We are told that our credibility depends on being clear about what we are saying. The first thing to be clear about, I'm told, is the point of what you will be discussing and how that point will be developed. As the reader may have noticed, I have introduced the idea of "salvation" in the heading of my blog. I believe salvation is a project of philosophy, something like building better buildings is a project of architecture. My central claim is about knowledge and values. I argue that there is a recieved view and it should be rejected in favor of the view that I will be promoting. A second point has to do with a precedent - who was responsible, and what happened to bury that effort. My third point will be to explain the importance of this philosophical idea.
I reject the claim that knowledge and values are a matter of either rhetorical or logical argument. This is one of Socrates' unstated positions. He chooses to promote the idea that knowledge and values are actually a matter of logical argument. This is the view I oppose. This is the view that the Athenians were trying to resist when they brought Socrates up on charges, primarily because of its consequences. However, a more fundamental opponent to Socrates' views is to be found in the statements of the Essenes , and particularly the Teacher of Righteousness, as suggested in the recently recovered Dead Sea Scrolls. The view of the Teacher is that knowledge and values is, rather, a matter of both rhetorical and logical argument. Another way of putting it would be that knowledge and values are a matter of competing points of view.
I came to these ideas from an interest in epistemology and an argument about Descartes skepticism. Prof. John Cook insisted that the most important effort in philosophy is to understand an idea by "backtracking" a philosophical idea from where we encounter it in a philosopher's conclusions, to where the argument for it originates. My ideas result from trying to practice what Prof. Cook preached. When I backtracked, I found epistemology was part of a larger project. We may think that we need knowledge and values to make decisions about how to survive, how to be happy, or how to live better lives. Yet, philosophers have never been in a position to give an account of it. On the contrary, they have been obsessed with the argument that there is no knowledge or values. Given the prevalance of such views, people have stopped going to philosophers for help in accomplishing any of these major life tasks. At best, philosophers are asked to be experts in logical or rhetorical argumentation. Life is supposed to be about using one or the other, and none of us are born very good at it. However, despite the presumption that logic and rhetoric allow us to get work done, it turns out that the main problem with Socrates' view is that it makes not only knowledge and values, but language itself impossible, argument futile, and life on such a view not worth living.
Given the seemingly unacceptable implications of such a view, you'd wonder why anyone would advocate it. And, given how all encompasing the consequences would be, on my reading, I imagine philosophers giving up on me at once. First of all, I imagine they'll wonder whether I have represented Socrates fairly. After all, he doesn't say anything of the sort. At most, his view of knowledge and values is expressed by the Allegory of the Cave, and similar notions. Furthermore, even if he did believe knowledge or values were a matter of logical argument, it is incredible to conclude that such a view has the dire implications as I have claimed.
Well, I will strive to back up my account of Socrates and the malignancy of his views. Furthermore, I will show how the Teacher came to similarly reject Socratic views. I anticipate a legion of critics. In general, there are the philosophers - those who adopt the Socratic account of knowledge and values, and the views of his apologists Plato, Aristotle, and Gautama Siddhartha. There are the advocates for the religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. And there are the advocates for the powerful and the weak, notably the capitalists and the marxists. I take their resistance to be based on commitments they make, along with Socrates, to the idea that the sword is more powerful than words. The Teacher of Righteousness is the hero of my piece because, like only a precious few, he promoted the idea that a life of words, where argument get you somewhere, was more powerful than the sword. I will try to anticipate my critics objections to all these points.
I attack Socrates by exposing his account of knowledge and values as a lie. Like the Trojan Horse, he made himself out to be an attractive religious symbol on the outside, whereas, if one were to adopt his views, and drag him within your thinking's protective walls, he would release sneaky soldier-like arguments that kill you when you're not looking. Based on people accepting these lies, the Priests of the world, as the Teacher believed, wickedly take advantage. The point of the Teacher's argument, and the argument that I am promoting here, is to find a way of relating to God and others in order to have a life worth living. One of the first tasks of such an argument would be to expose the problems of the view that makes such a way impossible. Hence, on the Teacher's view, salvation results from the influence of a philosophical argument on people's lives. I take this to be the true project of philosphy, and not whatever agenda has been set for us by Socrates. He, after all, on this view, is the Antichrist.
Well, this hasn't been a thought in anyone's head for thousands of years, as far as I can tell. The amazing and glorious trick has been to array the Socratics of the world against me. The fun will be to show that God and the Messiah of the word is on my side and that the rest of the world should be.