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Thread: Voltaire - the Trial of Socrates

  1. #1
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    Jan 2015

    Voltaire - the Trial of Socrates

    Seeking knowledge or the Bodhisattva Way of the Tathagatha was sweeping the world when Hecateus and Pythagoras began what became the egis or ethos we call Dialectics and which lead to the Scientific Method. To think that Greeks did not travel to India and China is a farce of history and Alexander in his travels followed others like his father who conquered Scythia or brought it into his realm of influence. We may have to travel back in time to see just how interconnected the elites were and how many nations and religions they started to manage this world. There is ample evidence of trade and exchange of ideas or science for many millennia with occasional wars and Dark Ages or destructive acts in what James Joyce properly called a 5,000 year "nightmare". The 400 year Dark Ages which followed the Trojan War and started the Hellenizing book burning and secreting of information and re-writing of history still infects our education to this day.

    The trial of Socrates is an academic course in itself. It avoids any reference to what school of thought Socrates was part of (alchemy or Pythagorean - aka Thoth/Hermes and Imhotep/Asklepios) so it might help any actual student not looking for marks from people who have not studied these things to hear from someone who has studied. The study of Dialectics and questioning done in Master's Level courses for a degree in Philosophy is good as far as it goes. It addresses forms of logic and means of interpreting same in words with varying meanings (weasel words) and accuses the Sophists as well as Socrates of circumventing the charges by attacking the prosecution and the charges themself. You can well imagine how the practice of Law has been influenced by these studies in circumlocution or anything other than Justice.

    I am not convinced of the presentation by Plato having included the real motivations behind his trial in the first place. I think his interest in women and support for their education as well as his lack of interest in the prevailing norm of pederasty has much to do with why charges were brought against him. The only part of the charges which might reflect on the issue has to do with his influence on the young men of Athens who may have paid him for his teaching against them being used as sex objects by old men who could not please women because they were into power and not love. You can read the whole of the charges and the kind of questions used in teaching these courses in the link which follows. I also think Plato had much to apologize for in his lack of support for his teacher, and in his lack of understanding of the Eleusinian Mysteries or the study of the soul and thus he sold out to power and Empire. His hierarchy is what we suffer most to this day. Does the fact that the name of his book is APOLOGY matter?

    The whole of what follows is all about one Law of the magi - there are three. It is the Law I most value and which I have studied for many decades. Socrates knew this law well and thus was no Sophist or politician like Plato. It is RIGHT thought = right ACTION. You should change the emphasis on the letters and words many times as you see more truth in each revision. It is also true with the later phraseology of Shake - hes - speare.
    "To be or NOT to be, THAT is the question."
    "What is Socrates' philosophy of life? Why has it been called paradoxical?

    a. A number of statements in the Apology point to the heart of the Socratic philosophy: the Socratic Paradox.
    i. Socrates states at the beginning of his defense: "Give your whole attention to the question, is what I say just, or is it not?"
    ii. He believes that you should only do what's right—irrespective of matters of life or death. (Socrates later offers a proof that no harm can come to a good person and death is not to be feared.)
    iii. Your life should be spent on the improvement of your soul.
    iv. Socrates states, "[I]f I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me." (Apology, 38a, trans. Benjamin Jowlett).

    b. The Socratic Paradox: People act immorally, but they do not do so deliberately.
    i. Everyone seeks what is most serviceable to oneself or what is in ones own self-interest.

    {I assure you Socrates looked at every point of view including the opposite of what this suggests. I debated this point with my logic Professor who got his Doctorate with a thesis on this very issue - Do-gooders do what they get rewards from. I told him he had not considered the hereafter rewards or this saying "He who is least selfish is MOST selfish." In the point above you find him talking about "examined life" and that examination requires thorough interrogation as the first step in observing before making integrative possibilities which might end with a CONCLUSION. He was a scientist!}

    ii. If one [practically] knows what is good, one will always act in such manner as to achieve it. (Otherwise, one does not know or only knows in a theoretical fashion.)
    iii. If one acts in a manner not conducive to ones good, then that person must have been mistaken (i.e., that person lacks the knowledge of how to obtain what was serviceable in that instance).
    iv. If one acts with knowledge then one will obtain that which is serviceable to oneself or that which is in ones self-interest. {I say Socrates understood self as in the small self or ego is all about what they are saying. I say he also knew the big SELF.}
    v. Thus, for Socrates… knowledge = [def.] virtue, good, arete
    ignorance = [def.] bad, evil, not useful

    vi. Since no one knowingly harms himself, if harm comes to that person, then that person must have acted in ignorance.
    vii. Consequently, it would seem to follow we are responsible for what we know or for that matter what we do not know. So, then, one is responsible for ones own happiness.
    viii. The essential aspect of understanding the Paradox is to realize that Socrates is referring to the good of the soul in terms of knowledge and doing what's right—not to wealth or freedom from physical pain. The latter play no role in the soul being centered.

    c. Examples of the Paradox explained in practice. Cheryl and her friend Holly, both twelve years old decide to go to the movies. Cheryl, unlike her friend Holly, states that she is eleven so that she will not have to pay the adult admission and will have extra money for snacks. Holly refuses to do so since her parents have told her that if she cannot pay the admission of a twelve year old, then she doesn't have enough money to go the movies. Cheryl gives Holly some of her extra snacks as a way of showing Holly that Holly made a foolish decision.

    If we were to ask Cheryl if she made the right decision, she would happily say, "Yes, of course!" If we were to ask Holly if she made the right decision, Holly would perhaps glumly say, "Yes, I did the right thing." Cheryl lacks knowledge of the longer-term effect on her soul; Holly lacks knowledge of the rightness of following her parents' advice. {It is also possible that the parents are enforcing social norms and flawed conditions against women.}

    Consider the effects of a choice like Cheryl's on her soul in the longer term. She might… Lack an authentic self: Compare Cheryl's development of different personalities for different people to Socrates' being the same before the court as he was in the marketplace.

    Seek an edge: What becomes fair to Cheryl are those circumstances where she has an advantage. Cheryl comes to believe a level playing field is unfair to her. She does not interact unless she has an advantage.

    Consequently feel guilt or even pride: Cheryl came to believe that she is better or smarter than other people because she can play by different rules. In other cases, some persons like Cheryl might feel guilt for not doing the right thing.

    Reject conditions for fair-treatment: At the age of fourteen, when Cheryl was asked for evidence of her age by a movie ticket-seller she became angry, saying, "I was admitted last week as child—you just don't get a whole year older in one week!"

    Lose confidence or self-esteem: Cheryl learns to only feel comfortable when she has an advantage. Without an advantage, she feels at a loss.

    Be left to improvise in new situations: By cutting corners or seeking the advantage, in new situations, the soul is out of balance because of the attempt to avoid being treated as others are.

    As Sir Walter Scott wrote, "O what a tangled web we weave,
    When first we practice to deceive!"
    {Ask yourself who has done all the deceiving?}

    Have a soul not centered: By having to foresee future circumstances dependent upon what she has done in the past, her attention becomes scattered among calculating different scenarios."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-17-2016 at 11:33 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2015
    Wikipedia has a rather complete thread on just the Trial of Socrates which had been a play by Voltaire during the revival of reason and enlightenment. I am quite open to a less corrupt form of government and even if it gets called Anarchy by those in power. If that means questioning all people and encouraging real thinking as Socrates did - you can also call me a supporter of meritocracy. In fact I have inspected every word used to describe a person's political bent or acts and I find so much overpaid chicanery inside the various parties as well as in the critical commentaries that none of the words mean much to me. I guess you could say I regard gossip and uninformed opinion with distaste approaching disgust. I feel that is pretty much how Socrates acted in his trial for which he is justifiably famous. We need more like him! So it is no surprise that I see Wikipedia having discourse about gossip and uninformed reactions during his era and afterwards.

    "As with many of the issues surrounding Socrates’ conviction, the nature of his affiliation with the Thirty Tyrants is far from straightforward. During the reign of the Thirty, many prominent Athenians who were opposed to the new government left Athens. Robin Waterfield asserts that “Socrates would have been welcome in oligarchic Thebes, where he had close associates among the Pythagoreans who flourished there, and which had already taken in other exiles.”[3]:183 Given the availability of a hospitable host outside of Athens, Socrates, at least in a limited way, chose to remain in Athens. Thus, Waterfield suggests, Socrates’ contemporaries probably thought his remaining in Athens, even without participating in the Thirty’s bloodthirsty schemes, demonstrated his sympathy for the Thirty’s cause, not neutrality towards it. This is proved, Waterfield argues, by the fact that after the Thirty were no longer in power, anyone who had remained in Athens during their rule was encouraged to move to Eleusis, the new home of the expatriate Thirty.[3] Socrates did oppose the will of the Thirty on a few specific occasions. Plato’s Apology has the character of Socrates describe one such instance. He says that the Thirty ordered him, along with four other men, to fetch a man named Leon from Salamis so that the Thirty could execute him. Socrates simply did not answer this order, while the other four men did go to Salamis to get Leon.[12]

    Alcibiades, a controversial figure in Athens, was Socrates’ messmate during the siege of Potidaea (433–429 BC). Socrates remained Alcibiades' close friend, admirer, and mentor for about five or six years.[3] Known for his flamboyant and audacious behavior, Alcibiades had a volatile relationship with the city of Athens. During his career, Alcibiades famously defected to Sparta after being accused in the defamation of the Mysteries, regained his political prominence in Athens, and was eventually driven out of Athens yet again. Some contempt for Socrates may have stemmed from his relationship with Alcibiades.[citation needed]

    Moreover, according to the portraits left by some of Socrates' followers, Socrates himself seems to have openly espoused certain anti-democratic views, most prominent perhaps being the view that it is not majority opinion that yields correct policy but rather genuine knowledge and professional competence, which is possessed by only a few.[13] Plato also portrays him as being severely critical of some of the most prominent and well-respected leaders of the Athenian democracy;[14] and even has him claim that the officials selected by the Athenian system of governance cannot credibly be regarded as benefactors, since it is not any group of many that benefits, but only "some one person or very few".[15] Finally, Socrates was known as often praising the laws of the undemocratic regimes of Sparta and Crete.[16]

    Apart from his views on politics, Socrates held unusual views on religion. He made several references to his personal spirit, or daimonion, although he explicitly claimed that it never urged him on, but only warned him against various prospective actions. Many of his contemporaries were suspicious of Socrates's daimonion as a rejection of the state religion."

    I should laugh to see what people think his 'demon' was, and I cannot say any person really knows another person's soul that well unless they truly are a soul mate. I should advise any person with a serious interest in these matters to study Pythagoras and his mentor or the last head of study in the Druidic (Bairdic) system, named Abaris. I posit they became the Pharisaic and other schools thereafter. They also became the Theraveda Buddhists and the Essenes in that region where the name Abaris means "Rabbi".

    Yes, Socrates probably existed but Jesus was a title of the Druidic Brotherhood, and the family of David and Sol - o - moon had their rituals and demons or allies and 'familiars'. A study of the Ars Goetia or keys of Solomon will aid a person seeking knowledge of those things.

    An Essay on Man captures an era and set the stage for another, it still has an influence or should I say there are many today who would say man is a fool to think he can aspire to do what only gods should do. Of course, leaving loads of room for these people to do what no good god would do. Here is wiki again admitting they need a better article.

    [COLOR="#0000CD"]"[B]An Essay on Man [/B]is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1733-1734.[1][2][3] Is an effort to rationalize or rather "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l.16), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759).[4] More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe."

    If we really believe we are only allowed to accept "Whatever IS" then we deserve whatever we get. We must allow ourselves the chance to help make what is Right be "What is"! Put another way we have the Magian Law (of three laws) "Right thought = RIGHT action".
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-22-2016 at 12:29 AM.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2015
    For people who are familiar with Voltaire and his lifelong friend St. Germain de Medicis it will be no surprise that Voltaire was a prolific supporter of the same things espoused by Socrates. He was also convicted without a fair trial but it would be most difficult to find a jury of their peers, at any time in the history of elitist Empire! For a few moments we have won the day and anarchy or freedom brought about through knowledge and questioning authority has reared it's head and it has been called 'ugly' more often than not. In exile in England he was impacted by Swift and his Green Languages which I connect with Thomas Carlyle in a later era as he wrote Sartor Restartus. I suspect there is an association with the Hellfire Club or it's fore-runners. He certainly was thereabouts at the right time. I have not read the following to confirm my suspicions.

    "Voltaire bust by Houdon, National Gallery of Washington

    .... this French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher was famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and the separation of church and state. Voltaire was a prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poetry, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws and harsh penalties for those who broke them. As a satirical polemicist, Voltaire frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day.

    .... The name "Voltaire", which the author adopted in 1718, is an anagram of "AROVET LI," the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of "le jeune". The name also echoes in reverse order the syllables of the name of a family château in the Poitou region: "Airvault". The adoption of the name "Voltaire" following his incarceration at the Bastille is seen by many to mark Voltaire's formal separation from his family and his past.

    Richard Holmes notes that a writer such as Voltaire would have intended it to also convey its connotations of speed and daring. These come from associations with words such as "voltige" (acrobatics on a trapeze or horse), "volte-face" (a spinning about to face one's enemies), and "volatile" (originally, any winged creature). "Arouet" was not a noble name fit for his growing reputation, especially given that name's resonance with "à rouer" ("to be broken on the wheel" - a form of torture still prevalent) and "roué" (a "débauché").

    In a letter of 1719, Voltaire concludes by asking that if the recipient wishes to send him a return letter, he do so by addressing it to Monsieur de Voltaire. A post-script explains: "I was so unhappy under the name d'Arouet that I took another. . ." Voltaire is known to have used at least 178 separate pen names during his lifetime.

    After Voltaire retorted to an insult from the young French nobleman, the Chevalier de Rohan in 1725, the aristocratic Rohan family obtained a royal lettre de cachet, a penal decree signed by the French King (Louis XV, in the time of Voltaire) that was often bought by members of the wealthy nobility to dispose of undesirables. This warrant caused Voltaire to be imprisoned in the Bastille without a trial "
    Last edited by R_Baird; 02-17-2016 at 02:02 PM.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2015
    If a natural religion is not a humanist effort I am mistaken. If you are not a fan of the Illuminati you should not be a fan of Voltaire.

    " Voltaire was born Francois-Marie Arouet in 1694. Voltaire was introduced to the Enlightenment through the liberal and natural views of England’s philosophers. His heroes were Locke, Newton and Francis Bacon. He appreciated the liberal, free society established in England and adopted many of its ideas. He despised the religious intolerance in France and wrote Henriade, an epic poem in honor of Henry IV, an assassinated ruler of France who had established the Edict of Nantes, which ended the persecution of the French Protestants at the end of the 16th century. He hated the clergy and was therefore very critical of its dogma and fanaticism. He was the first in France to attempt to describe a natural religion. This came as a response to further religious intolerance in France in which a Protestant was falsely accused of murdering his son to stop him from becoming Roman Catholic. He published Treatise on Tolerance in which he outlines his particular form of deism, a natural religion which most philosophes would adopt and shape to fit their own ideas. He believed that the most inhuman crimes were caused by religion.

    Voltaire was also a huge supporter of empiricism. Like the English philosophers, he began by doubting everything. He tried very strongly to develop a French philosophy based on empiricism. Unlike other French philosophers of his time who proposed a rationalist way of looking at things Voltaire wanted humanity to be led by their experience. This view was largely borrowed from his English counterparts. Voltaire wanted his native Paris to be more like London. One of his more famous works is Letters concerning the English Nation, in which he first proposes to the French citizens the views of Locke and Newton. Voltaire' most famous work is Candide, a satire published in 1759. Here Voltaire steps outside the stage of the Enlightenment and pokes fun at many of its crucial elements, mainly that man can improve himself and his environment. Voltaire was known to question his own beliefs {Thus his appreciation of Socrates.} and gradually shifted from an optimistic view of the world to a rather pessimistic view, noted in Candide.

    Other famous works by Voltaire include his Dictionnaire Philosophique, and Traite de Metaphysique, in which he outlines his natural religion, and deistic views. It should be noted that Voltaire was not a member of the French aristocracy, but instead belonged to a rising bourgeoisie class, would eventually rise to power in France after the French Revolution. He died in 1778....

    The French philosophes as opposed to other Enlightenment philosophers in Europe and the Americas were especially opposed to the Church and State and campaigned for free speech and a humane penal code. Many of the philosophes were in fact born Christians. Voltaire, the most notorious for his hatred of the clergy was educated in a Jesuit university. The French philosophes did not totally abandon their Christian ideals but gradually formed views based on a natural religion. There were still a few philosophes who abandoned any such faith in God and were on the other extreme of Christianity, atheistic materialists. Whatever the specific views of a French philosopher towards religion were, they seemed to lead into their particular philosophic stance on human morality and whether or not man is good or bad. "

    I credit Thomas Paine as the pre-eminent agent for American and French changes towards Reason and nature.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-14-2016 at 03:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2015
    The Age of Reason is the kind of thing we need today.

    Paine moved in a world that few people can imagine for one who had to travel on ships and not planes. His influence on both the French and American Revolution could be said to have been so great that you can easily say it was his plan - if you did not know about St. Germain and Voltaire. Then you must learn the extent to which others were similarly involved in esoteric groups like the Hellfire Club and alchemical or Hermetic training including Jefferson and Franklin. Jefferson supported Adam Weishaupt and Washington was a member of a Swedenborgian Church. The Rosicrucian Council of Three in America was Paine, Franklin and George Clymer. That is of course a very glossed over introduction covered in threads we already have.

    Here is Paine's book titled The Age of Reason.

    "IT has been my intention, for several years past, to publish my thoughts upon religion. I am well aware of the difficulties that attend the subject, and from that consideration, had reserved it to a more advanced period of life. I intended it to be the last offering I should make to my fellow-citizens of all nations, and that at a time when the purity of the motive that induced me to it, could not admit of a question, even by those who might disapprove the work.

    The circumstance that has now taken place in France of the total abolition of the whole national order of priesthood, and of everything appertaining to compulsive systems of religion, and compulsive articles of faith, has not only precipitated my intention, but rendered a work of this kind exceedingly necessary, lest in the general wreck of superstition, of false systems of government, and false theology, we lose sight of morality, of humanity, and of the theology that is true.

    As several of my colleagues and others of my fellow-citizens of France have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself.

    I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

    I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

    But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

    It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive any thing more destructive to morality than this?

    Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-14-2016 at 03:27 PM.

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