Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Does FLG Keep Subjecting Himself To The Mental Anguish

...that is Rufus blogging the canon? Morbid curiosity is about all he can come up with.

Today, FLG reads Rufus' take on Aristotle's On the Soul. Look, FLG has read a lot of Plato and Aristotle. So, he understands when people don't have the same familiarity with the topic that he has. But for Fuck's Sake, Rufus has been blogging their work for what seems like a fucking eternity.

In fact, FLG feels like Prometheus. He's chained to a rock and every time Rufus posts it's like his liver is eaten, only to grow back after a few days, and Rufus comes back and eats his liver again. On another level the metaphor fits because Rufus is extinguishing the fire of knowledge with each and every post.

Rufus writes:
The other problem with Aristotle’s soul is that it makes mine seem so inconsequential after all. If the powers that come to me by the soul are essentially the same as those of most animals and all human beings, what makes me different from other living things?

Two things. First, Aristotle's animating question is "What is Nature?" Second, Rufus' problem, almost entirely, is that he is too egoistic to suppress himself when reading an thinker. Just accept what they are saying and shut that voice in your head up for a second. Read them sympathetically first. Then, go back and allow your own objections to arise. Otherwise, it's a constant, "Hey, I'm not like that. Hey, I don't like that. Hey, I think ...." And you never fully understand anybody except those with whom you largely agree.

Rufus continues:
I tend to think of the soul as what makes me Me, but here it’s both the essence of me and somehow fulfills the same functions in all living things. It’s just the basic formula of life. Why aren’t living things virtually identical? Or is this understanding basically right and our sense of having our own unique identity is overblown and mistaken?

Holy fucking shit. Is downing a bottle of whiskey, doing a bong hit, and then hitting yourself in the head until you pass out a requirement before blogging over at the League?

Aristotle says:
What is soul?-an answer which applies to it in its full extent. It is substance in the sense which corresponds to the definitive formula of a thing's essence. That means that it is 'the essential whatness' of a body of the character just assigned.

Now, this might be unsatisfactory in that is just says that our essential nature is our soul, which doesn't really say much about the form our essential nature takes in any particular case. However, for Aristotle, who is concerned about Nature, this makes perfect sense. It certainly doesn't mean that things aren't unique. Things like habit can mold an individual soul.

You know what? I'm just too fed up right now to even bother explaining this shit. Rufus has no fucking clue what he's talking about pretty much all the time and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure all this shit out.

3 comments:

Andrew Stevens said...

Second, Rufus problem, almost entirely, is that he is to egoistic to suppress himself when reading an thinker. Just accept what they are saying and shut that voice in your head up for a second. Read them sympathetically first. Then, go back and allow your own objections to arise. Otherwise, it's a constant, "Hey, I'm not like that. Hey, I don't like that. Hey, I think ...." And you never fully understand anybody except those with whom you largely agree.

Good insight. I often do this myself and, now that you've mentioned it, I'm certain you're right and that this is often a problem. I wouldn't say I never fully understand anybody except those I already agree with, but I'm sure my relative inability to read passively is a handicap in that regard.

Withywindle said...

I would phrase it as a different form of active reading; to enter into someone else's way of thinking is something you have to do, not just let happen to you.

(Andrew, I'm not just disagreeing with you for the sake of disagreeing with you! - although it must seem like it nowadays. It is a Quibble of Deep Significance.)

Andrew Stevens said...

Not at all, Withywindle. On the contrary, I feel like I'm the one who probably appears to be disagreeing with you just to disagree lately.

I agree with you that it takes effort to be in complete sympathy with another person's viewpoint, even when one disagrees. I also think it sometimes requires more empathy than I am actually constitutionally able to muster up particularly for arguments I regard as irrational.

 
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