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ESCRITOS CORRUPCIÓN Y PAZ COLOMBIA 2017

(y su contexto)

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El año pasado, el 2016, escribimos críticamente sobre el proceso de paz en Colombia (link ), en particular antes y después del plebiscito que ganó el “NO” contra todo pronóstico. Dicho resultado fue negado de manera anti-democrática y anti-ética. Ese es el contexto específico de los escritos que siguen a continuación.

Ahora, en el 2017, escribimos sobre la corrupción en Colombia. No es necesario ser un genio para ver la conexión entre la primera problemática y la segunda. Sin embargo, como se verá en los siguiente escritos, hay muchos que defienden la paz a como de lugar, incluso a través de medios corruptos. Consideramos también que los que creen ser los menos corruptos, pueden llegar a ser los más corruptos. Ahí el peligro omnipresente de la corrupción tanto privada como pública.

Afortunadamente, a diferencia de tantos columnistas y periodistas y demás personajes “importantes” de Colombia,  nadie nos ha pagado un peso por estos escritos. Tampoco nos han dado cargos o diplomas a través de ellos. Simplemente los hemos compartido, como los anteriores, en Facebook. Creemos que escribiremos menos y menos al respecto, simplemente porque creemos que escribiríamos palabras demasiado similares! Además sabemos que usted lector sabe mucho mejor qué hacer.

Escribimos en medio de circunstancias que algunos cercanos conocen, escribimos por amor a  Colombia y a Canadá; y sobretodo por el respeto y admiración a las palabras de Aristóteles acerca de la importancia de crear una ciudadanía ética y políticamente educada. Aristóteles, el modelo.

(Nota 1: Para tweets/tuits y columnas encontrarán el link, casi siempre, luego de una reflexión –—a veces corta, a veces larga (!)— acerca del tema.)

(Nota 2, Octubre 1 de 2017:

Y así como lo hicimos en el 2016 —–cuando dejamos de escribir por muchos meses sobre Colombia, hasta ya entrado el 2017—– ahora también dejaremos de escribir sobre Colombia hasta el 2018. Si a una sola persona le sirvió lo que escribimos durante estos largos últimos meses nos damos por bien servidos. Para nosotros es siempre un placer escribir y reflexionar. Quedan recopilados en nuestro blog.
Pero no sobra decir que se ha vuelto costumbre escribir y comentar día a día, segundo a segundo. Pero la realidad es que hay unos principios éticos y políticos que van mucho más allá del día a día. Estos principios son los que guían ahora y siempre, no dependiendo de circustancias históricas particulares, el quehacer politico. Esos principios los da Aristóteles en sus textos ético-políticos, textos que siguen y complementan la tradición inaugurada por Sócrates. Porque Sócrates se INVENTÓ el análisis filosófico de lo político. Impresionante. Y no sobra tampoco recordar que Sócrates no escribió una sola palabra, creemos, no porque le faltara tiempo para hacerlo, sino para indicar de manera inequívoca que la vida de la reflexión —la vida filosófica– es una realidad vital, una realidad de carne y hueso que nada escrito puede captar o explicitar. La reflexión permanente es un modo de vida.
Hasta el 2018, año que definirá el futuro de Colombia para siempre.)

 

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Osuna.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 7.57.56 PM

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(Añadido al final del 2017: diciembre 31.)

 

Que en el 2018 los colombianos y colombianas dejen clarito como el agua que no se van a dejar robar como en el plebiscito y que la paz de Santos ha de ser modificada fundamentalmente.
Sobretodo que sea modificada en cuanto a: a) la impunidad descarada de las no arrepentidas cabecillas de las farc con sus narcobienes, b) la reconfiguración de la triste y mal lograda JEP, c) la búsqueda de la corrupción electoral en la Presidencia de Santos, d) la persecución seria y colectiva de los narcos anti-colombianos, y e) la intervención exagerada y nada objetiva de a ONU en el futuro de Colombia.
(Como si los colombianos/as fueran niños/as que necesitan que les cojan de la mano para vivir. Háganse respetar colombianos/as. ¿No se cansan de que por fuera de su país los vean como niños y niñas?)
Que voten masivamente en contra de Santos y quienes defienden sus ideas como Vargas (y demás), y aún más en contra de quienes son hasta más extremistas como las farc y los académicos como Fajardo (y demás).
Todos tuvieron 8 años para mostrar los resultados de la paz, y no los lograron. Que no se escuden ahora en lo que siempre dijeron: “que no los dejaron.” Lo que ganaron con corrupción, no se les permitirá.
Voten colombianos/as masivamente en pro de la coalición por el NO tanto para congreso como para Presidente y Vice-Presidente.
Y que entiendan —además—- que si no lo hacen, perderán su libertad. Y la libertad una vez perdida hace indigno el vivir para ustedes como personas y para sus familias y seres queridos.

 

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Para Santos, entre más enfermo el pueblo colombiano, más su gloria como sanador.

Pero un verdadero sanador no DESEA que los que quiere estén enfermos. TODO lo contario, desea con toda su alma NUNCA —JAMÁS— tener que ser sanador.

Santos, DESEA con su alma, ser sanador. Esa es su más grande enfermedad. Porque CREERSE sanador no es lo mismo que SER sanador.

O de otra manera, el que quiera ser sanador, que primero cuente como fue de enfermo.

Santos –según él mismo— nunca ha estado enfermo. De allí su soberbia. No lo sabe Santos, pero su soberbia es su enfermedad.

Para no mencionar su exorbitante riqueza; que incluso orgulloso muestra en su declaración de renta.

Y además de su amor por el dinero, el obvio deseo desenfrenado por el poder político. Esa enfermedad que lo une a las farc como a amigos.

Primero sánese para sanar otros como lo indica Aristóteles para quien la filosofía política es un tipo de medicina.

link

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Otra manera de entender lo que dijo Santos.

a) Palabras luego de la visita del Papa a Colombia:

“Queridos hermanos colombianos. He conocido a tantas personas que me han tocado el corazón. Ustedes me ha hecho mucho bien”.

b) Contraste las palabras parafraseadas de Santos:

“Ustedes (no yo y mi familia, afortunadamente) están muy enfermos. Me lo dijo un académico de Harvard.”

Preguntamos: ¿Será que el Papa es tan burro?

CONCLUSIÓN:

Colombianos: alégrense en el alma que en pocos meses Santos no los gobernará más. Ese es el mejor regalo para el 2018. Ojalá quien lo reemplace corrija lo que han hecho Santos y sus seguidores —–sobretodo con respecto a las farc y a Venezuela y a la ONU—– y nos devuelva la dignidad y la libertad.

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

¿Cuál es la diferencia principal entre Don Quijote y Santos?

Que Don Quijote nos hace reír con sus locuras. No paramos de sonreír y reír en el espejo que es Don Quijote.

Santos, en cambio, no genera ni una sonrisa, y menos risa alguna.

¿Cuál es otra diferencia fundamental entre Don Quijote y Santos?

Que Don Quijote sólo necesito de un amigo para sus locuras andantes, un gran amigo. Sancho.

Santos necesitó de engañar a todo un pueblo sin nunca ser amigo de alguno.

Y en cuanto a las farc y sus crímenes de lesa humanidad, basta con leer el Capítulo 22.

link

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Durante las aventuras de Don Quijote, Sancho Panza siempre sueña con poder gobernar una ínsula. Sancho Panza no se cansa de decir “ínsula o ínsulo”. Lo cual es muy cómico. El deseo de gobernar lo lleva a seguir las locuras de Don Quijote.

Pero una vez es gobernador, Cervantes nos hace ver lo poco deseable que le resulta la vida de gobernar. Sancho encarna esta crítica a la vida política. El capítulo 53 de la Segunda Parte se titula: “Del fatigado fin y remate que tuvo el gobierno de Sancho Panza.”

Conectado con lo que dijimos anteriormente —-quienes como el Presidente Santos con tranquilidad llaman a sus gobernados enfermos—- debieran leer y releer estas palabras para preguntarse si de entrada no hay algo de enfermo en su deseo de poder. Pero el poder parece que no es capaz de verse como enfermo y necesitando cierta sanación. No, al contrario, el poder cree sanar todo. “Si tuviera el poder, lo arreglaría todo”, se dice a sí mismo. Nadie puede hacerle ver lo contrario. El poder lo enceguece haciéndole reflejarse en un espejo de “pura” bondad incuestionable.

Para ni hablar del caso de Santos y su amor por el dinero, que es reflejado en la cantidad exagerada de propiedades que posee y que muestra orgulloso a sus conciudadanos, muchos de ellos y ellas sumidos en gran pobreza.

Además, y como lo hemos repetido una y otra vez, Sancho y Cervantes nos hacen reír. Santos no hace reír ni al más risueño.

Todo esto, y mucho más, es lo que enseña Aristóteles y lo que Santos poco ha aprendido.

Aquí, el leal Sancho:

link

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Nada como escuchar a un corrupto, pero poderoso, hablando de que en absoluto es corrupto.

(Pero bueno, eso lo escuchamos muchas, pero muchas veces, en nuestras vidas, de poderosos y nada poderosos.)

 

 

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El corrupto fiscal anti-corrupción mostrando orgulloso su libro. Clave para entender la epidemia de corrupción en Colombia.

 

 

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Ahora todo es cizaña. Que si digo “a” cizaña; que si digo “b”,
cizaña. Cizaña … la suya.

¿Quiere salir de la cizaña?

Entonces cuando hable o escriba –y sobretodo, cuando piense– hágalo a través de argumentos. Fácil.

Lo díficil. Que aprender a argumentar toma toda una vida que entre otras cosas requiere:

1) aprender a gustarle los argumentos,

2) aprender a gustarle evaluar buenos y malos argumentos a través de la razón,

SOBRETODO,

3) aprender a leer y leer y leer a quienes –especialmente si va a hablar de lo político—- han dado los más sofisticados y relevantes argumentos para comprender las posibilidades del ámbito político (Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, DeTocqueville, Marx, Hobbes, Aristóteles, Platón, Maquiavelo, Biblia, Santo Tomás Moro, Aquino, Lincoln …)

4) comenzar a entender la relación entre a) argumentación, b) carácter y c) retórica. (Acerca del triángulo Aristotélico puede aprender acá:https://prezi.com/7snss9sqhkoi/aristotles-rhetorical-triangle/ )

5) preferiblemente venir de una cultura que valore los argumentos (e.g., el valor de “public speaking” en los Estados Unidos —–de tanta importancia—- que los debates presidenciales cobran un valor sui generis)

y finalmente,

6) tener el ingenio, humor y amor-propio suficiente como para atacar la cizaña que desconoce de argumentos; no tratando de convercerla, sino silenciándola. ¡Porque a veces hay que ser al menos el doble de cizañero que el cizañero! (Y en casos extremos, evitándola, o usando los recursos legales disponibles)

Nota 1: ¿Quiere aprender sobre argumentación? Aquí puede hacer un curso completo gratis. ¿Único detalle? En inglés.

link

Nota 2: Otro sitio excelente,

link

Nota 3: Sin lugar a duda, el mejor texto introductorio sobre los más importantes argumentos políticos de la historia, es del Profesor Pangle y tiene versión electrónica para el app Kindle:

link

y gratis, acá:

link

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A manera de resumen, la división en Colombia se puede entender así:

Grupo A: Para algunos la paz con las farc es SEPARADA de la corrupción. Es más, para esos mismos, la paz es —en su imaginario– la que algún día futuro acabará usando su intensa luz la oscura corrupción, sobretodo la corrupción institucional. A estos se les puede llamar “los iluminados”. La paz es el INSECTICIDA de la corrupción.

Grupo B: Para otros la paz con las farc es el RESULTADO de la corrupción. Es más, para esos mismos, la paz –en su imaginario— es el camino disfrazado (como el cuento de las ovejas) hacia la máxima corrupción posible, la corrupción del alma de un pueblo y la entrega de la ibertad y la vida a unos pocos. A estos se les puede llamar “los realistas” . La paz es el ABONO de la corrupción.

La mayoría de colombianos pertenecen al Grupo B, como lo indican las encuestas. La ONU pertenece al Grupo A. La arrogancia de los iluminados —ahora miembros de la JEP— y sus deseos nunca cuestionados (como ocurrió en el plebiscito del 2016) son el impulso para ese rechazo de la población colombiana.

Sin duda alguna nosotros pertenecemos al Grupo B, y lo hacemos con orgullo. Colombia debe en su mayoría redefinir el proceso de paz hacia este Grupo B. Así la paz no destruirá la libertad sino que la hará más real.

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  COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS: BOOK I, 10

(For the nature of the sections see the “General Introduction”, here.)

Abbreviations: Ar. = Aristotle, AQ= Aquinas, NE = Nicomachean Ethics, EE= Eudemian Ethics

NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

BOOK I

CHAPTER TEN

“Should one, then, not deem happy any human being for so long as he is alive; but must one look instead, as Solon has it, to his end? But if it indeed it is necessary to posit such a thesis, then is in fact a person happy when he is dead? Or is this, at least, altogether strange, specially for us who say that happiness is a certain activity? But if we do not say that the dead person is happy —and this is not what Solon means either —- but say rather than someone might safely deem a human being blessed only once he is already removed from bad things and misfortunes, this too admits of some dispute. For it is held that both something bad and something good can befall the dead person, if in fact they can befall the living person who does not perceive it —-for example, honors and dishonors, and the faring well or the misfortunes of his offspring and descendants generally.

But these things too are perplexing; for someone who has lived blessedly until old age and come to this end accordingly, it is possible that many reversals may occur involving his descendants just as some of these descendants may be good and attain the life that accords with their merit, but others the contrary. Yet it is clear that it is possible for these descendants to be of varying degrees of remove from their ancestors. Indeed,  it would be strange if even the dead person should share in the reversals and become now happy, now wretched again. But it would be strange too if nothing of the affairs of the descendants should reach the ancestors, not even for a certain time.

But one must return to the perplexity previously mentioned, for perhaps what is now being sought might also be contemplated on the basis of it. If indeed one does have to see a person´s end and at that time deem each person blessed, not as being blessed [now] but as having been such previously —how is this not strange if, when he is happy, what belongs to him will not be truly attributed to him? [This strange consequence] arises on account of our wish not to call the living happy, given the reversals that may happen, and of our supposition that happiness is something lasting and by no means easily subject to reversals, while fortunes often revolve for the same people. For it is clear that if we should follow someone’s fortunes, we will often say that the same person is happy and then again wretched, declaring that the happy person is a sort of chameleon and on unsound footing.

Or is it not at all correct to follow someone’s fortunes? For it is not in these that doing well or badly consists. Rather, human life requires these fortunes in addition, just as we said; yet it is these activities in accord with virtue that have authoritative control over happiness, and the contrary activities on the contrary.

The perplexity just now raised also bears witness to the argument, since in none of the human works is anything so secure as what pertains to the activities that accord with virtue. For such activities seem to be more lasting than even the sciences; and the most honored of them seem to be more lasting, because those who are blessed live out their lives engaged, to the greatest degree and most continuously, in these activities. This seems to be the cause of our not forgetting such activities. Indeed, what is being sought will be available to the happy person, and he will be such throughout life. For he will always, or most of all act on and contemplate what accords with virtue, and he —- and least he who is truly good and “four-square, without blame” — he will bear fortunes altogether nobly and suitably in every way.

Now, many things occur by chance, and they differ in how great or small they are.  The small instances of good fortune, and similarly of its opposite, clearly do not tip the balance of one´s life, whereas the great and numerous ones that occur will, make life more blessed (since these naturally help adorn life, and dealing with them is noble and serious). But those fortunes that turn out in the contrary way restrict and even ruin one´s blessedness, for they both inflict pain and impede many activities. Nevertheless, even in the midst of these, nobility shines through, whenever someone bears up calmly under many misfortunes, not because of any insensitivity to pain but because he is well-born and great souled.

And if the activities have authoritative control over life, just as we said, then no one who is blessed would become wretched, since he will never do things that are hateful and base. For we suppose that someone who is truly good and sensible bears up under all fortunes in a becoming way and always does what is noblest given the circumstances, just as a good general makes use, with the greatest military skill, of the army he has and a shoemaker makes the most beautiful shoe out of leather given him. It holds in same manner with all the other experts as well. And if this is so, then the happy person would never become wretched —nor indeed would he be blessed, it is true, if he encounters the fortunes of Priam. He would not be unstable and subject to reversals either, for he will not be easily moved from happiness, and then not by any random misfortunes but only great and numerous ones. And as a result of such things he would not become happy again in a short time; but, if in fact he does, he will do so in the completion of some lengthy time during which he comes to attain great and noble things.

What, then, prevents one from calling happy someone who is active in accord with complete virtue and who is adequately equipped with external goods, not for any chance time but in a complete life? Or must one posit in addition that he will both live in this way and meet his end accordingly —- since the future is in immanifest to us, and we posit happiness, wholly and in every way, as an end and as complete? And if this is so, we will say that those among the living who have and will have available to them the things stated are blessed —-but blessed human beings.

Let what pertains to these things too be defined up to this point.”

(NE, 1100a10-1101a22; Aristotle´s Nicomachean Ethics, Bartlett, Robert, and Collins, Susan; University of Chicago, Chicago, 2011)

I. PRIVATE PUZZLES
1) What are we to make of this striking subsection? What is its argumentative “spirit”? Isn’t it in its ENTIRETY extremely odd and perplexing? For instance, isn’t it surprising to find Ar. begin AND end a subsection by asking so many questions himself? Is he pushing us in this direction, after having set the “rules of the game” by means of his three crucial previous digressions? Could he be starting to TEACH us to puzzle? For isn’t a QUESTION, rather more active than a STATEMENT? And isn’t Aristotelian happiness a kind of ACTIVITY? Doesn’t a QUESTION allow us the freedom to, in the end, think for ourselves? In similar fashion, didn’t Socrates question so that he did NOT have to write? Isn’t the QUESTION, the foundation of classical philosophical dialectics (and thus conceived in a crucially different sense than that found in the ontological structure of Heidegger’s Dasein and its capacity to question; Introduction to Being and Time)? But WHAT are we puzzling about here that makes this subsection so STRANGE? Isn’t it about the most difficult of topics, namely our temporal finitude and ultimate DEATH? Indeed, how CAN we be happy as humans if we are mortal and MUST die? In this respect, won’t this subsection turn out to be KEY for Aristotelians intent on challenging the APOLITICAL Heideggerian conception of finitude? And in this regard, why are we here SO concerned with the temporality (QUANTITY) of our lives (somehow reaching old age unscathed), rather than with the QUALITY of our lives? For, isn’t the WHOLE ethical point “HOW we live our lives”, rather then “HOW LONG we live our lives”? And, don’t TYRANTS live really really long (see below)? Is this part of the troubling political fact surrounding the question of temporality and finitude (pace Heidegger´s own dramatically apolitical notion of time in Being and Time)? Just recently, didn’t Mubarak outlast many? And, ethically speaking, surely HITLER outlived many much more righteous men, didn’t he? So, under this perplexing view, are we to count a life as worthwhile ONLY until we reach 40 or 50 or 60 or 90 (like Abraham who only until THAT advanced age was given forth his promise)? Or put yet another way, were previous cultures less happy because their average life expectancy was much less then ours? Are WE moderns happier because “we” —–well, really only those in developed countries—- DO in fact last much longer (even if connected to all sorts of medical machines)? Haven’t we, ironically, simply given greater chance to chance to act upon us as Ar. had pointed out in our previous commentary?

But returning to the tone/spirit of the subsection, isn’t it ALL kind of spooky? I mean, aren’t we sort of dealing with communications with, or at the very least, referring to the dead (albeit, close kin in particular) and similar issues? And that it IS so, is shown in the even STRANGER subsection XI (“Do the fortunes of the living affect the dead”) which follows immediately? Doesn’t Ostwald allow us to see how far he misses precisely the tone of the whole passage in his footnote 44 and his reference to Burnet´s interpretation of Aristotle? But, how are WE, specially we moderns born out of the secular transfiguration, to take this in (see quote Professor Taylor below)? For surely there seems to be not a single expression of irony or laughter in Ar.’s presentation, is there? Could we not say, that indeed it is HERE, more than anywhere else in the NE, that we actually find one of the most valuable and explicit examples of Ar.’s philosophical generosity towards the life of the noblest of citizens (as is clear by the example given here of Solon)? For isn’t Ar. truly going out of his way in his attentive respect for the beliefs held by traditional leading citizens and THEIR concerns about temporality and happiness? How so? Because isn’t the concern for temporality of great IMPORT to the serious citizens of a political community? Isn’t it the case that for THEM the family, specially, is the locus of an endurance and immortality beyond the ephemeral appearance of any of its individual members (contrast, Diotima´s “The Ladder of Love” speech in Plato’s Symposium)? For wouldn’t a Solon ask: what of a long life WITHOUT a family? What could that be FOR? Mustn’t the individual see beyond him/herself in order to truly achieve happiness?  And moreover, aren’t great leaders, the greatest of leaders, truly thus remembered by all for the SACRIFICES they make in dedicating themselves whole-heartedly to the PUBLIC good? Isn’t this PRECISELY why Solon, the lawgiver, is remembered till this day even beyond the boundaries of his native Athens?  And aren’t those who give up their lives for US in battle, in the crucial defense of our divergent REGIMES, thus remembered as well for exemplifying the virtue of courage by giving themselves for a greater cause than mere life? Isn’t this, in part, why Ar., as we shall see, also refers to Simonides the poet in this very subsection by referencing his appearance in Plato´s dialogue Protagoras (which deals precisely with the question of courage and sophistry; 339b)? For isn’t Simonides famous for his elegies to the fallen dead in the greatest of Greek battles, the most famous being that written as remembrance of the Battle at Thermopylae, and which reads:

 

Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε

κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.

“Stranger, announce to the Spartans that here

We lie, having fulfilled their orders.”

(see below)? And we know quite well that elegies and eulogies are far from being the same, don’t we? Actually, in terms of eudaimonia, don’t they stand at extremes?

And so that we may be believed, isn’t the example of Solon here central in THIS regard? Don’t we find precisely THIS concern in Herodotus´s account of Solon —made reference to by Ar. himself? Doesn’t Herodotus allow us to share in the context of Solon’s words? For, we come to know how Solon, in one of his “voyages” outside Athens, came to be questioned/confronted by a tyrant named Croesus? And, doesn’t Croesus indeed know that Solon´s international fame was such as to be considered one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity? But, what does the Tyrant ask in relation to the topic of the NE? Isn’t the question precisely that of the NE as a whole? Doesn’t the TYRANT ask WHO is the happiest human known to be so by Solon himself? And, before dwelling more intimately in the dialogue that ensues between law-giver and TYRANT, mustn’t we mention also that we see in Plutarch’s “Life of Solon” the radically opposite un-Aristotelian tone and sense of fundamental respect by a philosopher towards traditional concerns and beliefs? Don’t we have to contrast here Ar.´s way of proceeding prudently, with Thales outright (effective, yes), but shocking (mocking?) “unveiling” of Solon’s beliefs as regards the possibility of a serious interconnection between one´s  having a family and reaching the highest human happiness available to us?  Isn’t Thales’s’ trick truly outrageous from a much more moderate Aristotelian perspective, namely telling Solon that one of his children has DIED, when in fact it is simply a TEST:

“Thus every answer heightened Solon’s fears, and at last, in great distress of soul, he told his name to the stranger and asked him if it was Solon’s son that was dead. The man said it was; whereupon Solon began to beat his head and to do and say everything else that betokens a transport of grief. But Thales took him by the hand and said, with a smile, “This it is, O Solon, which keeps me from marriage and the getting of children; it overwhelms even thee, who art the most stout-hearted of men. But be not dismayed at this story, for it is not true.”

(my emphasis; p. 419; http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Solon*.html; not to mention Thales’s own inconsistencies on the topic.)

Isn’t this example, in part, what makes us clear as to why Thales is considered a Pre-Socratic? For didn’t’ the Socratic revolution, as told to us by Cicero, BRING philosophy back to “earth” via its political concerns? And in parallel fashion, don’t we see Ar. living up to the presuppositions of the founder of Political Philosophy, Socrates, who already knew of his Second Voyage as the KEY to a certain departure from philosophers such as Thales and Anaxagoras? Moreover, leaving aside the fact that a similar “outrageous” test appears as well in the Bible (young Isaacs divinely commanded sacrifice by Abraham at the age of 90+!), don’t we sense as we read this subsection that is it specially the spoudaios who would find Thales’s un-Aristotelian attitude quite “distasteful”, to put it mildly? Or put yet another way, in striking relation to the beginning of Plato’s Republic, don’t we find here Ar.’s bowing to elder citizens such as Cephalus —whose name actually means “head”, as in the expression, “head of the family”—– rather than seeking their direct questioning? And in this regard, don’t we need also recall that THIS more prudential tone is precisely the tone set by the elder Plato in his much more mature, and politically realistic, dialogue, The Laws? For isn’t THAT political dialogue undertaken by a stranger (obviously Socrates, though it is striking that Plato feels the need to cover up such obviousness), and two elder citizens who are quite advanced in their lives and thus closer to death? And isn’t this TONE, that which characterizes the forgotten yet masterful work of Xenophon? Are we surprised then NOT to find Xenophon being read in current Academia?

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COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS: BOOK I, 6

(For the nature of the sections see the “General Introduction”, here.)

Abbreviations: Ar. = Aristotle, AQ= Aquinas, NE = Nicomachean Ethics, EE= Eudemian Ethics

NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

BOOK I

CHAPTER SIX

As for the universal [good], perhaps it is better to examine it and to go through the perplexities involved in the ways it is spoken of, although undertaking such an inquiry is arduous, because the men who introduced the forms are dear. But perhaps it might be held to be better, and in fact to be obligatory, at least for the sake of preserving the truth, to do away with even one’s own things, specially for those who are philosophers. For although both are dear, it is a pious thing to honor the truth first.

Now, those who conveyed this opinion did not make ideas pertain to those cases in which they spoke of the prior and posterior: hence they did not set up an idea of numbers either. But the good is spoken of in relation to what something is, and in relation to what sort of thing it is, and as regards its relation to something: but that which is the thing in itself –that is, the being —is prior by nature to any relation it has (for it is like an offshoot and accident of the being). As a result, there would not be any common idea pertaining to these things

And further, the good is spoken of in as many ways as is the term is —for the good is spoken of in relation to what something is (for example the god and intellect); as for what sort of thing something is, the good is spoken of as the virtues; as for how much something is, it is spoken of as the measured amount; in its relation to something, as what is useful; as regards time, as the opportune moment; as regards place, as the [right] location; and other things of this sort [Since all this is so,] it is clear that the good would not be something common, universal, and one. For if that were the case, it would not be spoken of in all the categories but in one alone.

And further, since there is a single science of things that pertain to a single idea, there would also be some single science of all the good things. But as things stand, there are many sciences even of the things that fall under a single category –for example, the opportune moment: in war, it is generalship, in illness, medicine; and in the case of the measured amount of nourishment, on the one hand it is medicine, but in that of physical exertions, on the other, it is gymnastic training.

But someone might be perplexed as to whatever they mean by the “thing-as-such”, if in fact the very same account of human being pertains both to “human being-as-such” and to a given human being. For in the respect in which each is a human being, they will not differ at all. And if this is so, [then neither the good as such nor a good thing will differ] in the respect in which each is good. Moreover, the good will not be good to a greater degree by being eternal either, if in fact whiteness that lasts a long time will not be whiter than that which lasts only a day.

The Pythagoreans seem to speak more persuasively about it by positing the One in the column of the goods, and it is indeed they whom Speusippus seems to follow. But about these things let there be another argument.

A certain dispute over the points stated begins to appear, because the arguments made [by the proponents of the forms] do not concern every good: things pursued and cherished by themselves are spoken of in reference to a single form, but what produces these (or in some way preserves them or prevents their contraries) is spoken of as being good on account of the former sorts of goods and in a different manner. It is clear, then, that the good things would be spoken of in two senses: those that are good in themselves, others that are good on account of these.

Separating the things good in themselves from those that are advantageous, then, let us examine whether the former are spoken of in reference to a single idea. What sort of things might one posit as being good in themselves? Is it so many things as are in fact pursued for themselves alone —-for example, exercising prudence and seeing, as well as certain pleasures and honor? For even if we pursue these on account of something else as well, nonetheless one might posit them as being among the things that are good in themselves. Or is nothing good in itself except the idea? The result will be that the form [abstracted from all individual things] is pointless. But if in fact these things [that is, exercising prudence, seeing and the like] are among the things good in themselves, the definition of the good will need to manifest itself as the same in all cases, just as the definition of whiteness is the same in the case of snow and in that of white lead. But the definitions of honor, prudence and pleasure are distinct and differ in the very respect in which they are goods. It is not the case, therefore, that the good is something common in reference to a single idea.

But how indeed are they spoken of [as good]? For they are not like things that share the same name by chance. It is by dint of their stemming from one thing or because they all contribute to one thing? Or is it more that they are such by analogy? For as there is sight in the body, so there is intellect in the soul, and indeed one thing in one thing, another in another. But perhaps we ought to leave these consideration be for now: to be very precise about them would be more appropriate to another philosophy. The case is similar with the idea as well: even if there is some one good thing that is predicated [of things] in common,, or there is some separate thing, itself in itself, it is clear that it would not be subject to action or capable of being possessed by a human being. But it is some such thing that is now being sought.

Perhaps someone might be of the opinion that it is better to be familiar with it, with a view to those goods that can be possessed and are subject to action. By having this [universal good] as a sort of model, we will to greater degree know also the things that are good for us; and if we know them, we will hit on them. Now, the argument has a certain persuasiveness, but it seems to be inconsistent with the sciences. For although all sciences aim at some good and seek out what is lacking, they pass over knowledge of the good itself. And yet it is not reasonable for all craftsmen to be ignorant of so great an aid and not even to seek it out.

A further perplexity too is what benefit the weaver or carpenter might gain, in relation to his own art, by known this same good, or how he who has contemplated the idea itself will be a more skilled physician or general. For it appears that the physician does not examine even health this way, but inquires rather into the health of a human being and even more, perhaps into that of this particular human being. For he treats patients individually.

And let what pertains to these things be stated up to this point.”

(NE, 1096a11-1097a14; Aristotle´s Nicomachean Ethics, Bartlett, Robert, and Collins, Susan; University of Chicago, Chicago, 2011)

I. PRIVATE PUZZLES

1) Why exactly can’t Ar. seem to get his argument going? Why does he lead us into a third and even more complex, not to say impossible (from the point of view of practical things), digression? Put bluntly, does one imagine a Pericles/Xenophon/Thucydides listening intently? Is a Pericles/Xenophon/Thucydides, so interested in THESE perplexities? But if not, then WHO are we speaking to in terms of the ETHICAL? To philosophy students? Wouldn’t that be utterly ODD, if we seek to respect the dignity of the practical (as that appears to be clearly the objective of the previous two digressions!)? Shouldn’t one, as well, ask more explicitly what is the actual relation between these three digressions (from the type of student, to the kind of methodology, to a discussion of the erroneous views of his friends on the absolute good)? Are we ascending in some sense to more and more impenetrable perplexities? Or do they stand at the same level of importance? Moreover, why does Ar. indeed connect the second and third digressions in the EE BOOK I, Ch. 8 1218a15-ff; “They ought in fact to demonstrate….”) and does NOT so proceed in the NE (see section IV below)? Is it because he wants us in the NE to assume a more active role in OUR coming to see the sources of our perplexities? And what are we to make of the very LENGTH of the digression? I mean, doesn’t AQ. actually divide his commentary into three sections, while our translators only deal with one very long and complex one? But leaving this aside, why is it SO important to get THIS one right? Why is our stance on the Forms/Ideas, the crux of the matter, so to speak? And, very importantly, why does Ar. go, as rarely he does in his Ethics, into his much less practical works, for instance, the Categories? Is he telling us that, in the end, we DO need some such vocabulary to get clear of our PRACTICAL perplexities? However, IF his audience has a dual character, then what are the less philosophically inclined to do with this section? For it is clear, notions like substance, predicates, the “thing-as-such” etc… are NOT the concern of the practical, and much less so –at least explicitly— of the political art? And putting it provocatively, isn’t this why one does NOT find any mention of the “Theory of the Forms” in the work of Xenophon (or Alfarabi, for that matter)? And isn’t this , in part, why modern philosophy and political science departments —with their modern procedural approaches—- find Xenophon, who knew of this Socratic tradition, rather irrelevant? Isn’t the overwhelming amount of academic writings of Plato´s “Theory of Ideas”, precisely, in part, what reveals the stance of OUR modern philosophy departments as regards the practical arena? But doesn’t this reveal a certain perplexing blindness which Ar. DOES see? Isn’t this why he explicitly tells us that these concerns are those of another kind of philosophy which can actually harm praxis as we saw in previous commentaries? Again, is this to safeguard the dignity and independence of the practical sphere in its own terms? But then, why even mention them, if they belong elsewhere? So, shouldn’t we conclude that Ar. is purposely confronting his audience with such complexities PRECISELY to get clear on how HE will, at least initially, move away from them? For it is clear, the idea of the ideas will NOT ever return to the argument in the NE, will they? And surely at the end of the NE we are not asked to go read the Categories or the Metaphysics, but rather to go read the Politics, aren´t we (with some exceptions, perhaps, dealing with the private education which BOOK X defends, so that SOME may read both)? In other words, is it perhaps that his audience, at least part of it, has already been misled by those who attended Plato’s Academy? Don’t they clearly still have in their minds all the Apology affair (which Ar. did not witness)? Isn’t Ar. rather troubled by the radical nature of the rhetorical skills used in the Republic, even if he might agree with its core dialectics? Doesn’t he see that such philosophical projects undermine the practical so that the relation between the practical and the speculative reach insolvable breakdowns of communication (to use modern language)? But if THIS is true, don’t we and Ar. also know that Plato wrote his more mature The Laws, where such critiques are better responded? Furthermore, as regards the Straussian interpretation of the so-called Platonic “Theory of the Forms” (for instance, Blooms famous reading of The Republic as a comic response to Aristophanes´s Clouds, or Strauss´s own unique conception; see section IV below) , then why exactly does one not find anything “comic” about Ar.’s presentation of these ideas? Doesn’t HE seem to think that Plato took them seriously? Or is it rather that he is criticizing a rather incomplete, not to say an erroneous interpretation of Plato’s thought (as one could easily see, for instance, also in the very purposely minimalistic critique of Plato’s communism in Politics Book II)? For surely Ar. seems to CONVENIENTLY forget that these theories appear in DIALOGUES with all the dramatic complexities that this entails ( and we know Ar. himself wrote many dialogues as well!)? So why does he find it “convenient” to leave these obvious, yet crucial, issues aside? For aren’t we to realize that, for instance, the presentation of the ideas in the Republic is given precisely within Socrates’ description of three incredible waves that Socrates himself tells us are so utterly incomprehensible they will hardly be believed? (see section IV below for references to the ideas in the Republic). Isn’t this perhaps THE key to this subsection? Isn’t it perhaps the key to the relationship between Plato and Aristotle as Alfarabi saw it (see beginning of The Philosophy of Aristotle: “Aristotle sees the perfection of man as Plato sees it and more.”; Mahdi p. 71, )

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Filosofía política clásica; el modelo socrático y aristotélico como respuesta a las encrucijadas modernas.

El interés principal para esta propuesta de investigación ——como aspirante a su departamento——- es la de hacer una defensa profunda de lo que representa la filosofía política clásica como posible respuesta a la actual crisis del liberalismo moderno occidental. Dicha investigación se enfrentaría conceptualmente a los defensores del proyecto de la modernidad que buscan las condiciones universales para la defensa de nuestras democracias en una teoría comunicativa (Habermas), y a aquellas posturas que buscan hacer explícitas las condiciones fundacionales imaginarias e hipotéticas para una teoría de la justicia (Rawls). Por otra parte, aunque esta investigación ve la importancia del serio y profundo cuestionamiento radical a la razón moderna que plantean las obras de Nietzsche/Heidegger ——–que en su conjunto incluso llegan a cuestionar el proyecto occidental de racionalidad política fundado originariamente por Sócrates—– esta considera que la falta de una reflexión política sostenida permite a los neo-nietzscheanos post-modernistas (Foucault, Derrida) una ilusoria victoria conceptual que permanece incompleta, que es imprudente (en el sentido Aristotélico de phronesis), y que por ende es altamente peligrosa para la salud general de la comunidad política. En contraposición, afirmamos que es en la obra ético-política de Aristóteles que se da la máxima expresión de lo que representa la filosofía política clásica como contrapropuesta. (1)

Dejando de lado las múltiples interpretaciones que puedan haber surgido de Aristóteles, lo cierto es que al centro de la argumentación detrás de esta investigación radica una lectura que se funda en el pensamiento de Leo Strauss (y en particular, de su estudiante Thomas Pangle). En general el reto neo-aristotélico se ve enmarcado dentro de una tradición aún más amplia que se puede comprender hoy en día como la del “movimiento socrático”. Este movimiento de retorno retoma con seriedad el evento socrático ejemplar, a saber, el de la fundación de la reflexión filosófica de lo político por parte de Sócrates. Comprenden ellos que en efecto hay un segundo Sócrates que se ha distanciado de las presuposiciones apolíticas de los pre-socráticos, presuposiciones que llegaron a conformar la postura conceptual del primer Sócrates interesado exclusivamente en la pregunta por la naturaleza (physis). Esto es lo que es conocido como la “segunda navegación” de Sócrates (Fedón, 99c). Strauss lo resume así: “Socrates was the first philosopher who concerned himself chiefly or exclusively, not with the heavenly or divine things, but with the human things”; Strauss (TCaM, 13).  Es por ello que para lograr una real recuperación del reto del pensamiento político clásico se debe recurrir a la ya mencionada perspectiva que ve el debate antiguos-modernos como el conflicto fundamental para las aspiraciones de una verdadera filosofía política que tenga respuestas concretas, prudentes y sabias a nuestras crisis. (2) Sin embargo este retorno comprometido y serio al racionalismo de la filosofía política clásica tiene ya desde su comienzo diversas variantes interpretativas. Esto se puede ver claramente en la triple comprensión que se da de Sócrates por parte de Platón el filósofo dialéctico, por parte de Jenofonte el escritor militar y por parte de Aristófanes el comediante. La evidente tensión entre estas apropiaciones socráticas se ve claramente hoy en día en el contexto filosófico universitario en la medida en que Jenofonte no es considerado, como sí lo era en la antigüedad (por los romanos, por Maquiavelo, por Hobbes y por Shaftesbury), como un pensador digno de un estudio serio, profundo y continuado; sobretodo por la recuperación del valor de la retórica como lenguaje privilegiado de lo político. (3)

Ahora bien, la excepción a esta regla de exclusión silenciosa, es precisamente la propia tradición straussiana. Al recuperar la multiplicidad de lenguajes socráticos, y muy especialmente la obra de Jenofonte, la tradición straussiana gana una interpretación enriquecida de los clásicos, y en particular, de la obra aristotélica. El retorno recuperativo de la filosofía política clásica por parte de la tradición straussiana por lo tanto permite el planteamiento de preguntas olvidadas. Por ello a la base de esta interpretación surge la pregunta fundamental que el discurso filosófico moderno ha relegado al olvido, a saber, la pregunta misma de ¿por qué la filosofía? A la importancia de las preguntas heideggerianas tanto por el sentido del ser como por el “¿qué es la filosofía?”, se enfrenta una pregunta aún más fundamental y originaria en términos políticos. Es decir, el “qué es” de la filosofía sólo se puede comprender cabalmente una vez hayamos realizado una investigación prudente del “por qué” de la necesidad del filosofar dentro de la comunidad política. Leo Strauss ofrece cierta claridad acerca de esta pregunta que funda las posibilidades del saber filosófico una vez se ha liberado de su “amnesia” frente a la filosofía política clásica: “The philosophers, as well as other men who have become aware of the possibility of philosophy, are sooner or later driven to wonder, Why philosophy? Why does human life need philosophy? … To justify philosophy before the tribunal of the political community means to justify it in terms of the political community, that is to say, by means of a kind of argument which appeals, not to philosophers as such, but to citizens as such.” (mi énfasis) (4) Sin duda la academia, en gran medida, no ha escuchado este llamado. (more…)

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Review of: Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Constitution, here

(Taught by Professor Thomas L. Pangle  here , The Teaching Company)

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I. INTRODUCTION

Perhaps one way to express the extraordinary debt we owe Professor Thomas Pangle for the many gifts his teaching generously provides us, is by recalling one of the specific difficult issues taken up in the deeply and intelligently contested debates held between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists over the very meaning of the American Founding and the foundational requirements of the new American Constitution. Thus, in dealing with the very complex question over the separation of powers ——partly following Montesquieu, the Oracle for all those involved in the debate—– Hamilton goes on to defend the idea that for the very stability of a sound modern commercially-oriented Republic, the executive must possess, embody and publicly be made clear to possess, what he calls ENERGY. Hamilton writes: “Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government” (FP, No. 70, p. 421).

And surely one part of the goodness of the gift that Professor Pangle offers us in these 12 (yes, only 12!), very short, very dynamic, very powerful and very concise lectures, is precisely his ENERGY-rich presentation of the Founding Debate itself, an energetic presentation which should in fact allow for a better sense of the dynamics of government and of governing by better prepared citizens, that is to say, ennobled citizens better educated for the intricacies of learning to rule and to be ruled as the dignified self-governing beings that they can become. In other words, these lectures, at the very least, allow for the creation of the requisite spaces for a better UNDERSTANDING of the  conditions underpinning the political sphere on its own terms, that is to say, of the struggles undergone to gain the privilege of ruling and of the intense struggles over the hierarchical ordering of the ends of good government as seen by diverse practically-minded statesmen/stateswomen. The course does so via an understanding of the conceptually and practically privileged origin, irrepeatable historical origin, which IS the unique and momentous Founding of any given political community. Such prioritization of the Founding notably defended as particularly enlightening by all of classical political philosophy, but nowhere more clearly brought to light for us to see than in the dramatic presentation which is Plato’s Laws. Within the American civic heritage such privileged moment is precisely that of the Confederation Debates held between 1787 and 1790 when the post-revolutionary “Articles of Confederation” came under serious questioning during and after the Convention of 1787. It is the Federalists (Madison, Hamilton, Jay; using the pen name “Publius”) —–in response to highly critical newspaper articles published anonymously by brilliant Anti-Federalists (Brutus, Federal Farmer, Centinel), some of whom had left the Convention filled with intense indignation—— who, because of said challenge, are “put on the spotlight” and made to defend their radical, previously unheard of, innovations.

And, it is made transparently clear to us, in the urgency of the tone of the delivery, and through certain republican rhetorical abilities used (!), that such a return ——which stands in serious contrast to a simple shallow “progressive” reading of history as economically/ideologically driven——- is by no means an exercise in luxurious time consumption. Rather, such a return bespeaks of the crisis of the American political system, if not of the very crisis of the democratic west itself as exemplified in ONE of its member nations (albeit a very powerful, one could even say, a kind of model one; of this, more later). Or, as Professor Pangle’s Professor wrote:

It is not self-forgetting and pain-loving antiquarianism nor self-forgetting and intoxicating romanticism which induces us to turn with passionate interest, with unqualified willingness to learn, toward the political thought of antiquity. We are impelled to do so by the crisis of our time.” (Strauss, The City and Man, 1).

This uniquely energetic presentation, then, is all the more comprehensible as a kind of response to such a crisis. Such a vigorous presentation is a philosophically-inspired reflexive attempt at UNDERSTANDING the core elements that may be considered, in part, and primarily by those interested in the political life itself, in order to become the types of public leaders ——in their souls, so to speak—– who can ultimately generate sound, decisive and prudent educational practices amongst their liberally-educated citizens. Such leaders, the dignity of whose moral virtuous and intellectual skills is repeatedly recovered by Professor Pangle, would then be better capable of generating a certain kind of political healing of our complex modern democratic condition, which ——–because not seen in its complexity—– can be worsened furthermore by a false sense of security that is derived always from all convenient uncritical “ideological” oversimplifications. Such medical therapeutics, in an important sense, deals with origins, not merely with a multiplicity of simplified and disconnected symptoms. Undoubtedly, Aristotelically speaking, the course is partly a courageous attempt at a therapeutics of critical recovery. And to know that this unique experience is available to us all via the internet through The Teaching Company bespeaks of the energetic generosity of shared thought and of thoughtful American enterprise.

 

II. BETWEEN THE LINES

But prior to going into the CONTENT of the course itself, it might be wise to look at some of the features which make the course such an exemplary one for us all, academics and non-academics alike; specially for those of us interested in recovering the dignity of political life, of public service and of the complex sacrifices and dilemmas involved in the pursuance of our highest most virtuous moral and intellectual ideals.

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Review of:

Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle

(Taught by Robert C. Bartlett, The Teaching Company)

We surely must be grateful to Professor Bartlett’s incisive reflections on the nature of Socratic political philosophy as representing a modern viable alternative to our political and philosophical self-understanding. This alternative takes its path upon a close determination of what the “Socratic revolution” ——-which moved Socrates towards a perspective closer to the self-understanding of the citizens themselves——- might mean. And it is surely extremely helpful to have a more public on-line presentation of the ideas developed by Professor Strauss and his students for those of us interested in their interpretation of Aristophanes, Xenophon (virtually forgotten in academia for very specific reasons), Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

As an insider’s comment/joke, one could definitively say that this course —and going back to my mother tongue—– can be easily regarded as “el número uno”! The presentation is clear, concise, humorous and generally thought-provoking (particularly if one considers the accompanying guide as well). Professor Bartlett takes great pains to reconsider in each of his lectures the previous arguments and paths developed; and he usually ends his timely lectures with certain puzzles for the listener to continue exploring the problems revealed in the text themselves, rather than by providing a set doctrines (e.g., the “platonic doctrine of the ideas”) that could be just repeated endlessly. In this respect, the recovery of Plato’s work as a consisting of DIALOGUES with a specific audience in mind, with specific characters in play and under specific situations aids us IMMENSELY in trying to understand what at the start might be tedious, bad and irrelevant lines of argument. Something similar must be said for Bartlett’s interpretation of Aristotle’s “manner of writing”. Besides, he constantly provides examples taken from everyday life which may allow the listener to move from their simplicity to the depths of the questions addressed to us by the Classical Political Philosophy tradition. As a matter of fact and to go back to one of his favorite examples, I actually found a wallet on the street during the time I spent going through this course. I must confess the course immediately made me want to give the wallet back wholeheartedly as I had become more just, just by listening!

Of course, questions remain, and given the breadth of the course, important gaps also remain which just could not be filled (a serious one being the “jumping over” the virtue of moderation in the Nicomachean Ethics) . But perhaps the fundamental question for the course remains the Straussian interpretation which might be seen to try to “square the circle”. If ——-as we are pointed to again and again——- the Socratic revolution stems from a reconsideration of the political nature of our praxis and our reflections (particularly as regards the question of the divine and the search for a “scientific” explanation of the order of the universe as in the pre-Socratics), then this means that the political sphere is once again given its due dignity. That is to say, one cannot philosophize without encountering in dialogue the Ischomachus of our lives as Xenophon recounts arguing that it is in this very precise conversation that Socrates SAW the philosophical need for such a revolution. But this impulse to bring forth back the dignity of the political is not always easily set along the more fundamental axis of the arguments presented by the Straussians, namely, that even though the political has the aforementioned dignity, it truly remains FAR below the possibilities which the life of reflection, the life of philosophy, opens up to the citizen who starts to move towards a self-critical stance of such dignity-ridden (but perhaps self-enclosing) elements. In other words, one could ask whether to say that there is much dignity in ‘x’, but that really the dignity of ‘x’ is only visible once it sees beyond its confines, ends up throwing a massive question as to the real dignity of ‘x’ itself. Of course, this is much more evident in Plato’s Republic than in his LAWS given the metaphor of the cave and its constant allusion to the SHADOWS which make up our political reality. But this could also be seen to be true in Aristotle in the following way: though Aristotle indeed leaves behind such complex equations as the third wave of the Republic which identifies philosopher and ruler (see for example Book II of the Politics), still in Book X of the Nicomachean Ethics he apparently seems to run into the same difficulties of trying to “square the circle” by showing that the life dedicated to the moral virtues, life which has a certain dignity of its own, is truly only worthy of a very secondary notion of happiness. I believe this places a massive question as regards the fundamental argument of the course, namely, that it is the Socratic revolution —his “Second sailing”—– which makes possible the very work of Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle.

And also in a similar respect, the course fails to place its interpretation among other competing interpretations which seem to fundamentally disagree with the political nature of Socratic thought. Straussian interpretations are many a time “outside the academic norm” and perhaps this course does not do enough to emphasize this crucial differentiation. In this respect, one seems not to see much of Aristophanes’ humor amongst academics nowadays. In a similar light, one need ask why it is that so few “philosophical dialogues” are actually written to day by those who are considered the “philosophers” of our time. In other words, shouldn’t reading Plato move US to write dialogues as he did?

A final massive difficulty that is pointed to, worked upon and reworked endlessly by the always helpful and rhetorically talented professor Bartlett is the choice made by Socrates to actually drink the hemlock. Although Bartlett considerations of the Crito, the Phaedo and the Apology are absolutely enlightening and profound, one has the feeling that this foundational act which determines the very memory of Socrates has to be further developed by all readers on their own.

Finally as regards what one can only wish for; THE TEACHING COMPANY would do very well in asking Professor Barlett (or Professor Pangle) to provide us with a course which FOCUSES solely on THE LAWS of Plato and the NICOMACHEAN ETHICS of Aristotle. It is my belief that we are in much need of a more public defense of the arguments presented in THE LAWS as the basis for a critical questioning and defense of our liberal democracies. In terms of the NICOMACHEAN ETHICS (from the Straussian perspective) the public could have a better understanding of the diverse moral virtues and the inherent dilemmas they present, as well as a consideration of why Aristotle was moved to write 2 ETHICS rather than only one, if one includes the Eudemian Ethics as one should. Moreover, THE TEACHING COMPANY should consider translating some of its courses so as to reach a wider audience interested in these fundamental topics.

All in all, an absolutely impressive course for which we ought to be very grateful indeed.

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“Lo vital es lo irracional,
Lo antivital es lo racional.”

Chávez  (Documental canadiense titulado Revolución)

Comienza usted su muy cuestionable columna, indicando que en lo que concierne al racionalismo filosófico-político clásico, y en particular a la vertiente de Platón:

“Aún muchas personas que no han leído a Platón conocen su propuesta de una República aristocrática donde los más sabios, que son a la vez los más virtuosos, han de ser los llamados a gobernar el Estado-ciudad.”

Ya con estas palabras se indica el camino del descalabro. Los descalabros sobretodo más dramáticos se dan cuando una interpretación precisamente se funda en “rumores” –y se perpetúa a la manera de “rumores”—– más que en serias aproximaciones a los complejos textos en cuestión. Es claro que en tanto académico, y usted ha de saberlo bien como profesor,  intenta uno estar abierto a diversas interpretaciones de textos fundacionales. Sin embargo, cuando una interpretación es tan contrario, o tan simplificada, o tan tediosamente repetitiva, (o peor aún,  las tres a la vez),  en lo que se refiere a un texto para la reflexión política primordial  ——-es decir, la reflexión de un texto que abre el camino en occidente para la reflexión de una temática fundacional, la de la virtud de la justicia— se debe confrontar dicha interpretación limitada decididamente. Y si dicha interpretacion, en su aparente seguridad, además es utilizada para generar implicaciones políticas concretas y juzgamientos éticos específicos, pues con mayor decisión ha de confrontarse con seriedad.

Lo cierto es que toda su columna se funda en la presuposición interpretativa, repetida hasta el cansancio por la izquierda radical y la izquierda de centro latina una y otra vez sin imaginación hermenéutica inspiradora, de que La República de Platón tiene como conclusión fundamental el que la verdadera justicia, virtud fundamental de lo político en tanto que revela las condiciones para el bien común,  se dará solamente cuando los gobernantes virtuosos sean los filósofos y los filósofos virtuosos (que usted parece identificar con seres de perfección) sean los gobernantes. Es decir, la solución al problema de lo político se da en la coincidencia entre poder y saber. (1)

Pero una lectura más interesada en el aprendizaje de los grandes filósofos y escritores políticos clásicos  revela todo lo contrario; en particular, nada más foráneo al pensamiento dialógico platónico fundado sobre la base de una cierta skepsis socrática que va a contrapelo tanto de  un relativismo insulso que caracteriza muchas de nuestras decisiones éticas actuales, como de un absolutismo conceptual de formulismos repetitivos ad infinitum. Es más, tal vez nada haya hecho más daño político en América Latina que el silenciamiento de la filosofía política clásica que como usted parece asegurar indirectamente, estaba tan equivocada, que poco ha de enseñarnos como modernos. Pero me pregunto, ¿qué tal que los destinos del continente tal y como lo reveló Unasur, se estén generando a través de un efectivo silenciamiento de alternativas cuya fortaleza es en cambio reconocida a lo largo de la historia y de las culturas? ¿Qué tal que encontrásemos en Platón, o mejor, en la Filosofía Política Clásica como tal (Tucídides, Platón, Jenofonte, Aristóteles, Plutarco y Cicerón), el gran camino de moderación que es requerido para una real resolución a nuestra encrucijada como país y como continente? Porque, ¿no resultaría irónico que entre más se dice que se une América del Sur bajo una visión “social demócrata de izquierda” que pide valorar la diferencia, termine triunfando al eliminar la diferencia que una vez predicó hasta el cansancio? ¿No resultaría  altamente cuestionable el que  dicha retórica de apertura se mantuviese solamente “hasta conseguir el poder” que permita instaurar un nuevo régimen “revolucionario” absolutista?

Pero dejando estas preguntas de tan grande envergadura de lado, me limitaré ahora a  argumentar más concretamente el por qué su suposición es tan injusta en tanto académico, y seriamente equivocada en tanto candidato presidencial. Para ello recurriré a 3 puntos centrales –——lo más brevemente expuestos—– que espero le revelen la necesidad de retomar las preguntas fundacionales que permitan una argumentación mucho más profunda y enriquecedora de los dilemas y las encrucijadas a las que nos enfrentamos en la Colombia de hoy. Estos puntos serán; 1) aspectos del diálogo de Platón titulado la Apología, 2) aspectos del  famoso texto de la República al que usted hace alusión pasajera, y finalmente,  3) en tanto apéndice, aspectos relacionados con otro diálogo platónico, Las Leyes,  que permite una reconsideración que lo que hemos de entender por republicanismo clásico y de las intenciones platónicas que subyacen a su obra.

1. La Apología

Comencemos más allá de La República con lo más “obvio”, sinceramente, aquello que es demasiado obvio. La obra de Platón  gira en torno a, o mejor, es una defensa dialógica  de la vida de Sócrates. Ahora bien, como veremos, resultaría altísimamente extraño que  Platón “dedique” su obra a aquel ser del cual aprendió el filosofar, y sin embargo a la vez defendiera las posiciones que usted le atribuye. Por ello en la Apología de Sócrates (cuya lectura debe ser acompañada de la Apología de Jenofonte), no encontramos rastro alguno de esa ecuación que usted asume como fundamento de la “teoría platónica de las cosas”, a saber, una coincidencia entre el filósofo y el gobernante como resolución a la pregunta por la virtud de la justicia. En cambio, lo realmente impactante es que Sócrates allí precisamente dice y defiende —defiende con su vida ya que esta en un juicio condenado a la más severa pena posible por parte de la justicia política misma— todo lo contrario! Según Sócrates en dicho texto, que se da tan solo días antes de su muerte, el saber filosófico es por naturaleza una acción que se acomoda de manera mucho más saludable al ámbito de lo privado. Pero en vez de llenarnos de más “rumores”,  escuchemos al propio Sócrates:

“This is what opposes my political activity, and its opposition seems to me altogether noble. For know well, men of Athens, if I had long ago attempted to be politically active, I would long ago have perished, and I would have benefited neither you nor myself. Now do not be vexed with me when I speak the truth. For there is no human being who will preserve his life if he genuinely opposes either you or any other multitude and prevents many unjust and unlawful things to happen in the city. Rather, if someone who really fights for the just is going to preserve himself even for a short time, it is necessary for him to lead a private rather than a public life (mi énfasis: Apo. 31d-32a; edición Thomas G. West, disculpe la falta de traducción)

Como ha de ser evidente, estas palabras van en total oposición a su suposición, y por ende ponen en entredicho toda su columna ya que una coincidencia entre gobernantes y filósofos implicaría que los filósofos socráticos están de entrada interesados primordialmente en la búsqueda del poder político en el ámbito publico como medio para instaurar su visión absolutamente segura de la  justicia. Ahora bien, el por qué Sócrates prefiere la vida privada a la pública, bueno, eso sólo es posible entrar a considerar si superamos de una vez por todas su errada suposición que, para usar términos marxistas,  es enajenadora.  Pero sin duda unas de las claves radican precisamente en hacer la pregunta por la justicia no sólo en cuanto a su relación con las virtudes políticas tomadas como fines en sí mismas, sino también en cuanto a su relación con la noción de “felicidad” en términos de lo que cubre la correspondiente palabra griega eudaimonia.

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