Sunday, January 18, 2015
Stoicism and Philosphy
I've written before about how the ideas of Stoicism are the ideal philosophy in times of collapse and unravelling. The above image is a good summary. But a much better story is this article in Aeon Magazine:
Why Stoicism is one of the best mind hacks ever
It also makes me wonder about the difference between religion and philosophy. Most people get their philosophy of how to deal with life through their religious affiliation, which for most Americans is some form of Christianity. But the use of a series of folk tales written by Iron Age shepherds as a basis of modern daily life doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Many people look to leaders in the Christian faith to give them guidance, but often times that guidance comes with a big helping of supernatural beliefs and cultural baggage (demonization of sex, denial of scientific rationality, homophobia, shame, guilt, and so on)
In the past, however, things like Stoicism were expressly designed to help you cope with living in the world, and what the value and meaning of life was. Often times these philosophical schools would also develop scientific theories such as atomism. By contrast, religion was a separate, tribal affair, mainly designed to signal one's ethnic affiliation but with little instructions about how to live day-to-day life. Zeus and Apollo had little to say about that after all, and the extensive rules and demands of the Hebrew patriarchal desert God had no sway over them.
That's why Buddhism is so hard to categorize. It's considered a religion, but is also a philosophy dealing with how to live in the world. To some extent, it is a symbol of the fact that the line between the two is not so easily drawn. It might be said that Buddhism started as a philosophical offshoot from Hinduism that borrowed much of it's vocabulary and symbolism from it, and then developed into a religion over time due to it's cultural importance. People do pray to Buddha as a supernatural being and Buddhists do talk about angelic and demonic beings. However, this is not a requirement for acceptance of many tenets of Buddhism. For some reason, in the West, these two things remained separated by an iron wall. Maybe that's why we have the concept of separation of church and state.
Posted by escapefromwisconsin at 2:22 PM