Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Friday, August 29, 2003
Plato Reflection Paper
A real philosopher must obtain a valid education and has experienced a variety of different situations to become a true philosopher. Although it is possible for a man or woman in the younger years to attribute to philosophy, there is only so deep in which these younger people can fathom. This leads one to the concept that an older more matured individual would most likely and more commonly have the higher capacity and ability to acquire such philosophies.
Through the reading when Socrates engages in an argument with Cephalus in front of his son Polemarchus, who later participates with his short simple remarks, Cephalus and Socrates shuffle and show bits and pieces of insight concerning important rhetorical questions, and the argument shifts back and forth through each other’s perception on which path or explanation is closer to the truth. At one point in the argument, Cephalus removes himself from the situation and goes elsewhere. At this point, his son Polemarchus has now inherited Cephalus’ position in the highly advanced and in depth argument. Polemarchus, who considers himself an active in depth philosopher like his father Cephalus, has to take on this new challenge in his new situation. He is expected to have the same capacity and valid opinions and feedback in the situations and rhetorical question of the world.
When Socrates resumes the argument with Polemarchus, it is very clear through the beginnings that Polemarchus has become dumbfounded by Socrates philosophies. At this point in time, Polemarchus begins to consider this new point of view of, Socrates having the ability to out philosophize Polemarchus through the fact that Socrates has more experiences and a more variety of experiences of the world than Polemarchus could have ever had all because of the simple fact that Socrates has been living and encountering situations and question on the earth longer than Polemarchus has.
This brings up a very important question of why are the elderly considered, “out-dated.” People assume the elderly people’s mental capacity based on their physical appearance of having run out of steam. This physical exhaustion does not account for the mental activity and validity that still are being produced. In this frame of mind, the younger disrespect the elderly by taking advantage of them. The younger do no have as much of a respect and understanding of society as the elderly do. For example, when younger people hear the elderly speak they listen to them in a different mindset, as they would have otherwise had while listening to someone else, they listen to the elderly with a degree of pity. They pity the elderly because they assume they are tired and exhausted by life and its troubles. The assumption is that elderly people have been, “numbed,” by the world and are no longer a functioning part of society. Their role in life has been eliminated. Sadly, people do not give the elderly a chance to participate in society as much as they could.
To be a true philosopher, you have to be educated. A man could be twenty-five, and highly educated, and make a great philosopher. An elderly man could not have been educated in his youth; therefore he might not be able to keep up with the younger, educated man. It can work both ways, the younger man could not be educated and the elderly man could be. For example, when I argue with Rob Skiff, he is the more educated one and very rarely do I win an argument. My points might be valid, but in the end, he uses his education to crush me. You can’t make an argument with out knowing the facts.
The society we live in today, the young don’t appreciate the elderly, and the elderly don’t appreciate the young. Kids are usually excluded from important discussions, whether its just with family, friends, or important world issues. Everyone in their lifetime has had someone say to them, “ Oh what do you know? You’re just a kid.” It is statements like these that keep the youth closed-minded about the elderly.
The elderly are not as appreciated as they should be. Maybe and elderly man might not be educated, but he has seen more than the younger man. There are families that put there parents in nursing homes, even if they don’t want too, and keep them from any contact with the outside world. Every now and then they get to go out to eat or leave the property, but is that any to end a life? Elderly people are the most interesting people I know. An example would be when you were young, when you first got a card from your grandparents, what was the first thing you thought of? Mine was money, how much money was in that card. It wasn’t, “ Oh, I wonder how clever this card is!” You wanted the money. The elderly need to be listened to more, and not shoved to the side.
Who would make a better philosopher? The elderly man of course. Even if he is not as educated as the younger person, he has still been around longer and seen more than the younger man and he has had more experience in life.
Global Studies 2A
August 29, 2003
Who is more Capable of being a philosopher?
A young person or an old person?
Among people it is not age that matters when developing a friendship or respect for someone it is their character. The strength of a good character is valued enough that age becomes irrelevant in a connection. Cephalus explains this to Socrates. “there is one just cause: not old age, Socrates, but the character of the human beings.”[329 d] The same for philosophers. People regard character and ability of a philosopher as more crucial than age. Young and old philosophers both contribute significantly to the discovery of truths, but it is character and capacity to reason that makes the best philosopher.
Maturity brings experience and knowledge of life; wisdom. An older philosopher has both more experience and more variety of experience than someone younger. “Since they are like men who have proceeded on a certain road that perhaps we too will have to take”. Socrates explains to Cephalus that he values this maturity. Another advantage to maturity, according to Plato, spoken in the words of Cephalus, is inner peace. “When the desires cease to strain and finally relax, then… it is possible to be rid of very many mad masters, [ie. sex, feasting, drinking.] Without these desires an older philosopher can bring calmness and patience to contemplations. This allows one to think upon being, knowledge and conduct more widely and with more consideration. Conversely, a weakness a mature philosopher might have would be feeling constrained by social or economic obligations, for example, political status, reputation, or economic need. A sense of obligation or dependency could hinder insightful observations. Another constraint an older philosopher may have is difficulty in letting go of beliefs already subscribed to (ie. a religious tenant or social custom.) A younger philosopher might accept new truths more easily, in that a belief or tradition might be less ingrained.
Youth brings a fresh perspective to the world, less influenced by existing perceptions or traditional ways of thinking. A younger philosopher can be bolder and more courageous with their observations, because they might feel less constrained by social obligations than elders, as well as having a drive to distinguish themselves by making a contribution to the field of philosophy. Young and old philosophers both bring unique assets into the field. However, it is the personal character and capacity for reasoning that matters most.
Good character is made up of one’s values and ethics. Honesty is essential in a philosophers ethic, for it is honesty is necessary to discover truth. Dedication, commitment to excellence, and patience are necessary to pursuing ultimate truth. For truth is not discovered instantly. It is found by careful observations as well as trial and error.
Ability to reason is another essential skill in a philosopher. This skill is not shared by all. Some people are better at making decisions and observations through emotions, a subjective decision process: bias. However a good philosopher must make observations through logic and rational investigation, for the goal of a philosopher is to find a final truth as untouched as possible by bias.
Maturity does not guarantee the traits of a good philosopher. Nor does youth make it impossible to become one. Age is irrelevant. It is dedication, patience, logic, perseverance, honesty, and rational exploration, that makes the most capable philosopher.
Tim, i agree with what you said about old people being better at philosophy than young people. but how can you say that young people are not capable of wisdom. there are plenty of young people out there who are very full of wisdom and ideas. you need to re think your ideas about the young and the old persons mind. i also think it is important that you organize your thoughts for next time.
comment on tim's relfection paper:
I do not agree with Tim’s argument that an old person has necessarily more time to learn more wisdom, because they have lost the capability to do other things that younger men are able to do. The search for wisdom is dependent upon one’s desire. If a man of fewer years, who is capable of doing many things physically, has more desire to scavenger for wisdom than an older man, who can not do many things, than the younger man’s desire possibly can drive him to devote all of his time to the search for wisdom.
I also find fault with the fact that open-mindedness was not even mentioned in the essay. A key component in the search for wisdom is the ability to be able to understand that what one has learned in the past is possibly out of date and not as true as another idea, or in fact, is totally false. This is displayed by Cephalus’ departure once the argument concerning the true definition of justice commenced. When an individual has been learning one theory for his entire life, it is only natural that he shall become defensive when that theory is challenged, showing that what he learned was possibly false. A younger individual is more likely to search for the truth and not worry weather it is the accepted truth by society or not.
I believe that Tim is arguing in his second to last paragraph the old are wiser than the young because of their greater amount of time on earth by using a quote where Socrates asks Cephalus: “Is life harder towards the end, or what report do you give of it?” This quote displays that Plato believes the older an individual is, the greater their depth of understanding due to the amounts of events they have experienced. Although I think that Tim’s second to last paragraph could have been clearer, I agree with the opinion he holds within that paragraph.
Tim, i disagree with what you said about how older people have more time to search for wisdom and knowlege. A younger person has more time to live. If they want to they can have just has much time to search for wisdom and knowlege on a day to day aspect as well. I also disagree with u saying that an older person can't do anything else exept for searching for wisdom and knowlege. A younger person may be able to more things from a physical aspect. But, while a younger person is doing some thing such has a sport, the older person could still watch them. The older one isn't forced into learning more things, knowone is forced to do anything.
The question of who is more capable to be a philosopher, a young person or an old person, is a hard one to answer because they both have clear advantages in different societies and cultures.
Many of the famous philosophers of the past were older people. This makes a lot of sense because for a very long time Greece especially was prospering and the people there seemed to have a good idea of how people should be living. Older people would have seen a lot more of life, and the way people in their culture acted, and the rules that were set up for them. These people were also more a part of the trained, functioning society then younger people might have been. It would seem that old philosophers would work well in a society that is functioning well, and doesn’t need to be dramatically changed. For example in hunter-gatherer societies the “wise man” is usually a very old person. Hunter-gatherer tribes have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, so it would seem that the patterns and traditions they follow are working well for them. They haven’t changed to a completely new system in all the years that they have been here. A philosopher would have to all the traditions and ways of the tribe in order to be capable of saying how the society works, or should work. A younger person would not be as capable because knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, over time and through experience. In cultures that are functioning like this, and don’t need any major changes to the basic structure, are better off with older philosophers. Greece is a good example of this, people had figured out how to live fairly well and now they were concentrating on other things besides just surviving, like science, math, and philosophy. With everybody so wrapped up in their lives, it was generally the older people who were able to step back and look into the truths of their culture and of life in general. Men like Cephalus had been living a good life, and now they were free t sit back and think about why things are the way that they are, and the way people act versus the way they should. Younger people wouldn’t always have the time or the space to step back from their lives like that, and they also wouldn’t have been part of society for long enough to see how it was functioning.
There is another side of the story however, and other situations that show the benefits of having a younger philosopher. When a society isn’t functioning well and there is something that isn’t working within the culture then a younger philosopher would probably be better. Older people can become very set in their ways and they are trained to think a certain way and see the world through a certain view. In the Republic of Plato the society is starting to go downhill and is getting more chaotic. When Socrates comes to visit, Cephalus talks to him for a little bit but then turns him over to his sons and the other young people, and leaves the conversation. Cephalus can’t agree with Socrates because of the way his mind works but he wants his sons to learn to think differently because the way he is thinking isn’t working anymore. It worked for a long time but now that the society is falling apart his way of thinking isn’t worth anything. He knows that times are changing and if he wants them to change for the better young people are going to have to become the philosophers and all he can do is give them the best chance possible. Young people have new and open minds and they are the ones who can think “outside the box” and change the society. This also relates to our culture today. Whether we realize it our not we are constantly being told how to think and how to act, but our culture is going downhill because we can’t live in harmony with the rest of the world. Old people have been trained their whole lives to think in one way, the same way people were thinking for years before, that is just getting us deeper into the mess created. Young people are the ones who can see the totally new and different ideas out there that could help us fix the problem.
It doesn’t seem possible that there is one age group that could be better at being philosophers than the other because they would both come up with such different ideas. It depends on the situation as to which would be more capable.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Response on the comment: [ Thu Aug 28, 07:04:47 PM | tobi drori
Time, keeps him from learning just as much. If you have a man who is born in 1954 and learns new things everyday until 2003, and a man born in 1975 who learns new things until 2003, both learning the same amount everyday, the older man will be wiser, because he has more years that he is able to learn than the younger man. For example in modern times, knowledge is at the foot of every man, at least in the United States, and many do not choose to take this opportunity, just because they can. I'm drifting a little away from the facts here but, I would think that if a man is physically able to do nearly anything he wanted to, no matter how physically demanding it is he would do it, if not for fun, then for his physical health. On the other hand an older man doesn't exactly have this excellent opportunity, therefore he can either do absolutely nothing, or learn something in some way. If your not doing something physical, then youâ€™re doing something mental, unless your Rob and you do spiritual things. I think that if you have two old men talking and sharing their ideas, that they will learn more then, then an old man and a young man, because the young man canâ€™t share as many ideas that an older man can.
So quick, and so fast.
We still need to publish a couple of your essays online. We will work on this first thing in class. I got done correcting the first set of papers. I am still missing one from Aaron and another from Andy. Please pass them in tomarrow at morning meeting. Not a bad first set several people did not include quotes and that really hurt their grade. "If there is not proof you are a goof."
On a more serious side...
Maby the question you should be thinking about is what are the qualities of a good thinker? What advantages does age or youth give you? I know lots of very ignorant young people, and I also know a lot of really ignorant adults. What is the difference between them? So age does not really create an advantage when you are trying to develop your ability to understand. Both youth and old age have their advantages and disadvantages. What might these be?
Have a good night.
Tim, i understand why you would feel that an older person might be more capable of being a philosopher compared to a younger person. Though, i don't agree with your reasoning. Why can't a younger person learn just as much as an older person can? What makes that younger person stop himself from learning just as much? I honestly don't think that just because the older person is incapable of doing other things, that he is "forced" to learn more. When knowledge is at the foot of any man, why wouldn't they want to take it? A younger person has just as much freedom to knowledge as an older person does. The older person's physical state shouldn't give him the right to be better at being a philosopher. I do agree with you though, when you say, "The more the old men talk especially with themselves the wiser they become because they can share wisdom with each other." But i would changes this some what, or rather add on to this statement. I would propose that if both young and old would talk with each other, like Socrates and Cephalus do, than they would benefit from each other more. Becoming wiser as they see what each would have to say.
I don't agree with Tobi that, "A younger person, though limited by lifetime experiences, is more willing to explore new ideas and theories. " I don't think that the age of someone has anything to do with them accepting new ideas and theories. I believe that one has nothing to do with the other, I believe that an open person i.e. open to new ideas and theories, young or old could accept or not accept a new idea just as easy as the other could.
Global Studies 2A
The word philosophy means: the love and pursuit of wisdom. So, a philosopher is one who loves and pursues wisdom. Would a younger person be more capable of being a philosopher than an older one, or vice versa? Each of the two has the ability to become one.
The older one has most likely attained more knowledge, but that doesn’t make him any more fit to love and pursue wisdom. A philosopher is also someone who lives according to a philosophy. The older one might have the advantage, because his reasons for following that philosophy might be more advanced, simply because he has had more time to do so. Or he is just uninfluenced by elders, because he doesn’t have many elders to impress upon him.
The younger one could be influenced by his elders, which could change what his ideas could be. He might be restrained so that he doesn’t have the freedoms that the older one has to love and pursue wisdom. But, both younger and older also might not be heard as easily. Most people would say, what does he know, he’s younger and less knowledgeable. But all that knowledge does is increase the ability to prove a point. Or, what does that crazy old fool know. The older one could also be restricting himself, due to the fact that he has tricked himself into believing that he has learned all that there is to know and his/her way is the best. “Well, then,” said Cephalus, “I hand down the argument to you…” (The Republic of Plato, by Plato, 331 d). This shows how Cephalus is isn’t allowing himself to be free.
“…not old age, Socrates, but the character of the human being.” (The Republic of Plato, by Plato, 329 d) So, it seems that the real question should not be one of age, but of the abilities and freedoms to seek and discover wisdom. A person can’t gain or lose the ability to discover wisdom. All a person needs is a basic background of knowledge to work with, not a lifetime’s. The freedoms that you gain with age can be more helpful, but unless you are completely cut off from knowledge, you can’t lose the freedom to think, no matter what your age.
In conclusion, I think that age isn’t a key factor in who is more capable of being a philosopher. It is the one who has more ability to pursue wisdom and be the most open minded about it.
Philosophy is defined as “love of, or the search for, wisdom or knowledge,”(Webster). After reading the first book of The Republic, by Plato, and using my own wisdom, I’ve decided that old people are more capable of being philosophers, even though the words “old person” can be a person that is nineteen, which would then go partly against my argument, but maybe it is supposed to and it’s just a big mind game.
Old men have more time to search for wisdom or knowledge. Of course there are always exceptions, but if you have a young person in front of you and an old person in front of you, and they are the same person just at different times then it will always be the old man who is more capable of being a philosopher, because the older man is forced to learning more things because he physically can't do anything else. Plato also says this in the following quote: “For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation,”(Republic, The). The more the old men talk especially with themselves the wiser they become because they can share wisdom with each other.
There is an example that I found where a young man, Socrates is seeking wisdom from an older man, Cephalus about life towards the end: “Is life harder towards the end, or what report do you give of it?,”(Republic, The). Not only is the older man more capable of becoming a philosopher but also he has more wisdom, which is a key part of being a philosopher.
In conclusion old men have more time to learn more wisdom, because they have lost the capability to do many other things that younger men are able to do.
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There are two philosophers to choose from, both qualified, but of different age. One is a young philosopher and the other is an old philosopher. How does one choose which one is better? They simply don�t. Both are more than capable of being a philosopher. The difference is that they have a different mindset on how they look at things. They each have a different way of thinking, coming up with theories, etc.
An older person views life with a depth of experience, which a younger person cannot match. This wealth of experience, which an older person accumulates over a lifetime, impacts on their logical reasoning. Logic is a method, which relies on the use of available facts to arrive at a conclusion. This conclusion though, is not a truth; it is a varying conclusion that is based on �lifetime� facts.
Logical reasoning is similar to an algebraic equation; in that there can be more than one answer. There is no concrete answer. For instance, in an algebraic equation there is a limited amount of information given, which resembles the facts that you need in logical reasoning. There is an x and a y and a numeral. The answers to what the x and y might be will be varying to what the numeral is. If the equation was x > 3 < y, one would base there plausible answers on this provided information. Obviously, there would be more than one answer for x and y.
The same thing goes for logical reasoning. Though, when an older person, using their own experiences in life, uses logical reasoning to unravel a varying conclusion, their answer is more restricting. This is so, because of what they know from previous life encounters. This is not to say that their logical conclusions are wrong at all, remembering that there is no truth in logic. In fact, their conclusions might be more logical than a younger person�s might be, seeing as though they have lived through so much more. Though, it also suggests that an older person might not be welcoming to a new idea or theory. We see and example of an old theory, that is brought to a new level in The Republic of Plato. In book one, Socrates discusses the meaning of justice with Cephalus and Polemarchus, and discovers that justice has more than one meaning. In the beginning, according to Polemarchus he believed that the wise Simonides theory of justice was correct.
��Tell me, you, the heir of the argument,� I said �what was it Simonides said about justice that you assert he said correctly?��
��That it is just to give to each what is owed,� he said. �In saying this he said a fine thing, at least in my opinion.�� (Bloom, page 7)
Polemarchus was wrong in assuming that this was the correct and �true� meaning for justice. Later on in the argument both him and Socrates come to learn that the meaning for Justice is more complicated than it seems. This excerpt shows how and old philosopher�s varying conclusions can be misleading because of their narrow views.
A younger person, though limited by lifetime experiences, is more willing to explore new ideas and theories. They on the other hand are not restricted to what they know in life, which gives them a freedom to work with. For both a younger and older person, there are many pros and cons. Though, if both two philosophers worked together, and shared their knowledge, they would be more successful. With the knowledge of life experiences that the older one has, and the new intriguing ideas that the younger person has, a lot would be accomplished. In The Republic of Plato Cephalus tells Socrates to have a taste of both worlds.
�Now do as I say: be with these young men, but come here regularly to us as to friends and your very own kin.� (Bloom, page 4)
Neither the old person nor young person is better. They both have their own qualities that work in an advantage and disadvantage to each other. Though, both an old philosopher and a young Philosopher are more capable of using their strength when working together as one.