Nov 2, 2017 in Philosophy

Logic is a set of sequential conclusions based on some premises that should seem reasonable to be true. Philosophers of all times used inductive and deductive logic to prove their point to masses and colleagues. They are probably the best historical examples of applying logic to the understanding of the world.

Nietzsche’s Eternal Return

The main ideas of Nietzsche’s philosophy were in the following: life is too short to try to accomplish something outside the capabilities of a man and there is no afterlife however, everything people do will return to them eventually (Deleuze 2006; Kaufmann2008). These ideas are remarkably consistent with modern ecological science, which describes all forms of life (human included) as fleeting and interpenetrating parts of a single organic system. Nevertheless, the scientific formulations of modern science would be of limited use to Nietzsche, for the essence of a sage is the actual life of the unborn self. Mysterious, vast, complex, diverse, and slow moving – Nietzsche’s spiritual ecology is a difficult idea (Avramenko 2006; Cate 2005).

Nietzsche cannot conclude that life is absurd, but does conclude that the person who insists on retaining this lower mode of knowing the body and mind as if it were capable of apprehending the higher nature of the person is surely absurd (Cate 2005). As Plato did (Connolly 2011), Nietzsche also believed that has its opposite and requires its opposite in order to exist (Benson 2007). Thus, it can be concluded that Nietzsche believed that death is imminent and that soul dies as well, as an opposite to a living state of the body while human being lives. However, everything people do during their life will return to them in a while (Deleuze 2006; Kaufmann2008).

Socrates

Socrates has a unique position in the history of philosophy. On the one hand, he is one of the most influential of all philosophers, and on the other, one of the most elusive and least known. Further, his historical influence is not itself independent of his elusiveness. First, one has the influence of the actual personality of Socrates on his contemporaries, and in particular on Plato (Connolly 2011). It is no exaggeration to say that had it not been for the impact on him of the life and above all of the death of Socrates Plato would probably have become a political leader rather than a philosopher, with the result that the whole development of Western philosophy would have been unimaginably different (Plato and Grube 2002 ).

Theory of Opposites. The first argument is based on the following observation: Socrates believed that everything around comes from its opposite. In other words, in case a man is tall it means that he could have become tall only if he was short before (Plato and Grube 2002). Considering this idea, it is easy to conclude that since death and life are opposite concepts, something living becomes dead and vice versa. It means that Socrates suggested that life and death are in some kind of a cycle (perpetual) so death just cannot be the final ending of life (Plato and Grube 2002).

Argument from Recollection. The second argument, used by Socrates, addresses to the learning capability of people. The theory of recollection presupposes that learning is nothing more than recollecting things known by us before – one just forgot about them after birth. Socrates explained such true knowledge as the knowledge of unchanging Forms (Plato and Grube 2002).

Affinity Argument. The third argument, known as Affinity argument, refers to the difference between immaterial, invisible, and immortal things and material, visible, and perishable things. Socrates insisted that soul belongs to the first category and body to the second. Therefore, the soul is able to take many different forms. A soul, detached from the body in a wrong way becomes a ghost, unable to return to the flesh. The soul of a philosopher is detached correctly and can dwell free (in heavens) (Plato and Grube 2002).

This argument has invoked substantial objections from Simmias and Cebes, the disciples of Socrates. They argued that soul, regardless of its immateriality, exists only until the body is alive. Simmias compared body and soul with an instrument and its attunement. Thus, the attunement exists while the instrument exists (Plato and Grube 2002). Considering the previous arguments of Socrates regarding the soul life after body’s death, Cebes however, accepted only the idea that it is possible, but not the immortality of the soul. Socrates argued with Simmias, using the argument for recollection. He outlined the idea that according to the theory, a soul cannot be like the attunement, attached to an instrument because it (soul) existed before the body did. As for the answer to Cebes, Socrates addressed to his fourth argument – argument for Forms (Plato and Grube 2002).

Argument of Forms. The final, fourth, argument of Socrates is based on the theory of Forms. A Form, according to Socrates, is perfect (unlike qualities in this world) and cannot admit the opposite (Plato and Grube 2002). For example, the form of Beauty presupposes absolute absence of ugliness. However, real person can be outstandingly beautiful in comparison with other people but might not be considered as beautiful if compared with a god. Therefore, this person is not perfectly beautiful (Plato and Grube 2002). On the other hand, the form of Beauty is absolutely beautiful (always). Socrates believed that the soul is something that makes us alive. Therefore, it is connected to the form of Life. It means that since this form cannot include its opposite – death – the soul cannot be connected with death anyhow and thus it is immortal (Plato and Grube 2002).

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu, also known as Zhuangzi, Chuang Tzu, and under several other names, was a philosopher from China of the 4th century B.C. It is one of the most noticeable philosophers of that time who influenced many generations of Dao (Tao) teachings followers. Chuang Tzu most likely lived from about 365 to 290 B.C.E., during the Warring States period ( 403-221 B.C.E.), a time when the Chou Dynasty had splintered into a number of autonomous states that were constantly at war with one another (Terebess 2010).

The main ideas of Chuang Tzu’s philosophy were in the following: life is too short to try to accomplish something outside the capabilities of a man and there is no afterlife (Terebess 2010). These ideas are remarkably consistent with modern ecological science, which describes all forms of life (human included) as fleeting and interpenetrating parts of a single organic system (Terebess 2010). Nevertheless, the scientific formulations of modern science would be of limited use to Chuang Tzu, for the essence of a sage is the actual life of the unborn self. Mysterious, vast, complex, diverse, slow-moving - Chuang Tzu's spiritual ecology is a difficult idea (Terebess 2010).

It should be noted that Chunag Tzu remarks people as holding on to their bodily forms and running the course of their life satisfying some function or another (by becoming educated, for example). Then degenerate and die. In these terms, he is questioning the life of human beings in much the same way that Socrates does when he asks about the worthwhile life and what it takes to live that life. For Socrates the unexamined life is not worth living. It would seem they both agree. However, it is a muddle because Chuang Tzu, death and the degeneration of the body and mind are part of the process of life, but are entirely at odds with the purposes and meanings people give to their lives. Section 34 (Terebess 2010) helps to explain this different approach, according to which Chung Tzu cannot conclude that life is absurd, but it does conclude that the person who insists on retaining this lower mode of knowing the body and mind as if they were capable of apprehending the higher nature of the person is surely absurd (Terebess 2010). As Socrates did, Chuang Tzu also believed that life has its opposite and requires its opposite in order to exist. Thus, it can be concluded that Chuang Tzu believed that death is imminent and that soul dies as well, as an opposite to a living state of the body while human being lives.

However, Chuang Tzu is philosopher enough to describe this idea clearly, and poet enough to bring it to life, his virtuosic antics letting people experience it directly (Terebess 2010). Chuang Tzu's propositions seem to be in constant transformation, for he deploys words and concepts only to free us of words and concepts. The philosopher’s ideas were rather skeptical, saying that life has limitations that knowledge does not have. A man should not waste life on trying to reach something unreachable because knowledge cannot be gained in full and, therefore, it is not worth of trying. Chuang Tzu focused on inaction and its benefits: abandon concerns and desires of fame, wealth and power, and live a simple life. Death should not be feared, as it is the logical end of life - limited and thus, not worthy of the above-mentioned efforts. Therefore, Chuang Tzu did not believe in God and other similar things like that, including immortality of the soul (Terebess 2010).

Use of Logic in Disputes

The views of both Socrates and Chuang Tzu were criticized even by their disciples and followers. The thing is that logic of the both philosophers was based on assumptions and understanding of the concepts from the theoretical point of view that cannot be proved anyhow. The arguments of Socrates (all four of them) are rather adequate however, such connections between life and death as he intended to create, cannot be accepted as pure, absolute true because of the variety of reasons (Plato and Grube 2002).

For example, the idea that people learn forgotten knowledge repeatedly, perceiving things in the correct way (the “sticks” example), refers to the immortality of the soul. However, it can be simple genetic memory transferred by parents and obtained from them (Plato and Grube 2002). In addition, a tall man might not have been short before, or in other words, children usually are of the same height and size as parents, with some exclusions. Therefore, the theory of Opposites and argument for Recollection cannot be used as supportive argument for stating that soul is immortal (Plato and Grube 2002).

One of the most controversial arguments of Socrates is argument of Forms. The philosopher believed that Life is one of the absolute forms that is connected with its opposite – Death but cannot include it. Therefore, since the soul is a part of life, it cannot be a part of death and thus it is immortal. The weakest link in this logical chain is the absolute status of forms. The perfectness of a Form (any form from Socrates’s theory) is rather questionable because it is impossible to prove or disprove the actual perfectness of the form. It is just so because Socrates believed so. However, others might have other opinion and find many flaws in “perfectness” of the form. Therefore, the main argument and base point cannot be used as absolute truth.

On the other hand, Socrates’s concept refers to very simple and thus, strong argument – life is absolute. People are alive or dead, there are no other “half” states. Therefore, it is a rather solid background for his other arguments of similar kind (Forms). If life is an absolute then it is possible that other absolutes Socrates refers to are also possible. It means that the argument of Forms cannot be proved or disproved. Arguments of Forms address to the area of logic that cannot be simple by definition.

Chuang Tzu’s views are impossible to implement in life, especially modern one. It is not possible to live without desires and aims because the society is built, basically, on the natural principles – the smartest (strongest) wins and benefits. Researches claimed that his views were not understood by the contemporaries as well. The reaction of Chuang Tzu to his wife’s death was rather non-traditional (the Caring of Life section (Terebess 2010)): he took drums, banged and sang, explaining it by natural way of things and there are no reasons to be in sorrow for changing seasons – spring comes after winter, and so on (Terebess 2010). Chuang Tzu believed that since life is short and it is not possible to gain maximum knowledge, there are no reasons to try. 

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