Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bedtime Thoughts

Aristotle believed everything that existed had a purpose. For instance, a knife exists to cut things; an apple exists to be eaten; a cat exists to offer human companionship (or to kill mice).

I'm about to go to bed, and I've just wondered what Aristotle believed humans' purpose to be. If you know, feel free to comment here and I'll read them in the morning. Otherwise, maybe the book I'm reading will tell me. If not, I'll Google the question tomorrow.

This book makes me think.

Oh, by the way - what do you think the purpose of the human is?

22 comments:

utenzi said...

Stacey! I am ahead of you already. Catch up!

The purpose for people, according to Aristotle is to think, and Sophie's take on that was that people are here to put all other things into catagories. Sophie is a wee bit anal about things, you see.

My own thoughts on the subject are that things do not have innate purposes and that goes for we humans also. No purpose other than what we assign to ourselves. Right now my purpose is to grab a bar of chocolate and go watch the episode of ER I recorded. Cheers!

Aaron said...

I haven't read much Aristotle, but I'll second what Utenzi said. Humankind, for Aristotle, is defined by its rational faculties. "Man is a thinking thing", to repeat what some rationalist and enlightenment philosophers have said.

I don't know who this Sophie is, but she seems to be sticking to the analytic, Anglo-American school of thought. Historically, I think the biggest name in this school was Immanuel Kant (even though he was German), who basically argued that our categories and metaphysical assumptions about the world are the logical precondition for any sort of thought at all.

Continental philosophers (ie, from continental Europe), on the other hand, have put considerable effort into questioning the categories that we take for granted. Something along these lines that might interest you is Foucault's "Archaeology of Knowledge", if you haven't already heard of it.

Aaron said...

Oh, and as for what *I* think the purpose of human life is, I pretty much agree with Utenzi.

George Breed said...

We have to watch out for what we believe our purpose to be, because then we make it so.

As to questioning our categories, it's fine up to a point until we may finally ask the question -- who/what is doing this questioning? And who asked THAT question?

As soon as we ask a question, we remove ourselves from ourselves,divide ourselves in two hoping to get a better view.

And yet question asking is great fun. It keeps us off the street and it breeds intellectuals.

Thom said...

It seems to me that assigning purposes seperates the Oneness. I still do it all the time though.Is our purpose here to be seperate?

RedBark said...

Assuming that God created man for a purpose. I think that the purpose would be for God to be able to see things from a different(limited) point of view, through us.

This is not my own idea. I am sure that I read this idea somewhere.

RedBark said...

Thom,

Yes that may be it. We may be here because God wanted be in seperate pieces for a while. Some say that now God is tired of being seperate bits and wants to return to unity.

Castor said...

Know thyself and be yourself.
Aristotle is a student of Plato and Plato of Socrates. So they should be saying the same thing:
know thyself.
Parents and relatives say: be yourself. To keep the psychologist away.

Blow'n in the wind said...

To be...

and all is well unless an individual believes itself to be sepatate and to act for itself (or its tribe), selfishly.

Simply being causes no harm in the world and now a lot of thought and energy is devoted to remembering who we really are - and being that.

Blow'n in the wind said...

to be...

and all was well until individuals falsely identified themselves with the physical body, as separate entities that needed to be concerned for their own self or tribe. All sorts of harm and destruction erupted out of this misidentification...

We are that original body, several bodies removed, desperately yearning to discover our true identity,
of oneness.

Blow'n in the wind said...

Woops!

looks like I didn't lose the 1st post after all...

:)

Sun Singer said...

Must we find a purpose to validate what we are doing?

Defining a purpose limits us to that which is within the definition while concealing all that is not.

This, of course, was always a problem with Aristotle.

Sophia said...

Hi Utenzi,

I'm trying to catch up. I'm a sluggish reader. Should I go into my long story? Well, sure. Why not. I used to be a fast reader all the way up until I was a freshman in college. In high school I would read novels in one day! But I, unknowingly at the time, developed something known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and one of my "habits" is re-reading sentences over and over again. This slows me down quite a bit. I'm currently only on page 130 or so. Just getting ready to read about Hellenism. Sophie just bumped into her teacher after the Religion test.

Sophia said...

Oh yes, I forgot to mention. I like this Aristotle. As a sufferer of OCD, putting things into "categories" is something I can relate to. :)

Sophia said...

Aaron,

I wonder what these categories are that the continental philosophers think we take for granted? I'm assuming these aren't just the basic living/non-living, animal/plant/human, etc., categories?

Sophia said...

George, you are right. Sometimes question asking can go against our purpose. It's like asking, who are we? When asking that question divides us into two - the asker and the responder - when instead we shouldn't be dividing ourselves at all.

Sophia said...

Thom,

I don't think our purpose here is to be separate.

Sophia said...

Blow'n in the Wind,

That is beautifully said.

I see you've started a blog, but you haven't posted anything. Any chance on getting it going? I'd be interested in reading anything you have to say.

Sophia said...

Sun Singer,

I don't think we have to find a purpose. I think as humans it just makes us more comfortable to search for one. There may not be one at all.

My suggestion is to do it if it feels right, regardless of purpose.

I don't know about everyone else, but the life I'm living and the direction I'm heading feel right.

utenzi said...

Congratulations, Stacey. It's comforting to know that you think you're heading in the right direction. Maybe the OCD will settle down a little once you're happier.

Aaron said...

Although I mentioned continental philosophers, the general intellectual trend that they're associated with is probably better known as "postmodernism". It's hard to isolate any sort of coherent nucleus for that term, but postmodernists generally seem to argue that a lot of what we take for granted is really just socially constructed. For example, there are some who think that gender is a social construction. There are some who think that our laws of science are social constructions. The list goes on. In a way, their claims contain a germ of truth, but it's often wrapped up in a bunch of academic posturing and abstruse, self-indulgent verbiage. (I'm probably showing myself not to be a big fan of postmodernism.)

Here's one way to think about it: our categories are like various buckets into which we sort the various things we experience. Postmodernism questions the status of those buckets, and whether our use of them might be arbitrary and/or determined by things like politics and tradition, rather than (meta)physical necessity.

A somewhat derisive way to describe postmodernism is that it's a crude form of nominalism.

jbmoore said...

At least one or two hit it on the head. Our purpose is to awaken from the dream of form, to allow Consciousness to flow through us. Through awakened humans, consciousness can create new forms without losing itself in them for the pure enjoyment of doing so! I think not, therefore I AM!