Reply To: What is philosophy?

  • Encyclios

    April 3, 2023 at 8:20 AM

    Philosophy as the Practice of Wisdom

    The theme of philosophy as the search for and practice of wisdom appears in its most specific form in the Epicurean and Stoic schools, and can also be found in the Cynics, Cyrenaics, and Skeptics. The new emphasis of philosophy lies in the assumption that truth exists in the function of the self, and that the attainment of individual happiness (and independence) is the most important goal in life. These philosophies arise in connection with the crisis of the ancient city and express the desire of the individual to withdraw into his personal peace. However, philosophy isn’t reduced to ethics; the Epicureans consider both physics and the canon (theory of knowledge) to be its necessary premises, and even the Stoics place logic and physics alongside ethics. Nevertheless, the goal is to achieve the happiness of the individual.

    These forms of rational wisdom are soon overtaken by typically religious wisdom, which is not only concerned with happiness, but rather with individual salvation. And philosophy acquires a religious and soteriological nuance: philosophy begins to be identified with religion, since the search for truth doesn’t seem to be attainable through a logical-rational examination, but it tries to be fulfilled in the form of a superior knowledge (γνῶσις) that comes from ineffable and divine realities. A strong religious inspiration pervades Neoplatonism, which will mainly try to present itself as a return to Plato: the transcendence of divinity, the division between the tangible and the intangible world, but with a dynamic connection between the two in the context of a deeper unity. In the later Neoplatonists, the assimilation of pagan mythology and mysterious, magical rituals will become more prominent.