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The Philosopher and the Masses

How should the philosopher regard the "many"? As something to be avoided? To learn from? To be taught?

Can we even admit a distinction?

Let's grant that the philosopher is a thinker of the good and true, and to that extent has cultivated an attitude of mind which lights the world with the true colors which that attitude of mind has discerned in it. As the pattern gets more intricate and subtle, the philosopher's speech and reason become unconventional, her world taking on a privileged visage unshared by the rest.

We then will remember the death of Socrates — how the public mocked the vanity of his enterprises, and closed their ears to reason in order to abandon themselves to custom — and cry out "the crowd is untruth!”

But is it right to regard the public as an unthinking animal? Left only to be quieted and roused? If so, what does that say for ethics? (what is so "good" about it?) For the philosopher’s cherished “reason”? (what really is so "true"?)

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  • Charlie

    So whats airbrush piano playing?

    March 10, 2013

    • Charlie

      yeah, i know but what is it? and i never said i read it

      March 10, 2013

    • Brian

      playing style where I make colors with motions of my hands, as if an airbrush

      1 · March 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    It was a good meetup with lots of participation, and in the future I'll know not to say that education is propaganda....although if I hear Plato and/or Socrates mentioned one more time I'll punch something.

    March 10, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      >. < @Charlie: Crouching Tiger comment really not appreciated.

      March 11, 2013

    • Charlie

      well, i didnt mean anything bad by it, and i apologize if it offended you. but maybe you can explain to me why it is you dont like that? from my perspective, if someone made a polish or european reference like that i'd think it pretty cool and funny

      March 11, 2013

  • Charlie

    Oh what fun I had last night! And "Charlie-pants" didn't even turn into "Charlie-no-pants"! :-P

    March 10, 2013

    • Brian

      Yes, it was kind enough of you to offer to take off your shoes.

      March 10, 2013

  • Brian

    terrific meetup, excellent participation

    March 9, 2013

  • Ivo

    ...:)))...and how many Philosophers do we have in the group as of today? :)))

    1 · March 8, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Don't count me, I'm one of the masses:P

      1 · March 9, 2013

    • Charlie

      hilarious

      March 9, 2013

  • Scott

    Arrgh I can't make it.

    March 8, 2013

  • eric

    Wherever identity is ascribed to a locus of definitive relations, the philosopher's duty is to show that is false and any action from that supposed center can never be just...to whomever wil listen.


    Love is wisdom.

    2 · February 26, 2013

    • eric

      This sounds a bit forced... "the other" asserts its priority as a phenomena to be made true... I would say, it is good to share the (search for) truth with others.

      March 6, 2013

    • Brian

      Yes. But my point is that if philosophy is about finding the truth in all that presents itself to natural consciousness, and to make good on it, we find that we do not do justice to our inquiry if we leave out others.

      March 6, 2013

  • Thrashionalist

    The first question that occurs to me is how we establish what a person is. Others are supposed to contrast with me, and they are supposed to be many in number (vs. my singularity). But so much of our identity seems to be relational, or geared toward relationships, that I can't unproblematically locate a "border" dividing me from them in a definitive sense.

    February 18, 2013

    • Thrashionalist

      If justice concerns rightful claims, then persons will individuate in justice-relevant situations by being rightful claimants. When you mention "rightful claim to the truth", I interpret this to mean not a right to grab or get the truth from somewhere (like a right to a parcel of land), but rather a right to claim recognition as someone who has truth already. So it seems like, if philosophers are persons related as societies, they are principally to be understood as possessors of truth who have a right to be regarded as such - by each other.

      1 · February 19, 2013

    • Chad B.

      I think "masses" are more than just "a number of other people." Masses have a psychological unity and behave in ways that are more than the sum of their parts. At the very least they are undifferentiated.

      The psychology of juries particularly fascinates me, but they are a poor basis for generalization because (at least in modern times) they are selected precisely because of their ignorance of the case. I would be surprised to learn that a jury of philosophers would do any better. We should remember that most people are ignorant about most things, but also that most people specialize their knowledge in a few things. Even a plumber can talk over my head (when the conversation is plumbing).

      February 19, 2013

  • Charlie

    this should be good

    February 19, 2013

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