Monday, June 27, 2011

Aristotle: Regarding our changing culture.

Aristotle defined political science as the science of the soul.  The following is part of the discussion.

"Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a good judge.  And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round education is a good judge in general." - Nicomachean Ethics, I.3

So far so good, but Aristotle makes an exception:

"Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life ... since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable ..."  

Our society, however, only teaches the young with regard to political science in college.  But there is one more exception in this paragraph:

"For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit, but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit."

But what happens if we put ourselves in the shoes of the young and incontinent?  They will likewise see the wise and experienced as being irrational and governed by passions of intolerance.

Aristotle's claim is that the greatest thing that a politician can do is to use his office to affect the souls of men for the better.  Now that the incontinent are ruling much of the legislatures and hold most of the judge positions, where does that lead?  Ah, but the old vote in greater numbers.  Will they not bring some wisdom to our political system?  That is true, but unfortunately the current retirement systems have transferred the livelihood of the old from their families to the government, so that the incontinent who run the government can threaten them if they do not vote properly.  The road to destruction seems both well worn and inevitable.

Re-reading the Nicomachean Ethics, I am impressed with how it is a truly amazing work, yet at the same time the content had slipped almost entirely from my mind.  Reviewing the earlier notes that I made is a reminder of the content, but I couldn't have remembered any of them if I hadn't written and saved them.  The memory must be slowly going.

6 comments:

Delirious said...

Check out what kind of graduates Yale divinity school it creating: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/21/my-take-bible-condemns-a-lot-so-why-focus-on-homosexuality/

Looney said...

I had been thinking to include some quotes from the book(s) of Maccabees. Do Mormons look at the Apocrypha? It tells of the time in the 2nd century BC when a theocracy of pure depravity - the sort that Yale Divinity School and CNN are promoting - ruled over Israel. It was one of the most brutal and desperate in all Jewish history.

Max Coutinho said...

Hello Looney,

I agree with Aristotle when he says we can only judge what we know well. But I do not totally agree when he says that a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures, because this does not apply to all young men.
Yes, youth is famous for its passions and arrogance but not all young people yield to negative emotions (and I have had the honour to know a few, from around the world).

"But what happens if we put ourselves in the shoes of the young and incontinent? They will likewise see the wise and experienced as being irrational and governed by passions of intolerance."

When the youth perceives the wise and experienced as being irrational and intolerant then it proves exactly what Aristotle is saying: its mind is incontinent for it has failed to read the wiseman beyond its flaws. To be able to recognise wisdom and brilliance, in an older person that occasionally expresses his/her frustrations in a more fiery fashion, is an ode to Reason.
Furthermore, if a young person insists upon the negative side of older people, chances are that this being will grow up & older as intolerant as he/she was when younger. Then what kind of older people (and example) will society have?

"Now that the incontinent are ruling much of the legislatures and hold most of the judge positions, where does that lead?"

It leads to where we are right now: social and economic crisis.

"Ah, but the old vote in greater numbers. Will they not bring some wisdom to our political system?"

Not if they have remained incontinent since youth.

It is true that the old vote in greater numbers; even in Portugal. But here the old do not bring wisdom to our political system, because most of them didn't even have the chance to be incontinent (since many of them do not even have the 9th grade). That being said, if the youth hadn't gone to vote this year, the old would've put the socialists back in power.

I am going to acquire this book - vital reading.

lol Looney, don't worry...I don't think there is anything wrong with your memory...

Cheers

Delirious said...

The prophet Joseph Smith wondered if he should translate the apocrypha, so prayed to ask God this question. In response, he received this answer that is now part of our "Doctrine and Covenants":

"1Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly;

2There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men.

3Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated.

4Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;

5And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;

6And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated. Amen" Doctrine and Covenants 91

I personally haven't studied, but I'm thinking that I should at some point.

Rummuser said...

This is a debate that has been going on here for quite some time. For many years, post school education heavily oriented towards, Engineering, Medicine, Commerce etc and liberal arts or as they used to be called Humanities, took a back seat. Liberal Arts which include, Economics, Politics, History, Philosophy, Literature etc is now making a grand come back with the young deciding that they have better things to learn in that stream. Sadly, not enough good teachers are available though. I suppose that things have not changed much from the time of Aristotle to now!

The Political class, mostly lawyers in your country, is a different ball game altogether than what we have here. Some times, I wonder if our political class ever went beyond the three Rs.

Coming to the question of politicians affecting the souls of men for the better, I do believe that it is completely out of character in the present age. I doubt that in Aristotle's time the politician was anything remotely like the present day, venal, self seeking, megalomaniac.

The young are disillusioned because, the older generations have let them down. It is as true here as with you.

Rummuser said...

And, if your memory is going kaput, mine has gone away completely.