Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, August 1, 2016

Peripatetic Politics

There seems to be a Cartesian dualism that occurs when one walks. One is aware of one’s self and mind yet, simultaneously understands their relationship to the external environment. This converts into the Platonic/Aristotelian split accordingly.  
The platonic camp refers to Socrates’ question originating out of Heraclitus’ Panta Rhei, “What is the self?” The Aristotelian camp, the extroverted, empiricist. My impression is that Aristotle thinks scientifically, as positioning our bodies in a proprioceptive form identical to a global positioning system that utilizes the x, y, and z-axes. Maybe most don’t walk this way; perhaps they are more captivated by the amazing colors in the sky. Plato would see these as signs of mysticism; Aristotle views them as indications of our deteriorating atmosphere.
What follows from this is our relationship to the minds that surround us. This is a conception that follows the next stage in Descartes’ theory, the journey out of solipsism or skepticism and into affirmation of one’s own existence, and includes Plato’s idea of the Republic, and contains Aristotle’s “self-governing polis”, (the reducible philosophic consciousness alluded to at the inception of this class, the first judgment postulated containing the “mathematical” connection between humanitarian ethics and the current political structure.)  
Attempting to make some sort of sense out of this dualistic notion of existence, placed on either end of the scale was an idea and then there was the placing of another in a drastic, converse relationship. The scale teeters, drawing connections or a physical balance of metaphysical ideas for a recurrent theme that runs (or walks) throughout this past semester, searching for an idea known a posteriori, or after the scale has balanced, (Aristotle would be proud).  Arrived at is the theory of Law. This book has discussed a myriad of political theories.
This brings us instantly to Chapter 20, on pg. 343, “God, Kings, and Philosophers in the Age of Genius”, the second quote is by John Locke, “Where law ends, tyranny begins.”  This is the basic governing principle that exists in nature, although maybe not mathematical. The conclusion reached is that there is some sort of social organization needed to govern the mass amount of people. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s social contract theory created in 1761 is the perfect representation of the humanitarian ethics that is existent in nature that dictates our political behavior aforementioned in my somewhat tangential posts. Originated from the thought that every human being in its natural state has rights, and in order for people to not have their rights infringed upon, they need to forfeit some of their rights to ensure that they are protected.  Yet another illustration just a few pages (steps) forward is Locke’s theory of natural law: “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; and Reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it.”
There is supplemental confirmation of this by Karl Popper in his argument against Historicism on pg. 538, Popper argues against Plato saying that his political ideas were irrational and dangerous in their contribution to historicism. Popper argues that:
“First, it destroy the notion of free will. It wrecks the notion that the future depends on us and the consequences of our own individual actions- the same principle, in fact, that William James had been arguing for on the other side of the Atlantic. Second, it encourages men to think they can use these laws to build a better future for society than if men are left to themselves.”  
So, free will and the natural state are two things affirmed so far. So man, should be left to himself and remain only in his natural state? Was the Cro-Magnon man a better political entity than myself? I think those leisurely strolls in the Woods of the Battlefield are a little bit better for something other than my health after all.
So, alas, the light of reason and the good in itself is reached. Reason, the same vehicle that helped us travel out of the cave, is the Good in itself. It is highly contestable that this naturally good, innate sense of reason is really “soul stuff” and that it most likely is not organized in a “4:4:2:1” sequence. Pythagoras might differ in his viewpoint. Is this an Aristotelian perspective? It is suggested that Aristotle would want us to walk around in the cave and explore. To take Plato’s cave analogy further, as philosophers, we shouldn’t be content to just sit at the top, we use the vehicle that allowed us to transfer to continue to transfer. Possibly giving that same method to another, to allow them to be able to move about in their life as well. “I walk, therefore I am”. The division between Aristotle and Plato doesn’t need to be one of anger or competition. The only sort of competition needed is to compare and contrast each until you are able to reach your own internal balance.  The two schools of thought can be combined to produce a strong self-realization. This would be William James Pragmatism at work. The division of the The Tender-Minded: Rationalistic, Intellectualistic, Idealistic, Optimistic, Religious, Freewillist, Monistic, Dogmatical and the The Tough Minded: Empiricist, Sensationalistic, Materialistic, Pessimistic, Irreligious, Fatalistic, Pluralistic, Skeptical.
            So, now we have created a Pragmatic Being, given him the vehicle of reason to travel, peripatetically, and can postulate, that his/her actions would act accordingly with the instinctive goodness found within others. Perhaps this is Plato’s Philosopher King, just not through Popper’s perspective.
When someone goes about the task of doing philosophy they are essentially traveling. They are traveling from one idea to the next in a sort of dance, walk, or mental movement. The purpose and arguably the soul of philosophy are to travel. To be at one location, take a chance and find an alternate way to reach whatever destination one wants to find.
What is realized is that philosophy is merely emulation, concentrated within the mind, of the daily journey or motivating force existent in the human psyche. Whether we are going to work, walking in the store, getting exercise, we are all motivated to achieve a goal. Philosophy is that energy harnessed. Would it be really much of a discovery to conclude that the best way to be a better human according to philosophers would be to undergo the same experience that the philosophers underwent in the creation of their ideas?
The conclusion is reached that all we have to do is simply relax and remain in our natural state, and feel the natural pull of human motivation to exist as good human beings. We should strive for a higher existence than this though; we should attempt to understand the motivations of others. What brings them on their walking journey? What are they walking towards or away from?

An internal peripatetic journey has transpired. One mostly existent within my own mind, walking on strands of nerve fibers and neurons, looking to increase new synapses, and the destruction of a few by the consumption of beer after these walks. Concomitantly an external pilgrimage has occurred as well. I am able to understand myself in relation to others; the strongest way of doing this is simply just going for a walk. 


  1. The Platonic/Cartesian "journey out of solipsism or skepticism and into affirmation of one’s own existence" is unnecessary on Aristotelian premises, isn't it? Score that one for A, I say.

    I suppose you could say that Rousseau alleges a "humanitarian ethics that is existent in nature" but I read him more as denying the need for an explicit formulation of ethics or assertion of personal rights in his version of the state of nature where people are "born free" and stay that way. (Easy for him to say, not having to actually live in a s of n.) You rightly remind us that our primitive Cro-Magnon predecessors didn't really enjoy such a good or lengthy life.

    Ambulando, ergo sum: nice!

    The trouble with philosopher-kings, of course, is their royal presumption in telling others how to live - even if it's the royalty of reason.

    "The purpose and arguably the soul of philosophy are to travel" - nice again! But you can't always "reach whatever destination one wants" if you're FOLLOWING the argument where it leads non-dogmatically. A good question for all philosophers: does any thinker ever entirely follow an argument, without regard to temperamental personal preference? James said no.

    "philosophy is merely emulation, concentrated within the mind, of the daily journey" - nice modus operandi, if you can pull it off!

  2. Cody, always a pleasure to read your thoughts and analyses. "The conclusion is reached that all we have to do is simply relax and remain in our natural state, and feel the natural pull of human motivation to exist as good human beings. We should strive for a higher existence than this though; we should attempt to understand the motivations of others. What brings them on their walking journey? What are they walking towards or away from?" I couldn't agree more about attempting to understand the motivations of others. I think of that quote, "Walk a mile in my shoes, see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel, then maybe you'll understand what I do, 'till then don't judge me." The person who probably composed that got the idea while walking and reflecting on life and maybe even while having a beer :-).

  3. Good post Cody! I hope one day you'll seriously consider the idea of walking and reflecting on your life in the Big Apple! I'd probably have the beer before or afterwards lol.

  4. Cody,

    Your post brought home this class for me with this post. The concept of walking and philosophy is clearer to me now more than ever.

  5. I sometimes try to go for a walk while trying to mull over a certain idea or issue only to find that that specific isn't what my mind wants to think about. I find myself powerless. I am only able to let my mind wander over the random thoughts that it desires to fleetingly consider. How Nietzsche wrote and walked at the same time is beyond me.