The Virtuous Philosopher

Nihilism or absolute agnosticism, as it is also known, to me, is the default state of the philosopher. I partially agree with Jakob. In the beginning, philosophy tends to produce within us a blank slate. Many come to philosophy because they begin to question their many long held, deeply ingrained assumptions about the world (psychological, ethical, political, metaphysical etc). The child (intellectually speaking) becomes an Adolescent. This is by no means the end goal of philosophy, however, but only an extrinsic means to an intrinsic end. We must reassess, reexamine and wipe away many of the assumptions, delusions and faiths (parents, teachers, politicians etc) of our intellectual youth, if we are to build our morals, values and beliefs on a more solid foundation (A mix of intuition, reason and experience. Reason can accomplish and provide us with little or nothing alone). The Adolescent becomes the Adult.

If the end goal of philosophy is merely to produce a blank slate, then, what is the point? We may as well have been blissfully ignorant (assumptions etc), now we are despairingly ignorant. Many philosophers on this forum and elsewhere, never really make it to stage 3 or 4 (Adult or Elder)… why is this? Is it because intuition, reason and experience (perhaps many here and elsewhere aren’t utilizing all of their faculties) can offer us nothing, absolutely nothing? If so, then philosophy truly is dead, but I don’t believe that is the case. Perhaps the explanation lies in an unexpected place… with the virtues of the men and women who philosophize themselves.

It is always easier to tear down, than to build, isn’t it? I suspect this is just as true of philosophy as with anything and everything else. It is much more difficult to take a stance than to stand for nothing at all… but also less fullfilling and less vital. If we never take any risks, ever, then we’ll never accomplish anything of real value. I argue truth, meaning and purpose, aren’t just some arbitrary, coincidental impulses within us, but essential components of our being, perhaps just as much or more so than food, water or drink, for man will readily give these things up if he truly believes his life has no meaning.

I argue that in our pursuit of hedonic and material acquisition, we have neglected to water the very flower of our being, the crux of what it means to be human, desires that have lied dormant within us too long. Yes, you know what it is I am talking about. I wish to rekindle it within myself and everyone here. There is a portion of your soul that cannot, cannot possibly be satisfied by the things this world (in it’s present state) has to offer. If we do not acknowledge this spark within ourselves, then we can never hope to attain true happiness, we are no better than beasts (albeit with slightly more intelligence). A man needs more than bread and water to live, I argue, he needs the possession of truth, virtue, wisdom, meaning, purpose and yes, dare I say it, spirituality, we need spirtuality to live, in both an intrinsic and extrinsic sense (I believe the survival of man and nature may depend on them), not only that, but we need to know we’re actually in possession of them.

Now, due to some wretched curse, intellectual, moral and spiritual apathy, men today, not just philosophers, but all men, have given up the search. I suspect many here have given up the quest even prior to philosophizing, or just after, not ever making an effort, because of the sickness of intellectual indolence and pessemism. At this point, many of you are thinking, well, what exactly are you arguing for? To dispense with philosophy, science, to return to faith again? No no no. Just that when we philosophize, we should do so to discover the aforementioned (wisdom etc). I suspect it’s a lot less difficult than we make it seem.

We’re stuck in a rut right now, we’ve been stuck in it for a long time, so it’s difficult to see a way out, difficult to recall a time when we weren’t in it. Phases come and go (by definition). I think this present phase has played itself out long enough. I’m calling for a return to the great system builders - Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, Epicureans. Not that we should adopt their teachings (not that we shouldn’t), but their positivism. Now, it’s true, we may never arrive at a solid foundation. Truth, justice, love and spirituality might indeed be a byproduct of our primitive, cave man imaginations (I highly doubt it), but what if we’re wrong?

What if these things lie just around the corner, and now, we may be intellectually ready to fully unveil them. I know this, we have absolutely nothing to lose, nothing, and everything to gain by searching for them. If not, then what the are we doing here? There has been a lot of talk around here lately, about what philosophy and the purpose of philosophy is. Perhaps we’re going through a mid-life crisis of sorts here on ILP, I don’t know, I haven’t really been here long enough to say. I know I will at least attempt to inject some life into philosophy, rather than death.

Philosophy itself can be practiced virtuously or viciously.

He who stands for nothing, falls for anything.

Imagine the society born within the back seat of a great roller coaster. By what virtuous philosophy espoused, would the car alter its course or even even slow its destiny?

Such is the truth of typical philosophizing. How careful and precise one must be to alter the swaying of so many with merely a mind and a small voice. What is there to say that hasn’t been said and by such doing, created the very sway at hand?

“Please Master, say to me only what I haven’t already heard, teach to me what I have not already learned, inspire me to only say what has not already been said, and show what has not already been shown.” - LTT

Such is the prayer of those who walk alone fore none believe in or stand by what hasn’t already been said.

I don’t think this qualifies as a response to the OP. I never said we should only learn and teach new things. Do you mean to say it is impossible to formulate anything new?

That is the part it addresses. {You do actually read these eloquent posts that you write?}

As the roller coaster peaks and begins it rumble downward, seemingly toward oblivion, a voice calls for it to rise upward instead. “Perhaps if we all jump upward at the same time?”

Isn’t a philosophy of “virtue”, a philosophy that is actually applicable to real situations? Just as it is easy to tear down compared to building up, it is easy to say, “let’s all be better” rather than tell precisely how to accomplish it in directly applicable terms. If when you call for the cat, it fails to come, you did something wrong, not the cat.

That is the part it addresses. {You do actually read these eloquent posts that you write?}

As the roller coaster peaks and begins its rumble downward, seemingly toward oblivion, a voice calls for it to rise upward instead. “Perhaps if we all jump upward at the same time?”

Isn’t a philosophy of “virtue”, a philosophy that is actually applicable to real situations? Just as it is easy to tear down compared to building up, it is easy to say, “let’s all be better” rather than tell precisely how to accomplish it in directly applicable terms. If when you call for the cat, it fails to come, you did something wrong, not the cat.

I thought I’d play John the baptist to potential Christs out there. Next time I’ll play Christ.

Many of you know what my reaction to this will be:

What in the world is being proposed here?

This is the sort of philosophy that to me amounts to a bunch of words defining and defending other words. Abstractly, up on the sky-hooks.

Now, I may well be wrong about this. But how so?

I have to ask: What particular “non-arbitrary” “truth, meaning, wisdom, virtue, and purpose”?

What on earth does this mean?

To the contributor:

Please situate this entreaty in an actual existential context. Show us how you have used these words to enhance your own life…your own interactions…with others. Otherwise it all comes down to dueling definitions. The debate will revolve bascially around establishing the meaning of the words themselves. Any agreement will be about the language and not about any particular behaviors precipitated by the language.

Now, admittedly, this reflects my own prejudice regarding philosophy—the one where words and worlds are never far removed.

…And this coming from someone who calls themselves I Am Ambiguous, how ironic.

I believe it comes from taking to much stock in perceptions of philosophy and also and in believing we are much differant form the people of ancient greece. The common perception held back then as it is know is that philsophy is pointless or at best a theoretical discipline. What kind of career can you obtain by studying philosophy other than teaching philosophy? Philosophy though is much deeper than that, it questions things. Why should I get a career to become rich or famous? What brings me happiness and fufillment? Whats do I truly wish to accomlish in my life? Some may say “you can find theses things out later” but what could be more important than obtaining your own happiness and understanding the universe and your place in it. Some who claim to be philosophers say “there is no purpose” then why do so many of us humans strive for purpose is it simply a cruel side effect of our “intelligence”? How can some people who state that they are so completley against the idea of faith tell you “what is and what is not” when they themselves understand (or should understand) that they do not “know” or to an extention that they do not know everything.

For the system building of philosophy I believe people simply need to be introduced and shown to understand philosophy as somthing all people can understand rather than “a complicated and pointless pursuit that result in the asking of lots of questions” all people (to a certain extent) have the ability to think, so it would appear that just as many people have the ability to philosophise. In my understanding of things none of us were born philosophers it was something we discovered and fell in love with whether its a happy, tragic romance or a romance we wished we never met depending on your philisophical views. You may be suprised how quickly you can turn a discussion into a philisophical discussion and people who have never studied philosphy wil be very interested as long as you allow them to say their piece.

As for philosophy being in a rut that may be true in the larger scheme of things though I cannot speak for every individual, but theses trial are what make life interesting if everything were pefect for philosophy how could we discover if we are truly to stand by and guard our lady philosophy. We must remeber though that we found this lady philosophy in a sea of ignorance for if we were already wise why would we need to philosophise and that I believe is also the reason why there are a few kinds of people who are not philosophers, people who believe they already “know” the truth or “know” enough of it, people too afraid to journey for the truth and those who do not understand what philosophy truly is. I also thing that part of philosophy is the human way of undertanding how we should live in civilizations, our emotions anger, joy, desire, jelousy etc. I believe were simply our instinctual ways of living off the land because we were primariy concern with survival and happiness not standards or societal norms because the societies were so small that if people in the tribe were of concern to you, you could simply communicate with them, but that becomes confounded with this vastly populated world, the internet itself cannot compare to a face to face conversation with someone. These impulses of ours I believe were simply a means to an end anger encourages us to stand up for ourselfs (though in an undisciplined way), jelousy encourges us to keep our share (or what we perceive as our share) and desire and fear is what primaly motivated us to survive. In theses socieies we live in though there are few natural checks desire for food becomes gluttony, desire to procreate becomes lust, the anger that motivates us to defend ourselves becomes revenge etc.

I do not follow any particular religion but I am a spiritual person I believe in a soul seperate from the body and an afterlife but as ot the true nature of those things I am not sure. I do not find the existance of God or gods to be as ridicoulous as some I believe people simply have a hard time understanding something that may not be able to be comprehended at least completely.

I Truly do love philosophy and virtous philosophers.

Again: What in the world are you talking about?

Situate Virtue and the Virtuous Philosopher out in the world.

And ambiguity is derived from the realization that once situated out in the world many words are rather quickly drawn and quartered.

The ambiguity inherent in dasein is everywhere.

I’d say that essential component is the very forum in which truth, meaning, and purpose find relevance – in our relationships. Therefore, I’d also say our impulses are incidental insofar as they affirm our relationships, and arbitrary inasmuch as they are subjective, but shared experiences.

Also, I don’t think people “readily” give up these essential components of being as our impulses still urge survival, persistence, and assimilation. Rather, I think people may push them aside reluctantly, or in desperation, as a sort of capitulation.

Perhaps the “Virtuous Philosopher” doesn’t necessarily look to overcome, or succumb to, his impulses, but to condition them into compromise. Full recognition, but not indulgence, of our underlying impulses. This goes along with Schopenhauer’s critique of Kant’s ‘thing-in-itself’, which Kant posited as “unknowable”. Shope essentially said that understanding the ‘self’ is our primary means of insight into the nature of being. In other words, “noumena” are actually phenomenal and thus ‘knowable’ phenomenologically.

Personally, I think philosophy suffers from a comparison with science. Science is forever building on its catalogue of knowledge, happy with the never ending pursuit of more and more datum; there is always something new to know and understand. Philosophy on the other hand looks for eternal truths, truths that do not grow and change over time. Once found there is then nothing new for it to do; but it doesn’t make it finished because it must be forever learnt and understood by following generations. The truths of philosophy cannot be memorised like the datum of science, it must be understood. And then when it is understood the understanding must be passed on, not just the findings. This passing on of the understandings is the work of the Elder philosopher. This is what Socrates did, it is what the Elder Aboriginal man was doing during ceremonies, and it is probably what philosophers are not doing today.


Do you suppose that someone with balls will one day follow your lead and declare Nihilism a crime proper? A form of degeneracy, in other words, something to do with the physiological exhaustion of the type “Man” from generation to generation.

Alternatively: Nihilism as un-patriotism.

Alternatively: Nihilism as lacking in vigorousness and sex appeal. A thoughtform unfit for a soldier.

Nihilism as something too “yesterday” and really a post-Christian moodswing (from the fictional rosey positive into the no less fictional cold negative ).

A woman can be loved virtuously or she can be loved viciously, as you so well pointed out. The question however remains to be answered, what does she herself seem to like the best?


I’d argue against the tabula rasa position outlined in the OP. We are encumbered beings and as such bring a lot of baggage to any discussion. Recognizing that baggage is a critical component of being a philosopher. Not eliminating it (unless it is deemed undesirable – and even then it will likely persist) but just knowing that it is there.

Beautifully said, but that is it exactly philosophy cannot simply be taught because it is not black and white it must be understood. The differance between Intelligence and Wisdom.

What “eternal truths” do you intend to pass on as a philosopher? And what is the practical import of these truths?

I am here. I am the greatest philosopher who has ever lived. You will find the truth if you read my words. I know the truth. I know what spirituality is. Spirituality is transcendence, mysticism. Spirituality is revealing that which is hidden. Spirituality is where society has always said that spirituality is not. Spirituality is found within sex. And within consciousness altering substances. You don’t need your Plato or your Aristotle or your Stoics or Nietzsche or Wittgenstein any more. Those guys were just crawling around in the darkness with just candles to see the trees. I illuminate the entire forest with brilliant, blazing light. I am the first human being to accurately describe the nature of reality regarding politics, morality and philosophy. I see the problems. And I have the solutions. I am here.

Arrogance (or sarcasm I cannot quite tell) isnt Wisdom or Truth.

We become arguementative, because We must question everything.
But All believes must be taken down of of that proverbial slate for examination. Manny many believes were put on that slate by society and our confused perceptions. This believes will be examined, quantified, and reavaluated. The useless and dangerous believes will be discarded. And the slate becomes more blank.
The slate was full of what is right and wrong and as long as we did not questioned it we live happy (albiet a happiness of a slave).
The examination quantification and reavaluation is an agnst. The midnight of the soul as it is somewhere called,is in which the mind is adrift. We start to loss friends, faith, even family unity. We are alone but not lonely. Because lonely was another idea on that slate that will have been reformulated.
And it is this angst that scares many. It makes them stop in their tracks. They do not want to be alone, they do not lose friends, family etc…
All this must be let go or you will not move to freedom you will not become the creator.
On the other side of this angst we start to hang our own beleives, our own loves, our own hates, our own faiths; up on that slate. we create ourselves. We create us as opposed to when society had imposed everything.
And we become a new man. a new being whose reactions and relationship to the world are now authentic and his own. But there is no path to this new man only a wondering way. And because it is pathless many refuse to go there.