28 November 2014

Clemens' Notebook: The Uses of Philosophy

Peter Green, The Hellenistic Age (p.118) speaks of the intellectual changes in the Hellenistic Age, a time of troubles, defeat, and social change.

"... to a remarkable degree all Hellenistic creeds, from Stoicism to the counterculture of the Cynics, were agreed that, as Xenocrates (head of the Academy 339-315) put it, in the immediate aftermath of Chaeronea and the collapse of the Achaemenid empire, '[the] reason for discovering philosophy is to allay that which causes disturbance in life.' The full implications of this attitude are not always appreciated. What such statements - and they came to be a commonplace - imply is a kind of intellectual tsunami, a universal disaster from which philosophy must attempt to salvage what it can, and for the survivors of which it sets out to provide some kind of makeshift comfort."

It was certainly needed, as new creeds would be needed in the Late Antique, but could this not also be seen as a fellow traveler to the Buddhist goal of overcoming 'suffering', dukkha? Or is it speaking on a scale larger than an individual's suffering?


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