An English In Kentucky


















Monday March 11th 2019Tim Candler9


      Aside from his many behavioral flaws, Alexander the Great was a man of erudition and learning. In his early teens, one of his teachers was Aristotle. Having conquered the Persian Empire he headed his army toward the Indian subcontinent and having crossed the Indus River headed for the furthest corner of the world, it was his soldiers who chose to grumble with sufficient passion that maybe it was time to head back to the Mediterranean. One of the men who went on Alexander's grand empire building adventure was called Pyrrho. On his return to Greece Pyrrho put his efforts behind a school of thought referred to as The Skeptics. Many have argued that Pyrrho's Skepticism was inspired by contacts between Alexander's Army and a school of aesthetics who were referred to by the Greeks as the Naked Wise Men.  It's also the case that a revolt against Alexander in a region of what is now Pakistan had been inspired by the Naked Wise Men. And we're talking a die hard brand of aesthetics for whom food and drink basically interfered with purity of thought, so goodness knows what might happen to thinking if you wasted mental resources on clothes. According to some a characteristic of the Naked Philosophers was the precision and speed with which the answered questions. Alexander himself apparently asked one of the Naked Philosophers accused of fermenting revolt why he'd done so. "Because I wish him either to live nobly or die nobly." This of course was the sort of thing that mightily impressed the Greek mind, and Alexander is said studied Indian Philosophers in the years immediately prior to his death at the age of 32.



     Much better dressed and much better fed scholars have noticed similarities between some of the tenets of Buddhism, an understanding the Naked Philosophers would have been familiar with, and Pyrrho' skepticism. The general area of these shared tenets are the Buddhist, Three Marks of Existence. And always worth recalling that in Buddhism existence is basically all delusion out of which, no matter how you try, very little good comes and the object of the existence is to achieve Nirvana which is state of joy unsullied by the suffering of delusions, the ideas, concepts and pretty much any mental process you can think of.  And the thing about Nirvana if you didn't achieve it you were doomed to repeat life from birth until death, over and over and over again. There are in Buddhism as many arguments as there are in any other set of ideas, but straightening up in an attempt to improve our chances at Nirvana it's the delusional  aspects of our mental processes in The Three Marks of Existence that need to be addressed. These are:  'everything changes nothing stays the same,' 'suffering you really want to avoid you can't avoid' and 'thirdly there's no such thing as "I am," in other words there is no self and if you think there is, it's a conceit on your part." Pyrrho, like Socrates who was convicted of suborning the morals of Athenian youth, didn't actually write anything, but according to Pyrrho's students he reckoned that to live a good life, and the good part is the important part, you had to think about three questions. What are the collection of things in the world, including us? What should our attitude be toward them be. What will be the outcome of those who have this attitude? His answer to these questions, and I'll have to paraphrase: With us people and our world, because nothing stays the same and everything changes, our ability to accurately measure will always be very limited, so best not to call judgments, theories and beliefs true. To live a good life, best to remain skeptical, and more dramatically he suggested we should remain unwavering in our refusal to choose what's true and by so doing accept that it either is or is not and go slowly from there.



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