"What is Philosophy? A Perspective"
by Dr. Parviz Dehghani

What is Philosophy? A Perspective.
By Parviz Dehghani

There are books written on this subject matter which are worth reading. However, there is no comparison between reading and actually living philosophically. We can read about a popular perfume, but it is not the same as smelling it. Anyway, this word simply means 'love of wisdom'. But what is wisdom? A dictionary definition cannot help us here.
Pythagoras (c. 572-497 B.C.E), who was a Greek philosopher and mathematician, called himself a lover of wisdom. One definition for wisdom, however, is 'discernment'. To discern means to separate right from wrong, or good from evil. There are farmers in some parts of the world who are still making use of the ancient method of threshing or winnowing, which means separating good from bad. This is one of the two definitions of wisdom, which deals with ethics and morality. The other defines wisdom as the ability to know the reality beyond the physical appearances. It is the love of the real, not the apparent. Therefore, love of wisdom means love of the truth.
Perhaps it was the love of knowing the difference between good and evil that made Adam and Eve fall. But at what price did they think they were going to achieve this? If they had just trusted God, who had created them, they probably would never have fallen into the trap set by the serpent on the tree. They thought they would become, not like God, but God himself. Because they were already like God. They were created in His image. Were they not?  They wanted more perhaps. May be they desired to be equal to God. Is it possible they forgot they were only part divine? By disobeying God, they committed an evil act in order to find out what evil was.  But why did they fall into such a contradiction? Was this love of wisdom or love of curiosity? Because when you turn your back to God, you're already disrespecting the source of wisdom. He invested in them by creating them to be half divine. By eating from the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they were unable to discern based on the Intellect, which stands for wisdom. They instead trusted their pure reason. May be, the serpent stands for pure reason while the tree of life symbolizes the Intellect. Once they ate from the fruits, then they became aware of what they had done. Now they have the knowledge of good and evil but at what price?
This reminds us of the story of Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to feed the poor. This is against the natural law. Because the initial act was wrong to begin with, though it was done with good intention. The story had a happy ending, that is, Robin Hood was able to feed the poor with the gold or money he had stolen. However, the goal justified the means for him.
First of all, Greeks did not invent philosophy. The wisdom tradition had existed in the Eastern world thousands of years before Thales, who is said to have been the first Greek thinker. But the methods of discernment and going beyond the world as it appears to us, were different between East and west. If it is not too much of generalization, East sat in meditation to achieve this goal while West approached it through thinking and contemplation.
The difference between the two ways of discovering the truth can also be realized by just looking at two statues: one is the statue of Buddha, who is sitting in lotus position and the other is the statue of Aristotle sitting on a rock while holding his chin with the back of his right hand. The one who sculptured the statue called 'the thinker' was the French sculptor Rodin (1840-1917). Again they both are sitting: Buddha on the ground, before he became enlightened and Aristotle on the rock before his philosophy dominated the Western world.
It is very interesting to know that the first of Buddha's 8 stages to Nibbana (Pali) and Nirvana (Sanskrit), is about right thinking. Buddha was not against thinking as long as it was aided by the Intellect within us. What was the Intellect for him? May be it was Atman that he rejected originally. Was he referring to this reality without acknowledging its existence or perhaps he was only denying people's opinions of it? Who knows? Nevertheless, it is very much possible that he in fact did not deny the existence of Atman and Brahman or the Ultimate reality. What he did not accept, however, was what people thought of them. Opinions do not lead to knowledge. Just like Plato, Buddha believed we're in the realm of change and becoming in which opinions are the only realities that matter. Individuals are not ready or willing to take a risk and move up the Jacob's ladder in order to reach the true knowledge.
The snake or snakes coiling around the rode of the Intellect, in the symbol of Caduceus, which, by the way, has been mistakenly used in the medical field, stands or stand for man's psyche. Psyche means the soul in Greek. It is possible that the serpent on the tree of knowledge of good and evil represented man's psyche. The tree of the Intellect, however, was the tree of life or spirit. May be God had a reason for commanding Adam and Eve not touch and eat from the fruits of the tree of psyche. Had they eaten from the tree of life, they never would have become slave to their psyches or souls. After all God gave them the gift of spirit. But once Adam and eve disobey God's commandment, they died as they were told they would. The spirit of God became eclipsed in their hearts. Their egos or i-nesses or psyches blocked the Sun from shining within them. This was death. What is death but the absence of the light of the Truth. When there is no light, there is darkness. It is said that after Christ was crucified, darkness fell everywhere.  The soul is the seat of the pure reason.
It is fascinating to point out that in modern psychology there is no room for spirit. Mind, psyche or soul seem to have been lumped together or consolidated as one reality, that is, mind and body, which become another reality. We're neither mind, nor body. It is just us.
Tree of life is where the center is. It is where the moment is. It is where present is. It is here and now. It is not in the past, nor in the future. It is in the center of the universe. It is the fig tree (pipal) under which Siddhartha Gautama sat and became enlightened. This tree was later on called Bodhi tree or the tree of enlightenment. We have no idea whether this tree was called Bodhi tree before or after Buddha sat under it. Buddha sat under the tree of life.
Apparently Jesus also had some affiliation with such a tree. On his way back to the city he felt he was hungry. There was a fig tree nearby, which had no fruits but leaves. He then addressed the tree by saying that, "May you never bear fruits again!" Immediately the tree withered (Matthew 21: 18).  Why did he do that? Was it perhaps because Adam and eve covered their private parts with those leaves after they turned away from God and ate from the fruits of that tree, namely, the tree of psyche? Is it possible that the forbidden tree was that tree? We'll probably never know that. One might interpret this story as if it was about Christ' own life. In other words, is it possible that Jesus was married and had his own children? What is the use of a tree when it does not bear fruits? Perhaps he was referring to the tree of psyche whose fruits were all eaten by the serpent itself except the ones given to Adam and Eve. Is this what we mean by the original sin?
What we just did is an example of philosophy of Religion. Once mother philosophy loses her children one by one, then begins checking on them to make sure they are doing the right thing as they were taught. Therefore, we have such subjects as the one mentioned above and likewise. For example, we have philosophy of science, philosophy of history, philosophy of mathematics, etc. Once these branches became exact science, they left their progenitor. Logic is the very last one, which gradually has gained its independence from its mother and in recent years there are departments of logic in some universities.       
It seems 'reason' alone is not sufficient to help us to know the reality as it really is or reality in itself. Just like the psyche, it needs to rely on the Intellect.
Plato, who was a mathematician, was aware of the existence of the Intellect, while Aristotle, who was a biologist, felt reason was all what we needed to discover the reality. It is also possible that he didn't pay attention to the importance of the Intellect.
Rodin was not a philosopher. However, we wonder why he chose Aristotle and not Plato to make a statue of? This is a question we might never have an answer for. But we can presume that while Plato was for intellection, Aristotle was for ratiocination. There is a great difference between the two. Plato used his 'intellectus' in Latin, which means to perceive or to understand. He made use of his superior intelligence. Aristotle, on the other hand, preferred to reason by using the formal logic, which was what he himself had put together.
There are three stages in the history of the Greek culture: The first one is called the classic period when gods and goddesses were subjects of worship. This is when myths and mythologies were born and developed. This is the time the natural law was the source of morality among people. Religions and spirituality were highly revered and respected. There was a hierarchy of reverence in their society that corresponded with the one in nature.
The relation between man and nature was very close. 'Is' and 'Ought' were in balance in their culture as they were in nature. The former stood for the status quo or the way things were and the latter for the way they ought to be.
People believed gods and goddesses were involved with whatever happened in nature and they were direct causes of natural phenomena all around them. Nature also was not a dead matter or 'it'. Nature for them was alive and dynamic like a bull. This stage in which Religions mattered a great deal gradually came to an end.
The next stage began with Thales (636? -546?), who is known to have been the first Greek philosopher. He lived in 6th century B.C.E. He belonged to "the Milesian School of Greek Philosophy; is said to have predicted the eclipse of 585; had probably been to Egypt and was proficient in mathematics and physics. Thales, along with the other cosmological thinkers of the Ionian school, presupposed a single elementary cosmic matter at the base of the transformations of nature... [ for him everything was made of water]" (Dictionary of philosophy by D.D. Runes).
He started with a scientific approach to find out the causes of the phenomenal problems, which in the past  had been attributed to the gods. This method, initiated by Thales, was very different from what people had previously believed due to their religious views.
For example, eclipses did not occur because the gods were angry with people. Thus, he was curious to discover the real cause of them. He used his pure reason to discover the truth. This was a new way of knowing the causes behind the phenomenal world.
However, this was achieved at a cost, namely, the loss of people's belief that gods were in control and charge of the cosmos and were also involved with their lives.
This way of looking at the heaven left its effect on the Medieval time in Europe. For instance, people saw the milky way and perhaps believed angels were congregating way above them. But once they entered the scientific age, the cosmos was no longer populated by the deities and instead it reflected man's mind, which was projected onto the cosmos. This was an anthropomorphic way of looking at the universe, which became devoid of spirituality with the passage of time. In other words, cosmos was no longer sacred abode.  'Anthropomorphism' simply means attributing human qualities to God or gods or animals and even inanimate objects.
Other thinkers of this scientific period had their own thoughts concerning this single element. Some speculated that 'air' was that matter. Others were thinking 'earth' was the one. There were other philosophers who thought all four elements were what the world was made of. And some were contemplating that perhaps the 5th element or quintessence (ether) was responsible for this natural transformation. Among them, however, was an outstanding figure by the name of Heraclitus (536-470 B.C.). Like his name he was in fact an obscure character. He thought everything was made of "fire". He was from Ephesus He argued that there is nothing in the universe that is not subject to change and becoming. Everything, is constantly changing. The world is in ceaseless flux (Runes, Dictionary of philosophy).  Everything changes except change itself. In other words, everything changes except the concept of change. But 'concept' is what we form in our mind. Is not that also subject to change, unless he was referring to what became known as Plato' Forms later on.
Let us think for a moment and ask this question: "Do I have the same concept of change throughout my life"? Is it possible that my concepts also change along with everything else?  When I conceive, I form an idea of something in my mind. But when I make a statement that everything is in constant becoming, this must include even the idea or concept of becoming. Don't you think so?
For Buddha "self " consisted of five aggregates: Body, feelings, perception, disposition, and consciousness. These five elements, which make up for " self ", are all subject to change. So where are the concepts formed? Now if it is the case that even the concept of change is subject to change, then how can we account for the meaning of change? Because we need a constant in order to have a changeable reality. If the concept of change were to be also changing, then change has no meaning. It is true that we can never step into the same river twice. But without the banks of the river, how can we know if the river is moving? Unless there is a permanence, how is it possible to have impermanence?
Cratylus of Athens was a Heraclitean and Plato's first teacher. He believed in the fact that opposites cannot be reconciled (Runes). G. W. Hegel (1770-1831), the German philosopher, argued that in fact opposites, like being and non-being can be reconciled and harmonized. Jesus being fully man and fully God, for him, can be reconciled. Although, according to Aristotelian logic, this is contradictory. The outcome of the reconciliation between being and non-being is the word 'becoming'.
Hegel did not want to appeal to paradoxes in order to solve this problem, like the Church fathers. Because paradoxes have the appearances of contradictions, yet they are not contradictory.
Let us not forget that whatever is changing, like a river, are series of beings and non-beings. When I 'm standing here, I'm here and I'm being here. When I step forward, then I'm there and not here. This 'not here' is non-being.
Logically being cannot come from non-being. If this is true, then there is no movement. Perhaps Cratylus was right after all, namely, there is no river to step in to begin with. A Mahayana Buddhist philosopher by the name of Nagarjuna, who lived around 200 A.D. or C.E., also believed there was nothing to step in at all.
Parmenides, an Eleatic philosopher, lived in 6th-5th B.C. or B.C.E. He came up with the concept of "Being" in opposition to Heraclitus' "Becoming". To think, he said, one must postulate something that 'is'.  In other words, when I think, I think about something. Because what is 'not' cannot be thought, neither can be. Thought minus being or being minus thought are not possible. Thus, both thought and being are identical. Parmenides' "Being" is that Reality which fills space; non-being is in fact empty space. Therefore, empty space cannot be.
[Either something is or is not. If it is, then it is. if it is not, then it must be becoming. If it is becoming, then it is nothing.]
And if empty space or "Void" cannot be, then the plurality of individual things is also not real. Because this is the consequence of the motion of the "full" in the "void."[ Imagine if "Being" were like an ocean, then we, as well as everything else, would be like fishes in the water]. Therefore, for Parmenides there is only one "Being" with no inner differentiation what so ever. This is the only Reality that really is, whereas the particularity of individual objects is phenomenon, which is indeed nothing but illusion. This "Being" is homogeneous and does not change. It is the only reality that really exists. (Runes). Everything else, as the Hindus have it, is but Maya or illusion. Brahman is the Ultimate Reality. St. Paul once said: "For in Him we live and move and have our being."(Acts 17:28).
Buddha must have been asked questions regarding change and motion. He believed everything is in the process of becoming. Thus, nothing is permanent. However, how can we claim that everything changes, unless there is something which does not change? As we know, Buddha did not believe in either Atman or Brahman. Therefore, there is no source of permanence in this world. We suffer because we 're attached to this world including ourselves. But again how can I have motion and change without a permanent reality? What is permanent reality for Buddha? Nibbana (Pali) or Nirvana? Does he have to have one? Obviously he does and yet we do not know what that is. What would Buddha's answer be? This is where Nagarjuna comes in. If the Ultimate Reality is beyond being and non-being, then we cannot say it exists. Now you know why there is no permanent Reality for Buddha. Because that Reality is beyond permanence and impermanence. It is beyond any duality. Then how can we justify motion? Buddha's answer would have been Nagarjuna's statement, namely, the whole world of change and becoming is in reality nothing. Parmenides simply said what Hindus had said thousands years ago, which is, the world is an illusion or Maya.
Having studied the thoughts of both Heraclitus and Parmenides, Plato realized that the concept of change alone is not enough to justify the fact that everything is in the process of change and becoming. Because concepts, which are formed in the mind, change as mind changes. Therefore, he came up with the idea of Forms. What are they? That is a good question. You see, Plato was looking for permanent and immutable realities based on which he could then explain the world of becoming. Thus, he conceived the idea of Form.
Forms are transcendent realities. Form is the structure, pattern, or essential nature of anything (The Random House). Forms are essences, universals, archetypes, ideals, paradigms, and models. They are realities of everything. They are all perfect. For example, the highest Form is the Form of Good. Other forms are like Humanity, Beauty, and Generosity. The most perfect triangle exists in that realm. All other triangles are imperfect imitations of the one above. we only participate in those Forms. They are the what nesses of everything. This world only reflects them. We're imperfect samples of what they are. They are the intelligible structures, that is, they can be known through our intellects only. That is the place of Being and beings. Plato knew better not to consider the Forms as mental entities, that is, concepts. When Heraclitus argued that everything was changing except change itself, he should have realized that this would also include the concept of change itself. To avoid what Heraclitus had fallen into, Plato decided to make the Forms transcendent. Therefore, change is also beyond the becoming world. Now change is in the realm of being.
With Aristotle, however, change became a concept in our mind, which then corresponded to the changing world. For example, if I see 100 horses, then I develop a concept or an idea in my mind regarding them called horseness or horse. Subsequently, this concept must correspond to those horses. As you can see, here we have a horizontal relationship. Although this concept is in our mind, the reality of Form is in those horses. But Plato's project was a vertical one. With Plato, on the other hand, we, as well as everything else, only participated in the Form of change.
In 4th century C.E., St. Augustine, who had been a follower of Manichaeism became a Neo-Platonist in latter part of his life before he converted to Christianity. He tried to explain what the Church fathers had come up with a century before him, namely, the idea of Trinity. He used Plato's thoughts on 'One and many'. He perhaps worried about Aristotle's logic and his position towards Plato's Forms. He probably felt Plato was a lot harmless compared to Aristotle. After all Plato himself did not consider Aristotle as his successor to whom he could leave the academy after he was gone.
In 13th century A.D., St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Italian Christian philosopher, became Aristotelian. When he was at the university of Paris, he was influenced by Aristotle's philosophy. He possibly connected Aristotle's disagreement with Plato's Forms, to what John, who was a Christian apostle and the author of the 4th Gospel. Just as Aristotle thought Plato's Forms were in the world and in the objects, John said: " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1: 1 and 14). Therefore, the two intellectual giants, that is, Plato (One) and Aristotle (many), were beautifully explained by the renown Renaissance painter, Raffaello Santi in his famous work ' School of Athens'. Plato is pointing upward with his right hand using the index finger while Aristotle is stretching out straight with his right hand while all his fingers are separate from each other. The former, Plato, is directing our attention to the One and only Reality, the Ultimate, vertically. Whereas, the latter, Aristotle, is showing us the world of many, horizontally. The two shall meet in the symbolism of cross (Christianity) or loom (Eastern Religions). Verticality connects with horizontality in the middle. The top of the cross is like Plato's index finger in North and the bottom in South. Whereas, the two hands, which is already more than two, are pointing horizontally towards, East and West.  No wonder why Jesus is regarded as the meeting point between transcendence and immanence or the narrow passage between the two parts of an hourglass. Christ said: "...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"(Matthew 4:4).
Remember, according to the Gospel of John, Christ was the word of God. In other words, he was the living Torah. What does this mean? Can you separate a person's voice from the person himself or herself? When you hear your mom's voice on the phone and you're asked: "who is that?" The answer is obviously, "that is my mother". We usually tend to identify an individual with his or her words. We might say that Jesus was not a messenger like Moses and Mohammed but he was himself the message. He was the embodiment of God's word. Either that or God spoke to mankind through Christ. In the holy Qur'an God says to His prophet that Jesus was a word and a spirit from Him to Mary. In other words, God said Be and then it was. Jesus came into existence by God's word. His very existence was a miracle. We get the impression that he was probably not the word of God. He was a combination of God's Spirit and Mary. For a moment we think perhaps Christ was not the word of God but he just came into being as a result of God's command in the form of Be and there it was. There is a difference between what we just said and what John says. God's words and God are not separate just as my words and myself are not separate.  After all, God spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Didn't He? So God's words were among us then. What if God talked to people through Jesus? Was Jesus the word then? What would be like if God spoke by using Christ as a conduit and said: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."(Revelation 22:13)?
Let us now change the subject and talk a little regarding the distinction between soul and body. The early Hebrews did not believe in such a distinction.      This is where the question of wholeness comes in. When I see a dead body in the coffin during a viewing, what do I see? Do I see the whole person or I only see a body? As you can see, I'm looking at a body minus the life in it. A whole person is a complete human being, namely, life and the body together. He is not perfect but once he is dead, he is no longer whole. One might argue that what we just said makes sense only if there is a distinction between soul and body. However, even if there is no distinction between the two, which means there is only one reality, we still have an unanswered question: " is there a difference between a dead human being and alive one? Naturally our answer is yes there is. Our issue is not about the survival of the soul after death. But we were trying to convey that a dead body is not a whole. Because it is not simply alive.
Given the dualism we just discussed, we would like to see if we can understand the dualism between God and His word. When John says in the beginning was the logos(Word), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1), he does not seem to suggest that the Word is God's Word. From many he moves to One. But one might say this shows God and His word are One Reality. God would not be whole, if He was separated from His Word. God's voice and God are together. In other words, God is equal to His Word. So John says that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us... the only begotten[Son] of the Father... (John 1:14). Either God and His Word are One or they are not. If they are, then this means God Himself became flesh and dwelt among us. However, John refers to this as Jesus, Son of God, who comes to us in flesh. This means God and His Son Are One. As we know, this is an anthropomorphic way of speaking about God. In a word, we're thinking of God as a reality like us. But the question remains: Can we create God in our own image as He created us in His?
It is possible that Thomas was aware of the complexity of what John had put us through. There is no indication that Aristotle knew anything about Hinduism, though we know Plato believed in reincarnation. Nevertheless, it is possible that Aristotle had heard about the ancient Religion of India directly from his own student Alexander the great, who had reached India in his expedition. It is also possible just as Pythagoras and Plato knew about Hinduism through Egypt, Aristotle also learned about this Religion from Plato himself. Where are we going with this? Even though Aristotle did not accept Plato's idea of reincarnation, it is not impossible that he used the belief in the God Vishnu and His Avatar (incarnation) Krishna in his philosophy. Thus, he made use of this idea to attack Plato's transcendent and immutable realities called Forms. As much as Krishna came among us, he argued that we only have the concept of a horse or horseness in our mind, whereas its reality or essence is in the horse itself. He is said to have intended to unify Plato's Forms and the world. In other words, he tried to bring the Forms from the realm of transcendence to the realm of immanence. Logos enters the world of immanence. Krishna comes to us from transcendence to immanence. Atman is in us, though it is one with Brahman. The ray of the Sun is within us while it is not the Sun itself. The difference is there in all these examples.
Somehow, Thomas connected with Aristotle, perhaps to see a way out of misunderstanding John's Gospel. What is Plato's Form but essence or whatness? Logos could be that Form. That Logos is what we really are. It is our essence our Atman. The physical body of Jesus is not in us but spiritual Christ is within us. At Eucharist Jesus fed his disciples with bread and wine. He told them, referring to bread, this is my body and pointing to wine, this is my blood. Through this alchemical process he entered their bodies. I'm Atman, Logos, Form, Sun's ray and I was never born. Is this what went through Thomas' mind? This is something we'll never know.
Plato revolutionized the status of women in Athens. Forty thousand men decided the destiny of Athenians. But he said even a qualified woman can become a philosopher king. Socrates and Plato were both against the Athenian democracy. Plato came from aristocracy. Etymologically it consists of two Greek words: one is aristos (best) and kratein (to rule). For him Athens should be ruled by one philosopher King. If she is not a thinker, then she ought to be advised by one. At the top of this pyramid, there must be the best to rule Greek state. Why monarchy and not democracy? Because in Greek democracy not a single woman was allowed to vote. Besides, any unqualified and uneducated person could also vote.
In fact, electoral college system was put in place in the united states of America in order to prevent such a thing from happening. What is the so called 'electoral college anyway'? It is "an assembly elected by the voters to perform the formal duty of electing the president and vice-president of "America. (Webster's New World Dictionary). However, there are those who believe true democracy should be based on popular votes, that is, all votes for a candidate should matter. Otherwise a candidate might win by popular votes and yet could lose the election. The question here is: "what happens to those who were encouraged to vote but at the end their candidate lost and their votes did not mean anything at all"?
Socrates and Plato, however, did not have to worry about this at all. They were concerned about the One and not the many. They thought people of Athens should, by no means, be subject to majority rule. They were aware of the tyranny of majority.  
Alexis-Charles-Henri de Tocqueville, the French historian (1805-1859), wrote a magnificent book on American democracy. But he warned us of the tyranny of majority. He admired this democracy except the fact that if a candidate were to be a crook, then millions, who voted for him and led him to his victory, could also be regarded as crooks. In the final analysis, those whose candidate lost are now to be ruled by the majority. This, of course, depends what we mean by 'crook'.
There were others, in the history of the United States, who also detected almost the same flaw in our democracy. Among them was Henri David Thoreau (1817-1862). He was a transcendentalist from Concord. He possibly knew about Tocqueville and his book. He probably thought Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), who was the 7th president of U.S., whom he hated vehemently, was the person who was not qualified to be chosen to lead the country in the right direction.  He refused to pay his taxes for which he was ready to go to jail. This president, according to Thoreau, was divisive and had no regard for diversity, which was to be the strength of American democracy.  Thoreau was not an anarchist but he was concerned about the tyranny of majority.
Andrew Jackson did not treat the natives, African Americans, and Mexicans with respect. But ironically his portrait, becomes visible every time we need to use a dollar 20 bill. However, there have been attempts made in recent years to replace his portrait.
Plato was also against private property. He believed land ought to be shared among people. His ideas were revolutionary at the time. But one of his students, who was the most brilliant among the rest, dared to challenge him, whether when they were together or after Plato's death. His name was Aristotle, who was much younger than Plato. He came from a middle class background. He studied with him for 20 years. Unlike Plato, who was a Pythagorean mathematician, he was a biologist. The former pointed upward, while the latter stretched forward with his wide right hand, at least according to Raphael.
Aristotle did not become a physician in spite of his father's wish. He joined Plato's academy to study philosophy with him. We really do not know at what point he began disagreeing with his teacher's philosophy. Was it before or after Plato's death?  Nevertheless, we know this much that he criticized his instructor's thoughts on certain important issues.
First he did not think women were qualified enough to enter politics. Women can serve the state best when they are at home raising a generation of men who then will rule Athens. Thus, politics is not a place for women. Aristotle was unable to elevate the status of women from the way they had been since the beginning of the Greek civilization. Women were denied suffrage or the right to vote. Aristotle acted like an elected president, in U.S. democracy, who was then able to repeal or do away with certain ideas the former president Plato had advocated before.
John Locke (1632-1704), the British philosopher and political thinker, was deeply influenced by Aristotle's philosophy. When it came to women, he agreed with Aristotle that they had no business in politics. Therefore, they must not even vote.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who was the 3rd president of the U.S., studied Locke's philosophy. Consequently, women were not able to vote till the beginning of the 19th century, that is, 96 years ago. No woman has been able to become the first female president of America as we write.
Locke also adopted Aristotle's idea on private property, whereas, the natives of U.S. did not even have the word 'ownership' in their vocabulary. They considered themselves custodians or guardians of this land. Before they knew it, the land they had been protecting for thousands of years, was occupied and they were put in reservations.
When it came to government, Locke did not believe there was any need for a sovereign, unlike Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679).
Aristotle introduced three significant ideas, which were unique in the history of philosophy: Form and matter, potentiality and actuality, and substance and accident.
As far as the first one, he believed whatever exists in the world has 4 causes: Efficient cause, material cause, formal cause, and final cause. When a decision was made a few years ago to build a statue of Buddha at a Buddhist Temple in Franklin township in new Jersey, a young monk was asked to come to the United States from Sri Lanka. This monk accepted the responsibility of building the statue with the help of a few monks and others. We call this monk, according to Aristotle, 'efficient cause' or the builder of the statue. But before he began this task, he asked the head monk for the material he needed. Having the foundation laid down, he was provided with good quantity of cement and bricks to start this project. This material is called 'material cause'. So far we have the maker (efficient cause), and the material (material cause). Whose statue was it supposed to be? The answer was, the statue of Buddha, as we mentioned before. This is what is meant by 'formal cause'. The essence or the whatness of this statue is Buddha. So far we have had our maker, material, and what statue we have in mind. There is one more, and that is our 'final cause'. In other words, where is the final destination of the statue? Obviously the answer is, at the Temple. It was built there to begin with anyway.
However, the question still remains: "What is form?" In Greek it is called 'eidos'. What is 'eidos'? It is 'idea', essence, universal, pattern, paradigm, type, species, visible form, and shape. It is not matter in which these characters are embodied. (Runes). At the top of the building Plato named the 'Academy', it was carved: ' Let none but geometers enter this place'. What did he mean by that? Did he think that you ought to be a mathematician first in order to qualify to study there? Or perhaps he meant to ask us whether we know anything about geometry, which deals with forms, patterns, and shapes? There is no doubt that forms are shapes like triangles, circles, and rectangles. However, there seems to more to them than just what we see. Let us not forget that for Plato perfect and transcendent geometric forms belong to the realm of being and immutability. My triangle on the board is an imperfect sample of perfect one in the other realm. This imperfect world of change and becoming reflects those Forms, which are in the immutable or unchangeable world.
There was once an American woman who wanted a hat, which was unique. She went to Paris to a milliner or a person who makes or sells women's hats. This hat maker was known to have been a great designer of hats. She simply asked him to make her a hat that no woman had ever worn. She wished to be the first woman who would wear that hat. This great designer of hats brought a ribbon spool, with beautiful color and created a magnificent work of art. She was amazed at the way he put this together right in front of her. She tried it on and looked in the mirror to see how it looked on her. She was astonished at how beautiful she looked. She took the hat off and handed it to him. She then asked: How much does it cost? He told her, only hundred dollars. She told him that you just made this hat out of ribbons. He answered: Madam, the ribbon is free. Then he took the hat and pulled the ribbon. The whole hat fell apart instantly. You see Madam or my lady, the hat is made of ribbon, but the ribbon is not the hat. In other words, you're only paying for the hat not the ribbon, even though the material the hat is made of also cost. (Robert Kane, on Ethics, teaching company).
The forest is not some total of all the trees. The forest ,in and of itself, is a whole. We normally do not see the whole. But we want to know what a thing is made of. The whole is the form, the pattern, the design, the essence, the whatness.
Madam, you only worry about what the hat is made of. But in the mean time you lose sight of the whole or the hat. Here the totality matters. Of course, it is very interesting to know how things are made or what they are made of. But the final product is that which gives meaning to the process of making.
[ Madam, according to our beloved Aristotle, everything in the world is made of four causes: Efficient, material, formal, and final cause. I, the hat maker, is the efficient cause. The ribbon is the material cause. The formal cause is, of course, the hat itself. The final cause is what you do with the hat, which is obvious. See Madam, by visiting me, you also learn philosophy, so you get your money's worth].
A piano has black and white keys. If they were all white or black, then we cannot play the piano. For instance, we can learn how a piano is made by watching a program on T.V., science channel, called 'How it is made'.  However, it is the piano that defines the way it is made. Even this is not what Plato had in mind, if we could read him. We can think that those keys in the keyboard signify the harmony which should exist in order for a composer to be able to write his or her music. This is the harmony that ought to exist, especially in a society in which there are white and black people living side by side. We're reminded of a famous song of the 60's called, 'Ebony and ivory' by Paul McCartney and Stevie wonder. This is how the song goes: " Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony, Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don't we? We all know that people are the same where ever you go, there is good and bad in everyone, we learn to live, we learn to give, Each other what we need to survive together alive...  (Songwriters: Paul McCartney, Ebony& Ivory lyrics- Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd). Black and white keys represent duality and many, whereas the whole or totality, which is the song, manifests Oneness.
Professor Kane used a similar example when he spoke of a paper weight in his taped lecture for 'Teaching Company' years ago. I got my idea of piano from his example.
As we know, analogies, by in large, have their own shortcomings. However, we cannot do without them. They become useful tools to explain complex philosophical issues.
If you remember, we discussed Aristotle's four causes before. As you know, he rejected Plato's transcendent and intelligible Forms we were just talking about. He argued that those Forms are not in the realm of being. In other words, their realities are in the objects or their characters are imbedded in the matter. What happens when I see several dogs, for example? Do not I already have a concept of a dog? So by looking at many dogs I develop an idea of what a dog is. However, this concept must correspond to the dogs outside of my mind. But the essence of dogness is in every dog out there in the world. Therefore, an object or substance consists of form and matter. In reality once we consolidate those four causes, we'll have but formal cause and material cause. Efficient cause plus material cause equal material cause. Formal cause and final cause give us formal cause. At the end, those four causes are reduced to material cause and formal cause. While the world only reflected Plato's Forms, as a pond reflects the moon and stars at night, Aristotle argued that the world does not have to reflect the Forms that are not even there. In fact, those Forms are in the world but not as reflections. Those Forms are finally united with the world and they are actually there. Their ideas are in our mind but their realities are in the objects. Form and matter need each other. Form is pattern and pattern in old French is patron and patron is Pater in Latin, which means father. Matter, on the other hand, is matron and in Latin is mater, which means mother. Mother and father need one another just as yin and yang complement each other.
When it comes to Aristotle's idea of potentiality and actuality, form and matter play a great role. Form is that very actuality that matter wants to reach. Matter here is potency while form is actuality. By way of an analogy, an acorn is potentially an oak tree. The essence of the oak is in the acorn, otherwise we would have a cherry tree. Our idea or concept of an oak is in our mind. The actuality of oak is in the acorn, which is nothing but form. The acorn instead of reflecting Plato's Form, it has it embedded in it.  Male and female are now together in this process. Form in the matter does not change but matter moves forward or upward in order to become an oak tree. Form, therefore, guides this potency to reach its destiny. This is how Aristotle defined motion. Form is at rest, while matter is moving. After all, don't we need a reality that is stationary so change and becoming would make sense? When I'm walking along side of a wall, the wall does not move with me. Thus, Aristotle's form is as unchangeable as Plato's.
We might say that transcendence lost its very meaning with Aristotle. This is where perhaps Aristotle and the German philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) could meet, of course, with some minor differences. Think for a moment, the Forms that were in the world of transcendence and were not subject to change and becoming are now in the world of change. Plato's Forms basically can define Parmenides' philosophy in a nutshell. Aristotle, rather brought them and made them part of the Heraclitus' world. If Plato stood for the vertical aspect of the cross, Aristotle went for the horizontal reality of the cross. They, however, met at one point in the cross. They both believe forms were unchangeable. But whereas Plato argued for the transcendence of the Forms, Aristotle maintained for their immanence. But Aristotle for sure knew about the fact that even concept would also change. Our minds are not safe places for those concepts. Having said that, Heraclitus' statement that there is nothing in the world that is not subject to change and becoming, becomes absurd. Perhaps Parmenides was right after all. He claimed motion was but an illusion. Once Form becomes a concept, then it is naturally subject to change. Then what happens to Aristotle's position? When I have an idea, I feel its presence in my mind. But do I see the presence of the reality of the Forms in the world? Not really! How about matter? Can I feel the existence of matter at all? Not really! Form and matter are not visible. Matter is not a specific object. These terms are used philosophically to make sense of the world we live in. For instance, who is this Form called 'man'? Is he tall? Is he short? Is he fat? Is he thin? Who is this man that is perfect? But, according to Plato, all men participate in this Form. We all participate in the Form of human being. As to the Form of matter, all material objects participate in that Form. For Plato these Forms are real. That is why, he is regarded as a realist. This has nothing to do with modern understanding of this word. Plato was also considered an idealist. Because he believed in these ideals called Forms. They're concrete realities. Numbers were also solid realities for Pythagoras. Remember, Plato was a student of Pythagoras, though they were centuries apart. However, with Aristotle Forms of Plato lost their status. They became ideas or concepts in our mind. For Buddha both perception and consciousness change. We don't have to wait for Buddha to tell us that everything changes. We know they do whether we like it or not. I form a concept of a dog in my mind. This is only an idea, which is filtered through my mind. My mind is a realm of change. Plato's Forms are not produced in my mind. Those are universal realities independent of my mind.
Followers of Nominalism, in scholastic philosophy, called those concepts only names and denied the fact that they correspond to anything out there. They believed abstract or general words, or universals do not represent any objective real existents. Reality belongs only to actual physical particulars (Runes).
As we can see, finally these concepts are considered only names. Conceptualism on the other hand, is a doctrine, which is intermediate or a compromise between nominalism and realism. It maintains that universals are only explicitly in the mind as concepts, and implicitly in the resemblances common among particular objects. (New World Dictionary). These concepts have no metaphysical value what so ever. Apparently these concepts do not correspond to the objects in the world. In other words, let us say I have a concept of a dog in my mind. But this concept does not correspond to dogs in the real world.
Aristotle, on the contrary, argued that Plato's Forms that were our mind's properties, did in fact correspond to the reality in the world. Even though 'mind' might not be a safe place for concepts, but the reality of Plato's Forms is in the objects of the world, according to Aristotle. In modern terms, forms seem to be genetic or DNA codes in everything, as professor Kane suggests. Aristotle's form in acorn, for example, is like a horse rider. Whereas the rider is that very actuality, potentiality is the horse, which is the matter. The acorn must move forward with a vision of the actual oak. Form, however, needs the potency to get there. Male (form) and matter (female) need each other. They, in fact, complement one another.  Father (form) and mother (matter) are united. In Christ transcendence and immanence are one. God is said to be immanent, namely, is present throughout the universe.
It appears, perhaps Plato's source of knowledge was not his mind. He believed this world was the realm of opinions. To reach true knowledge, we ought to move up till we achieve it. He probably thought Aristotle was stuck in the world of opinions. Plato experienced the whole elephant but others were lost in the dark checking different parts of these animal by rationalizing. They were wondering what kind of creature they were dealing with. Some check the legs thinking they were holing pillars or columns. Others were touching the trunk of the elephant coming to the conclusion that they were holding a huge hose. You see, we're in the dark when we only use our reason to gain knowledge and not our Intellect. Aristotle, unlike, Plato took ratiocination very seriously. Plato was a rationalist, but he also believed certain metaphysical facts must be experienced or else we're not going to have the required knowledge we have been seeking for. I can read about a very famous perfume or see the add on either T.V. or the Internet. However, there is no comparison between this and smelling the perfume of the Forms and the Form of the Good, which is the highest among all the others.
As far as Aristotle's philosophy of forms, we saw what happened to our ideas of them. Buddha easily rejected Atman and Brahman as the Ultimate Reality. But did he? In reality he did not. He only went against what people had formed in their mind about them. He in fact rejected their opinions of them or what they had interpreted. Brahman was like the Sun and Atman was like the ray of the Sun in each individual. The Sun and the ray of the Sun are one at the end.
Buddha would also reject our concepts of Plato's Forms because they're just our opinions as to what they are. Being only opinions in our mind, they're naturally subject to change.
Aristotle, was not the inventor of logic, which is absurd to even think about it this way. He rather organized logic. Aristotle felt logic was the organon of the scientific inquiry and investigation. However, he does not seem to have experienced what Plato had tasted. Plato was after sapiential knowledge. Sapere in Latin means 'to taste' or 'to know'. Aristotle regarded man as a rational and political animal. Plato, on other hand, experienced the Forms through his Intellect.
Plato should be put in a different category than Aristotle. Let us not forget that Plato believed in reincarnation along with Pythagoras. Plato is a lot closer to the Hindu and Buddhist world than we could possibly imagine. This is not reading too much into Plato's philosophy.
When Aristotle argues that we only have concepts of the Forms in our mind but their realities are in the world, he very much sounds like Buddha. Because, as we remember, Buddha in reality did not reject Atman or true Self. What he in fact did reject was our opinions of them. He does not seem to have rejected the true reality of Atman. Aristotle sounds like he is saying what the Hindus have in terms of the connection between Atman and Brahman. If Plato's Form of the Good is Brahman, then Atman represents Aristotle's forms that are in every object. That is why Aristotle is for the many while Plato is for the One. Of course, the question of transcendence is raised again. How can ray of the Sun enter our world of change and becoming? This is a legitimate question.
When Buddha was asked in the absence of an immutable Reality, how can you argue that the world is changing? Buddha's answer was what Mahayana thinker of the second century, Nagarjuna, suggested: After all there is no river to step into. Even this world is nothing, which is similar to what the Hindu had believed thousands of years ago, namely, this world is but an illusion. I was dreaming of a butterfly. I woke up and asked: was I dreaming of a butterfly or perhaps I was in the butterfly's dream?(Chinese sage).
Would Aristotle go for this? Of course, not! The question for both Aristotle and the Hindus remains to be answered. However, in Hinduism, time and motion are illusory whereas for Aristotle are not. But ironically time for the Greeks was cyclical.
How can Aristotle maintain that form and matter are together in this world? Unless his form is really not Plato's Form, that is, it is not transcendent. Then what is it? How can his form be in need of matter? I understand if matter needed form. If his form needs matter, this means it is not immutable or unchangeable. But it looks like, it does not change throughout the journey to manifest its actuality in order to become an oak tree. In modern terms, it is like a computer chip planted in an acorn or an animal so it would make sure they grow properly to reach their destiny.
Aristotle, nevertheless, believed the only form that does not need matter is pure Form, which is also pure actuality. This is what he called God. God in his theology is absolutely pure and simple Form, which reminds us of Plato's Form of the Good. Like the Sun, it sheds light upon other Forms and make them glow.
Aristotle's form, in the world of objects, is not pure actuality. It needs matter's assistance to become what it is not yet. it is the rider of the horse of matter and potency. Acorn is potentially an oak but not actually. We only have a concept of the form involved with the acorn, which is subject to change anyway. But since this is an opinion, then it must also correspond to the one in the acorn. If my opinion changes, then the form in the acorn should change too. If Aristotle tells us that the reality of Plato's Forms are in the world, Plato would object to that. Because Plato's Forms are transcendent and immutable. We ought to distinguish between the two. Aristotle disagrees with Plato and argues that Plato's Forms do not exist as being transcendent and immutable.
First of all, the world reflects Plato's Forms. This, of course, does not mean transcendence has been compromised. Just because the moon is reflected in a lake or an ocean must not be interpreted as if the moon has fallen into them, which is absurd realistically. Nevertheless, we can embody those Forms. Socrates, for example, was embodiment of humanity, generosity, goodness, spiritual beauty, justice, fairness, mercy, virtue, piety, temperance, humaneness, and compassion. The list is not exhaustive or complete. These are what people saw in Jesus and a lot more. If it is true that what we do in time have their echoes in eternity, then transcendence can also manifest itself in people too. However, this is very different from Aristotle, who denied Plato's transcendent Forms in the name of truth and came up with his own version. Perhaps we now understand why Plato did not choose him as his successor in the Academy. The reason being, he did not prove he had embodied those Forms to be someone like Socrates. Aristotle felt what made a person be who that person was, existed within him or her. My whatness or essence is not that 'Man' who is perfect, transcendent, and immutable. What makes me who I'm is in me, not in some unknown realm of the Forms. But does Aristotle believe his form is transcendent and unchangeable? How can that be? However, if it is not, then how can Aristotle account for the movement from being an acorn to an oak? Unless there is a constant, we cannot understand motion. Unless there is a station, passing of the train would have no sense. If he regards pure Form or God, the Reality which is immutable, then everything else is in the process of change and becoming. Let us remember, God to him, is also an unmoved mover. God is an uncaused Cause.  In his idea of form and matter, the former (form) needs the latter (matter) to reach its actuality. I'm potentially an excellent and perfect man but not actually. The form of man in me needs me as much as I need him. I'm potentially a Buddha but not actually. I'm potentially an enlightened person but not actually. I'm potentially Adam but not actually. My form is the form of humanity. To become perfect human being, I ought to move toward it. I have to reach my true Self, whatever that may be. I'm potentially my true Self, but not actually. An acorn, if it could talk, would say: I'm potentially an oak but not actually.
Nominalists, like George Berkeley (1685-1753), the Irish religious and empiricist philosopher, questioned the authenticity of 'Man' shared between two men. Joe and John, for example, are two men participating in the form of 'man'. The question here is: "Who is this man"? We know only these two particular individuals, namely, Joe and John. Who is this third one who is neither fat, nor thin. Neither tall, nor short. This man is supposed to be a perfect form in which both Joe and John participate. Who is this third person? Can we see this third man? As you can see, the very existence of this third party was in question. For Berkeley both form and matter were non-existent. Finally, universals, in general, whether Plato's or Aristotle's, were nothing but names, not even concepts. Think for a moment and ask: How can a religious thinker like Berkeley reject the universals and still believe in God? Christ is said to have been the embodiment of those Forms.
The maker of the statue and the stuff to make the statue are consolidated as material cause. Who the statue was to become and final goal of it are consolidated as formal cause, that is, four causes are now reduced to only two causes. The final respect and gratitude go to the maker of the statue, who is still living. While he was making the statue, the statue was making him for Hegel. This means his concept of what the statue was going to look like was not fixed at all. Did his original idea correspond to what the statue became later on? The answer is: 'No'. Some other reality was using him so he would come up with such a statue. No wonder why his concept kept changing.
Now that Aristotle does not have a stationary reality to measure motion against, perhaps he would appeal to the pure Form, which called it God. Well, what if pure Form is beyond being and non-being, rest and motion? What if suddenly Aristotle was facing the Ultimate Reality? Then the next question is: How can he account for motion, if he finds out that the Ultimate Reality is beyond being immutable. Given this fact, then how can he know whether the world is changing? How is he now able to tell us that the acorn is gradually moving towards its actuality knowing that the form has to do the guiding like a GPS? If Plato's Form of the Good and Aristotle's pure Form both are beyond rest and motion, as the Ultimate Reality, how can Heraclitus account for change and becoming? Let us face it, we're left with one option. What is that? Both Cratylus, the student of Heraclitus, Plato's first teacher and Nagarjuna, Mahayana Buddhist philosopher of the second century, argued that there was no river to step in or cross. In other words, this world or this universe is in reality nothing. This is where we get closer to what Parmenides told us long time ago.  All what he said was that movement, motion, change, and becoming are all an illusion. His ideas were very much like what we have in Hinduism. Hindus believed the whole of universe was 'Maya'.  The meaning of this Sanskrit term is 'illusion'. Is it possible that Parmenides was under the influence of Hindus, whose belief had traveled from India to Egypt in north Africa and somehow got to Greece or perhaps Parmenides rationally reached this conclusion?
Therefore, Aristotle is unable to justify the motion within an acorn, if there is absolutely no way of knowing whether such a change exists at all.
From here we can also understand that even Plato must have had quite a hard time explaining what we mentioned above. See, by just placing Parmenides in the realm of being, and Heraclitus in the world of becoming we have not solved the problem of time and motion. Because as long as we have not established a solid base for our immutability, it is difficult to claim that the world is in the process of change and becoming.  If the Form of the Good is the Ultimate Reality for Plato, then it should be neither named, nor defined. Because they would limit that Reality in our mind. That Reality is One and cannot accept duality. In other words, it cannot have partner. What about being necessary existence? By that we mean, it cannot not be, it must be. We're contingent or possible beings. We can be here or not be here. That Reality is not contingent. "... God is One. Nothing can be added to it, nor can anything be taken away from it. It does not beget, nor was it begotten. It is unique. (Qur'an, chapter, The Unity). Plato's Forms can be considered God's attributes in Islam.
"It is hidden but always present. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than God" (Tao Te Ching, chap.4). " Since before time and space were, Tao is. It is beyond IS and IS NOT" (Tao... chap, 21). " A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is (Tao...chap, 27).
According to Islam, no one gave birth to that Reality. That Reality never gave birth either. Birth comes from the vacuum of a mother's womb. This vacuum can be interpreted as non-being or death. The Ultimate Reality did not come from death. Because death and birth have no meaning in that Reality. That Reality is beyond is and is not, being and non-being, rest and motion. In fact, it cannot even be. Being is Its first manifestation.  Some Medieval and Islamic philosophers might disagree with me on this point. They might prefer 'necessary existence' over what we suggested. Nevertheless, I maintain that with 'necessary existence' comes 'unnecessary existence' or 'necessary non-existence'. This means Its existence is not necessary, thus It must not be or Its non-existence is necessary. We ought to avoid this kind of duality for that Reality. Therefore, using the verb 'to be' becomes unnecessary. Consequently, we don't have to prove Its existence at all. If I were trying to prove the existence of God logically, all I'm doing is trying to prove the existence of a title any way. Once we make an attempt to do that, we'll end up being where Thomas Aquinas was in the 13th century. But in the 18th century Immanuel Kant logically refuted all those proofs one by one.  Christ once said: "Those who live by the sword, shall be perished by the sword." The Hindus felt experiencing this Reality is more important than rationally proving it. Persians simply put it this way: "The Sun came, as the reason or proof for the Sun." In other words, the very presence of the Truth is the best proof for that Reality.
Zen Buddhists believe that the whole of the universe is enlightened. All we have to do is to become awaken to it. We're like the fish in the ocean searching for water. However, majority of human beings are not willing to do so. When it comes to Ethics and morality, we much rather bring our problems and fight them out in the world than solve them in ourselves. Dalai Lama once said at Rutgers that wars begin from within us first and then become the most violent educators for mankind with millions dead.
The function of St. Michael and St. Bernard, in killing the dragon, has its own symbolic meaning. There're forces in us that we ought to confront and deal with before they have a chance to get out. We can negotiate with our fantasies before they become realities.
After Plato's academy closed Aristotle's Lyceum continued for some years till Alexander's death. Being without a patronage, Aristotle decided to leave Athens for Macedonia, his original birth place and died there shortly after.
After the death of three intellectual giants, namely, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Greece was never the light house and great bastion of human endeavor to seek and pursue the true knowledge and truth. After these three patriarchs of moral and philosophical activities, Greek culture was left with a vacuum, which signified the death of a period in the history of Greece. Nevertheless, just as the three prehistoric patriarchs, namely, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob established the Hebraic tradition, those monumental Greek thinkers also laid the ground for the future of thought in the West.
Zeno (c. 340-265 B.C.) was the founder of Stoicism in Athens. Reality, for him, is a rational order where nature is dominated by the laws of reason, which can be interpreted as pantheism (All phenomena are God). Our lives are guided by Providence against which it is useless to resist. Wise men willingly submit to this power which controls their destiny (Runes p.359). For him virtue and only virtue is good. A virtuous person is the one who has reached happiness or fulfillment through knowledge. A man or woman of virtue has discovered the source of happiness in him or herself. He does not believe happiness comes from outside. By mastering himself, his passions, and his emotions, he is happy. Everything and all natural laws follow by a conscious determination from the fundamental Word-Reason. A wise man is the one who uses this rational order to regulate his life as his highest duty (Runes, p.318).  Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Emperor ruled from 161 AD to 180, which was regarded by many, the golden age. He was also a stoic philosopher and writer. He symbolizes what Plato called a philosopher king. (The story of philosophy, B. Magee, p. 46). Recent movie, 'Gladiator' is, in some sense, about the life of this great Emperor, if not historically 100% accurate.
Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) argued that pleasure and happiness are the natural goal of life. Unlike the misconception, he advocated pleasures that are consistent with intelligence and moderation. Joys of the mind are superiority over the pleasure of the body. He never encouraged carnal pleasure (Runes, 108).
In ethics, we're reminded of the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). He made universalistic hedonism popular (Runes, p.213). In Greek, 'hedone' means pleasure. Hedonism means pleasure is good. He was for quality pleasure, however, as opposed to Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832).
Of course, pleasure is a general term. There're, however, two major kinds: One is sensual and the other is non-sensual. The former deals with bodily pleasure or it is carnal. The latter involves mental, spiritual, and rational pleasure. One is empirical, the former and the other is rational. we're almost split between these kinds of pleasures.
It seems we're dealing with some kind of cultural relativism! In some religious cultures sexual pleasure by itself is a taboo. In other words, there is no such a thing as pleasure for pleasure's sake. It is o.k. to enjoy sex as long as it leads to procreation.
This is where we get closer to the animal kingdom. On the one hand, we're told to shy away from our animal nature. On the other hand, we're encouraged to behave like them and follow the natural law when it comes to procreation.
According to Aristotle we're rational animals. We're preached to avoid carnal pleasures. Suppose we violate this divine law, then we're bound to feel guilty as a result of which, we suffer tremendously.
In Buddhism and Catholicism monks and fathers must be celibate. They ought to abstain from sexual pleasure. Buddha, in his 8 steps to enlightenment, even asked the ordinary people for moderation in this act.
In Abrahamic Religions, God created man from the dust of the ground and His own breath or spirit. We're torn between these two forces. As long as a farmer feeds the ground with his seeds for the harvest, he is justified. But if he throws his seeds just for the pleasure of it, he is wrong. Everything ought to be teleological in nature, that is, it must have an end or a purpose.
Is love making or having sex for procreation, or for the sensual pleasure between a male and a female? The question of procreation of course, is not an issue for gays and lesbians. They can always adopt children, if they wish to do so. Therefore, we wonder whether sex among human beings are for intimacy or procreation or for both or neither. After all, we're different from animals. Are not we?
For Epicurus, moderation in everything is the key to our well being. After all, he was knowledgeable about Aristotle's philosophy. Thus, the way to happiness, is not through excess. According to Aristotle, both moral and intellectual virtues pave the way for us towards being in good spirit.
What would pleasure be, if it is not accompanied by pain. Pain and pleasure are opposite of one another. In logic they are not contradictory. They are just like sweet and sour. However, contradictions are opposites. If I make use of each side, namely, sweet or sour, I can come up with contradictory statements. Remember, something cannot be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship. For instance, something cannot be sweet and not be sweet at the same time and in the same relationship. So when we're having sweet and sour soup in a Chinese restaurant, we're not having contradictions but opposites. Yin and Yang don't contradict each other. They're opposites, on the one hand, and complement one another on the other hand.  
What would pain be without pleasure? They both need each other to give meaning to one another. When God says in the Genesis that He created the world and it is good, we don't make much of it at first. The question then is: Compared with what world is this world good? This could only mean God must have created another world, which was bad. Otherwise, how can God make a comparison with only one word? Does good make any sense without evil? This is what Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the German philosopher of 19th century, referred to. Perhaps being tacitly influenced by the philosophy of the ancient Persian thinker Zoroaster, he argued that there must be an evil God or force in the universe. According to Zoroaster, the forces of good and evil have been at war with each other for thousands of years and finally the good will triumph over evil. 
This world that you and I know is the abode of opposites and contradictions. This is the world of many, not one. Things don't make sense, unless they are challenged by their opposites. All what we need to know is avoid excess, as was taught by Epicurus. Of course, there're cases like adultery in which the golden mean just does not work, according to Aristotle.
Let us bear in mind, not every pleasure is good. We ought to be selective and not be confused here. John Stuart Mill, specifically warned us about this fact. For example, not all mushrooms are healthy for us. Some are poisonous.
Now you might argue that it is possible what we call harmful pleasures are so because of the influence of Religions on our cultures, families, and societies. We're brain washed to avoid certain pleasures compared to other kinds. And once we enjoy the forbidden fruits, we're bound to feel guilty, even if no one found out about it. This is the psychological aspect of this problem, which needs to be addressed in its own term.
John Stuart Mill was critical of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). These two British philosophers were deeply influenced by Scottish thinker, David Hume (1711-1776). Hume believed in utility and usefulness of things. For example, the word 'ownership' had no meaning among the natives of the colony to be called later as the united states of America. So Hume would ask: What is the use or utility of such a word in communication with the natives?  
Bentham was the founder of Utilitarianism in England. He argued that there should be maximum happiness for maximum number of people. As you have noticed, there is an underlying and hidden 'majority rule' idea in this school of philosophy. However, his idea of pleasure and pain are quantitative. For him how much pleasure or pain matters the most. It is quantity over quality. This is exactly where Mill criticized him by saying that he would much rather be an unhappy Socrates than a happy pig. He was also a Utilitarian thinker, except the fact that he valued quality over quantity of pleasure, which for them meant happiness. Yes, a painless life is a happy one. Who would disagree with that? I would not. Pain killers, however, are there to make us happy, at least, temporally, even though they usually hide the pain we're experiencing without curing their cause or causes. But what is real happiness in this world? Can we obtain real happiness in this world?
In a movie we see a 19th century British ship, while trying to sail from Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean via south America, confronts a very stormy and rainy weather. One of their best sailor, who was struggling to bring dawn the sails, lost his control and fell into the cold water in which waves were reaching as high as hills. The captain of the ship was making an effort to save him with the help of others but it was very difficult. As the sailor was pulling the sail, the ship was also tilting to one side, as if it was about to be capsized. One of his lower rank fellow approached him with an ax and asked him to cut the rope and let the sailor go or else the whole ship would sink to the bottom of the ocean and with it the rest of the crew. In other words, let one be sacrificed so the rest, that is, majority would survive. Here it is the so called British school of 'Utilitarianism' in a nutshell. In spite of the harsh aspect of this school of thought, it has its own charm. There is an expression: "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link". This is about wholeness more than anything else. As long as there is a link missing, there is no wholeness. It is the whole that saves. Once we remove the faulty link and the chain is fixed, then it is a whole. Is not that what the reluctant Capitan finally did? The sailor was still holding on the rope, which was tied up to the sail, and was crying for help.
The expression teaches us we ought to make sure everyone in the society has been taken care of including its poorest members. A healthy nation is the one in which there is no weak link.
Can we make use of the same expression when it comes to the life of the drowning sailor? It seems the unwilling Captain, under pressure, eliminated the most popular sailor on that ship in order to save the ship and the life of everybody else on it. In the former case we included, to preserve the integrity of a society, whereas in the latter one we excluded, to achieve our goal. In the former, we were involved in cooperation, while in the latter, we were geared towards the survival of the species.
The strongest will survive, was the idea of "Charles Darwin (1809-1882), the great English naturalist who gathered masses of data on the famous voyage of Beagle and then spent twenty additional years shaping his pronouncement of an evolutionary hypothesis in 'The Origin of Species', published in 1859." (Runes, p. 89).
The movie we just talked about is called, 'Master and Commander. (2003). The ship was sailing around the Cape Horn to reach Galapagos Islands. The doctor on board was perhaps Darwin himself though not by that name. The poor sailor, who was being swallowed or tossed among those brutal gigantic waves, was desperately asking to be saved but instead was left to his own demise. What a way to die? Leaving this world on that cold stormy sea, while your friends and Captain are on board. 'Tyranny of majority' is in disguise here, named 'Utilitarianism'. Majority rule led the sailor to the jaws of killer waves away from the warm bosom of the mother who had given him birth. There was no hero welcoming ceremony with friend's open arms to embrace him. What a cruel world have I lived my life in? The kind of world where there is no helping hand stretched out to save me from this devouring monster sea. Why did you cut the umbilical cord connecting me to the mother ship? Brothers I'm like a sheep now, who has been abandoned by other sheep with the sound of approaching wolves. I'm out of my mother's womb devoid of any protection, thrown into the harsh reality of everyday life. I'm a minority to be ruled by a majority whose only advantage over me are their numbers.
Yes, these numbers play great roles in our world and are held in high standard by our pre Socratic mathematician, Pythagoras, who believed they were transcendent and immutable realities like Plato's Forms. In fact, it is very much possible that Plato patterned his Forms after Pythagoras' ideas of numbers.
Our democracy, supreme courts, and many, many more are run by this tyranny of majority, which was rejected by Socrates and Plato and many other thinkers who came after them.
Where is justice in this system? Just because it works, it should have preference over other forms of governments? But does it always work? Not really! The ironic fact is that when a majority wins, the beneficiaries come out and say that our nation or country has spoken. The correct way, in the midst of this chaos of unfairness, is that the majority has spoken as long as the system has not been tampered with.
Somehow Utilitarianism and Democracy seem to have been interwoven to advocate a common cause. Because in every election one side, namely, the minority, is bound to be disappointed. Minority must be sacrificed so majority would enjoy the victory.
What is philosophy after all? What is it? It is a search for the Truth? Not a logical truth. Something a lot deeper, which goes beyond a simple rational inquiry.  It is like the act of justice performed by Solomon, the Biblical king of Israel, who embodied wisdom. Two women were claiming a baby and were brought to Solomon for justice. The logical way of being fair to both parties was to cut the baby in half such that both sides would have an exact equal share. However, the real mother stopped Solomon before he brought his sword dawn. She told him to let the other woman have the baby. Solomon then dismissed the other woman, who was quite the whole time, and asked the one who spoke and was ready to give up her claim for the life of the baby, to come and take her baby. This is called 'wisdom'. This is justice. When Jesus said, don't judge that you'll be judged, he must have been referring to when Solomon was going to cut the baby in half to be fair to both sides. The real judgment was what he did later, that is, when he let the baby go to the real mother. Christ was not against this judgment.
When Moses realized he had no choice but possibly cross the Nile or the red sea to reach Sinai desert, God parted the sea so His prophet and his followers could safely pass to the other side. This is the middle path of justice. This is what is meant by the golden mean or the mean between the two extremes. This is Buddha's middle path. When Moses walked through the open path, the ground was dry. But when Pharaoh's army tried to follow them, they all drowned. The middle path is for those who are righteous, not those who fight the Truth. When we meditate, we try to concentrate on our breath. We center our selves. We make an effort to be in the moment, the present, the now, not in the past, nor in the future. As soon as we get caught in the current ordinary life, past and future thoughts rush into our mind, like the water on both sides of the path on which Moses was walking. As long as the messenger of God is with us, in the center, in the moment, in the presence, in the now, and in the middle, we're in spiritual sacred space in which there is no time. We're safe from the onslaught of time.
With the phenomenon of time comes, becoming, change, impermanence, and motion. Sacred space is the abode of permanence without which movement has no meaning. However, once you're in this spiritual niche, away from the passage of time, you would have a longing to ascend to where there is no duality. Now you're ready to join the Ultimate Reality, not as you, but as nothing, like 0 + 1 which is always 1. 0 + 1 = 1, shows that in the final analysis, we're nothing before the Ultimate Reality. Because the Ultimate reality is beyond being and non-being, rest and motion, or better permanence and impermanence. If this were the case, then what can justify the change? Well, we have no choice but accept the fact that even this whole universe is nothing. It is finally what the Hindus call it MAYA or illusion. Yes, we're nothing before the Ultimate Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Justice, and Righteousness.
Christianity came a little more than two thousand years ago and filled the vacuum which had been left behind after the two schools of Plato (Academy) and Aristotle (Lyceum) closed for ever. Let us remember, there was no Christianity until the beginning of the second century A.D or C.E.  A. D or in Latin, Anno Domini, simply means, in the year of the Lord of the Christian era. This has recently changed to C.E which means, Common era. In the first century, what we now call Christianity, was nothing but a Jewish sect.  
St. Paul, whose epistles or letters came to make what we know as the New Testament, met with the Epicureans in Athens, which is mentioned in the New Testament. But Christianity was no match for the intellectual legacy of the Greek culture. The reason being, Christianity emerged as a new Religion after Judaism. None of the pre Socratics, plus their successors, namely, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, ever claimed they were messengers from on high. Christ was not a philosopher. He was man of wisdom but he was not Solomon. The latter resembled the Greek thinkers more than Jesus. Christ was more like, Krishna, one of the Avatars or incarnations of Vishnu than Greek rationalists. While Greek wise men were rationalist, Jesus and his disciples were about faith and Baptism. If Jesus was like Krishna, perhaps it was because of some Greek philosophers and mathematicians, such as Pythagoras and Plato, who had connection with Egyptian civilization. Let us remember that ideas traveled from ancient India to North Africa. No wonder why both of these thinkers were believers in reincarnation. Where did this Hindu belief come from? In actuality there is no evidence that such a faith in life after death or after life, though in different forms based on one's Karma, ever existed among the Greeks. Let us not forget that time and history were also cyclical in Greek culture. Where did this come from? One might call this a historical zigzagging. We also try to avoid this kind of explanation. But we don't seem to have any other options. Perhaps this is the reason why Plotinus (205-270), who lived in third century A.D. wanted to travel to Persia on an expedition. It is possible he was looking for Eastern ancient wisdom.
Is it possible that perhaps Plato had been wondering about life after death when he adopted the idea of reincarnation from ancient Hindu Religion?
From what we know about Socrates' last hours before he took the hemlock, there is no indication that he believed in reincarnation. He had no knowledge of afterlife or after death. When he was asked whether he had any worries as to what to expect? He simply responded by saying that, why should I be concerned about that which I don't know? It is perhaps better than this world.
Who knows what was going through Plato's mind? It is in the realm of possibility that Plato knew all along regarding Hinduism and belief in reincarnation. How can you be a philosopher of high caliber as Plato and not be curious about death?
Ancient Chinese thinkers like Confucius and Lao Tzu and whole host of others, had not concerned themselves with the question of afterlife, until Buddhism arrived in China.
Afterlife was also not an issue for the ancient Hebrews. There was no Heaven and Hell after we die. Even to this day, there are no events to participate after death in Judaism. In fact, the fascinating thing is that there was no distinction between the soul and the body. It was what they Hebrew named it as NAFASH. It was only one phenomenon. Once we're dead, it goes to under world. However, as we move through the history of Judaism and search for a trace of afterlife evidence, we realize that this missing idea of life after death or the existence of Heaven and Hell did not belong to Judaism at all. It does not mean that this Religion was interested in owning it.
Then why do we have such a thing in Christianity as the separation of the soul from the body after death? After all, was not Jesus of Nazareth a Jew? Did not he belong to the same tradition? If it is true that Christ was crucified and resurrected after three days, then this should not be the reason to believe in distinction between the soul and the body. There is a difference between resurrection and separation of the soul from the body after the occurrence of death. When we die, we do not resurrect.
Jesus was half God's spirit and half man or perhaps he was neither. May be he was a complete different phenomenon, which adds to the mystery of who he really was. He was very much like Adam.
But why did those who followed Jesus believe their souls would depart from their bodies after death? Where did this come from? Well, there is an undeniable Persian and Greek influences on Judeo-Christian tradition. Persians ruled the whole of the Middle East for about two centuries after they defeated the Babylonians. The word, 'paradise' is originally a Persian word meaning, a wall in place or an area surrounded by curtains. In Persian, the word 'pardeh' means curtain. In Avestan it is 'pairidaeza' (enclosure). (American Heritage).  Avesta is the sacred book of the Zoroastrians.  Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian Religion. It is Heaven or the final place of the righteous people. It is a place of ideal beauty. It is an intermediate abode for the departed souls of the good individuals, who are waiting for the day of resurrection.
As we can see, what happened to Jesus, if the narrative is correct, was a demonstration of what would take place on the day of judgment. Christ died and then was resurrected after three days. This has nothing to do with the belief that the soul of a deceased person would depart his or her body after death.
Therefore, the likelihood of either Persian or Plato's ideas or even both influencing Christianity is very high. Let us not forget that both Persian and Indian cultures have the same Vedic background. Vedas are ancient Hindu sacred texts, however.
Fearing for the life of her baby Jesus, St. Mary is said to have fled to Egypt. There is still a Christian community in Egypt tracing its very existence back to this particular event. This is the Coptic Church, which is also in Ethiopia. Some scholars believe there are elements in Christianity, which show there have been influences on this Religion by the stories in Egyptian history.
Let us also keep in mind that Egypt was the land in which Judaism was shaped and formed. However, in spite of the fact that the ancient Egyptians believed in the soul and afterlife, in Judaism there was no belief in a distinction between the soul and the body, nor was an afterlife for them.
The notion and belief in a future Messiah had never existed prior to the Babylonian captivity. In reality, Messianism was but a projection of the captured Jews' hopes and aspirations in a form of a Savior. 'Mashiah' in Hebrew means, anointed. He was and still is the promised deliverer of the Jewish people. In fact, the Babylonian Jews were so desperately waiting for such a Messiah that they called Cyrus, the Great, the King of Persia the Messiah they had been longing for. Because it was Cyrus who defeated the Babylonian kingdom.
The Torah was translated into Greek after Alexander, the Great defeated the Persians. The Greeks' rule did not last a long time after Alexander died at a young age. His generals were not able to defend their captured territories and as a result lost the war once challenged by the Roman army. It was under the rule of the Romans that Christ emerged as a cosmic figure. His followers strongly believed he was the promised Messiah. In spite of several prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the coming Messiah, the Jews did not think he was their savior. They expected to see great warriors, if not Saul but like David and Solomon to come and save them from their predicaments.
Jesus was a non-violent man, who came at the time when Rome was involved in many atrocities the like of which the world had never seen. He did not come on a horseback with his sword drawn and swinging. He came as a messenger of peace and not of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. He was inclusive in his approach, not exclusive in handling human problems. He asked us to be mirrors to our friends and enemies showing their true colors, what they really are and not how politically correct they were. And when they did not like what they saw, then manifest who you truly are by turning your other chick. This way they do not attempt to break you. He was a mirror to everyone. People saw their pains and agonies as well as sins in him. He carried their sins and blames to the cross. He was, however, only reflecting their sufferings. But those who did see themselves in him, hated him rather than disliking themselves. When Pontius Pilate asked him about the truth, he then turned the other chick, namely, he showed him who he really was. Pilate then asked the high priests and the elders as to what to do with him while he is innocent of all charges? They said: "Crucify him." The final verdict was in the hands of the crowd who were not all Jews. The tyranny of majority, the corner stone of democracy, went into effect. Only one prisoner could go free according to the governor's custom. The crowd chose Barabbas to be freed and Jesus to be crucified. 600 years later the Holy Qur'an said: "Don't dress or clothe the Truth with falsehood. About 400 years ago a saintly woman by the name of La La Yogish Venara, walked naked into a bazaar in Kashmir. People immediately surrounded her and women covered her. She was asked why? Today my Guru (teacher in Sanskrit) told, you're utter should be like your inner. I have nothing to hide. I'm transparent. I couldn't cover the truth. Apparently, something similar happened to St. Francis of Assisi. (1182-?1226). Having seen the misery of those who were working in his father's textile factory and later saw them standing in the back of the church, something happened to him. He ran out and took his clothes off. Perhaps he didn't want to cover the truth. Adam and Eve covered themselves after what they did.
Jesus said: "... the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."What is truth?"retorted Pilate. (John 18: 37-38). Once I undress, then you'll see the truth. I have been dressed with falsehood. My only crime has been, reflecting the Sun. Who so ever has seen me, has seen the Father.  Not only have I been reflecting the people, I have also been manifesting the Reality of my Father. If you're interested in truth, just look at me. I'm showing you the Truth. Mirrors don't lie sir. Mirrors show both ugliness and beauty. You can either see yourself in it or just look at the surface of it. Majority only look at the surface and not what it reflects. If you really want to know who you're, then look beyond the surface. If you desire to know your true Self, then see me when I turn the other chick. I'm your true Self. I'm your Atman. I'm reflecting Brahman. My Father and I are One. I'm the embodiment of the word of God. I'm the reality of Plato's Forms.  No one could have hurt me, let alone crucified me. I ascended to my Father just like Elijah. But it was one of you on the cross who sacrificed himself for me. He was like Isaac who was to be sacrificed for God. Was not it? Was not my birth a miracle, then my end in this world was also a miracle. Was Krishna, the Avatar or incarnation of Vishnu crucified?  It so appeared to people that the word of God was destroyed like Moses' tablets. Moses broke those tablets. But would God break His own word? God would stand by His word just as he wants us to make good on our words.
Pilate asked a philosophical question: "What is truth?" Those who're on the side of the truth, listens to me. Philosophers have always been seeking the truth of the reality of life and the world. They're ready to hear the truth. A philosopher keeps searching for the reality beyond the appearances. If Christ appeared to people crucified, then philosophers want to know the truth beyond the phenomenon. People pretend to be what they're not. They are politically correct. But who are they actually? A thinker is interested in knowing individuals in their true colors. But this is their ordinary self, even when it is without pretence. A philosopher, however, is looking for their true Self. But this thinker wants to get to his own true Self first. He knows by knowing himself, he can see through others.
He has been longing to reach his Atman. A philosopher is using the power of his Intellect rather than the broken wings of his pure reason. He is desirous of flying and soaring like an eagle. He is not satisfied to be like central park pigeons in Manhattan, who often times wait for handouts to survive. While the pigeons are begging passers-by or by standers for food, the eagles are training their youngsters to fly from the top of the high risers where their nests are.
In Hegelian philosophy, Plato would be considered Theses. Aristotle would be regarded as Anti-theses. Perhaps Plotinus could play the role of Syntheses.
For Plotinus (A.D. 204-270), all reality is composed of a series of emanations, from the One, or the Ultimate Reality, which is the source of all being. The first necessary emanation from this chain of being is NOUS. Nous is mind or intelligence. The second one is PSYCHE or soul. Matter is at the periphery of the universe. Human beings are partly in the abode of spirit and partly in the place of matter. (Runes, p. 256). These are all hierarchically structured."
Reality is one, and the source of all being is the One, the Divine Unity. From the One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous), the Intellectual Principle. The Divine Mind, in turn, spends the creative force of the One in giving rise to the Divine Soul. The One, Nous, and the Soul make up the Divine Trinity. While lost in the contemplation of the One, the Soul desires to return to its source of being, but in turning away from the One, it creates a lower (and hence, less perfect) order of souls and material objects by forming matter according to the Ideas of the Intellectual Principle." (Enneads, Mater pieces of World Philosophy in Summary Form, Edit by F. N. Magill, P. 245).
Plotinus made an effort to revive Plato's philosophy, lest it might become overshadowed by Aristotle's ideas. He redefined and reshaped Platonic philosophy and came up with a coherent system of thought named ' Neo-Platonism' or a new look at Plato's philosophy.
Why is there evil in the world? Plotinus takes us back to Plato's distinction between the world of change and becoming, that is, the physical world and the world of Ideas and Forms, in which everything is in perfection. The perfect world of Forms is not tangible. This realm is constant, perfect, and forever. Plato told us that this world, namely, our world, is tangible, in contrast to the intangible realm of Ideas and Forms. We learned from Plato that this physical world is subject to change and becoming. It is perishable and imperfect. Nothing is stable here. We're born like many other things and we'll die some day. Death is a present possibility, as Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) reminded us.
In the medieval time, we were taught we were contingent beings. That is, we were possible, not necessary Being. We have been longing for eternity because we have been crushed by onslaught of time. Although time is healing, it also destroys us. We're locked up in this world of time and motion. Since the character of this world involves change and corruption, it is almost impossible to get to know it. True knowledge can be gained only by thinking about the eternal and perfect Forms. This world only reflects those Forms. Things of this world are but copies of the real and perfect Forms. When a painter paints the natural phenomena, he knows his paintings are only imitations of what is out there.
The Neo-Platonists made use of the difference between the two realms, namely, the physical and the Ideal in order to explain the relation between the body and the soul. They believed that the soul is perfect. However, it is imprisoned in an imperfect body. Since the body is part of the physical world, it is the cause of evil. Therefore, the soul struggles to unlock itself and get out of the cave to be true to its perfection. (spark notes 101, philosophy, p.97). We're here reminded of   the Hindu philosophy of the presence of Atman in us.
For a moment we think about Aristotle's notion of Plato's Forms whose realities are in the objects of this world while their concepts are in our mind. But for Aristotle, there is no other realm. For him Plato's perfect world just does not exist. His Forms cannot be perfect and trapped in this world. Because they have no realm of perfection to free themselves in order to reach it and be back to where they belong. No wonder why Aristotle came up with the idea of pure Form, which does not need matter to reach its actuality. Because it is not potentially actual. It is pure actuality. This, to him, was God. A form that needs matter to become what it is not yet; it is not perfect. Perfection does not need to become perfect. Plato's Forms are in pure actuality. It sounds as if Aristotle agrees with Plato, on the one hand, and he disagrees with him on the other. When he discusses pure Form, which does not need matter to reach its actuality, he tacitly affirms Plato's belief in the immutable realm of the Forms. However, he also would like to deny the existence of the Forms of Plato which would make him end up with his own forms. Aristotle's forms are basically identity codes in the objects of this world. What kind of statue is this? Well, this is a statue of Buddha. What are they? They are horses. What is that? That is a tree. What is this? An acorn. But this is not an oak. Not yet. It will become someday. So the oak's identity is in the acorn. The one major difference between Aristotle and Plato is the fact that, for the former, horse is a concept in my mind, where as for the latter, is a concrete transcendent Reality in which all other horses participate.
According to Neo-Platonism, soul is perfect and yet it is in the cave of the body. Here we're reminded of Plato's allegory of the cave.
If the soul or mind, for the Neo-Platonists, is perfect, then it is o.k. for Plato to have his Forms there. However, as we mentioned before, the closer to this world, the less perfect the soul becomes.
Some scholars argue that Church fathers were influenced by Plotinus' ideas in formation of the doctrine of Trinity in 300 C.E. But while Plotinus' trinity was hierarchical and vertical, the Nicene Creed idea of Trinity (325 and 787 A.D.) was disk like, that is, God the father, God the Son, and God the holy Spirit were all on the same level.  
St. Augustine (354-430) of Hippo in North Africa, today's Algeria, came to join the intellectual history of the Western world a century after Plotinus, namely, 4oo A.D. However, we ought to understand the early influence on him before we dig deeper into this remarkable figure in the history of Western philosophy. He studied the thoughts of Mani, who was a Persian philosopher. He was the founder of Manichaeism. But Augustine was not happy with his philosophy of good and evil. He wanted more than what Mani could offer him. 
Apparently Manichaeism was a religio-philosophical doctrine, which moved from Persia to the West and was popular in the 3rd and 7th century. (Runes, p.203). Augustine, as he mentioned in his great work the 'Confessions', which was his autobiography, confronted his sexuality in an early age. He was into drinking and womanizing, to his devote Christian mother's disappointment. He lived with a woman for almost 13 years from whom he an illegitimate son. He does not deny that when it came to sensuality, he was out of control. In other words, that was his weakness. It is very much possible that his mother, being a devoted Christian, made him feel guilty about the kind of life he had been living. Because sexuality without a commitment, which came with matrimony, was a sin. But he seems to have been committed to his woman for all those years. Even if he confesses in his book that he was wrong in what he had been doing, we wonder whether this was due to the Christianity of his day, which had nothing to do with Christ himself. Was there something inherently wrong with sexuality? In other words, is sensuality in and of itself evil? If the answer is 'yes', then why?
In Hinduism, the face of Shiva, one of the three masks of the Ultimate Reality or Brahman, is carved on a granite, shaped as a penis. This lingam represents the divine creative power. (H. Smith, The illustrated World's Religions, p.52). We read in the Bible, that God had a covenant between Him and Abraham. God said to Abraham, " This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you." (Genesis 17: 10). Remember the foreskin covering the head of a lingam that is cut all around. In fact, the penis shape stone representing the creative power of Shiva in Hinduism, has to be uncovered so His face can be carved on it. The former belongs to Aryan culture and the latter pertains to Semitic race. But the commonality between the two is astonishing.
Now, how is it possible to consider the body or matter and anything associated with it evil? Perhaps we ought to be morally responsible as to how we use our bodies. For instance, there are rules and regulations against masturbation in both Judaism and Islam. The reason being, we should not, addressing males of course, waste Abraham's seeds irresponsibly. Moral choices we make regarding what to do with our bodies have their own ramifications. But once we go beyond the ethical aspect of this issue, we realize that body was highly regarded in Judaism. Because after all, there was no distinction between the two. Besides when God was finished creating he said that everything was good. Then who are we to decide what is good and what is evil? When it comes to the body and the soul, let us remember what Jesus said: " What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."   (St. Mark, chapter 10: 9). Although here Christ is addressing husband and wife, but we should also remember that the body represents femininity and the soul masculinity like Aristotle's matter and form. It sounds as if Jesus is saying that form and matter are one reality. If the body and the soul are one in Judaism, then would not this make the body sacred?  To create man, God breathed into the dust of the ground. Then the ground was animated and became a human being.  The holy Spirit entered Mary's body and then she was pregnant with Jesus. The abusing the body is unethical but religiously and philosophically body is beautiful. Jesus once said that our body is the Temple of the holy Spirit.
We humans have been mistreating our environment in the name of progress, to the extent that the eco system just cannot take it anymore. Mother nature is now showing her reaction in the form of global warming, etc. The world of nature and the universe are not evil.     
But who decided that the life of intellect is far superior than the pleasure of sensuality? Besides, could one make sense without the other? Is it possible that the influences of Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism on Christianity made this Religion derail from its original path? After all, the distinction between the soul and the body seems to have influenced this Religion. Plotinus was instrumental in bringing about this. The other one was Manichaeism, which we mentioned before. These were the 3rd century philosophies. Because once we have this distinction in place, then it is very easy to consider the soul as good and whatever is with the body as evil.
The Hebrews did not see anything wrong with the pleasure derived from sexuality. In fact, they believed, if sex is good, then everyone should be engaged in it.
Why should the monks in Buddhism and the fathers in Catholicism be celibate? There is no solid evidence that Jesus was not married, though we know for sure Buddha was married before and had a son before he became enlightened. You might argue that the fathers followed Christ's tradition of celibacy and regarded him as their model in what they have been doing ever since. But if tradition was that important to them, why did not they celebrate the mass in the original language of Jesus, which is Aramaic? Except only a small community of Christians in Syria, the mass has been celebrated in either Greek or Latin for thousands of years?  Aramaic is a dying language, as any professor of linguistics would tell you. The last example of this was the Pop Francis' recent visit to the United States. He celebrated the mass in Latin. With all due respect for the present Pop, who is very popular internationally and has done wonderful things, one would expect a little more. It just would have been a good gesture, had the Pop celebrated the mass in Aramaic. But it did not happen. However, it is possible he will do that in his next trip, perhaps if not in the United states, but somewhere else in the world. I guess we expect more of those who have done wonderful things in the world and this great Pop is one of them. However, he must have felt that it was not the right time to perform the mass in such a language.
Given the civil war trouble in Syria for the past 6 years and the death of 470,000 people, as we're leaving the year 2016 for 2017 in about a few weeks, should have been a good reason for this celebration to take place in Aramaic. This would have been an opportunity to have reminded everyone in the world about Jesus and his message of peace for the world. This would have also been a good time to remember those surviving Christians, who're still holding on to their faith in this chaos to preserve the language Jesus spoke with. We hope this community has been able to exist in spite of the devastating civil war.
Why being celibate when it is possible Jesus was himself married? Adam and Eve had their own children. Adam and Christ are very similar. However, when it comes to their partners, Jesus just does not have one. One wonders why?  
Why should even married couple feel guilty after been involved in sex? For example, why should Buddha ask for moderation when it comes to sex, even among those who're married in his 8th fold path?  Because one might say Augustine felt he had sinned because he was not married to his woman. What was marriage in those days any way? Well, it was perhaps more than a piece of paper. Besides, there is no indication in his 'Confession' that he was running around with other women behind his partner's back. From what we gather, he was not promiscuous while he was living with her. Then again, who knows? Why is it so natural among the animals? Is it because we're rational animals, according to Aristotle or may be because we have drifted away from nature and gotten used to our artificial environment?
Augustine, who was under tremendous amount of pressure, both by his mother at home and by the culture of his day, was desperately trying to free himself from these shackles. Suppose he wanted to see more than one women at the same time. What is wrong with that? Can't you pick more flowers when you visit a rose garden? Then he would be told that you could not do this. Well, I'm going to marry one soon. What if I like to have more than one? After all the father of our Religion, Abraham had two. Jacob   married both sisters. In the Old Testament, polygyny, namely, the practice of marrying more than one woman was a common place. But it is a sin to have more than one wife. Thus, the practice of polygyny is forbidden. So you ought to stick to one wife. This is not even Biblical! Is it?
The distinction, not separation, between the soul and the body became part of the Christian faith, thanks to Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism. This had never existed in the history of Judaism. In fact, by saying that there was never a distinction between the two among the Hebrews, is based on an assumption that the two were distinct to begin with. However, this is absurd, to put it mildly. For the Hebrews there was one reality called NAFASH. By way of an analogy, this was not like oil and water, which just don't mix. This is more like salt and water. Once salt is dissolved in a glass of water, the byproduct is one phenomenon. Here there is no soul to have superiority as good over the body, which stands as evil.
As we can easily see, Augustine was feeling guilty because of his home culture represented by his mother, on the one hand, as well as the moral pressure of the society he was living in. Once surrounded by this atmosphere, his struggle with good and evil became intense.
Standing in a garden one day, he heard the voice of a little kid singing: "Pick it up and read". He reached his Bible and opened it up and read." Let us behave decently, as in the day time, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature or the flesh."(Romans 13-14:13). "Don't clothe the Truth with falsehood."(The holy Qur'an). Augustine felt St. Paul was talking to him by saying that you ought to stay away from drunkenness and carnal life and accept the lord in your heart.
But where did this distastefulness for body come from? After all, bodies were not looked down upon by the ancient Hebrews. Hindus and Buddhists used their bodies to ascend to the highest point through meditation in order to reach Moksha (liberation) or Enlightenment. Jesus Christ had a bodily resurrection after three days.
Is it possible that St. Paul was under the influence of Plato's philosophy? Is it possible that Plato was under the influence of Hinduism? Is it possible that what we had as Christianity was nothing but Hindu idea of the contrast between Atman and the body that contains it?
How about Manichaeism?  It was a Religion put together by an Iranian thinker, a Persian to be correct, a convert to Christianity by the name of Mani. He used elements of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Gnosticism, which was considered a Christian heresy and created a Religion. He was an eclectic religious thinker, so to speak. He taught that the whole universe is a battle ground between the forces of good and evil. None of them triumph over the other. We have to decide which side we want to be on. Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), the 16th U.S. president said in a debate at Alton, Illinois, that "It is the eternal struggle between these two principles--right and wrong-- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle."
For him matter is evil and spirit is good. This is where, both Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism, have something in common. The likelihood is that the latter was influenced by the former. If matter was evil, God would never have given His breath or Spirit to it to create Adam. After all, Mani had converted to Christianity. Then why was matter regarded as evil? Matter is mother nature. Is not it? The soul, however, was more important than the body. Body had an inferior position to soul. Once we die, then our soul will depart from the body. The soul needs the body as much as the body needs the soul. This reminds us of Aristotle's notion of form and matter. They both need each other. Is it now possible that St. Paul was influenced by Plato's philosophy, as a result of which, he looked down upon the body and anything associated with it? After all, his mother being a devout Christian, read the Bible. She was not St. Mary. She was just a loving and concerned parent and she wished her son would also be a true Christian. There is nothing wrong with that. Is it? Don't we, who are parents, want spiritual life and happiness for our children? Sometimes we want them to follow our paths. But what if our paths are not the right ones for our children? What if the train we want them w to be on is the wrong one? Did Augustine feel that way before his conversion? It is also possible he just didn't want to hurt his mother's feelings. So he went along with what she desired for him. This reminds us of a youngster, who loves to be a Shakespearean actor and faces his father's objection. His father wants him to be a physician, not an actor. Physician, he becomes and his framed doctorate hangs on the wall to please the wishes of his parents. Having done that, he takes classes to be an actor in another college. In the movie, "Dead poet society", the youngster commits suicide once his father objected to choice of career. However, this was just Hollywood. I myself spoke with the professor and found out that the kid never committed suicide, nor did Augustine. His mother eventually passed on and this great figure in the history of Christianity, moved on with his own thoughts, though he had to be careful not to go against, this time, the wishes of the church fathers.
Before his conversion, which could have been only a coincidence, he admired beautiful bodies of women, as perhaps, works of arts. But after this incidence in the garden, he followed St. Paul's teachings. What is going on? So in reality, St. Paul's ideas or convictions expressed in his letters or epistles corresponded to Plato's philosophical out looks on the soul and the body. In turn, Augustine incorporated, these Manichaean and Neo-Platonism philosophies, into Christianity.
He, that is, Augustine, also came up with the idea that God created everything out of nothing. This is logically absurd. Because only nothing comes out of nothing or something comes out of something. Something cannot come out of nothing. But he said that God is the only Reality that can do that. He also came up with the idea of the original sin of which even St. Paul did not talk about. Was St. Augustine, known as the father of Western Christianity, changing the direction of Judeo-Christian tradition in general and Christianity in particular? Was he trying to move Christianity away from its original roots? Did he lift the flood gate of the outside influences, which had stopped them from creating a new faith out of Christianity? Finally, what kind of Christianity did he deliver to the West?
When it comes to the 3rd century decisions, by the Church fathers, concerning the belief in the idea of the holy Trinity, did we elevate Christ to the level of divinity in order to avoid the Greek naturalism? The Greek gods and goddesses were part of nature like the Sun and the moon. Is that why a great canyon was created between naturalism and super-naturalism and gradually God, the Great Animating Force, was removed from nature, which later on led to environmental disaster that we're facing today? Even though the 13th century Aristotelian religious thinker St. Thomas Aquinas (1225? -74), said God had revealed Himself in the Bible as well as nature, it was not enough to give nature the integrity it deserved. Nature was regarded as an 'it' or better a dead matter. Our mother nature died of a slow and tragic death. The massage of Plato that the world was like a bull was totally forgotten. When it came to Plato, we seemed to have been cherry picking. We accepted certain things in his philosophy and left behind what did not work for us. However, it sounds like we threw out the baby with the bath water. No wonder why there was a movement in the 19th century, by the American, British, and German scholars, to revise our understanding of what true Christianity was.  This was called a search for the historical Jesus. In what is called 'Jesus seminar', the revisionists tried to figure out who the real Christ was. They concluded that there was a discontinuity between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith.
Who was real Socrates? Was he the man Plato had painted to be? Plato loved and respected Socrates so much that he attributed many of his dialogues to him. In these dialogues, of course, not all of them, Plato himself is missing while his teacher is in the lime light. As we know, Socrates hardly ever wrote.
Manichaeism was very popular among early Christians. Whether it was a Religion or a cult or a sect, even a religious philosophy, we may never know. The founder of this spiritual movement was Mani (216-276 or 277 E.C.), who was a Persian (Iranian). The date of his birth and death alone can show us that St. Paul could not have been influenced by his teachings.  (A short history of philosophy, by R.C. Solomon & K.M. Higgins, p.122). He taught that this universe is a battleground of two conflicting powers. God is on one side representing light and goodness. He wants to destroy suffering in the world. Satan on the other side represents darkness and evil being responsible for misery and pain. Remember this universe is a place of contradictions and opposites. Light without darkness has no meaning and vice versa. We're stuck in the middle of this war. The human body being made of matter is inherently evil, while the soul is made of light. We ought to free the soul from the bondage of body in order to avoid evil.
Our historical records show us that Mani was not under the influence of the Geek philosophy. However, Persia being invaded by Alexander the great, makes one wonder whether there was some influence there.
What should we do to free this soul from the darkness of the cave into the world of light? The only way is through asceticism and meditation. (Sparknotes. 101, philosophy, pp.96-97).
As you can see, Buddhist elements are present in this eclectic religio-philosophical phenomenon. Buddha made use of Raja or Ashtanga, or Patanjali yoga to reach enlightenment. This was the only option he had to put an end to the misery or struggle he was experiencing in the world. The first of ARYA SATYAS or Noble Truths is that life is misery or struggle. Even pleasures of life include misery and discomfort and Getting old, becoming sick, and finally die are all agony. What is the cause of this distress? (The Philosophical Traditions of INDIA, P.T. Raju, 115). We're attached to the impermanent realities all around us. The world is as much changing as myself. This very clinging to the phenomena of the world is the cause of my misery. Life is misery or pain as it is and there is nothing we can do to stop the process of aging, getting sick, and finally dying. Nevertheless, what we can do is lessen the pain we're going through by being detached. To completely free ourselves from this suffering, we ought to reach Nibbana (Pali) or Nirvana (Sanskrit).
We learn from Mani that Satan alone is responsible for all the evil in the universe. We're exempt from all responsibility in introducing evil and misery in our world. There is quite a contrast between Buddha's thought on this subject comparing to Mani's. The former believes our misery is caused by our sense of attachment to the changing world. The latter seems to suggest that the universe is not devoid of evil. Here we seem to be dealing with microcosm (Buddha) and macrocosm (Mani). Augustine, however, disagreed with Mani's ideas by arguing that man, having free will, is one of the reasons why there is so much suffering in this world. His ideas, however, seem closer to Buddha's than Mani's. There're natural disasters, which are also the causes of suffering in this world. Being an enlightened person, Buddha would never have denied other causes of suffering in the world. Nevertheless, Augustine left Manichaeism for Neo-Platonism, whose founder was one of Plato's followers by the name of Plotinus, who played a great role in his life and writings. Is it possible that Mani's ideas influenced Plotinus? or It is possible that Mani himself was influenced by Plato's thoughts?
We have already discussed Plato's philosophy of Forms in contrast to the world of change and becoming. Plotinus used this division to explain the problem of evil in the world.
The Neo-Platonists also made use of this distinction to explain the relationship between the body and the soul. The soul is perfect, like Plato's Forms. However, it is in the prison of the body. Since the body is part of the physical world, it is the root of evil. We're sure Plotinus knew the difference between the two kinds of evils. The broken bamboo in the wind acts like a wind instrument but its music is very sad. A by stander asks, "Why are singing so sadly?" The bamboo answered, " I have been drifted away from the bamboo forest, so I feel very lonely and I'm longing to join other bamboos in the forest." Perhaps this is what any Avatar (incarnation) would say once they're in this world. Krishna was the Avatar of Vishnu, who must have felt like that bamboo. This is what Jesus must have felt while in this world. According the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," (St. John, chapter 1: 1 and 14).
As much as the soul, for the Neo-Platonists, seeks to get back to the realm of perfection, perhaps both Krishna and Christ felt the same way. Let us not forget that Adam and Eve were also in the realm of perfection, so they must have longed to get back to where they once belonged. They left the permanent world of transcendence and entered the world of impermanence. In Hinduism, however, there never was a philosopher like Hegel (1770-1831), who came up with a philosophy of history in the West, which led to many problems the world has been struggling with, to this day. He made an attempt to rationally prove the doctrine of Trinity, which had been put forward, in the 3rd century A.D. by the Church Fathers. The decision by the Church Fathers elevated Jesus to the level of God the Father and the holy Spirit. In other words, Christ was deified. They said that Christ was fully man and fully God. They did not worry that this was plain contradiction. This defies the Aristotelian logic. They regarded this as a paradox. 'Para' is beyond and 'Doxa' means opinion in Greek. This, to them, was not illogical but rather super logical.
In logic an argument can be valid but may not be sound or true. However, if an argument is invalid, it cannot be sound. But when it comes to a paradox, a statement, which seems contradictory, may be true. Of course, logicians would have problem with this judgment. Hegel could not have possibly accepted the use of a paradox to solve this matter. Therefore, he concluded that we should resolve this contradiction. In the Aristotelian logic of either/or, there is no middle part. Either something is or is not. Either I'm writing this article or not. I cannot do both at the same time and in the same relationship. Good old Hamlet once said: "To be or not to be." Either something is or is not. If it is, then it is. If it is not, then it must be becoming. What other options do we have? I'm not a logician but this is one way of looking at it. When we look at being, as if we could, we see nothing. So being is nothing or being is non-being. The only way I can resolve these elements of contradiction, namely, being and non-being, is to go beyond these two. In a word, we ought to go for neither/nor, that is, neither being, nor non-being. Then what is it? The answer is obvious. If we have neither being, nor non-being, then the only option left is becoming. Although becoming has both elements in it, it is neither being, nor non-being. It is something else.
So when Heraclitus teaches us that everything is in the process of change and becoming, he in fact is indirectly telling us that becoming is the embodiment of a chain of beings and non-beings. Let us keep in mind that this is where Parmenides criticizes Heraclitus. Because beings are coming out of non-beings, which is logically not possible.
Of course, Heraclitus needs a constant to give meaning to this change and becoming or else his idea makes no sense.  If it is the case that he himself said everything changes except change itself, then he had to clarify what he meant as to the nature of the word 'change'. Unless by this he means what Plato meant by his Forms, he cannot have it as a concept. But Heraclitus was not Plato's contemporary. He had lived long before Plato. Is it possible he had anticipated what Plato would come up with in the future? Perhaps this may be the case except the fact that we have no knowledge of it. Because if, by 'change', Heraclitus meant only a mental concept, then he could not have been able to make any sense of his statement that everything changes. Because my mental concepts also change. The only way he could have a justification for his idea of change would be to believe in a realm of perfection in which ideals like change are permanent realities. Now we understand why Aristotle was trapped once he rejected Plato's Forms. He literally fell into the trap of the mind in which concepts were his guests. Then he was forced to announce that the realities of Plato's Forms are in the objects of this world, whereas we only have their concepts in our minds.
When we return to Genesis, we get the feeling that with good there had to be evil in the world. A fallen angel symbolizes evil in the old Testament. In the holy Qur'an evil is not a fallen angel. Nevertheless, evil exists by the name of Lucifer or Satan or the Devil. We fell for the temptation of evil. These two forces of light and darkness existed from the beginning of creation. Given the fact that God granted us free will, we could make our own decision as to which one to choose. This was exactly Mani's position, namely, good without evil cannot have meaning in this universe. Having free will gives us the opportunity to side either with good or evil. Do we see any discrepancy between Mani's ideas and the Biblical narrative of good and evil? If we do not, then why did Augustine leave Manichaeism for Neo-Platonism? Which one of these schools of thoughts is closer to the Biblical story of good and evil? Besides, if the cause of Augustine's conversion to Christianity was the letters of St. Paul, then why did he depart from Mani's narrative, unless what he saw in St. Paul's letters reminded him of Plato's ideas and not of Christian faith. Apparently when his mother heard about her son's conversion, she began crying for she had been waiting so long for this moment. Was that a cry of joy or sadness? Did her son convert to true Christianity or what people thought it was the true one? To conform to the status quo, Augustine accepted the Christianity of his day as understood by everyone. By the time he gave in to the family and social pressures, he had suffered the guilt feelings he was put through. But why Neo-Platonism? Why not? After all, Christianity had already been diluted by all kinds of influences such as Platonism through St. Paul. Let us think for a moment and ask this question, what was common between Augustine and Mani? They both converted to Christianity. In Manichaeism there is an element of Gnosticism, which had been subject to criticisms as being a Christian heresy. But what was common between Augustine and Plotinus? Biblically, nothing much.
Augustine believed we were given the gift of free will to either accept Christ or reject him. After all, what would love of God mean without free will? What is the use, if we're determined to love God? Now that we have the free will, then why should God determine who He would give His grace to? "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated." (Romans, 9:13). Why? Esau was by far a better person than Jacob to deserve God's grace. But the question is "Is it possible that things are already determined by God?" St. Augustine's answer was, yes. Grace was a gift of God and it was up to God to whom He would grant it.  Then we can ask Augustine, how can we have free will on the one hand, and be determined by God on the other hand at the same time? Perhaps we're condemned to be free, according to Sartre, which is not much of freedom any way. What is the use of free will given to us by God, if we're already determined? What is the use of my choice, if it is already determined? Adam's creation was God's idea and was determined by Him. He gave Adam and Eve free will to choose between following Him or disobey Him. Then why God decided to punish them for their wrong doings?
Plotinus, however, argued that the body is not important in defining a human being. Man's true nature deals only with the soul and has nothing to do with the body. This sounds like the idea that there is no distinction between the two, which was the case with the Hebrews. Plotinus, however, seems to be saying that the body is insignificant. But this is not what the Hebrews believed. By letting the pendulum swing to the soul, we're not solving this dualism.  Augustine would not accept this argument by Plotinus and maintains that man is both body and soul together. Augustine seems to be going back to Mani and Plato here (Spark notes, p.97-98). What if we're neither body, nor soul? We're one reality. We're neither matter, nor form. Our mind tends to create these distinctions. In other word, our mind is a dividing reality.
St. Augustine (354-430 C.E.) agreed with Plotinus that evil was only the absence of good and lacked substantiality. This is where we can easily see the influence of Manichaeism on his thoughts. In other word, evil is like darkness. It becomes a reality when there is no light. One should not think in terms of black and white, which might have racial overtone. One scholar of Religions likened this to a shirt with a hole in it. The hole is nothing in and of itself, but the shirt is not like a new one to wear in the public. I myself so happened to have a shirt, which was manufactured with a hole in it.  However, I found a way to fix this problem. I sewed a large size button on it pretending it was a fashion statement without announcement. This was a like a pain killer. It hid the problem without solving it. Hiding and covering may please the on looker, but I myself know what I'm veiling.
For Zoroaster and Mani evil force was real. It was not the absence of good. When it comes to morality, wrong is not the absence of right. Wrong is real and it has its own substantiality.
This emptiness or vacuum signifies evil for Plotinus. This void or non-being, follows us like a shadow. We must not forget that in logic, non-being, is not something. This vacuum exists in the universe as well as in ourselves. It is similar to death. The war is between Being and non-being. Death is a stalker in the dark like a stranger. If death represents void and emptiness, then is it evil? Death is the absence of life. But it does not mean it is not real. So does it indicate that it is evil? Life is being and death is non-being. But what life? The one in this world? We all know that the perfect life is in the realm of the sacred or Plato's Forms. Thus, while this world is evil and imperfect, the transcendent realm is good. We might think it is better to be alive than dead. But don't we, sometimes, rather die than being alive? What is the use of being alive when we don't live authentically? However, it does not mean we should commit suicide. Remember what Plotinus said concerning the problem of good and evil. Thus, if it is the case that the perfect world is where Plato's Forms are, then this world can be regarded as evil. This realm is the absence of Plato's highest Form, that is, Good. Our job in this imperfect world is to know the Good as well as other Forms. When we fail to do so, then we're trapped in the realm of Doxa or opinion. Compared to the abode of perfection, this very existence is imperfect, absent or evil.
The Hindus called this world MAYA or illusion. Before (not before and after) the Ultimate Reality or Brahman, this whole universe is an illusion.

One might wonder, if by the realm of perfection, we mean after life. The answer is absolutely not. Biological death does not help us experience the world of transcendence. We need another death prior to what we'll eventually go through. Great prophets and philosophers in history have always told us that we ought to die before we die.
For Socrates philosophy was practice of death. If we're not ready to smell the perfume of the Ultimate Reality and know Plato's Forms now, we'll not be ready even after we die. It is not about the past, from which we can learn, and not necessarily predict the future. Neither about the future, which is unknown to us. It is about here and now. It is about the present moment.
The world we live in is beautiful but not perfect. Life is painful and full of suffering, though exciting. we have moments of happiness and yet they're not ever lasting. We want to enjoy life eternally and forever, but we're in time. As soon as we think the show will go on, it stops abruptly. Just as we're about to enjoy our glory days, it comes to an end.
The axial age, as it was named by a philosopher, stretched from about 200 B.C. to 600 B.C.E. in which time great figures, thinkers, prophets, sages, wise persons, messengers taught us that though we're in this world, we're not of this world. Yes, this world, with all its beauties, is not ours to keep. We don't own it. we have no right to destroy it either. Even if we owned it, we should not hurt our mother nature. We're only passengers, who are residing here for a short time. After all, this is the absence of Good, just as time is the absence of eternity and in some sense both are real. Dreams are also real though they're just dreams.
This is the realm of ups and downs. This is the realm life and death. Just as there is death, there is also life. People die by thousands every day around the world, while at the same time many babies are born every day. This is the place of relativity of matters. This is not an absolute realm. Thus, the relative is the absence of the absolute. This is the world of many, the absolute is One, not number 1.
They don't call St. Augustine, the father of Western Christianity. He in reality formed what we know of this Religion. This is his version. Nevertheless, most of his life was spent dealing with the challenges he was facing with the problem of evil. This was a devastating dilemma. He felt we're instrumental in bringing evil into this world. He has a point there, however, we're not the only causes of evil in the world. For example, we're not responsible for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earth quakes. But if these natural calamities are indirectly caused by human beings, then the responsibilities are ours.
For instance, underground nuclear testing could be the cause of earth quakes. There is one thing to have a forest fire. There is another when it is caused by an arsonist. So we must take both of these factors into consideration. We need to realize that macrocosm aspect of evil is real too.
Having spent many years of his life studying first the thoughts of Mani and then the philosophy of Plato and Plotinus, he converted to Christianity at 33. He devoted himself to philosophically bringing Christian doctrine into a whole with Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy. When it came to the decision of the Church fathers regarding the holy Trinity, he used Plotinus' hierarchical structure of emanation in order to explain it philosophically. He learned from Plotinus that true reality is spiritual and in this chain of beings, all beings come from God. He also learned from Plato that a life of contemplation was the only path to the sacred knowledge and happiness. (R.C. Solomon, 123). But was he able to justify what Church fathers had done in Nicaea in A.D. 324? Who was Jesus finally? Were God the Father, God the Son, and God the holy Spirit together as one Reality, namely, Atman in comparison to Brahman? The ray of the sun, though related to the it, it is not the sun. We can use this analogy for Atman and Brahman. The former is like the ray of the Sun, and the latter is like the Sun itself. One cannot deny the fact that the ray of the sun and the sun are one and yet they are different. This was, the Hindu philosopher Ramanuja's position or qualified non-dualism. Shankara's idea was absolute non-dualism, namely, Atman and Brahman are One.
Arianism was a school of thought named after Arius (256-336). He maintained that Jesus and God were not of the same substance. He held that, though the Son was subordinate to the Father, yet he was of a similar nature or essence. As we can see, Arius' position is very much like Ramanuja's. The orthodox position, however, was similar to Shankaras'.
The controversy over the relation of Christ to God dealt with the question of the divine status of Christ. On the one hand, if he were not divine, then how can the Church Fathers consider Jesus as an object of worship, trust, and adoration? On the other hand, if he were divine, then how could such a belief square with the dogma of one God, that is, monotheism? Arianism tilted towards the subordination of Christ to God. Some, among, them argued that Jesus was not like God at all. Others maintained that Christ was of similar essence with God but not of same substance. Arianism was rejected by the Church fathers in the Council of Nicaea.  (Runes, p. 34).
To answer Augustine, when it comes to understanding the nature of Christ and his place in the holy Trinity, we ought to make use of an analogy, though they have their own shortcomings. Let us look at the geometric shape of a tetrahedron, which is like a triangular pyramid. We can easily see this sign every time we pass a CITGO gas station.  Imagine the apex of the pyramid is the Godhead or the Ultimate Reality. This is the One, non-dualistic Brahman that cannot be named, nor can it be defined. Because if we do that, then we have limited it in our mind. It is beyond being and non-being. It is way above rest and motion. It cannot even be. You may call it necessary existence, namely, it cannot not be, thus it must be, while other things are contingent or possible beings, that is, they could or could not be. However, we would like to say that it is even beyond existence. It is beyond permanence and impermanence. It just does not exist. Otherwise it would become subject to existence and non-existence. So we don't have to prove its existence. However, being absolute and perfect, it emanates its possibilities without which it cannot be perfect. How can the sun not shed its light? What is the meaning of the sun, unless it issues forth its capability? Therefore, God the Father, God the son, and God the holy Spirit are manifestations of the Ultimate Reality, which are at the bottom of the pyramid. These are three personas or masks of a Reality, which is beyond comprehension. We cannot even imagine what it is. We should not use our thoughts to figure this out rationally. It is beyond our cognitive ability. Finally, I as I cannot know this Reality. I ought to set my 'I' aside or remove it in order to be a unified with that Reality. This is not like 2+2=4. This is very much like 0+1=1. We're nothing before or in front of that Reality. We're like 0 added to 1, which always equals 1. This holographic image called my ordinary self is what stands between me and the true Self in me.
Brahman manifests itself in three personas or masks: Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva. By the sheer fact that these gods are named and defined, they're limited in our mind, thus, they're not on the same level as the Ultimate Reality or Brahman. Even the Avatars or incarnations of Vishnu and Shiva are not on the same level as the gods they come from. Krishna, for instance, is not supposed to have the same status as Vishnu. The same is true about Vishnu who does not have the same status as Brahman. Although they're one in essence, they're not of the same substance. The light of the sun is not equivalent to the Sun itself. A beam of sunlight is not the same as the exploding gaseous sphere called the Sun.
For Plotinus Reality is One. One or the Divine Unity is the progenitor of all being.
"The Tao gives birth to One. One gives birth to Two. Two gives birth to Three. Three gives birth to all things."(Lao Tzu, chapter. 42)). " All things are born of being. Being is born of non-being."(Lao Tzu, chapter. 40).  Here by non-being he must have meant the Tao, which is the Ultimate Reality, which is eventually beyond being and non-being.  
The One represents the Oneness of Reality. The One is not the Ultimate Reality. Because we're not allowed to introduce duality to the Ultimate reality. Don't forget, the opposite of One is many. Being is Ultimate Reality's first manifestation. Thus, the One is. From the One emanates the Divine Intellect or NOUS in Greek. This is the Intellectual principle. The Divine Intellect in turn gives rise to the Divine Soul. Therefore, the Divine Trinity consists of the One, Nous, and the Soul and they have existence because of Being. So in our analogy of tetrahedron, the peak of the pyramid is the Ultimate Reality. However, Plotinus would not accept this analogy for his hierarchical model. In other words, we cannot interpret his philosophy here as if at the bottom we have three angles which represent, the One, Nous, the Soul. Perhaps this is where Augustine disagreed with his project or at least publically did so.
In Plato's language, the One should be the Form of the Good, which is the highest of all Forms. Nous is where the Forms are, which are intelligible. The soul (psyche) belonged to the realm of the transcendent but is trapped in our bodies. Here we're reminded of the status of Atman in Hinduism. Let us keep in mind that the soul for Socrates, Plato, and even Aristotle did not mean what we think of it in modern psychology. Yes, the word 'psyche' is mentioned there but it does not have the same value and meaning as it had for the ancient thinkers we just talked about above.
In recent years, however, some psychologists have shown interest in the traditional psychology or pneumatology. 'Pneuma' in Greek means to breathe, which is also the soul or spirit. However, the word itself, theologically, means the study of spirits or spiritual phenomena. It also means any doctrine on the Holy Spirit. (New World Dictionary). It is science of the soul or the spirit. Now we understand why Atman or the individual Self has been missing in modern psychology. Both Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), hardly dealt with the spiritual aspect of human beings.  
When it comes to Christianity, we use the same analogy, that is, tetrahedron. The Godhead or the Ultimate Reality is the apex of the pyramid. At the bottom of it we have God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Now can God the Father be on the same level as the Ultimate Reality? Can the other two have the same status as the Godhead? We might be able to say that all these three have the same essence as the Godhead. However, is it possible to claim they have the same substance as the Ultimate Reality? This is where Arius comes in who argued that we should not put Jesus on the same level as God the Father. But here we removed God the Father from the peak of the pyramid and replaced Him with the Godhead.  We can think of those at the bottom as three masks or personas of the Ultimate Reality. Remember, the three masks have names and are defined, which limit them in our mind. Arius came close but not close enough to benefit from Hindu philosophy of Brahman as the Ultimate Reality manifesting itself in three personalities. As we mentioned before, the summit of this pyramid belongs only to the Godhead who is not the One. For the very reason that it is even beyond the One. Dualism has absolutely no room in the Ultimate Reality. The One emanates from the Godhead and then it opens up too many. Finally, the question of one and many is back with us, which has been challenging philosophers for thousands of years. How can one be many, and many be one? Once we fully understand this question, then we can also know what the Holy Trinity is all about.
Augustine struggled to figure out the mystery of the Trinity for many years of his life, but to no avail. According to the tetrahedron model, however, it seems fine even if Augustine maintained that the Son could not be other than equal to the Father. What we have, on the first floor, is very much like snow, ice, and steam. Although they are different, yet they are one in essence, which is nothing but water. In their essence they are connected to the apex of the pyramid. Nevertheless, they cannot be one with that Reality in substance. We should not forget that the three at the ground level represent the many. Here we have the One at the zenith of our model. At the base, there exists a relativity among the three. Because, not only are they not the same, their functions are also different. So they live in the world of relativity. The vertex is absolute without which the relative would not make any sense and vice versa. If the Godhead is beyond rest and motion, then it cannot be used to provide meaning for change and becoming. Since the acme is not constant or immutable, motion would not make any sense as a result. Then how are we to think about the changing world? The answer is given by the followers of Hinduism. The Hindus have always believed this whole universe is Maya, which means illusion.
What is ' illusion'? Dictionaries give us the following: a false idea or perception. An unreal or misleading appearances or image (Webster New World Dictionary). An erroneous perception of reality. An erroneous concept or belief (The American Heritage).  Something that deceives by producing a false impression (The Random House). A false impression of reality. (Newbury House). Something seen wrongly (Longman).
If the world were an illusion, then everything that happened in history and still occurs are all part of this unreal plays in the theater of being. Then what is the truth? What is beyond this illusory dream? Is it possible that Jesus' resurrection after three days was also an illusion?
Well, was not it Parmenides, who said that motion was an illusion? What if he was right? From common sense point of view, nevertheless, things change all the time. We're here, alive and well. But suddenly or slowly we're gone. Where? Who knows? Is this an illusion? Let us talk about death.
The question of death has been haunting philosophers throughout the history of philosophy. We live with death and are still puzzled as to its nature. We experience life as a gain, a positive act. But as soon as we lose a job, we feel a sense of loss, a negative act. You might say the latter, namely, this vacuum is tasting of death. It is an absence of having and touching of not having.
In this realm of change and becoming, we're going through life and death at each moment. As soon as a mother gives birth, she feels empty. On the one hand, life is born, on the other hand death follows it like a shadow. You're watching a show on Broad way, but it comes to an end and you see people leaving the theater. You wait around, if you could. Then an empty place begins introducing itself to you. It is a little scary. This is the theater of vacuum and emptiness. This is the show of death with no audience except you. We run away from it, but only for a short time. It seems so absurd. Does not it?  You walk and walk, faster and faster. Then you start running as if you can escape it. By every step you take, death follows you. As long as you're standing, you're there. You're being. But as soon as you take the first step, there is a void behind you as if you come from death. This is where you're becoming. You come from nothing, which is not logical. Because only nothing comes from nothing. Only something comes from something. Something cannot come from nothing. This argument denies motion and change. In motion, being constantly emerges out of non-being. Becoming is a series of beings and non-beings. With every departure we practice death. If death is love, as a Latin proverb has it, then perhaps Socrates was right when he said philosophy is the practice of death. Philosophy is the practice of love. Philosophy is the love of wisdom. We live with life and death every day.
Some scholars have speculated that there is a great similarity between Socratic concepts of the nature of the soul and its relationship to the body and those of Hindu thinkers. Right before Socrates took the hemlock, there was a dialogue between him and his followers regarding death. He was just about experiencing death. Not only were his views on death theoretically known to his friends, but being aware that he was about to leave this world shortly, he opened a discussion on this subject anyway. Questions concerning the purpose of philosophy, the meaning of life and death, and the reality of the soul were asked. Socrates initiated by saying that my dear friends and students, philosophers practice death and dying on a regular basis but in disguise. Death, he told the crowd, was nothing more than the departure of the soul from the body. Once death takes place, the soul survives and continues existing by itself. A real philosopher ought not to deal with the body, which is a prison and a corrupting one, but the soul which needs to be set free (M.V. Kamath, Philosophy of Life and Death, p. 74-75).
In Mahayana Buddhism, there is a story of a man, who used what is called UPAYA or tactful means in order to save his family from his burning house. The house here stands for ourselves. We're burning because we're attached to the changing world through our desires. We ought to free our family from this house that is on fire by skilful means, if we can. This father called the kids to run out of the house before they all got killed. Children were playing and could not hear their father. He then shouted as loud as he could, saying he had presents for them. As soon as the kids heard that, they all ran out just before the whole house collapsed. Where are our presents father, one child asked? He said to her, those are the great maxims or aphorisms of Buddha. These are my presents for you and they're precious. Just imagine if we, parents, wrote different sayings of Christ and put them in separate rapped boxes under the Christmas tree. We then call our children to come downstairs to see and open their gifts. Once kids are around the tree, they ask you: mom, dad look what Santa has brought us. But since you don't believe in lying, you simply tell them the truth. We're the ones who provided you with these beautiful presents. You can open your gifts and find out for yourselves. AS soon as they opened those boxes, they found out that they didn't contain toys. They looked at each other and then asked: but what happed to our toys? You then tell them, they're there. But where? Those are the words of Jesus. After all, aren't we celebrating Christmas?     
Socrates wanted thinkers to keep away from the pleasures of body as much as possible. Body is an obstacle to the intellectual and spiritual reality of the soul. After all the soul is locked up in the prison of the body. The soul functions rationally at its best when it is not disturbed by the senses, sight, or hearing, pleasure and pain. When the soul is totally independent and is detached from the wants of the body, then it is free. This is real freedom. (Kamath, p.75).
However, let us take a moment to reflect on the issue of sexuality, which had been challenging St. Augustine for good portion of his life. This problem of bodily pleasures, which we have been advised to stay away from, has been haunting us since the time of Socrates.                                 The late French philosopher, Michel Foucault (1926-1984) wrote three volumes of work on the history of sexuality. This is something to think about.
The Hindus solved the distractions caused by our senses through the body itself. In the Buddhist world, there is a fresco or a painting of a girl removing a thorn from one of her toes with the help of another thorn. They used the body to keep it from disturbing the soul.
They never completely discarded the body to reach Moksha or liberation. They made use of the body in meditation while they were controlling their five senses.
Although it is possible that Socrates was under the influence of Hinduism, whether through North Africa (Egypt) or directly by way of the presence of Buddhism in Persia. He seems to have taken certain ideas out of Hinduism, which they were out of context. The images in Kama Sutra, which is a Hindu love making instructions written in the 8th century, (New World Dictionary), should alone make anyone wonder why erotic love making positions should exist in a culture like India? What is Kama? In Hindu mythology, it is the god of erotic desire and lust. (The Random House).
This somewhat reminds me of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). He seems to have been influenced by the thoughts of Zarathustra or Zoroaster, 6th or 7th B.C, the founder of Zoroastrianism. They believed in after life and the continuous struggle of universal Spirit of Good (Ormazd) with the spirit of evil (Ahriman). The Good ultimately will prevail. (New World Dictionary).
Even though Nietzsche said, God is dead, he still seems to have believed in the force of good and evil. He thought we had always emphasized the belief in a God who was perfect while ignoring the belief in Bacchus or Dionysus. This is an ancient Greek and Roman god of wine and revelry. (New World Dictionary).  No wonder we get angry with God when things go wrong with world. When there're natural disasters or even the ones we have created to look as if nature was responsible for them, we're quick to the blame on God. We forget the presence of evil in the process. In fact, there're philosophers of Religion, who believe in what Zoroaster or Mani suggested when it comes to the problem of good and evil.
Let us not forget, philosophers, such as Nietzsche for instance, are very much like car pullers. They only get what they need from the philosophers passed.  Nietzsche also got what he wanted from thinkers and religious figures who had come before him.
It is very much possible that the God whose existence Nietzsche denied and said it was dead, was the one people had made for themselves in their mind. What do we know of Christianity, he once said, except about just less than two thousand years of interpretations? An indirect influence of Buddhism on him can be easily detected. Buddha rejected Atman and Brahman as well as any God or gods the Hindus believed in. But did he? In fact, he did not. He could not have. It may come as a surprise to you that he resisted to accept gods or even Ultimate Reality like Brahman because they were nothing but people's opinions and interpretations of them. He even rejected the caste system, which had been around for thousands of years. Why? Because it had become a hereditary system, which had nothing to do with what gods originally had in mind. History of Religions are about series of these revelations, being filtered through human's interpretations, they need to be restored back to their original messages or rejected.
Nietzsche thought good without evil would not make any sense. You can see his ideas are not totally unrelated to the ancient philosophers of India and Persia.
Body in and of itself is not evil at all. Then why sexual pleasures are looked down upon? Why, long after Buddhism, celibacy was highly regarded among the fathers in Catholicism? How about Buddhist monks? Buddha left his wife and his son to reach enlightenment. Apparently he never had any sexual relationship with his wife till he passed on. Well, his son became a monk and his wife became a nun. Why? Are the pleasures of the body a distraction? In Christianity the body is the Temple of the holy Spirit. In Hinduism, Atman is in our body. God created Adam by breathing into the ground. The ground embraced the Spirit of God and kept it in its bosom. What is going on?
Well, apparently Socrates and Plato also turned out to be very clever car pullers. However, we have a problem with the latter, namely, Plato. On the one hand, he believed, even a qualified woman could become a philosopher king. On the other hand, his view of body was very much like his teacher Socrates.
It seems Augustine went from one extreme to another, like the way a pendulum works in a grandfather clock. However, the great philosophers and prophets have always taught us to reach for the golden mean or the middle path in our life.
Socrates does not seem to have suggested the use of body in order to get rid of its distractions. Contemplation is not meditation. What is missing in Socratic philosophy is the latter. Intellectual exercises are rather encouraged for achieving the knowledge of the Good and the Forms. Desires ought to be controlled so a philosopher could then reach wisdom. A body is in space and time, cut between the past and the future. Its pains, pleasures, loves, hopes, and fears are the causes of a thousand distractions, which keep interfering with the soul in its search to see the truth. If we want to see anything "purely", then we should get rid of the body. Is this what Socrates teaching us? If this is the case, then we must contemplate suicide. However, this is not what Socrates meant or suggested. Some scholars have written that Socrates consequently came to the conclusion that once we die, then we can see the truth clearly. I personally disagree with this interpretation of Socratic method for attaining the knowledge of the Good. Biological death does not bring us closer to that goal. Not everybody is like Buddha, who left this world to never come back again in another form. He must have welcomed death and entered Pari Nibbana with happiness. Therefore, we're not going to know the Reality behind or beyond this phenomenal world after we die.
Socrates' ideas were clear in that, if we learned to restrain the desires of the body and instead tried to salvage the soul, then we can get closer to the truth. If this were the case that once we died, we could automatically see the world as it really is, then we would be in agreement with the ancestor worshippers, like ancient Chinese, who believed we could reach them and get answers to our questions. Since our ancestors were freed from the bondage of their bodies, they could answer our questions, which we have no answers for. So Socrates' philosophy here makes more sense, if we were discussing how Shamans, for instance, were able to contact the ancestors through meditations. These individuals would go through trance and by way of divination were able to receive advices from the ancestors.  Shamanism was a Religion practiced by people who lived in Siberia. This was also a popular Religion among the indigenous natives of America. Sitting bull, the Sioux leader (1834? -90), was a Shaman, who had predicted that white men would eventually take over this land. However, not everyone is like those great ancestors, who had reached high points in their spiritual journeys in this world before they died.
Socrates basically left us with no answer as to how we ought to go about mastering the body. The Vedic thinkers, however, did not promise we would know what Reality is once we went through death. They argued that the Reality beyond this phenomenal world is here and now. All we have to do is open our hearts to it through meditation (Raja yoga or royal Raj) or Ashtanga Yoga (eight levels) written by Patanjali (founder of Yoga school), which helped Buddha to become enlightened.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that Socrates had a point when he spoke of our body's craving and demands. Feed me and pay attention to my desires for I'm your body and you're me. Are we? Feed me even if your food is not real. I shall give you enjoyment even when you're fooling me. Sexually I will accommodate you, whether you subject me to the real thing or false reality. Perhaps that is why Socrates does not trust me because I'm your body. I can make you reach your climax, whether you're involved with the real or a fantasy.  
Here cause and effect don't have to be of the same nature. A bell can make a trained dog drool whether there is food for him or not. When I shake the clip of my dog's leash, she runs to the door as if I was going to take her out. She gets mix signals. Our bodies can be fooled into believing that they're receiving the real. We get what we want, but they're left with only pictures or images on adult movies or our television or computer screens. We're both losers. We end up with a vacuum and our used bodies end up with empty realities. This body that is to be avoided, according to Socrates, in fact is easily used by us. Kant's second and third principles teach us not to use anybody and neither let anyone use you. But we use our body unfairly. We give our bodies false images, and in turn our bodies provide us with the pleasure we asked for, even though it is a watered dawn reality. Is this fair? This is even against the natural law, under double effect theory or Robin Hood case, who robbed the rich to feed the poor. No wonder major Abrahamic Religions are against masturbation. Because we're lying to our bodies by providing them with false information. The body then reacts as if it is receiving the real thing, which is not. Now who is deceiving whom? The body faces an empty promise while we're also confronted with nothing in our hand. However, don't think for a moment that these rational, philosophical arguments can stop you when you get the urge to watch those images.
David Hume, the Scottish empiricist thinker of the 18th century once said: "Reason is slave of passion." When I'm hungry, my reason will find a way to satisfy that need. In reality reason is neutral. It can work either way. Can direct you to go to church. It can also tempt you to go to adult movie theater. Are we really slaves of our passion? If having sex without matrimony was a sin, then after his conversion Augustine must have enjoyed living a holy life. But how else would he have known to purge himself from all those sins, had he not gone through what he did in his youth? Unless you're Jesus, how else would you know what is wrong? What if he was not wrong at all? After all, for Taoists values are relative. Because this world is the abode of relativity. We always have a tendency to avoid pain. But unless we experience pain, we cannot appreciate painless life.
Since Augustine was not Christ, he would have needed his past to help him discern between the two life styles and know the difference between the two.
We can't always blame the ground for hindering the spirit of God in us. Dualism began with us and creation. It was the Spirit of God that impregnated the ground as a result of which man came about. This man was neither the Spirit of God, nor the ground. He was just Adam, the man. It was also the Spirit of God that made virgin Mary pregnant. This man was neither the Spirit of God, nor Mary. He was simply Jesus. There is a great likeness between Adam and Christ. Although both had the two realities in them, and yet they were not either of those. Now we can see the complexity of the nature of Christ. Can we blame the church fathers for their decisions? Well, not necessarily. They just did what they could. 300 years after this decision was made, the holy Qur'an was revealed to the prophet of Islam in which the nature of Jesus is discussed. However, the only time Islam influenced Christianity was through St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.
When Christ offered his followers pieces of bread and cups of wine, he told them:"This is my body and this is my blood."Of course, when they ate the bread and drank the wine, they didn't become Jesus. Even though this was called transubstantiation, which means only the substance changes and not its accident, they, namely, the followers, were accidents and not substance after they ate and drank. This substance/accident, division was one of Aristotle's legacy he had left behind. For example, an apple is an apple. They come in red, yellow, or even green colors. The colors are different but an apple still is an apple. These colors are named accidents and their substance is apple.
Some text books, on ethics and morality, have chapters on pornography and some professors, who teach those classes, have never seen those films or they might pretend they have never watched them. We cannot blame them. We don't have to put our fingers through a running fan to experience what it feels. However, there have been professors who have experimented with certain drugs in order to experience the effects of them on human psyche. Of course, there is a risk of getting addicted to them. But how else can they teach a subject on certain drugs without knowing what they are? This is also true of subject matters dealing with pornography. Some ethics professors might read hundreds of books about them without ever watching pornographic movies. There're also those who like pornography but they disguise themselves by saying that they watch so that they have the experience while they teach their students. But they are those who are honestly into empirical aspect of this matter, that is, they just watch so they can relate to what their students go through. Otherwise how would they know their effects on the students? There're priests, who have never been married before, and also never had any sexual experiences and yet give advices on issues such as sexuality between man and woman and even those who're married.
I can read a voluminous book on a perfume called 'euphoria' for example. But do I really know this perfume? Unless I smell it, I cannot form an opinion regarding this product. This is true also of wine tasting. This is, of course, very difficult for those who're Muslims. Because they are not supposed to drink, let alone taste it. What we just discussed is called 'empiricism' in the Western philosophy. 
Thus, we use our rational capabilities in order to find out certain truth about what we teach in our classes. This is called 'rationalism'. They both have their own problems. We actually need both to come up with some sort of assessment concerning the world around us.
This, relatively, recent phenomenon named 'pornography' has launched an attack on ethics, morality and Religions in general. This is an onslaught on family structure without which a whole society can collapse. This is a billions dollar industry all over the world. The makers of these pornographic movies have made an assault upon what have kept cultures together, such as traditions, religious convictions, and humanity, which civilizations of the past were made of. It has been spreading like a plague everywhere with the help of modern technology. Plato's Eros or love is now defined, as in the form of an adjective, 'erotic, meaning that which arouses sexual feeling or desires.
What are we doing with our bodies? Being rational animals, according to Aristotle, our bodies have certain demands. But how are we fulfilling these? With the rise of sexually transmitted diseases, there are more, and more people, who would much rather trick their bodies for sexual pleasures, than actually die as a result of them. They publically appear as pious and virtuous, but privately they're addicted to pornography. However, under 'Art for Art's Sake', The Austrian painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), being influenced by Nietzsche's philosophy, came up with a painting called 'The kiss' (1907-08). This work of art, which expressed sensual and erotic quality, was judged by some to be pornographic. However, it was a perfect manifestation of Nietzsche's ideas that we're obligated to reappraise our morals and values. (B. Magee, p.176). What is pornography anyway? In Greek, Porne means 'a prostitute' and Graphein means 'write'. In other words, writings or pictures which are meant to arouse sexual desire. (Webster's New World Dictionary). The point of our discussion here, with all due respect for Nietzsche's thoughts, is that the unreal realities can produce the same thing, as if they were real, once they're presented to our bodies. Who does it though? Our rational mind. No wonder rationalism was under attack.
Buddha, in the beginning of his 'Dhammapada', The Twin Verses-- Canto I, warns us against the impure mind, which can be the cause of suffering in speaking and acting. In other words, we can easily deceive or mislead the body to get what we want from it. But what're we giving our bodies in return? It sounds like our bodies give without expectation. If the body could speak, it would ask us, at least not to destroy it in the process.
We have been using and misusing or abusing our planet systematically, since we began forgetting that we were to be the custodian of this earth. Now with the environmental problems on our hands, which have been threatening our very existence in this world, we're still not getting the message that we're morally responsible for the way we treat our bodies.
Can we still agree with Socrates that the desires of the body ought to be avoided or fulfilled the right way? I believe the body and the soul complement each other.  This is very much like Yin and Yang. This also reminds us of Aristotle's idea of form and matter. Yin is matter, while Yang is form. Body is matter and Yin, while soul is form and Yang.
St. Augustine went from enjoying life by drinking wine and admiring beautiful bodies of women, to a life of complete piety and saintliness. He chose holiness and devotion over impiety. This reminds us of Ebenezer Scrooge, a character in Charles Dickens' (1812-70) 'A Christmas Carol'. We all hate the early Scrooge and love the later one. The spirit of Christmas is still with us as we approach the new year. Within a few days from now the year 2017 will begin. With every Christmas, the story of Scrooge becomes alive again.  However, these stories of conversion, from the old to the new, also teach us that without the necessary evil, the good could not reveal itself. They take us back to the ancient Persian Religions of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. The wars of darkness against light. What is evil for Plotinus? It is the absence of good. Had he heard of those Persian Religious philosophers? Who knows? Either way, does it matter? Yes, it does. If one is not accused of chauvinism, which could be a factor here, then the story of his interest in going on an expedition to Persia must have been true.
But why waste time? Let us face it, in this world of opposites, contradictions, change and becoming, justice and injustice, we're struggling to be good and fair in what we do and how we treat people. The battle is between good and evil, it is between right and wrong. This is both on the macrocosm and microcosm levels.
There're times "when bad things happen to good people", which is the title of H.S. Kushner's famous book. In this book he argues that we ought to keep God out of this equation. Blaming God is not going to solve our problems with the presence of evil in the world. Kushner stays away from Hindu and Buddhist ideas of Karma, which is action and its consequences. He does not seem to suggest that evil is to blame for our predicaments. He simply helps us accept what happens to us and if need be, we can ask God for help.
There're those who believe the evil doers will eventually pay for what they have done whether in this world or here after. These could be folks in the Abrahamic Religions or those Hindus and Buddhists. The former group have faith in God's judgment and the latter in the universal principle of Karma, which is based on cause and effect. But when a mother brought her dead baby to Buddha and asked for an explanation, he didn't bring the baby to life, like what Jesus did to Lazarus. He simply told her that this is the way things are in the world. Just as flowers fade away, we also go away, some earlier and some later. Putting the blames on gods will not help us at all. Neither can we solve our problems by blaming the evil spirit. We live in this imperfect world, therefore, we should not expect it to be a paradise. We can cry for justice when we have become subject to injustice. We have been witnessing the travesty of justice knowing that our courts and lawyers can only do so much. Sometimes you win a case, and there're times when we lose a case. Let us be honest, none of these answers are satisfactory. 
"If you open yourself to the Tao, you are at one with the Tao and you can embody it completely. If you open yourself to insight, you are at one with insight and you can use it completely. If you open yourself to loss, you are at one with loss and you can accept it completely. Open yourself to the Tao, then trust your natural responses; and everything will fall onto place."(Tao Te Ching, chapter. 23).
What is philosophy? You still don't know? Don't worry, neither do I. I have been thinking about it since I was 10 years old. Do I know where I came from? From Adam? Or from a country? Or from my mother's womb?
Raymond our daughter wants to know where she came from. Well, don't you think she is too young to know this?  How did you answer this question? I didn't know what to tell her. What? You mean you didn't tell her she came from your tummy? Come on Raymond! We, respectable folks, tell enough lies to our children. I just don't want to add another one to it. Why do you worry for a small lie? Well, you have read the Old Testament. Yes, I have. Remember the story of Abraham in Egypt?
"As he [Abraham] was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you." (Genesis 12:10). So honey, a little white lie would not hurt. First of all, lie has no color. Perhaps you mean a gray lie, which is between black and white. Don't you think Abraham had no choice but lie? To me what he did was wrong as much as Robin Hood was wrong in robbing the rich to feed the poor. What Abraham did was against the natural law. Even a white lie (gray) is still a lie regardless. This is not accepted by the natural law under the double effect theory. In other words, what he did was unethical. Well, look our daughter asked me a philosophical question and I just didn't know how to answer it. Well, what else did she ask? She asked me about life. What is it?
When Confucius was asked about after life, he responded by asking: Do you know what life is? No, I don't know what life is. Then why do you worry about here after, when you still have no idea what life itself is? How could I explain what life is? How can I know myself what being is? How can I be cognizant of the purpose and meaning of being in this world, as if life has a meaning? Why am I here?
"From where have I come, what was the reason of my coming? Where am I going to, you don't tell me of my home? (a Persian poem, questioning God).
She then questioned me about where she was going after she dies? To tell you the truth, I was literally dumbfounded by the fact that she was so curious about death and what happens after it. Even though we don't take her to funeral houses for viewing, nothing stopped her from wondering about what happens next. Now Raymond, you think you can go upstairs and answer these questions? I don't think you can, unless you ascend higher than upstairs.
This story is from the T.V show called, 'everybody loves Raymond' with some changes done by myself.
After having a conference on this issue downstairs by every member of the family, they still were not able to come up with any answer what so ever.
Ironically, the grandparents in the show, first grandfather and then grandmother, died shortly after the show was over. Perhaps both those actors, who had played the role of grandparents on the show, wondered about these questions themselves afterwards. While wondering, both experienced death without knowing the answer to these questions.
Then we're back to where we started. What do you think? None of them, along with whole host of other celebrities who died this year before 2017, came back to convey a message to us. May be we should reach them.  How about those who die every day but they're not internationally, known? Did they ever come back to tell us what is going on after they passed on? I don't think so or perhaps some can contact them, like Shamans, as we mentioned before. Some psychics also claim they can reach the dead to ask them for answers to their questions.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225? -74), the 13th century Italian theologian and philosopher, unlike St. Augustine, was Aristotelian. He went to the university of Paris. This is where he was exposed to close to 800 years of the treasuries, which had been created by the followers of Three Abrahamic Religions, that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Once Arab Muslim army invaded the Iberian Peninsula, namely, Spain and Portugal, a sanctuary was created for the development of knowledge. They cooperated and came up with spectacular discoveries in knowledge. This was where brilliant minds and great scientists, theologians, and philosophers had come together to bring about a civilization the like of which the world had never seen before and is yet to see again. This incredible phenomenon had never existed before. 6oo years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Islam, the last Abrahamic Religion, from the line of Ishmael, Abraham's first son, emerged as the most powerful force compared with Judaism and Christianity. Within its first century, Islamic forces defeated Persian army in East and took over Egypt. Al Taariq conquered north Africa and the Iberian Peninsula all the way to the southern part of France. A period of translation started. Those captives, who knew Greek and Arabic were given their freedom, provided they translated the former into the latter. Greek intellectual writings were among those books, which were translated. Muslim Arab philosophers wrote commentaries on those works in general and Aristotle's works in particular. These works were later translated into Hebrew and Latin and found their ways into Europe. All these three Religions were involved in this project, which was unique in the intellectual history of the Western world.
Thomas enjoyed and benefited from what he had never dreamed could be a possibility one day. However, being part of the establishment of the holy Roman Empire, he had to be very careful introducing, especially Aristotle's philosophy, to the religious community of his day. For Aristotle the world had never been created and had been there from eternity, unlike the Judeo-Christian, and Islamic belief. It is possible that he publically did not accept it but privately went for it. He came up with several proofs for the existence of God among which were Cosmological and Teleological arguments. First, the former was from the cause. Second, the latter was from design, meaning everything move towards some purpose or end. Grammatically, we should say everything moves. But it makes more sense to write the way we wrote.
These and his other proofs were rejected by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century.
Again it is possible he agreed with Aristotle's concept of God as pure Form but in actuality he publically stayed with the Christian God to be politically correct. However, out of curiosity, who was or even is the God of Christianity?
When it comes to Judaism, their God is             YAHWEH or Jahveh, Jahve, Jahweh, Jahwe, and Jehovah. It is considered too Sacred to be spoken aloud: the word 'Adoni ' (Lord) is substituted for this name in utterance. (New World Dictionary). "...God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I'm."... they ask me, 'What is His name?'... I'm who I'm. ...'I'm has sent me to you.' (Exodus 3: 4-14).
When Moses is addressed, his answer is simply: Here I'm. I'm here. I'm in time and space. I'm a contingent being, that is, I could or could not be. God tells Moses, just say to the Israelites " I'm" has sent me to you.
It sounds like saying that, the awaken one has sent me, or the Buddha has sent me. Even here Buddha's real name is not mentioned. It is possible that when Moses asks: Who are you? He was wondering about God's essence or Whatness, which is unknown to people. My essence and existence are one unlike yours Moses. I cannot but be. I cannot not be. Therefore, I must be, but you don't have to be. You're in space and time, but I'm not. I understand what you're telling me Lord. Nevertheless, I have a problem with your Oneness. We're many but you're One. However, being One is subject to dualism. Because One and many are opposite and they are two. After all, your nature is non-dualistic. Remember, you said in the Ten Commandments: "You shall have no other gods before me." This tells me you're One. But when you introduce yourself, you say, "I'm". The term existence is an analytic one, in that, it does not give me any information about you, according to Kant. Besides, don't you think this word, that is, 'existence' is totally unnecessary? Hamlet's "To be or not to be" represent duality. If you're the provider of being or existence to everything, then why do you have to be? Is it possible that you're not the Ultimate Reality? Because when you say my name is "I'm", this in itself tells us you're limited by the very fact of having a name in our mind. When Rene Descartes (!596-1650), the French philosopher said: " I think, therefore, I'm", 'I' is not referring to him. "I is, therefore, I thinks" can easily show us that there must be some kind of awareness prior to the original statement. Perhaps this very Reality is the Ultimate One who puts "I'm" forward but itself is completely non-dualistic. This Ultimate Reality does not exist; thus it has no existence to require a proof. So all those proofs for the existence of God seem to be just a waste of time. Because at the end of the day, we're trying to prove the existence of a title called God.
An atheist, who does not believe God exists, is already acknowledging the existence of such a title. The assumption is that there is such a God, even as a title, who does not exist. Why do we have to go through such a contradiction to deny the existence of such a title? You might argue that the God you're rejecting has a name and it is not a title. Fine, then all they are trying is to disprove a name. But even a name must first exist before we can disprove its existence.
God knows His name. Well, then this already brings in the element of dualism into the picture. But when Moses asks God about His name, He answers: I'm who I'm. This sounds like when Buddha was asked: What are you? And he responded by saying that: I'm awake.  Is God a title here or a name? God does not say I'm this or that, like I'm love or the greatest Being. Remember names limit the Ultimate Reality in our mind. Besides, we read that God says to Moses, go to them and tell them "I'm" sent you. Here God does not say, tell them I sent you. The Ultimate Reality does not identify itself with "I'm".  Rene Descartes did. He identifies himself with the I, in "I think, therefore, I'm". Kant just said that when we say "God Exists", this is an analytic statement, namely, 'existence' does not add anything to the name God. This is like saying, "All triangles have three angles." What if Moses asked God about His essence? What are you? The essence God is unknown to even Moses. Who are we compared with Moses?
What are we refuting? God? Not really. Then what is it? We deny existence to a God that is nothing but the fabrication of my imagination. If there're 7 billion human beings on earth and, if all of them believe in one God, then there must be as many gods as there're people in this world. Why?  Because when we don't see the truth, then we begin creating it in our own mind. Here is the difference between fact and fiction. Therefore, who is this God that I'm either proving His or Her existence or not accepting that such a God exists at all? Like good old Plato said, we're in the realm of opinions not knowledge. True and sacred knowledge ought to be reached and achieved, if there is such a knowledge in another realm. We can have faith in a God who has revealed Himself in the Bible and the holy Qur'an. But don't look for the proof. These scriptures, whether Abrahamic or non, reveal themselves to those who're qualified. We ought to start with ourselves. We worry more about the faults of others than our own. Perhaps, if we keep busy cleaning our souls, we will not have much time to correct the wrongs of others. If we create our own gods in our mind, then we can also build their statues and worship them. This way everybody would know what we have been worshipping all along.
Who is the God of Christianity? The same God that the Jewish people believe in and worship? Not really. God in Judaism reminds us of Plato's Form of the Good. It is way up in the transcendence realm. It is like the sun shedding light on other Forms.
These two realms are very much like what we have in an hourglass. We have an upper and a lower parts connected through a narrow passage between the two. The top represents transcendence and the bottom immanence. We know that the two terms here are not necessarily opposites in a synonym and an antonym style. However, what we would like to convey is that Jesus seems to be in between the two realms and in the center bringing them together.
This is where Aristotle comes in, who thought Plato's Forms belong to the world we live in, though their concepts are in our mind. For him, it was not convincing that the world only reflected those Forms like an ocean reflecting the sun or the moon, as Plato said. He argued that the realities of those essences or universals or ideals were in the objects of the world. The reality of a horse is in the particular horse that is galloping in front of us. But the idea of a horse is in my mind. This idea or concept of a horse is like Plato's Forms, in that they don't change and fade away by time. Once little kids learn about a horse, this remains in their mind till the end of their lives. Other horses come and go, but the idea of a horse or horseness stays the same throughout their lives. However, we argued that once something becomes the property of mind, it can also become subject to change. It might not be a drastic change, but nevertheless, it is still a change. Plato wanted to keep the Forms away from the swamp of the mind.
For Aristotle, the essence or actuality of an oak is in the acorn, not in some unknown transcendent place. Plato argued that once those Forms are in the objects, they're no longer transcendent Forms. They're now immanent forms. In theology, we say God is immanent, which means He is present in or pervades everything in the universe. (New World Dictionary).
Thomas Aquinas used Aristotle's philosophy of forms to his advantage. Jesus Christ is that very God, who is present everywhere in the universe. Did Jesus change? Of course, he went through biological transformation like us. He was a baby once. This is where we draw a line between him as an avatar or incarnation and Brahman. Because there is no change in Brahman or the Ultimate Reality according to the average and ordinary people. But in fact Brahman is beyond permanence and impermanence. This corresponds more with Aristotle's idea of pure Form or actuality, which he called God. This Form is not in the world of becoming. Because it cannot go through change to become. This pure Form of Aristotle relates to Plato's idea of the Good. Imagine for a moment what Thomas must gone through.  
Centuries later, the Jewish philosopher Baruch or Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), who was a rationalist, argued that the universe was one basic unity, which can be named either God or Nature. He was, of course, kicked out of the synagogue for being a pantheist, meaning all is God. (Runes). Now you see the risk of being involved with bringing the transcendent reality into the immanent realm. In the movie, 'Gladiator', the great general, Maximus, just as they were getting ready to attack, tells his soldiers to remember that whatever we do in this life will echo in eternity. However, we know that eternity and time are not proportional. Then how can what we do here, will echo in eternity? If we believe in Karma, then we're bound to think whatever we do in this world, we shall have their effects or consequences either here or after we leave this world. It sounds as if eternity is in time or vice versa. Perhaps these distinctions are only the product of our mind and there're no disconnect in the world independent of our mind.
Thomas, being a religious Aristotelian philosopher, had no choice but to accept the logic of either/or. However, when it comes to the nature of Jesus, as being fully man and fully God, he had to worry about the holy Roman Empire. According to Aristotelian logic, Christ cannot be both man and God at the same time and in the same relationship. When he was asked about it, he was being politically correct by saying that you ought to accept it as an article of faith. Why should he do that? After all, those who made this decision for the rest of Christians were not gods. This was only their interpretations of what Jesus had said and the way he acted and behaved. Thomas knew he was in a dilemma and yet was unable to come up with a rational response. Perhaps he felt paradoxes were more appropriate to explain this logical problem, which had been created by the Church fathers in the 3rd century.
This is, however, what Hegel in the 18th century did not buy. He much rather resolve the contradiction to benefit the Christian faith than just accept the paradoxes to explain the problem at hand. In other words, he sacrificed the Aristotelian logic for the Church fathers' decisions. But what if Church fathers were wrong in understanding who Jesus was? Did Hegel think about this at all? Let us say, he tried to change Aristotle's logic to fit what people believed, namely, Jesus was fully God and fully man. Sartre is said to have misunderstood Heidegger 's philosophy as a result of which he came up with a fantastic philosophy of his own. But what Hegel did was not a scientific achievement.
Aristotelian logic has shown its weakness in 20th century, thanks to quantum mechanics physics discoveries. The logic of excluded middle of Aristotle was questioned.
Either something is black or white. There is no gray area here. Aristotle knew about this. That is why he did not use this logic for ethics in which there are cases that require a room for gray color, that is neither black nor white. Neither be rash, nor coward. Be courageous. But this might not work for adultery.
Though I'm not a physicist, I understand that in quantum mechanics waves and particles are found to be one and the same, at the same time and in the same relationship. This defies Aristotelian logic of either/or. At first, one might rush to the conclusion that this alone should be a scientific proof of Jesus being fully man and fully God.  For example, we can say, wave is wave, and particle is particle. But then with the new physics, wave is particle. We can also say, Jesus is Jesus, and God is God. We can also say, Jesus is God. When it comes to the Ten commandments, however, thou shall not commit adultery and commit adultery will be the same. However, there is another problem lurking in the dark here. Many theologians used Isaac Newton's (1642-1727) ideas of absolute time and space for their theologies at the time. They let physics dictate their metaphysics. But in 20th century, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the American theoretical physicist, rejected what Newton had said about time and space.
Science is not metaphysics. The collectors of Aristotle's works put all of his writings, which were basically his students' notes, regarding matters beyond and above physics, after books on physics. So the term 'metaphysics' means both after and beyond.
Here we're facing a similar situation. Although what quantum mechanics' findings might seem useful for our Christian theology, perhaps we should learn a lesson from the past.
Some theologians, on the other hand, worry that quantum physics might compromise the divine command theory, which deals with the Ten Commandments. In a word, how can we use the logic of this physics for these Mosaic laws? The answer is simply we cannot.
David Hume (1711-76), Scottish philosopher and historian of the 18th century, argued that we can never infer 'ought' from 'is' when it comes to our morality. In other words, 'is' cannot be a base for 'ought'. Therefore, the Ten Commandments, which are divine moral codes, cannot be based on scientific discoveries. There is no doubt that science and technology have been helping mankind a great deal, when they have been rightly used. But when it comes to Religions and metaphysical realities, we can use modern science, perhaps only as a support. Because modern physics cannot assist us in knowing the nature of reality. It can tell us what energy, for example, can do but not what it is. Because when we question the whatness of an object, we're asking a metaphysical question. In theology we can focus on what God does but not what is. Once it comes to essence, metaphysics is in charge.
Who is the God of Muslim people? Its name is Allah. This God is One. It is a unit. There is no way that it can have partners. So far it is very much like the God of Judaism. In the chapter called 'The Unity', God is in a monologue with His prophet. " Say: He is Allah, the One! or recite He is Allah, the One! This Oneness is beyond two or three or minus one. It is way above the many. Allah is 'AHAD' (One). Take a moment and think and ask: Who is talking? Who asks the prophet to recite? Is Allah speaking? It really does not seem that way. Is Allah referring to Himself here? If your answer is 'yes', then there are two here: One is referring and the other one is referred to and the prophet is asked to recite. So there're three elements involved here: The one who asks the prophet: recite, and the one who is named Allah. Because we don't read the Qur'an to say that, I, Allah ask you to recite. So it seems the Ultimate Reality does not identify itself with Allah here. It does not say, my name is Allah. This Ultimate Reality has no name. Names limit that Reality in our mind. We cannot define it either for the same reason. I'm introducing your God named Allah to you.  He is One. Allah is SAMAD (     ). He is forever Sufficient unto Himself. (The study Quran, S.H. Nasr). There is no word in English which can do justice to its meaning. But it can be defined as the Reality, which is so solid to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be subtracted. He never gave birth, nor was He born. He does not beget; neither is He begotten. And there is none like Him. (The meaning of the Glorious Koran, M.M. Pickthall).
What is going on? Who is in charge? Are we lost in this universe without any help? "Where have I come from? What was the purpose of my coming? Where am I going to at the end you're showing me my home?" (A Persian poem). But remember, this poet is speaking to God. This is a monologue. What if there is no God to talk to? What if life is absurd?
Blaise Pascal (1623-62), the French philosopher and Mathematician was known for his wager or bet. He argued that it is better to have faith in God and be righteous in this world. You see, we either believe there is life after death or we don't. If we go for the former and there is a reward, then we're fine. But if there is nothing, then we have not lost much. However, if we lived an unruly life only to find out there was a great reward for the righteous, then we're in trouble. Thus, we 're forced to gamble here. It is not optional.  There is, however, one risk involved, which makes all the difference. I spend years and decades of my life living a pious and virtuous life hoping to receive some reward only to find out there was absolutely nothing after death. Don't you feel I'm a big loser?
You see, If I acted without expectation, I would not have anything to worry about. In Hinduism this is called, 'karma yoga'. But when I do something good and then expect to be rewarded, then I'm in what is called, karma. Karma means action and its consequences, which is based on cause and effect. Karma is a consequentialist act while karma yoga is non-consequentialist one. If my good actions outweigh my bad ones, then I'm bound to be rewarded either in this life or in hereafter. In Pascal's case, all we need to do is do good without expecting anything in return. Here we focus on doing the right thing regardless. Kant also came up with his categorical imperatives to ask us to give without expectation. Here we're dealing with doing our duty for the sake of duty. There is a great similarity between karma yoga and Kant's categorical imperative. The difference being in the former, Krishna or the avatar of god Vishnu is asking Arjuna to participate in that act, whereas in the latter, you're morally obliged to do the right thing and there is no conversation or dialogue between the incarnated god Vishnu and Arjuna. God, for Kant, comes in only as a postulate or assumption. But it is incredible how close Kant gets to the idea of karma yoga in his categorical imperative. This, to me, is an astonishing achievement by this great German thinker.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650), the great French philosopher, stepped on the stage of the Western philosophy at the time when there was so much uncertainty in Europe. The authority of the holy roman empire had been challenged by the protestant reformation. The economic situation was in worse shape possible. Science had been leaving the protective marquee of the Catholic church. Aristotelian physics and astronomy were challenged by the new discoveries.
Once super nova was detected by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), the German astronomer and mathematician, Aristotle's fixed stars were no longer accepted by the astronomers of his time. Because super nova lasted a short time and then it disappeared. Given these changes, which all happened roughly around 500 years ago, Descartes had to find out whether there was anything that could be certain. He began doubting practically everything except the fact that he was doubting. If I'm doubting, then it means I'm thinking. If I'm thinking, then this means I'm. Finally, he came to the point where he said: "I think, therefore I'm."At first it seems very innocent, but it is not. Before he proclaims, 'I think, thus I'm', we should ask: who are you and who is this I? You're already aware before you make such a statement, which means, you exist or you're. Your thinking should not lead you to your existence. If you didn't exist before, you would not be able to even utter these words. Perhaps Descartes' biggest mistake was the fact that he identified himself with the 'I' in 'I think, therefore I'm.' St. Augustine was also confronting the problem of uncertainty when it came to knowledge. He realized once how unreliable sense perception was. The oars of his boat looked broken while rowing in a sunny day. Yes, even Augustine needed to get away from hustles and bustles of life once in a while. Well, he suddenly noticed that the oars looked broken. He immediately pulled them inside of the boat to only find out that they were not broken. So, what was it then? he thought of this for a while and then came to a realization that he could not trust his sense perception for true knowledge. Nevertheless, he told the skeptics, at least I know this much that I have had such an experience and I cannot deny it. This is what is certain to me. It sounds like what Socrates said after he was called the wisest person in Athens: I know this much that I don't know. This is my knowledge. This is my wisdom. At least I acknowledge this fact. Good old              Augustine being a new Platonist showed his loyalty to the wisdom of Socrates.
Mr. Descartes, with all due respect sir, the very awareness, prior to your famous statement, is an indication of being. You don't have to think to get there.
The fish, ask their mothers about what water is. Their mothers, very patiently, answers the little ones by saying that you're already in water honey. We're in ocean of being, and we're still asking about being.
The Hindus or Gurus, taught their students to work on their 'I's'. Krishna is teaching Arjuna to search for his true Self and gradually remove the I-ness from between them. In Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna instructs Arjuna to get involved with the yoga of knowledge.   Kant already announced that we cannot know our true Self by using our pure reason. Because this reason is limited. Of course, we also agree with him. However, we can use our Intellect to get there. This has nothing to do with being horizontally an intellectual in the academic world, but it has to do with our vertical journey inside of us.
Descartes felt his approach to find certainty would lead him to Solipsism.
" In Latin 'solus' means alone and 'ipse' means self. (a) Methodological: The epistemological [ science of knowledge] doctrine which considers the individual self and its states the only possible or legitimate starting point for philosophical construction. See Cogito, ergo sum [I think, therefore I'm]; Ego-centric predicament, Subjectivism. (b) Metaphysical: Sub variety of idealism which maintains that the individual self of the solipsistic philosopher is the whole of reality and that the external world and other persons are representations of that self-having no independent existence" (Runes). So Descartes had to prove that there was a world out there outside of his mind. To do that, he had to prove the existence of God first. He didn't have his own proof, so he appealed to St. Anselm's (1033-1109).
According to Anselm, God is that than which no greater can be thought. Since this is what we think and has only a mental existence, then this cannot be the greatest. The greatest must be outside of my mind. It has to be independent of my mind. Therefore, is the greatest than anything else in the universe. God is a Being that cannot not be. Thus, it must be. His existence is necessary, unlike ours, which is contingent or possible.  
Descartes made use of this argument to prove the existence of God. First of all, he was not original in so doing, even though he modified Anselm's argument from Being a bit.
Let us look at Anselm's argument for a moment. What is God? This is the question here. In the old Testament, God says to Moses: I'm who I'm. In other words, don't ask what I'm. That is my essence, my whatness, as you think about me. On the other hand, we know this much that this is true in our case, namely, our existences and essences are distinguished. But If there is a God, which we believe there is, then His essence and existence must be one. Why? Because there is no duality in Him. God is One Reality. So then why would God even say that my essence is not for you to know? However, you know this much that I'm. But there is a catch in here. By saying I'm, God is telling Moses that I'm already saying to you that my essence is my existence. My existence, however, is necessary unlike yours. Even though I have created you in my image, but your essence and existence are distinct. Moses I cannot not be; thus I must be. But you, being contingent, can be and cannot be. You're a possibility but I'm a necessity. I'm already telling you who I'm. Whether I'm the greatest, it is not the issue here. Mr. Anselm, if you want to prove my existence sir, then why are you talking about my greatness?" The sun is risen, as the proof of the sun." (A Persian poem). The rising of the sun is in and of itself the proof of the existence of the sun. The presence of Jesus alone was enough to show who he was. The perfume of his innocence was smelled by Pontius Pilate. Besides, who is this God whose greatness is to be proven by Anselm? If we're dealing with the Bible and the Old Testament, then why are you trying to prove its greatness rather than its existence? Where does this comparison come from? We're comparing here. The greatest in my mind is not enough, thus it must be outside of mind to be the greatest.  Gaunilo, who was a monk, criticized Anselm's project. He said that you act as if you're talking about an unknown island of which no one has ever heard. Anselm was quick to respond by saying that here I'm speaking of Being sir. God is a Being that cannot not be, thus He must be. His existence is necessary.  Gaunilo answered, I understand what you're arguing here. But it sounds like you're jumping too much from the logical to the ontological or the existential reasoning. Apparently Aquinas also used the same criticism for Anselm later on. However, Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Leibniz have also used Anselm's argument in a modified form. (Runes). In 18th century Kant, though felt it was an interesting argument, refuted it.
Anselm seems to have used an anthropomorphic language in order to prove the existence of God. Anthropomorphism is an attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman beings or objects. (American Heritage). And then he argues that God's existence is necessary but ours is not. On the one hand, he uses the word greatness for God. On the other hand, he says, He cannot not be, which means he must be. But why is he not talking about the Ultimate Reality? Proving the existence of a title is not the best one can do as a philosopher. Besides, who is this God? The God of the Bible? Do we all interpret the Bible the same way? First of all, we accept what we read in the Bible to be true based on our faith. Subsequently we interpret what we read. What are we proving here? The products of our own imaginations? So more people will go to synagogues and churches as a result of these proofs? I don't think so.
Not to fall into Solipsism, Descartes had to prove the existence of God first. Did he? Not really. He followed Anselm to no avail. As much as Anselm tried to leap from the mind into the world beyond it, Descartes made an attempt to do the same thing. But where did he end up? Descartes thought he had found the secret of the world beyond our mind. Not really. Not only was he not able to have access to the world beyond, if there is such a world, he came up with the idea of mind and body distinction. He argued that based on his philosophical discoveries, he noted the mind/body problem existed in us as well as the world. The first experiment led him to the fact that 'Cogito, ergo sum' dealt only with his own existence. In other world, he was in a bottle when it came to his own being. Then he realized that since there is a God, then there must be a world outside his body. This is the world of volume and extension. I'm a mind and a body. They have their own substances, which are distinct. They can affect each other. When I have a headache, I'm not in a good mood. Here my bodily condition has been affecting my mental status. On the other hand, when I'm under tremendous amount of stress, my body begins to show the signs of fatigue.
Being a catholic, he must have been Aristotelian by Religion. Then is it possible that he had the idea of form and matter of Aristotle in mind here? How about Plato's soul and body? What about the Persian or Hindu philosophies of the soul and the body?
Can we go back to the Genesis, to where God is about to create man? What did He do? He made man out of two elements: His own breath and the dust of the ground. Was God breathing at the time? Was God like us? Anthropomorphism perhaps? Any way, it does not matter at this time.
Did not the ground stand for mother nature? If what God did was just pass His Spirit to a piece of clay, this shows there was a split right from the very beginning. Who was man then? He was neither the God's Spirit, nor the ground or clay. He was something different. He was a different entity. Here God does not seem to see two elements but one. " Behold, thou art made whole..."(John 5: 14). "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."(Mark 10: 9). "Where they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."(Matthew 19: 6).
Descartes went to church, whether on Sundays or any other days of the week. He must have heard these verses uttered repeatedly by the priests. Then why did he come up with the mind/body distinction? Let us not, forget that he was a modern rationalist philosopher.  He started from the scratch to find a foundation for certainty.
There must have been a conflict between his philosophical ideas and his religion. When he said animals are nothing but automatons devoid of feelings, the catholic church must have cringed.
The body and the soul meet at a point in our brain called pineal gland. It looks like a pine cone, so it is called pineal body. It is a small, reddish, cone-shaped body, which is on the dorsal portion of the brain of all vertebrates. Its function is obscure, (New world Dictionary).
Descartes' philosophy marked the beginning of the modern rationalism in Europe. Great thinkers such as Benedict Spinoza (1632-77) and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) tried very hard to bridge the gap, which had been created by Descartes. Finally, this Cartesian division led to Idealism and Materialism in the history of philosophy in the West. This particular cleavage gave us Hegel and Marx. The former stood for idealism and the latter for materialism.
The whole of intellectual map of Europe was also divided between two camps: The first one was rationalism and the second one was empiricism. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz fall in the first camp and John Locke (1632-1704), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and David Hume (1711-76) fall in the second camp. Rationalists believed we can know the truth through reason alone. Empiricists insisted that only through experience can we know the truth. The first camp did not think we could reach the truth by appealing to experience and sense perception. The second camp, on the other hand, argued that reason cannot be trusted to reveal the world as it really is.
Locke was Aristotelian and believed that our mind is like a blank tablet. Whatever we know, we learn in this world. There is nothing innate when it comes to knowledge. So he had no faith in Plato's Forms what so ever. Like Aristotle, he felt there was a need for form and matter. He argued that there are primary and secondary qualities. This is where we know he followed Descartes' ideas. The world of our mind is different from the world which exists outside of our mind. If the realm independent of my mind is like black and white T.V., then our mind is a color one. Because we are coloring that world. In reality we only know our perception of the other world. He was vehemently criticized by bishop Berkeley, who not only was an empiricist, but was also an idealist. He was an Irish man, who was on the one hand a bishop, on the other hand, he was a nominalist. He believed Plato's Forms were nothing but names. In Latin, 'nomen' means a name. He thought Locke was still Aristotelian in his approach to forms. But Locke rejected Plato's transcendent Forms. Didn't he not?  Of course, he did. Nevertheless, Berkeley addressed this issue by saying to Locke that you're still a conceptualist. Just as Aristotle, you think those concepts, like humanity, honestly, etc., though in the mind, correspond to what we have in the world. But I tell you sir that they're nothing but names and don't correspond to anything.
Let us think for a moment for ourselves, if we can. About what? About the fact that Berkeley was a bishop and turned his back to Plato's Forms as well as Aristotle's. At least Locke still believed in a world beyond what our 5 senses can provide us with, which he called it a world with primary qualities. Berkeley, rejected this world by saying that even this realm, which is independent of my 5 senses is nothing but our ideas about it. In other words, we have no way of knowing what is going on the other side. Come to think of it, he was right. Therefore, we have no access to the other world. So that is out.
Concerning the third party, namely, 'man' in which you and I share, provided we're both men, it just does not exist. Where is this man, who is perfect? He is neither tall, nor short, neither fat, nor skinny, etc. Mr. Locke, with all due respect, you cannot prove the existence of such a man. You cannot prove the existence of form and matter either. Sir, are not we empiricists? We only believe in what we experience. Don't you think what we call the world beyond my mind is actually our own ideas of that world? On the one hand, I have my own ideas about the world, and on the other hand, I have my ideas about the world outside of my mind. Well, why not just say they're all ideas?  Mr. Locke, I sincerely believe this is also true about Mr. Descartes' mind/body distinction too. Sir, how many times have you been able to leave the camera of your mind on a tripod and walk away from it in order to see the world as it really is? Have you been able to disconnect yourself from your 5 senses in order to see the world without them? Have you been able to unplug your 5 senses and see what the world is? Have you smelled the perfume or just read about it? None of the forms, whether Plato's or Aristotle's, are real sir. Who has seen them? Who has experienced them?
Plato was unable to explain change and becoming. Thus, he had to come up with realm of transcendent and immutable realities, where Parmenides belongs. He had to elaborate for his followers why there was motion and movement, in the world, as it had been discussed by Heraclitus. To demonstrate this, he had to appeal to a transcendent realm. If it is true that Heraclitus had said everything changed except change itself, then Plato must have thought perhaps change belonged there with other Forms.
But dear sir, if the Ultimate Reality is beyond any duality, then it is also way above motion and rest, or impermanence and permanence. If this were the case, then how can Plato shed light on why things move? Bishop Berkeley, now you understand why I follow Aristotle and not Plato. Not that fast sir. Even though Aristotle rejected Plato's Forms, he left their concepts in our mind and their realities in the world. Aristotle never said that those realities were also changing along with the objects they were in. The form of the oak, though needs the matter while in the acorn, does not change. Its actuality is the oak tree. If this form also changed, then how can Aristotle explain motion here? So we are back to where Plato was. However, if everything changes in this world, then Aristotle's form should also be subject to change and becoming. If this were the case, then we have no way to explain change. Even our concept of change also changes. Now Mr. Locke do you realize that even Aristotle finally has to admit that he has not been able to find an answer to the problem of change and becoming.
If you were to switch to Hindu ideas, then you would have to accept the fact that motion, as Parmenides had told us, is nothing but an illusion. According to Buddhism, we can never step into a river anyway. Because there is no river to step in. What do you say to that Mr. Locke? You seem to have followed Aristotle as he was a prophet or Christ. Dear sir, even Avatars or incarnations of either Vishnu or Shiva changed. But you don't expect Aristotle's forms to go through change and becoming? His ideas of potentiality and actuality cannot explain motion or movement, even if you believed in his ideas of form and matter. Unfortunately, I have no choice but either fall on one side or the other side. So I decided to go for idealism in order to get rid of materialism, which has become very dangerous for our society.
Unfortunately, both idealists and materialists, tried to solve the problem of Cartesian dualism by saying either everything is made of mind or matter. In other words, their solution for bridging the gap, which had been created by Descartes, acted like a pendulum, which in fact was not much of a solution.
Now that there is no duality in terms of primary and secondary qualities, Berkeley puts all his eggs in the basket of idealism. "To be is to be perceived" is what he maintained. So when a tree falls in the woods, as long as we have not perceived such an event, it just did not happen. We didn't hear anything, nor did we see a tree falling. Berkeley very cleverly came out and asked: Well, if we didn't perceive this act of nature, then who did it? When there is no answer, he says it must have been one Reality, which is ubiquitous and present everywhere at the same time. This is nothing but God Himself. What a way to prove the existence of God? It is not bad at all. Is it? Are not we using anthropomorphism in order to reach our points? One irregularity deserves another."(Frithjof Schuon). The first one is getting rid of both Plato's and Aristotle's forms and the second one is to prove a perceiving God that has been created in our image.
God is the only Reality that can give existence to everything but not by perceiving. We cannot say a book is sitting on the table by itself. To be there, it has to be provided existence at every moment. You might say, even the language we're using for existence here is anthropomorphic. I couldn't agree with you more. However, there're levels to our use of the word, 'Anthropomorphism'. There is a difference between hearing, "God is watching us from a distance", in a song, and God is giving existence to everything in the universe at every moment. In fact, the real definition of the word, 'Existence' is, God is standing out there or God is outstanding. But why do we have to settle for such a word as 'existence', which by its very definition is anthropomorphic? Perhaps this was in the mind of Kant when he said, the statement, 'God exists' is an analytic one, namely, existence does not give us any information about God. It is like saying, 'All triangles have three anglers.' This is what Kant came up with. But who needs a God who is standing out there? What if we say, 'God is'? But this is the same, except the fact that we're using the verb 'To be' instead of 'To exist'.
Everything is in our mind and we're in the mind of God. One great scholar by the name of S.H. Nasr once said that before Descartes no philosopher had ever talked of God's mind. (class lecture). Berkeley asked us to stare at our surroundings for a short time and then shut our eyes. Once we open up our eyes, we should see the difference between what we saw and what is surrounding us. Images in our mind are not as vivid as what we see with our eyes open.  Our ideas are not as clear as the reality in front of us. The reason being, the whole real world is nothing but ideas in the mind of God. So the reason for such a vivacity is the fact that everything is God's ideas. This means, even us are His ideas. The pendulum, as you can see, is now swinging to one side, which is idealism. So we, as well as everything else in the universe, are in the ocean of God's mind. Given the clock wise intellectual movement, from main land (Locke), to Ireland (Berkeley), we're in Scot land now with David Hume, who was the last of the British empiricist.
David Hume, our18th century Scottish philosopher and historian, studied Berkeley's philosophy and realized that his criticisms of Locke were, to put it mildly, fascinating. He criticized the rationalists, who had been arguing that through reason alone they could reach the truth about the world. Hume took an issue with them by saying that reason functions in the realm of the mind. This is where the logical thinking takes place. Logic is empty of content. But gives structure to our thoughts. I can drop my pen and also imagine that it could defy the gravity and would go up. This is not matter of fact. Reason can come up with all sorts of stories for us, which have nothing to do with reality at hand. When it comes to causality, reason considers what comes before, in time of course, to be the cause and what follows it, the effect. Hume maintains that we can never have an immediate (without medium) and direct perception of causality. Just because one thing follows another does not mean we have a cause and an effect in our hand. This is some kind of a psychological game our mind plays with us. Just because the fire reached a tree, it does not necessarily mean it was the cause of the tree being on fire.
Al Gazali (1059-1111), a Persian Muslim philosopher, argued that when fire and cotton are near each other, the cotton burns. We quickly conclude that the fire was the cause, and the burned cotton was the effect. In reality there was no connection between the two. In other words, we cannot say the fire was the cause and the burned cotton was the effect. You might say, this is totally against common sense. But from his point of view, it made perfect sense. Why? Because we're forgetting that God is the Ultimate cause between the two. Things just don't happen the way they appear to us. Not a single leaf falls from a tree without God's will. Deep in the sea, a fish cannot go from point A to point B, unless it travels through the water. Even though this is only an analogy, the sea or the ocean represents God here. For Ghazali, horizontal causality was meaningless, unless we believe in the vertical cause or God. In fact, the symbolism of the cross makes a lot more sense in case of a Muslim thinker like him than a Christian philosopher like Hume, who became atheist later on.
For Hume, therefore, there was no God, who would interfere with the process of causality. Berkeley's God had no meaning for him. The acrobatic logical games of the rationalists were amusing but had nothing to do with reality. When it came to experience, he is said to have taken the British empiricism to the grave yard of skepticism. Why? One summer I get up in the morning and look at my yard. The grass appeared as wet. I quickly think to myself, it must have rained last night. But little do I know that my next-door neighbor while watering his yard, by accident had watered my grass too. One winter morning, while driving to work, I realized that the roads were wet, as if it had rained the night before. Little did I know that the temperature had gone up and the snow on both sides of the roads were melting. Our minds have a tendency to fill the gaps and come up with a conclusion right away. To learn how to sketch, as one great theologian once said, the teacher guides you to look at a painting, and then come with a sketch. You might have a tendency to copy the painting, as if you took a picture. Very patiently he comes around and says, you don't have to copy the picture. Once your sketch is out, then it is the viewer's job to fill in the gaps and give it a complete shape.  In a cowboy movie we hear a gunshot and the rider falls off his horse. We immediately fill in the pap by assuming the rider is shot. Even in the movie itself, it is possible that the rider dropped himself purposely pretending he was shot and later runs for cover. We don't know this till we watch the rest. I'm watching a man approaching a ware house with a bucket filled with something. Shortly after, the whole building is on fire. He quickly gets into his truck and leaves the scene. I immediately presume that the truck driver was the cause of the fire. Little do I know that a young couple were sitting and smoking in the back of the ware house and threw their half smoked cigarettes into flammable materials. Why is my mind engaged in these kinds of acts? Perhaps, some scholars were right to call Kant a Shiva figure. He tried to somewhat destroy the age of enlightenment belief in absolute authority of reason.
Not only did Hume suspect the findings of reason, when it came to causality, he also became skeptical as to whether we have any access to the reality of causality out there in the world independent of our mind. While watching a tree falling through the classroom windows of my college, several thoughts crossed my mind. However, after further inquiry, I found out that it was cut down to create space for the new library.
My impure mind or reason was not much of a help before. As we mentioned before, we cannot have pure mind by just sitting. The whole of the Eastern world, if it is not too much of a generalization, is for sitting in meditation so we can purify our mind.
But do I know anything about the causes and effects outside my mind? The answer is simply, 'NO'. Being an empiricist, Hume should believe in experiencing over reasoning. But, on the one hand, he does not believe in a vertical causality, that is, God, on the other hand he leaves us in the limbo of skepticism when it comes to sense perception. I guess deep down, he knew about the failures of our senses just as Augustine had experienced. But he came up and said at least he knew this much that I had such an experience. I know this much that my senses deceive me. So in the language of Socrates, I know this much that I don't know the reality. Hume would say, I know this much that I don't know the reality of causality beyond my senses. In other words, I'm in the dark about outside of my mind. Why? Because I simply cannot experience it. My mind does not show me anything about the reality. I cannot trust my senses to know the truth either. Yes, you may be right in saying that I buried empiricism in the graveyard of skepticism.
Having such a skeptical view of causality, Hume believed we can never predict the future based on the past and the present. Perhaps Hitler took his advice so seriously that he decided to attack Russia, even though he knew what had happened to Napoleon. Of course, we have no evidence that Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) ever read Hume's works. Karl Marx (1818-83), who was a philosopher, an economist, and a revolutionary, unlike Hitler, never went to war with other countries. However, he made a prediction based on causality. He predicted that communist revolution would take place given the widen gap between the rich and the poor. Revolution for sure took place, not in England, which he thought it would, but in Russia. His first prediction came true, but only in a different country. But nevertheless, it showed that causality matters. This alone disprove Hume's ideas of cause and effect. We can be sure that Marx had studied Hume's philosophy and his criticisms of causality. If Hegel worried about Hume's idea of cause and effect, which perhaps made him make use of logical necessity in his philosophy of history, Marx went back and used cause and effect principle in his philosophy of history. Let us not forget that Hume was also a historian.
George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish American philosopher, once said: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it again. Who knows? May be this Spanish thinker was talking about Hitler, who suddenly stopped attacking England and he turned around and invaded Russia instead.
Hume also had to deal with the problem of morality. What is the source of my ethics? God? Not at all. Then what? First of all, we cannot infer 'Ought' from 'is'. Fine. What should my morality be based on? On my feelings and sentiments of approbation. But don't you think feeling also fall into the realm of 'is'? Yes, it does. But I thought you just denied the fact that 'ought' can be inferred from 'is'. Didn't you? Yes, I did. You're right. But don't you think you might fall into the swamp of relativism? My feelings could be different from the fellow sitting next to me. Don't you think so? You're absolutely correct. Then how are you going to solve this problem? Simply by turning these sentiments into universal realities. In other words, these feelings are true everywhere. It sounds familiar a bit. What do you mean? Confucius and his brilliant student Mencius a century later, felt the same way. Well, don't forget that these folks also discovered the super nova before Kepler in the medieval time. So they have been way ahead of us in many ways.
Immanuel Kant arrives at the great controversy between the rationalists and empiricists. He challenged the claim of the enlightenment as to the importance of reason its authority in solving many of our problems.
The age of enlightenment was born in France. Descartes was the founder of modern rationalism. These intellectual wars are, by and large, fought among French, English, and German thinkers.
Kant, though a rationalist himself, felt pure reason had shortcomings. Being limited, it was unable to know God, true Self, and noumenal realm or things-in- themselves. In fact, his mission was to show us the limitation of pure reason. The adjective 'pure' basically means theoretical or free from experiential contamination. This, however, is different from pure mind to which Buddha refers. Buddha reached this level by years of rigorous meditation and finally through Patanjali yoga. The difference is between Hudson river and spring water. The contaminated water of mind is not drinkable. Wars begin in this water, unless it is a just war. But who is to judge which war is just and which one is not. We're not Prophets or Buddhas or inspired individuals. Reason and experience can take us only so far up, perhaps as high as a goose can fly, not where an eagle soars.
What is this Greek word noumenon to Kant? It is "an object or power transcending experience whose existence is theoretically problematic but must be postulated by practical reason. In theoretical terms Kant defined the noumenon positively as "the object of a non-sensuous intuition," negatively as "not an object of the sensuous intuition," but since he denied the existence of any but sensuous intuitions, the noumenon remained an unknowable "X."[The origin of this 'x' can be traced back to the Spanish Arab Muslim philosophers, who used the Arabic word 'khay' (an entity) for God, namely, unknown, not unknowable. This term was later used in Algebra.] (class lecture by S.H. Nasr). "In his practical philosophy, however, the postulation of a noumenal realm is necessary in order to explain the possibility of freedom." (Runes).
Kant said, Hume woke him up from his dogmatic slumber. He was still a rationalist in spite of showing that reason of the enlightenment had its feathers cut off and has been acting like Manhattan's central park pigeons. This noumenon being only a postulate or assumption, reminds us of the 3rd century B.C. Greek mathematician Euclid, who warned Plato that his mathematical findings were indeed postulates. One of his discoveries was, the shortest distance between two point is a straight line. However, this idea of his has been rejected by modern mathematicians. In reality there is no straight line in the universe. Everything is curved. We may use Euclidian geometry in our backyard, but we cannot make use of it to send a rocket to the planet of Mars.
In Kant's rational philosophy noumenon was a postulate, but in the experiential realm of Religions, faith, and miracles its perfume is an empirical fact. If the noumenon is the Ultimate Reality, then it does not have to become a postulate just because it cannot be proven. It is not God whose existence is problematic. Our statement: 'God exists' does not have to be called analytic by Kant. The Ultimate Reality cannot be mine or yours. I may say, Oh, my God in our ordinary conversation. But in fact we don't own that Reality. I own my paid off house or car, but I don't own the Ultimate Reality. If I own God, then this God is limited in my mind. This God has name and is defined just like anything else. But the Ultimate is not named, nor is it defined. It is even above the necessary existence, meaning it cannot be, therefore, it must be. So why Immanuel Kant wasted so much time and intellectual energy to refute all those proofs for God's existence? I guess we cannot blame him that much for so doing. Perhaps he also had reached a point where he realized we ought to focus on the Ultimate. Of course, we understand that even this name is unnecessary here.
One might settle for, 'God is necessary' rather than 'God exists.' In other words, God must be but we don't. However, are not we created in God's image? The sun has to be, but not the ray of the sun? Just because we're nothing before God? May be we're putting God on the same level as the rest of us, so we could be close to Him? Is not this what happened in Christianity? God, as Jesus, came down to us, so we can become God.
Kant taught that our pure reason is limited. This is where he went against the enlightenment great admiration for reason. With this reason we can do physics, mathematics, chemistry, etc. But we're unable to know God, our true Self, and things- in- themselves. By 'thing in itself 'he meant the reality beyond the appearances or phenomena.  
However, we can ask Kant how he was able to find out about the limitation of reason? If my reason is limited, then how can this limited reason of mine decide whether reason is limited or not? Do you think for a moment that reason would look into the mirror and say, oh, I'm short or I'm tall? Reason, is part of the structure of my mind. Reason is not an agent. Besides, how do I know my reason is limited, unless I'm looking at it through my intellect, which is my unlimited reason? How can we trust our limited reason's assessment in this matter anyway? How can Kant announce that pure reason is limited, unless he uses the unlimited to give us that information? How about his own reason? If it is limited, then how can we accept his judgment here? Krishna, or the Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu speaks with Arjuna regarding being and life. But He is Krishna. But by what authority does Kant tell us about the limitation of reason? Granted that he is right, but, why is he using such a reason in practical science, namely, ethics? Why did he bring the either/or logic of Aristotle into moral realm?
Reason, according to Kant, asks questions that cannot answer. Of course, not as an agent. How do I know this, unless I know the right answers? Reason divides and we have to deal with the contradictions and opposites. This is based on Aristotelian logic of either/or. Either reason is limited or it is not. Either the world was created or was not. As far as reason is concerned, we have already introduced the possibility of the unlimited reason here. This means there is such a thing called the unlimited reason or what the medieval philosophers named it as the Intellect.
In Islam there is only one word for both and that is called, AQL. Throughout the holy Qur'an God tells His prophet that what He has said in this book are for those who use their AQL.
Major problem with Kant's practical science is that he used the same either/or logic of Aristotle for ethics. Aristotle, on the contrary, used this logic only for theoretical sciences. Aristotle knew moral issues cannot be subject to black or white logic. There're always gray areas to be considered. You don't have to be rash, Aristotle argued, neither should you be cowered. All you ought to do is to be brave and courageous. This is the golden mean, which is missing in Kant's ethics. Apparently, he must have had slight inferiority complex when it came to the science of his day, namely, Isaac Newton's physics. Of course, he cannot be blamed for thinking that Newton had reached authentic scientific achievements of his day. Little did he know that, just as the sun was rising in the beginning of the 20th century, a great mind, that is, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), was also about to shed light on Newtonian physics. This German American theoretical physicist took one look at Newton's works and admired him for such a fantastic novel for explaining the universe. However, there was a difference between fact and fiction. But one can wonder whether or not this is what science is all about. In other words, a century or two from now new physics will come around to reject the old one.
Kant was trying to make an exact science out of ethical and moral dilemmas of our lives. Science, as it was known among the pre Socratic philosophers, was the child of philosophy. Perhaps the roles are changing like the movie, "Freaky Friday" in which the daughter became her mom and her mother turned into her daughter due to some Chinese magic. Of course, they didn't change physically. But in spite of the fact that Aristotelian ethics has become very popular in recent decades, Kant's moral philosophy has been capturing the imagination of many thinkers of our time since his death. After all, he is not called the Beethoven of our ethical and philosophical thoughts for nothing. His categorical imperative almost matched the karma yoga in the Upanishad's story named, 'Bhagavad-Gita' or the song of the Lord.
Based on my humble studies, there is no evidence that Kant was influenced by Hinduism or even Buddhism in any shape or form. Then again, who knows what he read in his early days. This, of course, all depends on whether or not Eastern philosophy and Religions had been translated into German. However, since India was then part of the British empire, it is possible that perhaps some Hindu/Buddhist scriptures were translated from Sanskrit (Hinduism) and Buddhism (Pali) to English and later on to German. This is a nice speculation but we have not seen any scholarly works on this subject so far. However, it is a possibility that someone has done some work regarding this matter.
What is significant for us now is not to detect any historical zigzagging, but to find out how Kant rationally came up with such a thing called 'categorical imperative', as we mentioned before.
He explains the difference between hypothetical imperative and categorical one. The former is conditional and deals with statements, which include 'If'/ 'then', grammatically. In fact, the formula for recognizing a hypothetical imperative is 'If'/'then'. By the word 'imperative' he means a command. For example, if you don't take your pills, as doctor prescribed, you'll not feel better. He argued that we can't go through our everyday life, unless we use these hypothetical statements. However, the latter, namely, categorical imperative statements are unconditional and are about 'things-in- themselves'. If you remember these were what we couldn't access in our theoretical science with our pure reason. But he believes we can access them in our practical sciences.  For instance, what is wrong with lying? If I had lied on my tax return, then I could have saved a lot of money. As you notice, 'If / then' are present here. This is an example of a hypothetical imperative statement. We can easily use these commands in, for example, 'utilitarianism', which is a moral theory by itself. In this moral theory we're involved with what is called 'consequentialism'. As you can see, results and consequences are taken seriously here.
Categorical imperative statements would deal with the problem of lying differently. It teaches us that lying in -and-of-itself is wrong. Lying is itself is not right. For whatever reason you lied, it does not matter. This is called Kant's absolutism. Lying in itself is contradictory. Why? When I lie about something, this means I'm falsifying the truth. Let us say, I call sick. I know every well that I'm not sick. How can I be sick and not sick at the same time and in the same relationship? This is a contradiction. One of my students comes to me after class and tells me the reason he or she was absent was because of the fact that he or she was sick. I'm not God to know whether this student is lying or not. Do you have doctor's note? No, I don't have. Why? Because I didn't go to see a doctor. This student is either lying or is not. If the student is lying, then he or she knows the truth that is being falsified. How can something be true and not be true at the same time and in the same relationship? Kant is trying to demonstrate the nature and essence of lying. We ought not lie regardless. If an armed mad man is at my door looking for my friend, then what should I do? I hid this person because I know he is absolutely innocent. But what is my moral responsibility now? Should I lie or tell him the truth? Kant would say, we ought to tell the truth regardless. Because If you don't, you'll fall into the hypothetical imperative camp. We should keep in mind that Kant is a non-consequentialist thinker. Results and consequences are not significant to him.
Kant says that we ought to act only on that maxim so when you will, it becomes a universal law for everyone. In other words, do your duty (Deon in Greek) for duty's sake. You act for the sake of duty. You want to make sure that this could be a universal law for everybody. This was his first principle of the categorical imperative. You're the law maker. You're a legislator in this process. If I were involved in a wrongful act, I should ask myself whether I would like that for everyone else? Before I cheat on some money transaction, I ought to ask myself whether everybody else should do the same thing? He thought this alone was going to discourage me from committing such an act. However, there are people who don't care if everyone else took part in that act, so long as I achieve my goal.
This problem necessitated the second and the third principles. Once consolidated, there is only one principle called 'the kingdom of end'. This means we should never use others, nor should we allow them to use us. We ought not turn people to be means to our ends. They also should not let us be means to their ends. This is expressed in a song called 'sweet dreams are made of these'.
What is philosophy? If you know the answer, perhaps you no longer a thinker. Socrates was once asked: what is the difference between Religion and philosophy? He answered: "Religion is truth possessed, and philosophy is truth pursued."
Religion is like a pond, and philosophy resembles a river. The former's water refreshes after the rain, the latter's water is always fresh, as it moves down the valleys till it enters the ocean.

 

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