Sage (philosophy)

A sage (Ancient Greek: σοφός, sophos), in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained wisdom. The term has also been used interchangeably with a 'good person' (Ancient Greek: ἀγαθός, agathos), and a 'virtuous person' (Ancient Greek: σπουδαῖος, spoudaios). Among the earliest accounts of the sage begin with Empedocles' Sphairos. Horace describes the Sphairos as "Completely within itself, well-rounded and spherical, so that nothing extraneous can adhere to it, because of its smooth and polished surface."[1] Alternatively, the sage is one who lives "according to an ideal which transcends the everyday."[2]

Several of the schools of Hellenistic philosophy have the sage as a featured figure. Karl Ludwig Michelet wrote that "Greek religion culminated with its true god, the sage"; Pierre Hadot develops this idea, stating that "the moment philosophers achieve a rational conception of God based on the model of the sage, Greece surpasses its mythical representation of its gods."[3] Indeed, the actions of the sage are propounded to be how a god would act in the same situation.

In Platonism and Aristotelianism

What more accurate stand or measure of good things do we have than the Sage?
— Aristotle, Protrepticus[4]

In Plato's Symposium Socrates says the difference between a sage and a philosopher (Ancient Greek: φιλόσοφος, meaning lover of wisdom) was that the sage has what the philosopher seeks. While analyzing the concept of love, Socrates concludes love is that which lacks the object it seeks. Therefore, the philosopher does not have the wisdom sought, while the sage, on the other hand, does not love or seek wisdom, for it is already possessed. Socrates then examines the two categories of persons who do not partake in philosophy:

  1. Gods and sages, because they are wise;
  2. Senseless people, because they think they are wise.

The position of the philosopher is between these two groups. The philosopher is not wise, but possesses the self-awareness of lacking wisdom, and thus pursues it.

Plato is also the first to develop this notion of the sage in various works. Within The Republic, Plato indicates that when a friend of a sage dies, the sage "will not think that for a good man... death is a terrible thing."[5] In the Theaetetus, Plato defines the sage as one who becomes "righteous and holy and wise."[6]

The Platonic sage would raise themselves by the life of their mind, while the Aristotelian sages raise themselves to the realm of the divine Mind.[3]

In Epicureanism

Epicurus believed that one would achieve ataraxia by intense study and examination of Nature. This sage would be like the gods and would "[watch] the infinity of worlds arising out of atoms in the infinite void"[3] and because of this nothing ever disturbs the peace of his soul. Certainly, they would be "unconcerned by mundane affairs in their bright, eternal tranquility, they spend their time contemplating the infinity of space, time, and the multiple worlds."[7]

According to Seneca the Younger, Epicurus believed that the sage rarely gets married, because marriage is accompanied by many inconveniences.[8]

Léon Robin, in his commentary on Lucretius, writes "the sage places himself within the immutability of eternal Nature, which is independent of time."[9]

In Stoicism

It is the view of Zeno and his Stoic followers that there are two races of men, that of the worthwhile, and that of the worthless. The race of the worthwhile employ the virtues through all of their lives, while the race of the worthless employ the vices. Hence the worthwhile always do the right thing on which they embark, while the worthless do wrong.
— Arius Didymus[10]

The concept of the sage within Stoicism was an important topic. Indeed, the discussion of Stoic ethics within Stobaeus, which depended on Arius Didymus, spent over a third of its length discussing the sage.[2] The Stoic sage was understood to be an inaccessible ideal rather than a concrete reality.[11]

The aim of Stoicism was to live a life of virtue, where "virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature."[12] As such, the sage is one who has attained such a state of being and whose life consequently becomes tranquil. The standard was so high that Stoics were unsure whether one had ever existed, if so, possibly only Socrates or Diogenes of Sinope had achieved such a state.[13]

Despite this, the Stoics regarded sages as the only virtuous and happy humans. All others are regarded as fools, morally vicious, slaves and unfortunate.[14][15] The Stoics did not admit any middle ground, as Cicero articulated the concept: "every non-sage is mad."[16]

The Stoics conceived of the sage as an individual beyond any possibility of harm from fate. The difficulties of life faced by other humans (illness, poverty, criticism, bad reputation, death, etc.) could not cause any sorrow to the sage, while the circumstances of life sought by other people (good health, wealth, praise, fame, long life, etc.) were regarded by the Stoic sage as unnecessary externals. This indifference to externals was achieved by the sage through the correct knowledge of impressions, a core concept in Stoic epistemology.[17] Thus, the sage's happiness, eudaimonia, was based entirely on virtue.[18]

'If thou wouldst know contentment, let thy deeds be few,' said the sage
— Marcus Aurelius[19]

The difficulty of becoming a sage was often discussed in Stoicism. When Panaetius, the seventh and final scholarch of the Stoa, was asked by a young man whether a sage would fall in love, he responded by saying: "As to the wise man, we shall see. What concerns you and me, who are still a great distance from the wise man, is to ensure that we do not fall into a state of affairs which is disturbed, powerless, subservient to another and worthless to oneself."[20]

Epictetus claims that only after the removal of any attachments to things in the external world could a Stoic truly possess friendship.[21] He also outlined that progress towards sagehood would occur when one has learned what is in one's power. This would only come from the correct use of impressions.[22]

Marcus Aurelius defines the sage as one "who has knowledge of the beginning and the end, and of that all-pervading Reason which orders the universe in its determinate cycles to the end of time".[23]

See also

References

  1. ^ Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel, trans. Michael Chase. Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 119
  2. ^ a b Annas, Julia. The Sage in Ancient Philosophy
  3. ^ a b c Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995, p. 58.
    "Forms of Life and Forms of Discourse in Ancient Philosophy", Critical Inquiry, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Spring, 1990), pp. 483-505.
  4. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995.
    The Figure of Socrates, p. 147
  5. ^ Plato. The Republic, 387d.
  6. ^ "Plato, Theaetetus, section 176b".
  7. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995.
    The View from Above, p. 243
  8. ^ Emily Wilson, The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca. Oxford University Press, 2014. p.74
    The excerpt Wilson translates from is cited as 'Fragment 5'
  9. ^ Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, trans. Michael Chase. Blackwell Publishing, 1995.
    Only the Present is our Happiness, p. 226
  10. ^ Arius Didymus, Epitome of Stoic Ethics, trans. Arthur J. Pomeroy, p. 73 (John Strobaeus, Anthology, 2.7.11g)
  11. ^ Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel, trans. Michael Chase. Havard University Press, 1998.
    The Discipline Of Actions, Or Action In The Service Of Mankind, p. 192
  12. ^ Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy, p. 254
  13. ^ "The Stoic Sage". ancientworlds.net.
  14. ^ Dirk Baltzly, Stoicism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  15. ^ Stoic Ethics. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  16. ^ John Sellers, Stoicism p. 37, University of California Press
  17. ^ R.J.Hankinson, Stoic Epistemology, in The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics, Brad Inwood editor, p. 59
  18. ^ M.Andrew Holowchak, The Stoics, A Guide for the Perplexed, pp. 19–25
  19. ^ Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, trans. Maxwell Staniforth. §4.24
  20. ^ G. Reydams-Schils. "Authority and Agency in Stoicism". academia.edu.
  21. ^ "The Stoics and the Epicureans on Friendship, Sex, and Love - Richard Kreitner".
  22. ^ "Epictetus - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". utm.edu.
  23. ^ Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, trans. Maxwell Staniforth. §5.32
African philosophy

African philosophy is the philosophical discourse produced by indigenous Africans and their descendants, including African/Americans. African philosophy presents a wide range of topics similar to its Eastern and Western counterparts. African philosophers may be found in the various academic fields of philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy. One particular subject that many African philosophers have written about is that on the subject of freedom and what it means to be free or to experience wholeness. Philosophy in Africa has a rich and varied history, some of which has been lost over time. One of the earliest known African philosophers was Ptahhotep, an ancient Egyptian philosopher. In the early and mid-twentieth century, anti-colonial movements had a tremendous effect on the development of a distinct African political philosophy that had resonance on both the continent and in the African diaspora. One well-known example of the economic philosophical works emerging from this period was the African socialist philosophy of Ujamaa propounded in Tanzania and other parts of Southeast Africa. These African political and economic philosophical developments also had a notable impact on the anti-colonial movements of many non-African peoples around the world.

Australian philosophy

Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.

Axiology

Axiology (from Greek ἀξία, axia, "value, worth"; and -λογία, -logia) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics, philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's science of value.

Cosmology (philosophy)

Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.

Danish philosophy

Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.

Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.

Early modern philosophy

Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.

Ethnophilosophy

Ethnophilosophy is the study of indigenous philosophical systems. The implicit concept is that a specific culture can have a philosophy that is not applicable and accessible to all peoples and cultures in the world; however, this concept is disputed by traditional philosophers. An example of ethnophilosophy is African philosophy.

Henry Odera Oruka

Henry Odera Oruka (1 June 1944, Nyanza Province – 9 December 1995, Nairobi) was a Kenyan philosopher who is best known for "Sage Philosophy". It was a project started in the 1970s in an attempt to preserve the knowledge of the indigenous thinkers in traditional African communities.

Illuminationism

Illuminationist or ishraqi philosophy is a type of Islamic philosophy introduced by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi in the twelfth century CE.

List of Slovene philosophers

Slovene philosophy includes philosophers who were either Slovenes or came from what is now Slovenia.

List of years in philosophy

The following entries cover events related to the study of philosophy which occurred in the listed year or century.

Philosophy of design

Philosophy of design is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of design. The field is defined by an interest in a set of problems, or an interest in central or foundational concerns in design. In addition to these central problems for design as a whole, many philosophers of design consider these problems as they apply to particular disciplines (e.g. philosophy of art). Although most practitioners are philosophers, several prominent designers and artists have contributed to the field. For an introduction to the philosophy of design see the article by Per Galle at the Royal Danish Academy.

Philosophy of dialogue

Philosophy of dialogue is a type of philosophy based on the work of the Austrian-born Jewish philosopher Martin Buber best known through its classic presentation in his 1923 book I and Thou. For Buber, the fundamental fact of human existence, too readily overlooked by scientific rationalism and abstract philosophical thought, is "man with man", a dialogue which takes place in the "sphere of between" ("das Zwischenmenschliche").

Philosophy of film

The philosophy of film is a branch of aesthetics within the discipline of philosophy that seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding film. Philosophy of film has significant overlap with film theory, a branch of film studies.

Philosophy of geography

Philosophy of geography is the subfield of philosophy which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological issues in geography, with geographic methodology in general, and with more broadly related issues such as the perception and representation of space and place.

Philosophy of psychology

Philosophy of psychology refers to the many issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology.

Philosophy of social science

The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic, methods, and foundations of social sciences such as psychology, economics, and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontological significance of structure and agency.

School of Naturalists

The School of Naturalists or the School of Yin-yang (陰陽家/阴阳家; Yīnyángjiā; Yin-yang-chia; "School of Yin-Yang") was a Warring States era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.

Turkish philosophy

Turkish philosophy has long been affected by Islam and the country's proximity to Greece and ancient Greek philosophy.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.