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I. The Greek World View 
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Post I. The Greek World View
This thread is for discussing I. "The Greek World View." :)



Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:18 am
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Post I. The Greek World View
February 1, 2010
The Greek World View pp1-5

We can all probably agree with Socrates, “I know I know nothing.” That being said, do you think Tarnas got it right about their philosophy by saying
Quote:
“One of its most striking characteristics [is]a sustained, highly diversified tendency to interpret the world in terms of archetypal principles?. . . At its basis was a view of the cosmos as an ordered expression of certain primordial essences or transcendent first principles, variously conceived as Forms, Ideas, universals, changeless absolutes, immortal deities, divine archai, and archetypes.”


Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell taught me the definition of archetype and I can’t get my head around how Tarnas paints early Greek philosophy with the same brush. It kinda works as in I think I see his allegorical use but Form and Idea (with a capital F and I), I don’t know. It seems to me he is taking 2500 years of human assimilation of their ideas and the human conclusions down through the years and projected back onto Socrates and Plato to present their beliefs here.

The Greek World View pp 6-13

It was useful to me to learn that Plato used the words “forms and ideas” interchangeably. That makes it easier not to wrestle with deciding if he is talking about forms now or ideas?

At page 7 Tarnas concludes
Quote:
“Because Socrates and Plato believed that knowledge of virtue was necessary for a person to live a life of virtue, objective universal concepts of justice and goodness seemed imperative for a genuine ethics. Without such changeless constants that transcended the vagaries of human conventions and political institutions, human beings would possess no firm foundation for ascertaining true values, and would thus be subject to the dangers of an amoral relativism.”

Certainly this is an explanation for the crises of our times. But, I am not a scholar of philosophy, however, what readings I’ve done cause me to form the opinion that the philosophy of Socrates and Plato is grossly overrated as defining a definition for the purpose of life.

If, as Tarnas states on page 8,
Quote:
“The Platonic perspective thus asks the philosopher to go through the particular to the universal, and beyond the appearance to the essence. It assumes not only that such insight is possible, but that it is mandatory for the attainment of true knowledge.”
is true, and Plato’s Republic establishes for me that he believed it as true, a full life cannot be known by the masses. With 6 ½ billion people on earth having IQs ranging from 70 to 200, only 2 percent of the population have the intellect to derive knowledge directly from the Ideas which are infallible and have real knowledge.
It galls my concept of the value of life and is inconsistent with the reality of life I have experienced. I’ve known people with IQs of 100 who are precious, full functioning and happy human beings. I’ve known people with IQs of 175 who were drug addicts, lived an isolated and lonely life and couldn’t handle a meaningful relationship if they ate it for breakfast. In my mind a real definition of life must apply to all humans not just an elite who have gifted minds.

At page 12 Tarnas states “
Quote:
Plato never constructed a complete, fully coherent system of Ideas. Yet it is also evident that, despite his own unresolved questions concerning his central doctrine, Plato considered the theory true, and that without it human knowledge and moral activity could have no foundation.”
My saying to people who speak with such conviction is “often wrong but never in doubt.” What I hear Tarnas saying is Socrates and Plato showed us the plans of their tree house and humans throughout history have used it as the basis for all architecture. There thinking is a period study. Use what might be accurate for defining your reality today but don’t fall on your sword because someone says it must be true Plato said it.



Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:21 pm
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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Yes Lawrence I am having trouble "interpreting" this book as well. I think much of the problem stems from the aggregate nature of the book. Tarnas up to this point is not concerned with arguments for or against the theories he is presenting. He is merely regurgitating the contemporarily accepted interpretation of Greek meaning. I have yet to find synthesis or synergy rather wade through simplistic reliance on conservative interpretation greatly reducing the significance or influence of his conclusions. What this books first section looses in vision, creativity, inspiration, insight and ultimately significance has been traded for broadness, convenience, pace and breadth of scope. I would much rather read a book this thick on one of Plato's dialogues as opposed to covering such a range of topics as has been attempted in this first section. The risk here is causing one to think by mistake that he had learned something of relevance in so superficial a manner.

I will catch you on the flip side (the next section).



Last edited by Grim on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:59 pm
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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
I suspect that for purpose of discussion here the bulk of The Passion of the Western Mind will need to be treated as background and preparation for the arguments Tarnas presents in the Epilogue, on paradigm shift. Lawrence has touched on this in the Who is Richard Tarnas thread. I will try to put together a summary now of some main points from the Epilogue.



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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Grim wrote:
Yes Lawrence I am having trouble "interpreting" this book as well. I think much of the problem stems from the aggregate nature of the book. Tarnas up to this point is not concerned with arguments for or against the theories he is presenting. He is merely regurgitating the contemporarily accepted interpretation of Greek meaning. I have yet to find synthesis or synergy rather wade through simplistic reliance on conservative interpretation greatly reducing the significance or influence of his conclusions. What this books first section looses in vision, creativity, inspiration, insight and ultimately significance has been traded for broadness, convenience, pace and breadth of scope. I would much rather read a book this thick on one of Plato's dialogues as opposed to covering such a range of topics as has been attempted in this first section. The risk here is causing one to think by mistake that he had learned something of relevance in so superficial a manner.

I will catch you on the flip side (the next section).


I thoroughly agree, especially about regurgitating. There is a legend regarding Alexander the Great when he first arrived in Asia. The rulers met with him and on a bid to prevent as much damage as possible, they offered him half of everything they owned. His answer was that his intention was leaving for them whatever it was he did not care to take, not what they cared to offer him. We need to be like the Alexanders of Philosophy, if you will.
As T.J. Mawson stated, true philosophers are not beggars, humbly accepting whatever opinions are offered them by someone speaking to them from the pages of a book. They are conquerors in a dialectical battle.
I rather like this image. And I think this should be kept in mind when reading Tarnas.


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Wed Feb 03, 2010 8:39 am
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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Considering the vast amount of books currently in circulation I find it hard to accept that one should solicit opinion from any quasi-legitamate source without desiring something more...engaging.

But then again is this quasi-legitimacy not the modus operandi of the public internet forum? The very Wikipedia of intellectual sources well suited to be a "brilliant bestseller"?

The risk is that in the future one would rely solely on a single text, or those presenting themselves as having answers without bothering to show their processes believing their work to be comprehensive. That one would forget the importance of a valid argument thinking that summations and results alone are effective substitutes. It is my opinion that in this circumstance one would easily lose their ability to think critically for themselves concerning the Greek World View and be prone to acceptance of poorly reasoned, superficial and most worryingly fashionable normative applications of theoretical relationships.



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Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:09 am
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Post I. The Greek World View
Your succinct comments cause me to consider if I should apologize for recommending this book. It actually is a personal learning experience I will share with you "young bucks." I recommended the book because of my impression I had after reading it 20 years ago. What I am astounded by is the discerning spirit I have now. I agree with all of you how superficial Tarnas' work is but 20 years ago I did not have the knowledge and experience I have now.

I do look forward to what Robert Tulip is putting together. We may have sliced and diced this book in a week or two and Chris will have to find another.

I personally wish to thank each contributor to is post. I also wish to add two questions: does anyone know of a female philosopher and why have no females made a post to this discussion?

It then follows: why are there no female philosophers?



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Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:32 pm
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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Lawrence wrote:
Your succinct comments cause me to consider if I should apologize for recommending this book. does anyone know of a female philosopher and why have no females made a post to this discussion?

It then follows: why are there no female philosophers?



First of all, no need to apologize because I am indeed enjoying the reading--and being able to dissect, re-work, re-filter, apply ideas is part of what this is all about!

Secondly, as far as I know (and certainly when I last looked), I am definitely female. I think my husband would be a tad bit shocked if I weren't.


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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
I read the book well over a decade ago and don't plan to reread it now. Still, that won't stop me from making a few comments.

Overall, I was very impressed by the book as an engaging, comprehensive, and coherent overview of Western philosophy. The long section of the book discussing Christian philosophy was less interesting to me, though it's an essential component of philosophical history. As an atheist who was brought up Jewish, I can't get that excited about, for example, the difficulties of reconciling Platonic theory with Christian theology. In contrast, pre-Christian and modern philosophies included ideas that I could contemplate on their own terms.

Grim wrote:
I think much of the problem stems from the aggregate nature of the book. Tarnas up to this point is not concerned with arguments for or against the theories he is presenting. He is merely regurgitating the contemporarily accepted interpretation of Greek meaning. I have yet to find synthesis or synergy rather wade through simplistic reliance on conservative interpretation greatly reducing the significance or influence of his conclusions. What this books first section looses in vision, creativity, inspiration, insight and ultimately significance has been traded for broadness, convenience, pace and breadth of scope. I would much rather read a book this thick on one of Plato's dialogues as opposed to covering such a range of topics as has been attempted in this first section. The risk here is causing one to think by mistake that he had learned something of relevance in so superficial a manner.


That's the standard trade-off of a broader book: it covers more ground but in less depth. For a reasonable understanding of Plato's ideas, you've got to read Plato. However, for someone like myself, who's read just tiny excerpts of Plato and is unlikely to read more, an overview is better than nothing. Only very serious students of philosophy will read all the philosophers who Tarnas describes, and even for them a book like this provides some helpful context.
Grim wrote:
If, as Tarnas states on page 8,
Quote:
The Platonic perspective thus asks the philosopher to go through the particular to the universal, and beyond the appearance to the essence. It assumes not only that such insight is possible, but that it is mandatory for the attainment of true knowledge.”

is true, and Plato’s Republic establishes for me that he believed it as true, a full life cannot be known by the masses.

That brings up the general question about the point of studying philosophy. Everyone in this forum must believe that there's some benefit, or we wouldn't spend time reading books like The Passion of the Western Mind in the first place. That quote summarizes Plato's philosophical approach: finding universal truths, which he views as more essential than the concrete world we can see directly.



Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:50 pm
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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
My book finally came today. The weather has not helped I am sure.

Interesting, at least to me, is the I began reading Kevin Hart "Postmodernism" earlier today before reading the Greek chapter in this book.

Once upon a time I was a programmer and Plato and the archetypes reminds me a lot of OOP (Object Orientated Programming).

Archetypes appeal to me. I believe that they exist and that certain ones are more prevalent in some cultures than others. I am not sure if these would be "instances" of a specific archetype? It is also occured to me in reading this that certain "instances" have more appeal than others? Maybe as a reflection of the time and how the senses perceive it?

I also think that Archetypes have a power. The truer the form to it the more the power.


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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Hi Nova, I will be really interested to hear what you think of The Passion of the Western Mind. I made some comments on his discussion of archetypes in the thread on Tarnas on Paradigm Shift. Welcome to Booktalk.



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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Lawrence, it takes a lot of character to make such a post. :)

I'll follow everyone's lead. If everyone wants to start the process for selecting a new non-fiction book then please make suggestions AND comment on other people's suggestions in we-need-non-fiction-book-suggestions-for-our-next-discussion-t7852.html. We can continue on with the Tarnas book, but also add a new non-fiction book right away. Tarnas is in Feb. and March. So let's quickly select a March and April non-fiction book. This will require skipping the poll and just having an open and honest discussion of the books being suggested. Polls take too long. We should be able to select a good book within 5 days. Head to that thread to add your input please.



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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
Roger that Chris, I'm a little spooked about recommending right now but I'll certainly try to be more discerning in choosing a book appropriate for our friends on BT. And have you seen Robert Tulip's posts. Wow. If he continues you could charge admission and give graduates a degree. L



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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
I went back and read this again. The author is condensing a lot of information in this chapter.

The Goddess based religion of the people native to the area who were invaded by the Indo-European tribes with their male based world view was interesting. The fusion over time reminded me of the Christian/Pagan merging in Europe. Interesting how belief systems are either/or, male/female, and even with a fusion the dominant is the male. Perhaps because the eventual ruling class usually brings the male based model?

I was somewhat aware of the Sophists. Interesting that the author saw them as a bridge belief between the Gods and Rationality. It was also interesting how the author saw their system of defining mans purpose as a failure and destructive to the Greek world.


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Post Re: I. The Greek World View
The Philosphers Quest and the Universal Mind

My Glod! Plato was a mystic!

I have done a fair amount of reading about the Christian Mystics. I was very much struck by how Plato forward the same language is used to describe The God. I say "The God" because I am not sure what term to use that would describe what underlies them all. I do believe Plato was seeing, and describing, was the samething Christian Mystics were in touch with. The beauty of the eternal.

Page 41. The author writes about Plato and his belief that one has to overcome the separation of self from the divine. To embrace it like a lover. He goes on to describe the famous cave of illusions. To know "The God" one has to move beyond the worlds illusions. Something that Buddha, among many others, has spoken of.

Page 44. The author writes about how Plato thought these truths, visions, whatever, should be communicated indirectly. This is not unusual and repeats itself through out history.


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