November 10, 1998
ince the beginning of time, humankind found inspiration and meaning in responding to the awesome beauty and power of life. Many great philosophers understood these powerful experiences as linking them to something transcendent - to some powers or reality that is beyond their common experience and knowledge. Philosophy has always been a mystical science, yet not a precise one. Most of the theories were left to interpretation, and some of them were explained by famous philosophers. Philosophy compels people to wonder about differences between creation in nature and creation by man, between seeing oneself as a creature of creation and seeing oneself as a creator. Hephaestus asked, "What do people want from one another? They were never able to explain"(33). There was always a great aspiration to become connected with one another, to become a whole. A question comes, what is love? Plato answered it for us a long time ago with the words, "the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love" (33).
oth ancient and modern philosophers questioned to what degree does knowledge determine one's choice of values. Yeshayahu Leibowitz a contemporary Israeli philosopher, argues that knowledge and science are indifferent to values, and therefore it is impossible to argue the significance of any value based on objective scientific data. He thinks that even if the facts show something that one does not necessarily agree with, one will reject it and person's choice of values would not be based on those facts. On the other hand Plato thinks that God Zeus did in fact divided people in two and now they are wondering around the earth in the search for the other half. And from Plato's belief, a lot of people agree with that legend and maybe even afraid to argue otherwise. "It reminds us of fear, whether it be of the Gods or physical nature, ultimately gives rise to a self-defeating conservatism" (45). This is a quote from "The Nature of Promethean Ethics" where Prometheus talks about that even if one does not believe in God, one would still be afraid of His punishment. The myth about Zeus dividing people in two has a very important message which says that people will still believe in something that is above them, something that they can not explain.
nother interesting myth is "Pandora's Box" where hope was the only feeling that was left in the box. The power of love and hope for love will always exist in the human souls, even if there is nothing else left. It is a very common belief that somewhere out there, there is someone waiting for everyone and eventually two ones will come together to make a whole. The element of two ones becoming a whole is only a subject that is on the surface, but it rises a much deeper question. It is "the belief of that there is a transcendent benevolent God standing outside the world who guarantees that things will always work out for the best" (45).
ooking from Jewish perspective on that unanswered question, one might even understand it better. Proving that God exists is hardly a commonplace process. God is not a physical entity, therefore looking at him or touching him can not prove His existence. Yet, while the direct proof of God may be beyond man's abilities, an indirect approach is certainly possible. It can be done through a matter of belief, the same way that we believe in something better, higher than humans. It is common sense that no human being could have created the earth, it must have been a higher, being which we tend to call God. God, then does not want to force man to believe in Him. God doesn't want man to act like a robot unable to make independent decisions. That is why He created free will, which is perhaps his attempt not revealing himself more obviously to the world. "If miracles were commonplace and the Divine presence was indisputably observable, man would have no choice but to agree that God rules the world" (Gevirtz, 61). It is not God's goal to make us belief in him; it is our goal to accept him on the leap of faith. That is believed to be the ultimate task of our life.
striking question ascents, why God created the world? There is a limit to how deeply we can probe, but philosophers give us some insight into this question. To the best of our understanding, God created the world as an act of love. It was an act of love so immense that the human mind cannot begin to fathom it. God created the entire world as a vehicle upon which he could bestow His good. But God's love is so great that any good that He bestows must be the greatest good possible. Anything less would simply be not enough. The ultimate good that God can bestow on his creation is God himself. There is not greater good than achieving a degree of unity with the Creator Himself.
inding love for God, his love for people and love for one another is the absolute purpose in our life. Love is the stongest; most powerful feeling that one can experience. It does not have any boundaries or limits. It would only make sense if love would be our way in and out of the world. With love life begins and ends. The main point in our life is to search for the object of our affection, onto which we shall spread our love.
here are three moments in life when one really can feel that one comes in touch with the entity one does not understand. These moments are when a child is born, when a man is dying, and when one makes love. In all three moments one can feel that he or she understands nothing but feels everything. Each person who is born is unique. There never has been such a person before and there never will be. And if each of us can touch and feel uniqueness within ourselves, then we can start to understand creation. In the "Tao Teh Ching" it talks about absolute truth, all the answers to the unlimited questions about life and its beginning that are within us. "In order to recall the Beginning of all things. How do I know the way of all things at the Beginning? By what is within me." ( Ching, 21) We ourselves are the keys to all the questions in the vast search for the truth and direction in life. No one else knows ourselves better than we do, therefore, the search should start and end on the inside.
verything that Plato talks about are and were the major concerns of philosophers. Philosophy is trying to answer the everlasting question. What is the purpose of life? And Plato in his Symposium hypotheses about the answer and so do many other greater philosophers.
"f Zeus no longer rules, then previous oaths are invalid: recall a statement that only fear of the gods provides guarantee that oaths will be kept" (142). Another question that philosophers were asking is what do we as humans fear in life? It is not physical death that we fear so much as spiritual failure. We fear that we will be trapped in vast expanses and our sense of self will be lost, our fragile ego's relationship with the outer world will be shattered. Everybody is involved in visible struggle to maintain the "self" every day in the changing environment of our life. We are afraid of being truly alone, face to face with ourselves and many might shiver from the emptiness that will find within. Love can take us beyond ourselves into the infinity of time and space that offers clarity of vision, honesty and simplicity. The power of love is in fostering radically different approach to life.
very human being must reach onto himself to find his reason for existing. Throughout life, a person is exposed to many different values. He judges for himself which to accept and which to reject. In the evolution of values, later stages merge with earlier ones, often combining and leaving no individual traces. The choice of values takes place internally, and can only occur through inspiration and enlightenment, the kind of inspiration one can only experience with love. Ancient philosophy can help immensely in shaping our opinion about life in our days and finding a way to connect it to modern life. Socrates said, "Love is, after all, a realm halfway between mortality and immortality; and love is in love with what one lacks and does not possess" (31). There is something lacking in us and when we find our other half we do become a whole in the literary sense of the word. The point being that whatever aspect one might choose to explain longing for the perfection and completeness; a person feels it very strongly. The feeling is so mesmerizing that at that momentum one can actually understand why it is the absolute incentive for living. At that point one realizes that all the suffering in the world is worth just a second of love. There is a legend about the bird that sings once in its life and then falls on the sharpest thorn and dies. For a beautiful song a bird pays the price of life. But when the bird sings, the whole world holds still to listen to the song and God smiles in Heaven for it is so breathtaking. Since the greatest happiness in life has a price of an excruciating suffering.
hilosophy is the kind of science that may never cease to exist, since everyday we are faced with different dilemmas and new questions. The goal of philosophy may not be to choose one value or another, but to find a new balance; a new way of living which is created out of different ones. "So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man" (32). So said Plato and so was created the entire world, and until one finds the other half, the world would not cease to exist.
Tzu, Lao.Tao Teh Ching. # 21.
Dillon, Matthew. By Gods, tongues, and dogs: the use of oath in Aristophanic comedy.
In Greece & Rome Oct 1995, v42, n2, p135(17).
Gevirtz, Rabbi Eliezer. A guide to Torah Hashkofoh: Questions and Answers on Judaic
Griffith, Michael A. Left-hand horses, winged souls. (Metaphor in Plato's 'Phaedrus').
In the Midwest Quarterly Autumn 1996, v38, n1, p31(10).
Kohl, Marvin. The nature of Promethean Ethics. (Philosopher's Column).
In The Humanist Jan-Feb 1996, v56, n1, p45(2).
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