Benedict or Cicero? Field philosophy or the monastic?

Day 1. A philosopher is neither a teller nor an adviser.

Day 2. What Dancy’s Late Late Show appearance has to say about the philosopher’s disappearance

Day 3. ‘Living’ philosophy: Field philosophy

Scholars of Aristotle have long been divided over the answer Aristotle gives to the question of how best to live. Much of the Nicomachean Ethics points in the direction of the active life. The best life, apparently, is the life of moral virtue, which is cultivated among one’s citizens. In Book 10, however, Aristotle suggests that pure contemplative activity may be best, and it is here that the Unmoved Mover is introduced. In the Ethics, it remains unclear, perhaps undecidable, whether one conception is best, the other second best; whether one conception is to be combined with the other; and, if the two are to be so combined, then how to combine them in working order.

This problem of scholarship needn’t detain us here, yet the subject may throw some light on a much larger problem concerning the figure of the philosopher. What I have in mind is what seems to me a ‘decision’ for anyone who wishes to become a philosopher today.

Is he to become a St. Benedict or a Cicero?

Continue reading “Benedict or Cicero? Field philosophy or the monastic?”