Thursday, September 08, 2005

Unto Each Their Own

Chris Reed
September 6, 2005
Response: “Are the young or old better equipped to philosophize?”

- Unto Each Their Own -

The Republic of Plato immediately addresses the issue of age affecting the quality of one’s philosophy. Plato makes Socrates’ views plain on this subject: “For my part, Cephalus, I am really delighted to discuss with the very old…since they are like men who have proceeded on a certain road that perhaps we too will have to take, one ought, in my opinion, to learn from them what sort of road it is (328e).” However, in his next series of explorations of this topic, he goes on to debunk his own view on this theory of the ‘wisdom of the old’.
It is true, as Socrates states, that an older individual has most often had the chance to see more of the world. This life experience provides them with a strong basis for their personal convictions and shapes them based on their findings. Socrates might even argue that this time spent as a conscious being would refine them and their sense of philosophy. However, every individual is only best-equipped to create and follow their own individual philosophy in life, and no other is more qualified nor equipped to impose a philosophy upon a sentient creature than itself. Cephalus promptly reports on Sophocles, a poet who in his old age felt liberated from certain evils as his sex drive diminished as is characteristic with age: “’Sophocles…can you still have intercourse with a woman?’…’most joyfully did I escape it, as though I had run away from a sort of frenzied and savage master (329c).’” Any young man would scorn Sophocles’ philosophy as simply a negative effect of old age, his impotence saving him from such a ‘master’. The young, it seems, would be best left to create their own philosophy, which would most likely not label the influences of desire as being under the influence of a savage master.
Thus, the theory of any sentient being having a better sense of philosophy than any other is completely awry. Wisdom and life experience only justly refines and tunes one’s personal philosophy. There is no justice nor logic in any being having their personal philosophy, no matter how ‘learned’, imposed on another on this or any basis. This philosophy for the preservation of individuals’ rights to create, deny, or live by their own set of morals and personal beliefs is a philosophy that most closely adapts the ideals and bases of modern-day anarchy.
The concept of a government or other ruling body (perhaps best embodied by the degeneration of the Greek Republic into a kingship in The Republic of Plato) inherently violates the idea of free spirit and philosophy on a personal basis. Thus, the concept of anarchy is set forth as the ultimate goal for human satisfaction, as it allows one to be only governed by their own morals and principles.
In inherent violation, too, of this idea is the concept of religion. Religion sets forth morals and other philosophies to its ‘followers’, but this contradicts the idea of every being having the best preparation to create their own personal philosophy. Religions and governments could have been created as humans sacrificed some areas of their fates as individuals to be protected in a covenant of relatively like-minded individuals. As soon as a band of hunters was formed and they began to delegate who must hunt, where, and when, these personal philosophies were infringed upon. A pact, agreement, or covenant regarding the definition or administration of morality, rights, laws, or justice stands against my theory of ultimate self-satisfaction being achieved through self-guidance as each person being their own best philosopher.


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