Philosophy, the Love and Pursuit of Wisdom

By Linda Mihalic

Your education in philosophy began when you first wondered “Why?” and sought an answer. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Your desire for answers begins your education, which is how Mind brings your mind forth from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowing and understanding. Knowledge understood becomes wisdom. Plato’s Theaetetus investigates the nature of knowledge as the basis for true opinion, yet Socrates and Theaetetus fail to resolve the question “What is knowledge?” To know who?, what?, when? and where? provides certain physical facts but cannot answer how? or why? because these questions are meta-physical, “beyond the physics.” Now we arrive at the reason for this page, the “Why?” The search for true opinion and wisdom in Ancient Greece was named “Philosophy” and it encompassed ALL branches of knowledge as illustrated in the definition below. On the Via Christa, we view philosophy as one of the five Categories of Soul Expression 1 into which intellectual men have divided this one great body of wisdom.

Noah Webster (1758—1843), called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” was more than a lexicographer: to prepare his American Dictionary of the English Language he added “a nodding acquaintance with about 20 languages,” 2 including the Greek and Latin he had learned as a youth preparing for Yale University. Webster defined philosophy as:

“Literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation, philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended. Thus, that branch of philosophy which treats of God, etc. is called theology; that which treats of nature, is called physics or natural philosophy; that which treats of man is called logic and ethics, or moral philosophy; that which treats of the mind is called intellectual or mental philosophy or metaphysics. The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness. True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.”

He further defined philosophy as an “hypothesis or system on which natural effects are explained; reasoning; argumentation.”

Idealist Philosophy, Ethics, and Moral Law

The Old Testament era sacred writings are the most widely recognized religious basis of Western ethics and morality. To this we add the distillation of some ancient and a few modern philosophers on the Good, the True and the Beautiful as the nature of reality, and as the framework of Idealist moral law. By combining the logical-intellectual philosophers with the mystics’ emotional and devotional approach, we can more clearly discern the roots of our worldly, ofttimes paradoxical, belief systems. Combining these two approaches parts the first veils of illusion and leads you closer to the Truth.

In studying the frequently scanty historical records of the ancient philosophers’ lives, beliefs, and teachings, we find that the search for meaning in life has always led man to the questions posed by metaphysics, and to examine the nature of morality as an essential element in how we interact with the universe. We know that an absolute objective standard of moral conduct does exist as the Ideal.

This standard is the moral imperative, which is our personal compulsion to right action, arising from the voice of conscience or the sense of right and wrong, which varies only slightly from soul to soul, based on the soul’s choices and experiences. This soul influence has led the honorable leaders of every civilization to establish an objective ethical standard of conduct and behavior, a moral compass inherent within a framework of laws.


“An absolute objective standard of moral conduct does exist as The Ideal.”


Whenever and wherever evil, materialism, hedonism, and moral relativism have subverted our moral and ethical standards, the result is decadence and decline in that culture. Plato wrote of this issue in the Protagoras dialogue and in the Republic. The dilution of ethical standards by the cancer of atheism and hedonistic moral relativism always greases the slide into immorality, amorality, mob rule posing as democracy, and barbarism results. As philosopher George Santayana wrote,

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted; it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in whom instinct has learned nothing from experience.”

To see the proofs of this, witness the final decadence and fall of the Greek democracies; witness the decline and fall of the Roman Republic into demagoguery and dissipation; witness the slide of Europe and the Christian West into the brutality of the Dark Ages. Finally, view the rising tide of atheism, materialism, hedonism, perversion, moral relativism and secular humanism in the Western cultures and nations, and understand that the barbarism of unenlightenment is breaching our gates today:

“There is a true and a false philosophy. As the froth in new-made wine swims upon the top and hides the true wine below, likewise there is a froth of sophistry and pseudo-philosophy swimming at the top of true philosophy; it looks like knowledge, but it is the outcome of ignorance, gilded and varnished to deceive the vulgar.”—Paracelsus

We invite you to explore the thoughts and contributions of the greatest Masters of Philosophy and religious thought whose works we have assembled here. It is but the barest minimum to start, yet if we spark the interest of a single soul to grow and to know more, we shall have succeeded in our intent. Be assured that the Platonic and Idealist Philosophy we present here is no mystery but is accessible to all earnest seekers after truth. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and to the pioneering mystic who travels the Via Christa, wisdom is best framed in this well-known verse: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 2:5. Every embodied soul has access to the same Divine Mind. The only price is the effort you are willing to expend to open that door.


“By eliminating the materialists, sophists, atheists, hedonists, utilitarians and mere pragmatists, we bridge an abyss of moral and ethical confusion.”


To navigate the realm of philosophy, we provide a pilot’s rutter by which to trace the emergence of The Word in the form of Idealism as taught by Western philosophers, from Pythagoras, through Plato, to the present day. We begin with the Ancients, but draw the line at Aristotle, the materialist. Next are the Platonic successors, the Scholarchs, men who flinched in the face of the exacting standards that Plato had set until Plutarch’s light illumined their darkness. Then came the Neoplatonists, from Plotinus to Dionysius the Areopagite.

Thus we reach the so-called Moderns. By eliminating the materialists, sophists, atheists, hedonists, utilitarians, and mere pragmatists, we have bridged an abyss of moral and ethical confusion. We have also bypassed the German ports of Kant, Hegel, and Lotze, et al., which appeared promising but led to the tedium of an unnecessary, near impenetrable jargon and several dead ends. Instead we plotted our course to Great Britain for the next flowering of religious philosophy as Idealism, planted by the Cambridge Platonists, Cudworth, Conway (and Leibniz, a European contemporary) by Bishop Joseph Butler, and William Whewell.

Benjamin Jowett, Oxford University, was first to translate Plato’s unparalleled body of work into English in 1871. Plato’s Idealism, which enthrones the sovereignty of the One as the highest Good and man’s soul striving to attain the Good, resonated strongly with American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, among others. In Great Britain, Jowett’s efforts, and those of his student, Thomas Hill Green, led to a rebirth of Idealism through the works of mind later created by Bradley, Bosanquet, and A. E. Taylor.

Taylor, in turn, later passed on the Idealist gifts to Josiah Royce, who became known as the founder of American idealism. Royce blended the philosophical ideas of pragmatism and idealism, a philosophy of loyalty, and a defense of absolutism. Reading Royce in her search for the truth of the Ideal led Edna Lister to F. H. Bradley’s Appearance and Reality in 1925. By 1936, she was teaching that Jesus Christ embodied the Ideal, and presented his way of life as Walking the Via Christa to attain the Crown of Life Eternal.

We include a Library and references to provide a reading guide, and recommend texts for more in-depth study of these great minds and avenues of interest. Finally, never, never, never cease to learn, and thus you can be assured that your God-given mind will never be closed to Truth because “We have the mind of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 2:16.


A Note on Greek

“Greek words and quotations are printed without the accents. It is difficult to get them printed correctly, but there is a better reason for dispensing with them: they are practically useless. They ‘seldom occur in Greek manuscripts before the seventh century’ of the Christian era. Accents were invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium about 200 BC for the purpose of preserving the true pronunciation of the Hellenic language. This they failed to do: the true pronunciation is lost, beyond recovery. We should remember that accents were not devised for scholars.”—Thomas Moore Johnson, translator, Proclus’ Metaphysical Elements, p. xii., 1909.


Endnotes

1^ Five Categories of Soul Expression: Psychology, Metaphysics, Science, Philosophy, and Mysticism.

2^ McDavid, R. I. Noah Webster. Encyclopædia Britannica, October 12, 2023.

Top ↑




Philosophia φιλοσοφία
The love of wisdom


philosophia


Plato, Premier Greek philosopher, the Father of Idealism in its many facets: philosophy, ontology, metaphysics, theology, psychology, mysticism, esthetics, ethics, education, literature, and politics




References

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Paracelsus. The Life of Paracelsus. Franz Hartmann, trans. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co Ltd., 2nd ed., 1932.

Proclus. Proclus’ Metaphysical Elements, T. M. Johnson, trans. Osceola, MO: Press of the Republican, 1909.

Santayana, George. The Life of Reason, vol. 1 of 2, Chapter 12, “Reason in Common Sense,” p. 292, 1906.

Webster, Noah. philosophy. Webster’s American Dictionary.