Monday, May 26, 2008

Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age: Part III, Chapter 1, "The Retraction of the Socratic Turning"

Blumenberg tells an admitted just-so story about the development of Presocratic philosophy -- an original harmony of the knowing subject and the world it knows, which philosophy disrupts by pulling truth increasingly apart from appearance

Socrates' turning -- rejects natural philosophy (which is portrayed as futile and endlessly disputatious) for philosophy directed at human self-knowledge

But the Platonic Socrates (at least) brings nature back into his inquiries again. Dogmatic myths are provided to fill in what must be believed about nature in order to shore up investigations of human and political life. In any case, the conflict with the Sophists includes the germ of justification for inquiring into nature. The argument against sophism is that knowledge of human affairs is properly directed not towards any one individual's interest, but to what is good for us as humans, by our nature. But human nature is not really seen as separate from the entire natural order.

Aristotle -- severs the bond between theoretical striving and moral knowledge, defends pure theory against suspicion that it is reaching beyond what is suitable for man, into the divine - the highest goal for man is to become more like the gods by seeking knowlege, and this is possible becasue of the reason which is in us

Stoicism - combines dogmatic assertion of the general principle of world's favorability for man with a number of practices which foster a partial or complete withholding of judgment on specific questions about nature.

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