the story. Do you think there is any way of making them believe it?” Not in the first generation’, he said, ‘but you might succeed with the second and later generations.’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘We will ask the critics to be serious for once, and remind them that it was not so long ago that the Greeks thought – as most of the barbarians still think – that it was shocking and ridiculous for men to be seen naked. When the Cretans, and later the Spartans, first began to take exercise naked, wasn’t there plenty of material for the wit of the comedians of the day?’
‘There was indeed’

‘But when experience showed them that it was better to strip than wrap themselves up, what reason had proved best ceased to look absurd to the eye. Which shows how idle it is to think anything ridiculous except what is wrong.’ (Plato, 380BC)


Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Plato on Truth and Reality

And isn’t it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato, 380BC)

The philosopher is in love with truth, that is, not with the changing world of sensation, which is the object of opinion, but with the unchanging reality which is the object of knowledge. (Plato, 380BC)

Truthfulness. He will never willingly tolerate an untruth, but will hate it as much as he loves truth… And is there anything more closely connected with wisdom than truth? (Plato, 380BC)

Then may we not fairly plead in reply that our true lover of knowledge naturally strives for truth, and is not content with common opinion, but soars with undimmed and unwearied passion till he grasps the essential nature of things with the mental faculty fitted to do so, that is, with the faculty which is akin to reality, and which approaches and unites with it, and begets intelligence and truth as children, and is only released from travail when it has thus reached knowledge and true life and satisfaction? (Plato, 380BC)

What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy. (Plato, 380BC)

The object of knowledge is what exists and its function to know about reality. (Plato, 380BC)

And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. (Plato, 380BC)

When the mind’s eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions, its vision is confused and its beliefs shifting, and it seems to lack intelligence. (Plato, 380BC)

‘But surely “blind” is just how you would describe men who have no true knowledge of reality, and no clear standard in their mind to refer to, as a painter refers to his model, and which they can study closely before they start laying down rules about what is fair or right or good where they are needed, or maintaining, as Guardians, any rules that already exist.’ ‘Yes, blind is just about what they are’ (Plato, 380BC)

One trait in the philosopher’s character we can assume is his love of the knowledge that reveals eternal reality, the realm unaffected by change and decay. He is in love with the whole of that reality, and will not willingly be deprived even of the most insignificant fragment of it – just like the lovers and men of ambition we described earlier on. (Plato, 380BC)

Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato Education Quotes

…for the object of education is to teach us to love beauty. (Plato, 380BC)

And once we have given our community a good start, the process will be cumulative. By maintaining a sound system of education you produce citizens of good character, and citizens of sound character, with the advantage of a good education, produce in turn children better than themselves and better able to produce still better children in their turn, as can be seen with animals. (Plato, 380BC)

‘.. It is in education that bad discipline can most easily creep in unobserved,’ he replied.

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘ because people don’t treat it seriously there, and think no harm can come of it.’

‘It only does harm,’ he said, ‘because it makes itself at home and gradually undermines morals and manners; from them it invades business dealings generally, and then spreads into the laws and constitution without any restraint, until it has made complete havoc of private and public life.’

‘ And when men who aren’t fit to be educated get an education they don’t deserve, are not the thoughts and opinions they produce fairly called sophistry, without a legitimate idea or any trace of true wisdom among them?’
‘Certainly’.

‘ The first thing our artist must do,’ I replied, ‘ – and it’s not easy – is to take human society and human habits and wipe them clean out, to give himself a clean canvas. For our philosophic artist differs from all others in being unwilling to start work on an individual or a city, or draw out laws, until he is given, or has made himself, a clean canvas.’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘ Because a free man ought not to learn anything under duress. Compulsory physical exercise does no harm to the body, but compulsory learning never sticks to the mind.’

‘True’

‘Then don’t use compulsion,’ I said to him, ‘ but let your children’s lessons take the form of play. You will learn more about their natural abilities that way.’ (Plato, 380BC)

For we soon reap the fruits of literature in life, and prolonged indulgence in any form of literature in life leaves its mark on the moral nature of man, affecting not only the mind but physical poise and intonation. (p134 R)

‘It is not only to the poets therefore that we must issue orders requiring them to represent good character in their poems or not to write at all; we must issue similar orders to all artists and prevent them from portraying bad character, ill discipline, meanness, or ugliness in painting, sculpture, architecture, or any work of art, and if they are unable to comply they must be forbidden to practice their art. We shall thus prevent our guardians being brought up among representations of what is evil, and so day by day and little by little, by feeding as it were in an unhealthy pasture, insensibly doing themselves grave psychological damage. Our artists and craftsmen must be capable of perceiving the real nature of what is beautiful, and then our young men, living as it were in a good climate, will benefit because all the works of art they see and hear influence them for good, like the breezes from some healthy country with what is rational and right.’

‘That would indeed be the best way to bring them up.’

‘And that, my dear Glaucon,’ I said,’ is why this stage of education is crucial. For rhythm and harmony penetrate deeply into the mind and have a most powerful effect on it, and if education is good, bring balance and fairness, if it is bad, the reverse. (p142, 401 R)

‘Then I must surely be right in saying that we shall not be properly educated ourselves, nor will the guardians whom we are training, until we can recognise the qualities of discipline, courage, generosity, greatness of mind, and others akin to them, as well as their opposites in all their manifestations’. (p143, 402 R)



Plato - I don't know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. Plato on the Mind

Do we learn with one part of us, feel angry with another, and desire the pleasures of eating and sex with another? Or do we employ our mind as a whole when our energies are employed in any of these ways? (Plato, 380BC)

We can call the reflective element in the mind the reason, and the element with which it feels hunger and thirst, and the agitations of sex and other desires, the irrational appetite – an element closely connected with pleasure and satisfaction. (Plato, 380BC)

‘So the reason ought to rule, having the ability and foresight to act for the whole, and the spirit ought to obey and support it. And this concord between them is effected, as we said, by a combination of intellectual and physical training, which tunes up the reason by intellectual training and tones down the crudeness of natural high spirits by harmony and rhythm.’

‘Certainly’

‘When these two elements have been brought up and trained to their proper function, they must be put in charge of appetite, which forms the greater part of each man’s make-up and is naturally insatiable. They must prevent taking its fill of the so-called physical pleasures, for otherwise it will get too large and strong to mind its own business and will try to subject and control the other elements, which it has no right to do, and so wreck life entirely.’ (Plato, 380BC)

Then let us be content with the terms we used earlier on for the four divisions of our line – knowledge, reason, belief and illusion. The last two we class together as opinion, the first two as intelligence, opinion being concerned with the world of becoming, knowledge with the world of reality. Knowledge stands to opinion as the world of reality does to that of becoming, and intelligence stands to belief and reason to illusion as knowledge stands to opinion. (Plato, 380BC)


Plato the Philosopher - On Illusion Quotations from Plato on Illusion

In the analogy of The Cave, Plato shows the ascent of the mind from illusion to truth and pure philosophy, and the difficulties which accompany its progress.

‘Then think what would happen to them if they were released from their bonds and cured of their delusions. Suppose one of them were let loose, and suddenly compelled to stand up and turn his head and look and walk towards the fire; all actions would be painful and he would be too dazzled to see properly the objects of which he used to see the shadows. So if he was told that what he used to see was mere illusion and that he was now nearer reality and seeing more correctly, because he was turned towards objects that were more real, and if on top of that he were compelled to say what each of the passing objects was when it was pointed out to him, don’t you think he would be at a loss, and think that what he used to see was more real than the objects now being pointed out to him?’

‘ Because he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the world outside the cave. First he would find it easiest to look at shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later on at the objects themselves. After that he would find it easier to observe the heavenly bodies and the sky at night than by day, and to look at the light of the moon and stars, rather than at the sun and its light.’

‘ But anyone with any sense,’ I said, ‘will remember that the eyes may be unsighted in two ways, by a transition either from light to darkness or from darkness to light, and that the same distinction applies to the mind. So when he sees a mind confused and unable to see clearly he will not laugh without thinking, but will ask himself whether it has come from a cleaner world and is confused by the unaccustomed darkness, or whether it is dazzled by the stronger light of the clearer world to which it has escaped from its previous ignorance.’

‘ If this is true,’ I continued, ‘ we must reject the conception of education professed by those who say that they can put into the mind knowledge that was not there before – rather as if they could put sight into blind eyes.’

‘It is a claim that is certainly made,’ he said

‘But our argument indicates that this is a capacity which is innate in each man’s mind, and that the faculty by which he learns is like an eye that cannot be turned from darkness to light unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eyes can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which we call the Good. Isn’t that so?’ (Plato, 380BC)



Ancient Greek Philosophy - Plato the philosopher Plato on the Importance of Philosophy

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands, while the many natures now content to follow either to the exclusion of the other are forcibly debarred from doing so. This is what I have hesitated to say so long, knowing what a paradox it would sound; for it is not easy to see that there is no other road to happiness, either for society or the individual. (Plato, 380BC)

…there are some who are naturally fitted for philosophy and political leadership, while the rest should follow their lead and let philosophy alone. (Plato, 380BC)

‘But the man who is ready to taste every form of knowledge, is glad to learn and never satisfied – he’s the man who deserves to be called a philosopher, isn’t he?’ (Plato, 380BC)

‘Then who are the true philosophers?’, he asked

‘Those whose passion is to see the truth.’

‘Suppose the following to be the state of affairs on board a ship or ships. The captain is larger and stronger than any of the crew, but a bit deaf and short-sighted, and doesn’t know much about navigation. The crew is quarreling with each other about how to navigate the ship, each thinking he ought to be at the helm; they know no navigation and cannot say that anyone ever taught it them, or that they spent any time studying it; indeed they say it can’t be taught and are ready to murder any one who says it can. They spend all their time milling around the captain and trying to get him to give them the wheel. If one faction is more successful than another, their rivals may kill them and throw them overboard, lay out the honest captain with drugs and drink, take control of the ship, help themselves to what’s on board, and behave as if they were on a drunken pleasure-cruise. Finally, they reserve their admiration for the man who knows how to lend a hand in controlling the captain by force or fraud; they praise his seamanship and navigation and knowledge of the sea and condemn everyone else as useless. They have no idea that the true navigator must study the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds and other professional subjects, if he is really fit to control a ship; and they think that it’s quite impossible to acquire professional skill in navigation (quite apart from whether they want it exercised) and that there is no such thing as an art of navigation. In these circumstances aren’t the sailors on any ship bound to regard the true navigator as a gossip and a star-gazer, of no use to them at all?’

‘Yes, they are,’ Adeimantus agreed

‘I think you probably understand, without any explanation, that my illustration is intended to show the present attitude of society towards the true philosopher’ (Plato, 380BC)

And tell him it’s quite true that the best of the philosophers are of no use to their fellows; but that he should blame, not the philosophers, but those who fail to make use of them. (Plato, 380BC)

I feel like standing and applauding when I read Plato, for he is one of the true greats. The early Greeks were exceedingly smart and aware, and they created the system that then led to Aristotle, and his most profound work, ‘The Metaphysics’. Their knowledge lies at the very heart of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter.



Plato the Philosopher - And those whose hearts are fixed on Reality itself deserve the title of Philosophers. Links / Plato, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophers

Metaphysics: Problem of One and the Many – Brief History of Metaphysics and Solutions to the Fundamental Problems of Uniting the; One and the Many, Infinite and the Finite, Eternal and the Temporal, Absolute and Relative, Continuous and Discrete, Simple and Complex, Matter and Universe.

Philosophy: Greek Philosophers – All is One (Space) and Active-Flux (Wave Motion). Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Atomists (Democritus, Lucretius), Socrates, Plato, Epicurus.

Aristotle – On Philosopher Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Physics (Motion). (Aristotle was one of the greatest of the famous philosophers and should be read by all people interested in philosophy and wisdom.)

Socrates – ‘Know Thyself’ – Condemned to death for educating the youth to Philosophy and arguing that people are ignorant of the Truth. Information, Biography – On the Life and Death of Socrates (The Last Days of Socrates by Plato).

22 thoughts on “Philosophy Course 605 at The University of Cambodia–Readings on Plato and The Greeks

  1. That is a cynical and frivolous statement. I am looking for constructive suggestions. Maybe, my friends like CLF and Conrad can come up with some. Here at UC we are concerned with governance, critical thinking, ethics and moral issues. We want our students to have character and integrity. –Din Merican

  2. Quote:- “That is a cynical and frivolous statement”

    Let’s look at the political leaders who did the politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford University.

    … Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand;

    … Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar; Malaysia.

    Cynical, yes. Frivolous?, ask Mahathir.

    ________________
    Mahathir? He is the very antithesis of what I am trying to teach my students. And you are a cynic like him in terms of values–Din Merican

  3. Truth, my dear friend, is Relative. Even Einstein will be stymied.

    In Physics, I have this fascination of the particle-wave duality and the collapse of wave function, the Observer’s paradox (and other quantum scale ‘mechanics’) and so on..
    In mathematics, the language of Science – we have not resolved many ‘conjectures’ and come to screeching confusion whenever Godel’s Incompleteness theorem (Logic is a failure) is mentioned. The Copenhagen School of Quantum Mechanics and The Standard Model may not stand up to the test of Time. So let’s forget about hard physics for a while ‘cuz this writer ought not to quote from things that are beyond his Ken. The Universal Truth is surely more puzzling than say the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ in Biology or Geology. I am content with some Pythagorean philosophy here – The Monad (or in my case Triune) or some such.

    So i think the aim of all philosophical discussions, should be aimed at making the ‘better man’ in whatever endeavor or situation/environment he finds himself in. The Pursuit of Happiness is not what it seems. For that, i refer the readers here to Darrin McMahon’s book of the same title.

    Let’s start with some basics or Fundamentals of “Good and Evil” in Human Interactions:


    ________________
    Thanks for your input. –Din

  4. Din, Take it easy. Wayne is just being practical and trying to make the topic interesting. I had a good long laugh over it and when I am typing out the response I still could not control my laughter when my eyes accidentally glance thru’ his remark. We all do need this laughter medicine and a good break from all the seriousness and grievances.
    Well at our local stable the country political scene have deeply influenced and thoroughly converted the masses to go off on a tangent from the idealistic view offer in the education materials in governance. On the subject of critical thinking , ethics and morals for modern day governance Wayne did offer you good examples in Malaysia ( take it in jest ) but personally I have also became quite cynical. What we have learned in all our tutorial and great historians passed down are not realistic in modern days as there are too many interaction of factors that do not allow pure governance into play.
    In every big super power country Money Talks — sorry that may look pedestrian in academic view but it is a reality. Sorry there goes the beliefs in character building from academic institution.
    _______________
    John,

    That is your experience, not mine. I grew up in a different time. The University of Malaya was a real university in 1960 when I enrolled. Now it is just a high school staffed UMNO selected kampong professors.I had a well round education at the Penang Free School.

    I am sorry, I have no time for cynicism as I take my teaching assignment and my students seriously. The University of Cambodia is a young institution, only 12 years old. We are committed to excellence in education and we pay a lot if emphasis on humanities and philosophy premised on the belief that ideas drive creativity and innovation.

    I do not give a damn about what our educators and politicians do to young Malaysians anymore. I only care for my students and will give them my best effort. With years of experience and continuing education, I have plenty to share with these enthusiastic and curious students.One day I know Cambodia will overtake Malaysia at the rate our corrupt UMNO leaders are doing things.–Din Merican

    • I share your views Dato, I wish I can be in the same boat as yourself. Warmest salam
      _____________
      Dato,

      Great to hear from you and to know that you are well. I am okay as a simple professor in Kemboja. –Din Merican

  5. John Lee,
    Talking about Comic Reiief, One got to salute Monty Python team. And again John Cleese and Michael Palin (Not Sarah Palin’s brother) aren’t jokers. I have mentioned many times before in this blog that dead parrot skit originated from Ancient Greece

    Meanwhile Adam Curtis of BBC did came out with the The Trap documentary which is kinda opposite of what Socrates espouses.

    Or perhaps, I am a dumb dumb…….Meanwhile, John Cleese, an atheist got something to say about the Lupus aka CL Flamiaris

  6. Money Talks? But Money is Virtual is it not? Fiat Currency and all that?

    In my zero power vocabulary, money is a Tool not to be used cynically. That’s why “Cash is King” is so abhorrent to 90% of ‘normal’ folks. The remaining 10% are at the tail ends of a distribution curve.

    Ultimately, ideology – whether in politics, religion or some other human endeavor/utility always trumps “money and gold”. The Romans did try to buy, so did the Chinese Emperors and look what it got them? Barbarians. The West and East are the same in this. All the money in the world could not defeat the Commies in Vietnam or Cambodia. Neither Iran nor other parts of MENA.

    Basically, i think the Corruption of Capitalism, by Big Corporates will do Any Civilization in. Globalized dung-heap. I still favor a decentralized heterodox economy and dignitas humanae to whatever degree that the future citizens can tolerate. Yet Wars, Pestilence, Disequilibrium will persist.

    St Peter said “Silver and Gold, I have not. But what I have, I Give to You.”
    Obviously, Simon Magus, the Samaritan charlatan was not listening. Thus the Sin of Simony. Jibros Acts.

  7. Plato is a wonderful subject because he is the breath that gave life to the Western canon(s). All of these great ideals we claim we want or claim to champion or aspire to, in one way or another come from the concepts of this philosopher.

    So while it is easy to resort to cynicism it is wise to remember that that great nations were built on the foundations of these ideas by flawed men who at one time colonized the whole planet and radically changed the political eco systems not to mention various societies to what they are today.

    Not to mention that Universities are the perfect grounds to breed future leaders – just look at Singapore , where they encourage their students to explore the more esoteric subjects if only to make their minds nimble and at the same time impose certain values in future cadres – ok this last part I don’t really approve of but…..anyways,

    When it comes to Plato your students should read Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers or they could hear the audio book here (on Plato) :

    While I think that CLF raises a good point about the (possible) utility of philosophical discussions, what I have always found interesting in any type of philosophical discussion is the gradual realization that there is a difference between truth and fact with participants at various times conflating the two.

    Who are we , where do we come from and where do we go from here, are the deeper metaphysical questions that science can’t answer but in the end are important for us as individuals but more importantly as a people.

  8. To put things into perspective, Plato is borned in a cash is king world. The same applies to the Chinese culture during the same rough period.

    I am quite sure we could all agree that Plato has impacted Lee Kuan Yew. Sure wish Tun Mahathir learn a little bit more about Plato.

    For KJ, alas… he chose Machiavelli.

  9. I think almost all Universities and business tertiary education institutions, lack a course in ‘Experiential’ studies, where the students are exposed to Real life situations and problem solving. Although Medicine, Law and the professions have practical internships, Business studies and the Arts/Social Sciences-Humanities need more application based real time developmental appliances and problem solving. Thesis and course-work projects are insufficient to develop ‘experience’.

    Harvard, Kellogg and some of the US schools are in the forefront, but most of it involves passive listening. Philosophy is a good starting point, but nothing beats a hands on experience. Most Asian schools teach hard-core stuff and i think we need to ramp up the soft core or software part of it.

    Btw Conrad the Kantian questions are best left out of Business curriculum. Some might end up with the idea that ‘Cash is god’! Cheers.

  10. “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”
    ― Guy Debord

    And worse in Malaysia, from representation to association of the selected few.

  11. If truth is relative is it even meaningful to talk about ‘truth’ at all? And if truth, standards of right or wrong is to be defended by social standards, how can anybody claim something is ultimately wrong? The person who is accused of doing wrong can always justify his actions if he is supported by someone else or a group, hence providing a basis of “socially accepted standard”. Hence any action is possible to be categorized as “good” as long as there is some support.

  12. Din,

    Quote:- “….the belief that ideas drive creativity and innovation”

    One of my guiding “philosophy” in life and practical living in any environment, which at its fundamental level, is the ability to gauge subconscious human behavior in social and organisational settings. Get that right and you’ll have good people working for you and no bad people working against you.

    It is so simple. It is simply to see how a certain person behaves towards other people from whom no benefit of whatever kind, immediate or contingent, can or could be derived. In other words Cash is not King. These kind of people are rarer than pink diamonds.

    About “ideas”, “creativity” & “innovation”, it took John Lee to see the purpose and humor behind my “cynical” “Cash is King” salvo. I was hoping for a more studied response because the best way to stimulate discussion is to ask or say something outlandish, and how people respond to that shows the level of “creativity” & “innovation”, if any.

    Actually the comment “Cash is King” is entirely apt here because after all the serious and lengthy philosophical ruminations the question, (implied in my “So?”), at the end of the day is will a person throw all that out of the window when offered “cash”, lots of it, keeping in mind that one of the fundamental concerns of philosophy is to arrive at the “Truth” however one may define it.

    Perhaps at the end of your philosophy course ask your students many of whom will be Cambodia’s future political and business leaders this question, “So, will you remember all this if and when one day you are offered lots of cash?”

    Their answers, if not creative or innovative, should at least be interesting given that at the present moment Cambodia is relatively a poor country.
    _____________
    Wayne, I overreacted to your “Cash is King”statement. I never thought of cash as anything more than the money I earn through honest work. My late mother taught me that the honest dollar was the best dollar. She urged me to be a person who loved learning and would not bring discredit to our family name. I will do my best for these Cambodian students passing on to them the values she lived by and the advice I got from my teachers and professors and mentors (Ghazalie Shafie, Ismail Ali and Tan Siew Sin). –Din Merican

  13. “I was hoping for a more studied response because the best way to stimulate discussion is to ask or say something outlandish, and how people respond to that shows the level of “creativity” & “innovation”, if any.”

    Wayne, normally I read your post because you take the time to write and engage with the subject matter. Most of the time you compose and articulate your ideas unlike some folks who just spit out a few sentences and think they are contributing.

    However this is perhaps the most banal explanation for trolling I have read. And I’m not buying John Lee’s explanation either. Creatively or innovatively dealing with trolls may amuse the peanut gallery but does nothing to create an atmosphere of conviviality or any kind of interesting discussion.

    If you wanted to make a point about the more materialistic instincts of Man versus whatever superficial idealism that philosophical discussions or the subject tends to bring out , then you should have just made it.

    It is a perfectly valid point , indeed should any form of “software” – to use a CLF term – be taught when the nature of commerce , productivity and capitalism is evolving at the pace that it is.

    That would have been an interesting discussion. Even better if you were familiar with the subject matter and rejecting it on an intellectual and practical basis.

    But whatever, it’s an open board and one is free to say what he or she wants to.

  14. Din,

    Quote:- “I will do my best for these Cambodian students…”

    I am sure you will.

    I do envy you for having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the nation building process in moulding the eager young minds of an old but up and coming country, unlike some neighboring countries which are down and going.

    Who knows among your students may be a future PM who name a road after you?

  15. Din,
    Hope your student would appreciate this wiki quote also as you embark many young minds in search of ‘truth’, especially in light of Cambodia’s plight also.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosopher_king
    Karl Popper blamed Plato for the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century, seeing Plato’s philosopher kings, with their dreams of ‘social engineering’ and ‘idealism’, as leading directly to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler (via Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx).

    It has been awhile. But, I don’t recall Plato said much on the process of identifying an ideal of Philosopher King.

    Plato’s ‘Philosopher King’, and Confucius ‘Junzi’ has just simply caused so much pain/headache. *Hint* *Hint* bringing in Confucius in .. with strong reason to illustrate political situation in the most populous nation in the world.

    Speaking of which, Trump is so philo-un-sophy, and un-Junzi… yet so much fun.

  16. Knowing oneself and developing self to be of worldly good encapsulates the very essence of philosophy. Simple virtuous living gives practical value to literal philosophy which is too dense and complex for ordinary minds to delve into and appreciate.

    For me nothing beats the learning of good philosophical living better than what an octogenarian friend of mine expressed and explained through the acronym PROSE.

    P for Pray (or meditate or reflect). This brings calmness to the mind and constantly reminds one to think good and do good.

    R for Reading. This makes one knowledgeable about what is happening around and beyond oneself. It expands your knowledge and develops in you critical thinking that can help in differentiating what is truth, half-truth and untruth and what is sheer propaganda. It makes you a lively person to converse with, exchange ideas and seek opinion, where necessary.

    O for Organisation. Learning to keeps things neat and clean and in order whether at home or workplace or elsewhere contributes to productive work and efficiency. Organisation calls for some pre-planning, be it shifting home, undertaking a journey, attending an interview or giving a speech etc.

    E for Exercise. Daily exercise keeps your body healthy giving you longer and productive life. Healthy body also leads to healthy mind.

    S for Smile. Learning to smile and keeping a smiling face facilitates easy communication with others. It makes us look friendly, approachable and gracious. Giving way to others, acknowledging the delivery man, road sweeper, the security guard or a counter staff with a greeting or smile does immense to oneself and others we are acknowledging.

  17. Wayne: Cash is still King.

    Whose cash? If it’s yours or mine, then cash ofrom the Public Purse is the Mother of the King. Follow Zahid’s latest “official” visit to Jakarta on FMT by Shahbudin.
    The
    Assuredly Malay dignity has not been trampled by a Javanese (I almost type Java man) who has learned a lot from the Bugis, the first visible exponent of the Wayne School of Hard Cash paradigms, with a slight variation – “Yours not Mine”

    You are, however, partially right in that there is no compelling need for philosophical introspections at all – for our current breed of politicians, I must presume. And this forces me to conclude in a roundabout manner the utter futility of introducing any discipline that requires cerebrations of the abstract, and little wonder Philosophy is, hitherto, a dirty word in Malaysian academia.

    Down with Plato because he makes us poor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.