The Deepest Human Life is Everywhere
Plato helps us realize that within each of us the very depths of being human are present – we see that each human life reflects something important about who we are.
The difference between regular folks and someone like Kant, pertains to our differing abilities to articulate the shape of a philosophical constellation – it has nothing to do with our inner substance. The pursuit of wisdom involves a confrontation with our ignorance, most famously embodied in the “I know I know nothing” of Socrates.
Regardless how challenging things may be, we take solace in the fact that even a profound confusion is a profound confusion. Whatever holiness can be found in Socrates and Confucius is within our reach.
Exploring Life Through Philosophy
Philosophy, as Plato shows, involves confronting the fact that our most stubborn attempts to think clearly come up short, but we nonetheless have to live as if we had answers to the stubborn mysteries. Philosophy is everything that humanly follows from a real confrontation with our strange predicament.
At it’s best it’s a way of life. The division between the wise and the foolish is not between those with all the answers and those who are confused. The great dividing line is between our usual folly and an enlightened folly, by which one understands life itself and has found a way of happily living in an impossible relationship.
Can Beliefs & Wisdom Coexist?
Thomas Aquinas, the master of the theologians, is said to have come down from his vision of God and declared his thousands of learned pages so much straw. Yet, as Socrates and other great ones teach us, we can’t do without beliefs. They’re a necessary part of being human.
Wisdom is compatible with any number of traditions, religious or otherwise. For wisdom is not so much the possession of right beliefs (though it involves dodging the worst of them) as finding a way to relate to our beliefs in such a way that the good parts of us are liberated. Wisdom isn’t a doctrine: it’s a style.
Background on Scott Samuelson