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Love of Wisdom
A Philosophy Exhibit

Love of Wisdom
  • Symposium (by )
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Love of Wisdom:  A Philosophy Exhibit

When philosophy is read over time, it tells a story of a grand quest for wisdom.  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Frederick Douglass, Viktor Frank, Wittgenstein, Simone de Beauvoir - trailblazing teachers who wanted to teach people to think.

Logic and Ethics are important philosophical principles for evaluating information, given and received.  No man can think, argue, love or live without this organization of reasoning - its absence makes one passionless, and fully satisfied when present.  Some philosophers, like Socrates sacrificed for their belief that everyone should ask the question, "Why?" Other thinkers such as Viktor Frankl's philos was borne out of profound personal periods in their life.  However, for whatever reason, their teachings continue having a deep impact on society even after hundreds of years.  The great philosophers of history, and their teachings are preserved in the Education, Government, Philosophy, Economics, Science-Astronomy and many other topics.
Taoism
Taoism
Philosophy is a complex entity, at once a blend of religion and tradition and further, reasoning.  Great philosophical traditions of China, Taoism - a path of humans living in harmony with nature co-existed with Confucianism- ethical and philosophical system.  On the West side of the globe the Greek thinker Pythagoras influenced Plato, one of the most important figures of Ancient Greek world and the entire history of Western thought.  Our “Love of Wisdom: A Philosophy Exhibit,” explores Taoist and Confucian philosophy from China, and Pythagorean, Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy from Greece.   Philosophy seeks (not only) the simply knowledge using Logic and Ethics, but also search for a deep understanding and wisdom of truth, reality and the value of human life through intense thinking and contemplation.  These early lovers of the mind continue to push mankind to question our relationship to nature, art, science, the universe and each other.

Laozi was a Chinese philosopher and poet known for teaching Taoism, written in the Tao Te Ching.  This tradition of philosophy emphasizes living in Tao, a path of humans living in harmony with nature.  An Introduction to Zen Taoism and Its Precepts: First Essay summarizes Taoism as a release of needless competition, toward acceptance of a kind of authority over others that  includes responsibility for their well being.  Taoist practitioners know that they are not the center for the universe, but learn to put the universe within their center.  Their goal is to seek security within themselves, rather than in others. 

Zen Taoism, a mingling of Zen Buddhism and Taoism, teaches that the majority of human beings are born with inherent potential which is difficult to realize because it is inhibited by negative elements in society that people allow to govern their lives.  Zen Taoism is thought to be framed (in our modern era) to be skeptical of the socio-economic-political philosophy that comes from established orders because these are to serve their own power rather than to those who give them authority.  Laozi, in his writings, shared the values of the Buddha, both being pragmatic men concerned about saving humanity from itself.  In The Sacred Books of China the Texts of Taoism Part II by James Legge interprets that life can be renewed by abandoning worldly affairs.  By doing this, the body releases its toil and forgets the business of life which drains it of vital power.  When the body is restored, there is a union between the human and heaven.  Legge writes, “Heaven and Earth are the father and mother of all things. It is by their union that the body is formed; it is by their separation that (new) beginning is brought about...."  (The Sacred Books of China the Texts of Taoism Part II, James Legge).

Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism was developed by the Chinese philosopher Confucius as an ethical and philosophical system that co-existed with Taoist thought.  Confucianism emerged during the 550 B.C.E. during a period when there were many fiefdoms and kingdoms with loose political structures and lots of rivalry and war. J. Gilbert Walshe's book, Confucius and Confucianism: Four Lectures, outlines the basic principles of Chinese religion that influences Confucian ethics:  1) belief in a supreme deity, 2) the offering of burnt sacrifices, 3) the employment of prayer, 4) the recognition of a divinely-appointed moral law and 5) the conception of continued existence after death.   In the book Confucianism and Taoism, Sir Robert Kennaway Douglas interprets Confucius to be critical of Laozi’s Taoist thought.  He interprets Confucius to think that “it was only natural that Laozi--who preached that stillness and self-emptiness were the highest attainable objects--should be ready to assail a man whose whole being was wrapped up in ceremonial observances and conscious well-doing” (Confucianism and Taoism, Sir Robert Kennaway Douglas).

Confucius was more of a bureaucratic thinker in the Chinese government, with a measured and prideful attitude that was irritated of certain kinds of humility. Confucius stated: “A sage...will not enter a tottering state nor dwell in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail he shows himself, but when they are prostrated he remains concealed.”  Here, Confucius presents himself as using ethical wisdom only in opportune times when there is capacity for human reception, and an avoidance of selfless assistance without strategy  (Confucianism and Taoism, Sir Robert Kennaway Douglas).  
Greek Philosophy
Greek Philosophy
The Greek thinker Pythagoras is known for his Pythagorean Theorem.   The Golden Verses of Pythagoras offers insight into this philosopher’s thoughts and theories which were about “moral elevation, and in honor of wisdom” as well as the “metaphysical correlation of Providence, Destiny and the Will of Man.”  Addtionally, Pythagoras considered poetry  “...an art which one uses to give to his own ideas a particular form, or it is a divine inspiration by means of which one clothes in the human language and transmits to men the ideas of the gods" (The Golden Verses of Pythagora, Fabre d'Olivet).  

Pythagoras’ thought influenced Plato, another Greek philosopher and mathematician influential in the development of western thought.  The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 1 discusses his work on the Theory of Forms which began a unique perspective on abstract objects.  He said that if we are to understand speech as "matter and form, human voice would be the Matter of it, and articulation of that voice" would be "the Form."  Then, from a bigger picture, the Matter of human is air issued from the lungs, and its Form is modified by the Larynx.  This theory of distinguishing form and matter led to a school of thought called Platonism (The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 1, Plato).  

Aristotle was a student of Plato. He believed all concepts and knowledge were based on perception. The Works of Aristotle Vol. 4, as translated by J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross, describes Aristotle's method for dissecting animals in order to understand their relationship to the broader environment. This way of thinking influenced his opinions about ethics and the natural world.  The Politics of Aristotle describes how human society and the State originate in nature.  The concept or polity of "The State" was considered by the Greeks to be of higher priority over the individual and the household, and the individual and the household were considered parts of the State as the whole.  

Works Cited
"Aristotle."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

Aristotle.  The Politics of Aristotle.  Trans. William Newman.  Oxford:  The Claredon Press, 1887.

Aristotle.   The Works of Aristotle.  Trans. by J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross.  Volume 4.  Oxford:   The Claredon Press, 1910.

"Buddha."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.Org.   Web.   2014.

Buddhism.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Confucianism.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Confucius.   Confucian Analects.  Trans. by James Legge. (n.p.), 1893.

D'Olivet, Fabre.    The Golden Verses of Pythagoras.  New York:  G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1917.

Douglas, Robert Kenneway.  Confucianism and Taoism.   London:   Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1906.

"Ethics (Ideal)."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.org.  Web.  2014.

Lao-Tzu.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014. 

Lao-Tzu.  Tao Te Ching.  Trans. J. Legge.  Volume 39.   Internet Sacred Text Archive, 1891.

"Logic."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.  Web.  2014.

Jowett, B.  The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 1.  Trans. B. Jowett.  New York:  MacMillan Publishers Ltd., 1892.

Legge, James.  The Sacred Books of China the Texts of Taoism Part II.   Ed. F. Max Muller.  Oxford:  The Claredon Press, 1891.

Philosophy.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Plato.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

"Platonism."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014. 

Pythagorean Theorem.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Pythagoras.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Taoism.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Theory of Forms.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.

Rosenthal, Stan.  “An Introduction to Zen Taoism and Its Precepts:  First Essay.”  Web.  March 9, 1993.

Walshe, W. Gilbert.  Confucius and Confucianism: Four Lectures.  Shanghai:  Kelly & Walsh, 1911.

Zen Taoism.”  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  WorldLibrary.org.   Web.   2014.


Philosophy Collections
As we travel from East to West, different philosophies are presented.  Taoism seeks freedom from the state because of the way it shapes competitive relations between people.   Confucianism seeks ethics, but in a way to support the smooth functioning of society.   Greek thought seeks to optimize life’s flow according to the state.  "Love of Wisdom: A Philosophy Exhibit" examines philosophies across cultures and time.  

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