On Certainty

To the Ancient Greeks and Romans, ethics did not stop at the end of philosophical sentence. The thought continued well after, spilling into the everyday life. Everything was part of making life good because, according to Socrates, “the unconsidered life was not worth living.” How are we to live? To inculcate all Greek and Roman thinking into one miasmatic contortion is false, since this also could rescind discussions of whether one is a Sophist, a Sceptic, a Cynic, and so on. Not to mention the Stoics, whose philosophy was so broad and wonderful and resonant, that an emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and a slave, Epictetus, are considered the best writers and sources for Stoic thought.

It is difficult to come to grips  with a lot of ancient philosophy; or to not come off as arrogant when considering and promoting it. People would rather consult the torrid garbage of Hay House and its clones. The horrible influence of mystical thought that conveys mystery about the mysterious. Or it swings its pendulum of bullshit smashing through a wall of sensibility to the other side, to give one-off points about making contact with angels. It may appear arrogant to most people that we can dismiss such drivel as, well, drivel. And we really can.

This is not meant to convey that we can know for certain that angels do or do not answer our prayers. Who knows? More importantly, who cares? It seems that the most fundamental question rests in this: We must focus on our own standards, morals and initiatives, within this world, if we are to better ourselves and this world, too. We have seen no evidence whatsoever that there are any external influences to aid us. It must be from ourselves and for ourselves. The Greeks we could attribute with being the first to remove the gods from inquiry – thus making it free. And inquiry without the shackles of angels and gods becomes more enlightening, since it is neither tethered to the ephemeral clouds of mere assertion above (“Angels exists and are helping you!”) nor to the hardened rocks of dogma below.

When people begin to realise that we can be OK without certainty, OK with not knowing, then we will have a better world. “I am wise because I know nothing,” said Socrates. If we want certainty, let us be certain only of one thing: that at this moment, we do not – individually or collectively – know everything. We can be certain of that. That could be a first step toward a free inquiry into making the best out of our horribly short lives. Rather read about how to think, from ancient philosophy, than on what to think from modern assertion about ephemeral beings.

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One thought on “On Certainty

  1. Pingback: Certainty, ancient philosophy, and Tauriq Moosa « Skepoet At Crossroads of Critical Thinking and the Humanities.

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