Seminar: The Greeks and Modernity, hosted by Michael McGettigan, ABD
As Virginia Woolf said: “It is to the Greeks that we turn when we are sick of the vagueness, of the confusion of our own age.”
Reading recommendation: Schmitt pp. 352-371. Rational Feelings. Art as Education of Feeling. Fear. Sympathy.
We are beginning to think about the “aesthetic, ethical, and political significance” of cultivating feelings in the light of the Platonic conception of knowledge we have become acquainted with. Education is not “acquiring skills”: it is how we are inserted into the world and thus how the world can appear and be for us. Hence education determines our fit in Being. Since the cultivation of feeling is an important (forgotten) aspect of education, understanding Platonic knowledge is essential to the proper cultivation of feeling and thus of proper education. We are misbegotten not naturally, but because we do not know how to sculpt a life, instead thinking that blindly following impulses and desires is the secret to happiness.
We will see how the ancients never made the mistake of separating reason and feeling. That is why for the Greeks one can not only misjudge, but misfeel. There is an order to feeling.
Human beings ARE knowledge. They don’t “have” a mind. They are not inhabited by a “soul.” Mind and soul, in their contemporary meanings, are distorted renderings of knowledge. We are knowledge. Hence reason, passion, feeling, are all equally knowledge. They are saturated with humanity, which is to say, with knowledge. Knowledge is deeper than science which is why there is no science of knowledge. For the human being knowledge is either more or less determinate, but it is never just present or absent. This is again why skepticism misses the point.
If you want out of the cave you will have to lose your attachment to shadows.
For a copy of the reading or if you have questions, please email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This group will explore the relation to Greek thought and the modern era by looking at texts that view Greek thought as a corrective to the ills of modernity, as well as texts that view modernity as representing true progress over Greek thought. We will first look more closely at Greek thought to distinguish it from popular and widespread misconceptions, thereby comprehending why philosophy exists and what it is supposed to be. Afterwards we will look at authors such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Auerbach, Arendt, Strauss, Macintyre and others whose diagnosis of modernity’s shortcomings and virtues are nourished by their respective return to Greek origins.