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Postby Lioba » 30 Apr 2008, 18:53

:coffee: This morning Ilooked for a good newspaper besides my breakfast and I saw that one magazine had chosen Old Hellas as this weeks theme, so I took this. Their were some good stories .One was about Aristotle. Seems, that their exist still a few people, who value the old philosophers. One little note was rather funny,given as an example for his tendency to observe and comment almost everything :his observations regarding the excessive use of alcohol[I guess, he had a lot of opportunities to watch this as the macedonian
kings had a little lack of temperance]:
People who have drunk any kind of alkohol except beer, shift and tumble in any direction, those who drink beer only shift behind and then lay on their backs. :toothy-grin:
Back to theme-
As a little intermezzo-how can the virtues be brought back to peoples focus?
Aristotle himself had some hope in the States responsibilty .He said, that polititians should care for the people learning to become virtuous. Therefore they should have knowledge about the human soul same way as medical specialists know about the whole human body.
Thinking about todays politicians I´m not too optimistic.
As Ben wrote, governments value virtue to a certain degree- as long as it makes people easy-to-rule-subjects, but they don´t want citicens who think and judge independently and follow their moral principles.
so, if not the government-who else.We can ay, then the family has to take over the resposibility. Nice idea, but in a society, where so much is already lost, that will not be enough.As Aristotle says, Prudence belongs to those virtues that are learned by teaching and experience,Justice, Fortitude and Temperance we learn mostly through constant discipline.
Where is the place for this?
Iustitia est ad alterum.
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Postby Ben2747 » 30 Apr 2008, 22:35

Lioba wrote::coffee: This morning Ilooked for a good newspaper besides my breakfast and I saw that one magazine had chosen Old Hellas as this weeks theme, so I took this. Their were some good stories .One was about Aristotle. Seems, that their exist still a few people, who value the old philosophers. One little note was rather funny,given as an example for his tendency to observe and comment almost everything :his observations regarding the excessive use of alcohol[I guess, he had a lot of opportunities to watch this as the macedonian
kings had a little lack of temperance]:
People who have drunk any kind of alkohol except beer, shift and tumble in any direction, those who drink beer only shift behind and then lay on their backs. :toothy-grin:
Back to theme-
As a little intermezzo-how can the virtues be brought back to peoples focus?
Aristotle himself had some hope in the States responsibilty .He said, that polititians should care for the people learning to become virtuous. Therefore they should have knowledge about the human soul same way as medical specialists know about the whole human body.
Thinking about todays politicians I´m not too optimistic.
As Ben wrote, governments value virtue to a certain degree- as long as it makes people easy-to-rule-subjects, but they don´t want citicens who think and judge independently and follow their moral principles.
so, if not the government-who else.We can ay, then the family has to take over the resposibility. Nice idea, but in a society, where so much is already lost, that will not be enough.As Aristotle says, Prudence belongs to those virtues that are learned by teaching and experience,Justice, Fortitude and Temperance we learn mostly through constant discipline.
Where is the place for this?


It has to come from someone . . . have you read Aristotle's Politics, yet? He describes this cycle, with pairs of each regime (one virtuous, the other vicious): 1 - Monarchy, Tyranny, 2 - Aristocracy, Oligarchy, 3 - Democracy, Mob-rule. And then it starts all over. I always thought, however, it would go like this - 1 - Tyranny, Monarchy, Tyranny, 2 - Oligarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, 3 - Mob-rule, Democracy, Mob-rule. The beginning of each set of three is a reaction to the abuses of the former, or simply opportunistic. It's not usually about altruistic motives, but a demand for a greater share in the benefits of society, and a perceived opportunity to seize that greater share. People improve over time in this regime, and after a period of stability, different factors creep in which lead to the decline of that regime - the aristocracy slides to an oligarchy, and then the mob rebels. The mob eventually collects itself, creates a rational legal system and terrorizes its unruly members into compliance, and gradually a functional democracy emerges. The democracy erodes back into a mob, and an opportunity presents itself for another tyranny or oligarchy.

But in this cycle, how do the virtuous forms emerge in the first place? It would seem, and I think this is what you propose in your post, that the habits of virtue are acquired through the guidance and discipline of those who already possess them - if nobody has it, they can't give what they don't have. The Latinglish for this is "non dat quod non got" - you can't give what you haven't got. Once these habits have corroded in society, is it possible to regain them without some force from the outside developing them in us?
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 08:49

Yes, that´s my question- how to save this treasure trough times of trouble and how to reinstallate it in the country and in peoples lives.
The reneval has to come from somewhere. And another question-how can I know, what is our duty today- rather stand up and fight or to wait for the time, when again there is a chance to be heard by the people.
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Postby Ben2747 » 01 May 2008, 12:24

Lioba wrote:Yes, that´s my question- how to save this treasure trough times of trouble and how to reinstallate it in the country and in peoples lives.
The reneval has to come from somewhere. And another question-how can I know, what is our duty today- rather stand up and fight or to wait for the time, when again there is a chance to be heard by the people.


I think this is the challenge placed before all Christians - how can you be a light to the world? I would propose that we generally find our vocation in the midst of our circumstances, in the work that God has placed before us. We don't have to go "looking" for some esoteric vocation and opportunity. If we are faithful in the trust that has been placed before us, other work will be given. I am always surprised by the agony that so many Christians have over this question . . . they spend so many hours in tearful prayer about how God can use them. I think He's probably answering them the whole time, and they don't necessarily like that answer. It's not "big enough" to just start where they are. Let's race off to Vietnam for a mission! This is so much more attractive than "love your family and educate your children." I was always very taken by this image at the end of George MacDonald's "Lilith" - he is unsure of what to do or where to go. The advice he receives is that he won't get anywhere until he starts going - so just to put one foot in front of the other. Who knows where it leads?
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 May 2008, 13:02

Ben2747 wrote:...so just to put one foot in front of the other. Who knows where it leads?


Didn't Bilbo or Frodo Baggins say something about this?:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 13:24

Hi, Stanley-wasn´t it something about the way beginning at one´s door?
You both are right- brooding about this question may just keep me from taking the next right step.
Last edited by Lioba on 01 May 2008, 13:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 13:41

As Ben already mentioned, Justice is the constant will to render to each one what belongs to him.
For a good government,that has "bonum commune"- the wellbeing of the community-in focus this is an enourmus demand.As I suppose that none of us is actually a politician, but we all are citicens in democratic countries, what is our duty in this?Ben already said that it is important to elect leaders who have clear view on moral principles. Another thing is, that Thomas mentions is that we partake in the governments justice(??right word) to be contented with our share when it is just and fair and when we not complain without reason. Their is a danger to be be always not satisfied, to show a general attitude of criticisme and unwillingness, that is bad for a society.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 14:04

The same principle of rendering to each one what righteously is his we see in the relation of single people. Life is a constant exchange of goods and work.
This exchanges must be kept in fair balance. I can break this balance through crime- stealing, breaking of contracts or even murder. I hope, that nobody in this forum has such intentions.So what means justice in this case for us? Are we practicing justice just by not committing crimes?
Obviously not, because justice as a virtue is defined as actively desiring(and doing) of the good, not only an avoiding of the bad.
As I said before, we always give and take, work , produce and buy things.For what we do and give we deserve a reward. For everything others do for us or give us, they deserve their reward- by paying them or keeping in some other way our part of a contract. By not doing this, we commit a crime, by doing it reluctantly we avoid doing a crime and also punishment. But when we constantly and consequently are willing to give others their reward no matter if we like it - or them*-we develop the virtue of justice.

*them-would be interesting to know, how often promises had been broken, because "they " hadn´t been worthy to be treated fair., not only between individuals but also between groups or countries.The fokus of my action should be on the question, whether I behave in a honest and fair way not on the question whether the other person deserves it to be treated fairly.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 14:22

Their is one more aspect- some things belong to a person, because he deserves them by what he does . That is what I tried to explain with the term balance of exchanges.
But their are things that are our own because they are given to us -a heritage, a gift or even a lotteries jackpot.Those things are a persons belongings and it would be wrong to to take them away.
But their are things that are our own from another source- our life, our freedom, our dignity, our reputation , our relations.
The question is on which foundations we value them and what it means to to show an attitude of justice in this area of human life.
What do think about that?
For example: I foundmyself saying something nasty about a person I was very angry with at that time- I wish, I hadn´t done so- was really sorry. :lipssealed:
Somehow I got the feeling, this was against justice - violating her dignity and reputation.
A good final sentence about this comes from Thomas:
Mercy without justice is the mother of destruction, justice without mercy is cruelty.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 14:43

But what about things that can not be rewarded properly? Aristotle says, that their can not be the meisure of justice betwen those who are bound together in a deeper sense. The love and care of good parents can not be "paid back" in an appropriate way, this goes beyond justice.
The same we see in many other situations. Sometimes we need and get more hen we can give back, another time we are asked to give without proper reward. As a Christian I know that a never can pay back to god what he did for me.
The only rewards I can give are gratefulness and piety and my readyness to give to those in need who can not reward me.
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Postby Lioba » 01 May 2008, 14:57

:??: HELP !!
Lost in translation!
Ben and those of you, who know some German- what would be a good translation of this Ouote?
Denn auch dies ist unsere Art:da am freiesten zu wagen, wo wir am besten überlegt haben. Bei andern aber zeugt nur die Unkenntnis Tapferkeit, die Überlegung jedoch Zagen.
I tried with this words:
So this also is our way: to risk most freely, where we had reflected best.
In others only ignorance begets fortitude, reflection begets reluctance.
That´s from one of Pericles´speeches and is quoted by Pieper.
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Postby Ben2747 » 01 May 2008, 21:08

Lioba wrote::??: HELP !!
Lost in translation!
Ben and those of you, who know some German- what would be a good translation of this Ouote?
Denn auch dies ist unsere Art:da am freiesten zu wagen, wo wir am besten überlegt haben. Bei andern aber zeugt nur die Unkenntnis Tapferkeit, die Überlegung jedoch Zagen.
I tried with this words:
So this also is our way: to risk most freely, where we had reflected best.
In others only ignorance begets fortitude, reflection begets reluctance.
That´s from one of Pericles´speeches and is quoted by Pieper.


Did Pieper mention if it came from Theucydides or Plutarch? I can recall a number of Pericles' speeches in each.
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Postby Lioba » 02 May 2008, 06:22

No, Ben. and my version of the Quadriga is anyhow not very detailled in giving the sources of quotes.It is a rather new one-original text but with a beautiful cover, a modernized title -About virtues- and a preface by former President Rau. The concept was to make Piepers teaching more publicly known not for scientific working on it. Maybe that´s the reason for being a bit careless in that direction.
But I´m rather sure I got the point about the Quote.
Apprehensiveness and hesitation would be the other options for reluctance.

So the question is
1. which word to choose for Zagen-german synonyme Zögern(but Zagen has a little touch of fear- verzagen for example means loose courage, so Zagen is reluctance with a tendency towards loosing courage, not only being careful.
Reluctance, apprehensiveness hesitation
2. to bring it into GOOD english.

But before I turn to fortitude. is their something more you want to say about Justice? Sure there is a lot more to say about everything, but I tried to be not too long.
O and by the way, if it becomes too boring for you to endure it at all, you can say it openly . I know, that my attempt to express something I that myself just start to understand in another language must sound horribly clumsy. Well, it´is a very interesting procedure for myself and I enjoy the discussion but maybe it is not so for others. :smile:
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Postby Ben2747 » 02 May 2008, 14:27

Lioba wrote:No, Ben. and my version of the Quadriga is anyhow not very detailled in giving the sources of quotes.It is a rather new one-original text but with a beautiful cover, a modernized title -About virtues- and a preface by former President Rau. The concept was to make Piepers teaching more publicly known not for scientific working on it. Maybe that´s the reason for being a bit careless in that direction.
But I´m rather sure I got the point about the Quote.
Apprehensiveness and hesitation would be the other options for reluctance.

So the question is
1. which word to choose for Zagen-german synonyme Zögern(but Zagen has a little touch of fear- verzagen for example means loose courage, so Zagen is reluctance with a tendency towards loosing courage, not only being careful.
Reluctance, apprehensiveness hesitation
2. to bring it into GOOD english.

But before I turn to fortitude. is their something more you want to say about Justice? Sure there is a lot more to say about everything, but I tried to be not too long.
O and by the way, if it becomes too boring for you to endure it at all, you can say it openly . I know, that my attempt to express something I that myself just start to understand in another language must sound horribly clumsy. Well, it´is a very interesting procedure for myself and I enjoy the discussion but maybe it is not so for others. :smile:


I don't know - I would have to dig through Plutarch and Theucydides to find the passage - I don't speak German (I couldn't stand Heidegger and Hegel, and figured neglecting the German philosophers would do me no great harm - in fact, might even be beneficial). I'm curious, though- why did Pieper quote this passage in relation to justice . . . or were you moving on to fortitide? I don't have much more to say about Justice - only that this is one virtue where it is easy to "deaden" our conscience. We attribute our success to ourselves - and forget to give thanks back to the community which allowed us to succeed. We take advantage of others - and this is praised as being "shrewd" in business affairs. We grow accustomed to our comforts - and forget the poverty this causes others. Power and advantage blind us very quickly, and it's easy to shift our understanding of what we are taking and what we are not giving back. I am sure that we in the West are constantly sinning against this virtue - the earth and the poor cry out for justice, and we do not even hear it. What was it that Mother Theresa said - "live simply, so that others may simply live." I think this is one of the main thrusts of the Holy Father's message to the West. Has this raised much discussion in Germany?
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Postby Lioba » 02 May 2008, 15:01

Hi, Ben- yes I´moving to fortitude. As I said, their is a lot more to Justice, but I tried to look at those parts that would touch our personal responsibility.
It seems not much what I said, but if you reflect it -especially my comment to the little word "them", there is much more in it.
The words about living simply so that others might simply live are known also in Germany. Their is one advantage about having Ratzi as Pope- everybody is now interested in the catholic statements.
About the philosophers- obviously nobody likes german philosophers-even the Germans themselves! Everybody respects and fears Kant, some enjoy Schopenhauers strange mixture of Idealisme and Misanthropics, many pretend to have understood Hegel and all are happy that Heidegger made a few political mistakes, so nobody has to like him. Honestly - I can not say, that I have more sympathy for Sartre and Beauvoir.
What about american philosophers?
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