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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Boethius and the new adventure

Poor Boethius! He has fallen far from a high and mighty position of wealth and power to that of a lowly felon falsely framed for treason, and awaits his execution. Alas, felled by the fickleness of Fortune and the fecklessness of Fate, he flies into the folds of Filosofy. He was, as they say today, totally f---ed!

And so he wrote his "Consolations of Philosophy" (AD 523). The work is a model for an old man living in constant reminder of his mortality. Like me?!

And now I have found Pierre Hadot who has rediscovered philosophy as a way of life and presents the spiritual exercises of philosophy anew. Hadot corrects the christianizing-metaphysicizing of philosophy which would have us believe in or hope for some other realm outside our own. This defrocked priest demonstrates that we can face the absurdity of life in our death sentence by a search for meaning. And we can do so with total honesty and acceptance of the world as it is, not necessarily avoiding myth and fantasy but at the same time recognizing and dispelling their illusions.

I would argue that the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius in which I was raised where the retreatant uses her imagination to enter into the lifestyle and character of Jesus is mode of entry into such a philosophic way of life. Especially if the retreatant encounters a Jesus before Christianity, for example, as interpreted by the historian Crossan, a Jesus within the tradition of Zeno and the Skeptics and in relation to Buddha and Socrates.

So like Boethius, while awaiting death in my country club old folks home, I choose to continue my path up Mount Wisdom to meaning. And therefore I begin a new project (among my many others) which I call "The Adventure of Philosophy" though I realize that the project and even the title has been already taken. But do not we all have to take it in our own way and in our own words? I think so. But I shall explore that assumption also.

I write my adventure for the new students of philosophy in community college like Christopher or Mohammed who have befriended us while they work part time as waiters in our country club dining room. But most of all I write up my adventure for me so as to keep knowing what I am thinking and to keep thinking at all.

As one of my guides once told me, I am condemned to meaning.

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