Plato, not Viagra

PLATO, NOT VIAGRA!
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS MAY BE CONTINUED …

The shocking book of Lou Marinoff critically re-considered
by Dr. Alessandro Volpone, Italy [*]

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TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST

I took the occasion of the publication of the Italian edition of the work of Lou Marinoff to reflect (again) on its contents. The present note is to be considered midway between a review and a pamphlet, on the account of its consisting of a double instance which goes along with it. First of all, it maybe that Tudor B. Munteanu has been too delicate in his critical analysis, two years ago [1]. Secondly, I suppose that Mr. Marinoff is nearly as happy when people say negative things about him as when they say positive things. Certainly, his instincts as a businessman in the marketplace of ideas tell him that there is no such thing as bad publicity. So, in advance I apologize for sarcasm and probable cruelty you might find in my paper – in as far as I will able to do. I know it is better to dismiss Marinoff’s book in a sentence or two, when someone brings it up, but it is also opportune to face directly the problem. I will only try to play my part in this undertaking, hoping that there will be still people with patience and a great sense of humour…

 

LOADING

Lou Marinoff’s Plato, not Prozac! is essentially a book “against”, so to say: it is against psychology, against psychiatry, against medicine, against philosophy academicism and against many other things, paradoxically including the “philosophical counseling” itself and its relatively young dignity. I mean, before Mr. Marinoff will publish his new best-seller which, dealing with philosophical practice against sexology, could be fairly entitled Plato, not Viagra!, it is better to go ahead in continuing the critical review of his first book made by Tudor B. Munteanu. This latter was certainly occupied in more serious things, while reviewing the book, and he could not complete the parade of lapses and superficialities. They are so many that I will probably not find the whole of them. I (also) apologize for this.

 

MORE HISTORIOGRAPHICAL AND HERMENEUTICAL LAPSES

In the fourth chapter of his book (entitled, "What you Missed in Philosophy 101 That Can Help you Now"), Marinoff generously provides «a brief overview of some philosophers whose ideas are relevant to my counseling practice, to give you some historical perspective» (page 13). Well, the only problem is that many statements are clearly wrong; others are very approximative. Munteanu already listed some of them [2]; here there are other sweets.

[…] Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They were building on some significant pre-Socratics too (such as the Cynics and early Stoics). (sic! on page 53)

The error is so trivial that need no comment. That’s incredible. (How is it possible that an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York writes that Cynics and Stoics were pre-Socratics?!)

The early modern philosophers, who emerged in the seventeenth century, marked the passing of the Dark Ages. (page 61)

What else?! Probably, Marinoff ignores or underestimates the historical significance of the Italian Renaissance, between the end of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries.

After the philosophical revolution fomented by Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, and Galileo among others, the world could never be the same again. (page 61-62)

A part from the unlucky use of the verb “to foment”, referred to an “intellectual change of perspective”, not to rebellions, terrorism or some such things, in as far as I know the only acknowledged “revolution” of the Early Modern Age is the “scientific” one (not “philosophical”). (This has nothing to do with relationships between philosophical and scientific ways of thought.) In the eighteenth century, Kant declared his intention to be "the Copernicus of philosophy”, and the statement could introduce the sense of a certain “revolution” in the subject, but this is another story…

In “The Empiricists”, Marinoff talks about Hume.

And just because one thing regularly follows another is not enough to prove that the first caused the second. As difficult as it can be to wrap your mind around, this argument can be very liberating. Denying necessary cause is the same as saying that there is no predestination, no fate. This is a key that opens the door to the belief that you can change. (page 65)

I do not understand so well the meaning of what Marinoff calls “necessary cause”, but the question is: do it has really to do with “predestination” and “fate”? Hume’s criticism concerning with “pre-diction” (not with “pre-destination”!) was focused above all against the inductive method. (A reason is: one can connect cause and effect by induction, taking for granted a certain uniformity in space-time, but not all possible inductions refer to mechanisms of cause and effect; e.g., induction by simple enumeration.) Anyway, by criticizing the relation between cause and effect, Hume denied the necessity of the "relation", but neither the “necessity” in itself (?) nor the groundless of fate (!). The causes he referred to were “efficient” (or “effective”) causes, i.e., those generally used in science. Probably, Marinoff fails to see the distinction between necessarism and determinism. The former is always true a priori, and deals with pre-destination; the latter is true only a posteriori, and deals with pre-diction.

In the section “The Romantics”, Marinoff presents reader with Rousseau, writing that he is «the prototypical romantic» (sic! on page 68). I think it is possible to affirm that Rousseau was a very “strange” illuminist, but the rough definition of “romantic” seems to me too much hard to maintain. Rousseau contributed to the Encyclopédie (making contributions about music, and editing the article “Political Economy”), and made friends with many «philosophes» – though he next abandoned them. The most part of his philosophy work remained within the Illuminism: while «philosophes» generally reported instinct to reason, Rousseau brought reason to instinct. When all is said and done, the final result is nearly the same. One cannot think Rousseau was tout court a “romantic”...

Further, Marinoff writes that «idealism [was] pioneered by Hegel» (page 69). Probably, he would say that Hegel can be considered the main representative exponent of German Idealism – and this could be true in some way. But I do not understand the use of the verb “to pioneer”. I would like to remember that the opening work of Hegel about Idealism was entitled Differenz des Fichte’schen und Schelling’schen Systems der Philosophie (1801). So, it is quite clear that there was some previous idealist before Hegel in Germany...

Marinoff also puts a made-to-measure version of the Hegelian dialectic, making an adulterated product.

Hegel's idea of the dialectic [...] He believed that one should present a thesis and an antithesis, then reconcile them through synthesis. [...] Hegel thought we should then propose the synthesis we arrive at as a new thesis, counter it with a new antithesis, and hash out a new synthesis, ad infinitum... Even if you don't want to continue into infinity, this kind of constant refinement is a useful approach to your personal philosophy of life. (page 69-70)

The idea of the "constant refinement" of everybody's personal philosophy-of-life has a very good sense. Yet, it is very hard to maintain that the Hegelian dialectic was a process to be "continue(d) into infinity", especially if one refers to Hegel's opinion about his own philosophy. In fact, it seems that Hegel was so persuaded of the exhaustiveness of his philosophy system, that in his last years he simply used to repeat his universitary courses, word for word, spending his time in playing at cards with friends. A part from this anecdote or others however, I do not find so excessive to affirm he was the thinker who pretended that philosophy inquiry would go to an end with him. In the first pages of the Introduction of his Magnum Opus, Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807), he wrote significantly:

Dem Ziele, ihren Namen der Liebe zum Wissen ablegen zu können und wirkliches Wissen zu sein, – ist es, was ich mir vorgesetzt. [3]

Certainly, the Hegel I know is a little different from that of Marinoff [4].

Another peculiarity to concern with is the role that Marinoff attributes to Nietzsche in “The Existentialists”. At the beginning, the section flows rather smoothly, talking about general problems and arguments of Existentialism, until Nietzsche is unexpectedly and inopportunely introduced. «From that perspective, Nietzsche declared, “God is dead!” (page 74). Then Marinoff presents the reader with Kierkegaard and Sartre, dwelling on some of their ideas. But suddenly he returns again on Nietzsche: «Frederick Nietzsche is most remembered for his idea of man and superman. He thought each person had…» (page 75). Certainly, Nietzsche’s nihilism influenced in some degree Existentialism, and the German  Existenzphilosophie (by the way, in the section Marinoff does not mention at all Martin Heidegger [5]), but it is not possible to include Nietzsche directly among existentialists: this is more than a simply overstatement…

Marinoff did read Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter Fides et ratio (1998). Something however sounds (obviously) wrong in his interpretation. Marinoff writes that the «encyclical […] exhorts all Catholics to focus on philosophy» (page 61). That is just partially true. According to the Pontiff, philosophy, and especially metaphysics, are particularly suitable in stimulating to reflect about fundamental questions of life, and this could approach people with God and His salvation message. (I do not know whether Marinoff really understood Pope’s reasoning and hidden thought.) The point is John Paul II exhorts not only “Catholics” – like Marinoff affirms – but “all human beings” to focus on philosophy (in the hope somebody would meet then religion). What would be the sense to open a crashed door?!

Then Marinoff continues:

He [the Pope] admires not only Western philosophers but also India’s sacred texts, the teachings of Buddha, and the works of Confucius. So now we inherit a new rhetorical question: instead of asking, “Is the Pope Catholic?” we can ask, “Is the Pope philosophical?” (Ibid).

Well, this could seem a radicalization of John Paul II’s ecumenism, but the Pontiff does not refer to texts of India, Buddha and Confucius in a “religious” way, nor a strictly “philosophical” way, but a merely “anthropological” one. John Paul II simply states the trans-cultural and over-historical dimension of the Christian message [see Fides et Ratio, §§ 71-72]; in the sense that, for example if Jesus Christ was born in China, and if the Apostles were Asiatic, then the Christian Apostolic Church as an institution would not be linked to Western thought and rationality (as the Roman Catholic Church), and notwithstanding would have the same salvation message of Christ – that is for the Pope the only true. John Paul II would never counsel people to read the texts mentioned by Marinoff in perspectives (e.g., metaphysical, moral, mystical, etc.), which differ from the anthropological or historical ones. And could not be otherwise: every religion has core beliefs that are unchallengeable. For example, Christian ethics is "philosophically" different from teachings of Buddha or some such things, and vice versa. The Pope knows that very well…

In as far as concerns to myself, a serious doubt raises whenever Marinoff, in his book, formulates a reasoning moving – with lack of consideration – from the Western philosophy directly to some Eastern thought, and vice versa. The thing is not so easy as Marinoff thinks of it. I will return on the matter at the end of the present paper.

A slightly different note: A part from general shallowness, something can be saved in the philosophy overview of Marinoff, such as the section entitled “Analitical Philosophy”, some pieces of “The Existentialists”, etc. But that is the main point: if Marinoff is able to correctly describe some philosophy currents and ideas, then I suppose the ones he thoroughly and repeatedly misrepresents are not perfectly understood by him. (Surely, it is not the case to claim for misprints!) Tudor Munteanu wrote that an «explanation for Lou Marinoff's lapses may be an exclusive reliance on secondary sources». I suggest another possibility: he probably won a philosophy degree at Bingo...

 

WHY I BECOME SO INDIGNANT?

The book of Mr. Marinoff does not represent a “popularization” work at all [6] – at the most it is “propagandistic”! At a certain point Marinoff writes: «this book [is] for starters» (page 6), but then he clearly contradicts the statement more than once, both (a) in words and (b) in contents. In conclusion, the purpose of the book is quite far to be clear.

(a) After observing that «the book is much more didactic [sic!] than a typical one-on-one philosophical counseling session would be» (page 13), Marinoff states that generally «a session might run one of three ways» (page 14), and that his book «primarily illustrates the second one» (ibid). What is this second way? Here it is:

Another common path in a counseling session is for the client to ask specifically for some philosophical instruction. In this variation, you may have reinvented a philosophical wheel and be reassured to know that someone else has mapped out that territory already. In the likely event that you haven’t covered all the bases yourself, you could learn from those who have gone before you. (Ibid)

Somewhere else, we also find that «this book draws on the greatest philosophers and philosophies throughout history and around the world to show you how to address the important issues in your life» (page 7).
As you note, rather than to “popularise” philosophy, Marin off uses it (i.e., his disagreeable «brief overview» of philosophers and philosophies) in a plainly “functional” way: he tries to satisfy curiosity of readers/clients giving them «specifically for some philosophical instruction». Certainly, this “professional” aim is quite different from the mere “popularisation”, although I think that philosophy beginners may find more serious information about the history of philosophy in Mickey Mouse…

(b) In as far as I know, generally philosophers (and scientists) do not create philosophical (rasp. scientific) theories by using popularisation. In the same way, mere divulgers – and many of them are very serious professionals of the field – are simply “divulgers”, and not also theoreticians. Hence, the book of Marin off is rather ambiguous. The author does not limit himself only to illustrate the history of philosophy, or that of philosophical practice. He wrote that the ideas introduced in his brief philosophy overview «are relevant to my counselling practice» (page 13), and this is perfectly consistent with the fact that in the same book Marin off present the world with his «five-step PEACE (Problem, Emotions, Analysis, Contemplation, Equilibrium) process». To be honest, I find no meaningful relation between the PEACE method and the mentioned brief overview of ideas, unless he refers to trifles like the following ones: «Descartes […] The acknowledgement of the dichotomy between mind and body, and their complex interrelationship, makes philosophical counselling possible» (page 62); «His other famous contribution, “I think, therefore I am” […] That concept also lays groundwork for philosophical counselling» (page 63). «The idea of “tabular Rasa” […] It also suggests the potential of philosophical counselling to help find the eraser if what has been written on your blank slate is misleading or harmful to you» (page 64). «The Pragmatists […] I like to think the original pragmatists would have given two thumbs up to philosophical counselling: it helps people, so it is pragmatically valuable» (sic! on page 72).
Marin off thinks that general empty observations like the mentioned ones could be really enough… enough in order to writes such a thing as the first solemn statement of the “Acknowledgements” of his book: «Thanks to my philosophical predecessors and contemporaries for their perennial inspiration» (page ix). The thing surely represents an overstatement.

The book of Marin off is not a popularisation of philosophy, but (it pretends to be) an inquiry at the level of theory of philosophical practice. (Marin off illustrates his own "original" speculations also by means of examples). I could admit some trivial error in popularisation, but not in reporting a research work; above all, it is just this point which makes me so indignant. The matter was already well focused by Munteanu:

Even in Marinoff's context all these are important theories which have a strong impact on the result of any philosophical undertaking, and one has to ask what can be the result of any investigation if the most basic characterizations are so hopelessly confused.

 

SUPERFICIALITY IN THEORIZING:  THE SELF-SERVICE OF ETERNAL WISDOM

So, we arrive to the theoretical center of Marinoff’s book: the PEACE process. I do not want to discuss on its specific contents, but some doubts arise however on its theoretical value. Briefly: the «first two steps» of the process [Problem, Emotions] «frame your issue, and most people pass through these stages naturally. They don’t need anyone to identify the problem with or for them, though sometimes it is a point to be revisited and refined» (page 38). […] «The third step [Analysis] takes you beyond most psychology and psychiatry, and the fourth [Contemplation] puts you squarely into the philosophical realm» (ibid). The final step [Equilibrium] «incorporates into your life what you’ve learned at each of the first four stages» (ibid).
As you can see, the final step is considered nothing more but a result – a kind of “stage beyond-stage” of the process. In as far as concerns with the other four steps, instead, the only acknowledged “philosophical” stage is the fourth. Remaining stages can be «naturally» performed by everyone of us: Marinoff admits that whoever you are – a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a philosopher or a common man –, the result would be nearly the same! (Personally, I think that also the fourth step is not so entirely a “philosophical” stage as Marinoff claims, but this is another story.) The point is: why people would pay for things they are able to do by themselves?! What a strange kind of “skilled in philosophy" is that genius of Jersey City! The way he indicates starts from “about-ism” and goes to real “philosophy” (in the fourth stage). I mean, it is certainly possible to pass from the «doxa» to the «episteme», so to say, but probably philosophy lies just in that passage! I think it is not possible to achieve a minimum in philosophical standards by using a process – Marinoff’s PEACE – that sounds to me so much paradoxical and misleading as Philo of Megara’s “formal conditional” (=from the false follows the true). I think conclusions must be skilfully supported by examined premises, not vice versa! In my opinion, to extemporize or naturalize the right rationalization of problems (reduced to colourless reflection about life obstacles and the emotions they involve) is not only a bad philosophy, but probably it is not philosophy at all [7].

Presumably, my problem is that I do not accept the idea of the «PEACE process» in itself. Marinoff acts like to give instructions on “How to use” electrical households. (Mary Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein would say “How to make a monster”!) I think there are better and quite different new-old ways to professionally approach philosophical practice. One needs to take a step back and ask: why Marinoff does not justify his personal instance to build up a method? And further, why does he believe this method has painfully to imitate psychoterapeutical processes and algorithms?!

«The PEACE process […] The acronym is fitting since these [five] steps are the surest path to lasting peace of mind» (page 38). What is such a clear declaration of Sophism?! If you pay me, then you "surely" get the “true”, or the “peace of mind”! (Honestly, I do not know whether Marinoff sometimes feels like God…) He writes: «By no means does benefiting from the wisdom of the ages hinge on having a Ph.D. or any such thing» (page 9). I agree, and Marinoff himself certainly represents a living example of this sentence. I think that if he had proposed a more serious image of philosophical counseling, then he would have not been induced to think out – and to push actively for – the introduction of a bill to authorize NY State certification (licensing) for himself!

The other theoretical proposal of Marinoff is the direct and non-critical passage from the Western philosophy to the Eastern thought, and vice versa, that he constantly makes in his book. (I am sure that Marinoff does not know that this passage represents in some sense a “theoretical proposal”, i.e., something to be seriously justified.) By using a precious fisherman’s example, he peacefully writes:

I’ve find it invaluable to cast my net wider than just Western philosophy […]. Three important branches of philosophy originated in roughly the same time period of antiquity, circa 600-400 B.C.E. […] The Athenian school […]. At the same time, in a different part of the planet, the Forest Sages of India, most famously Siddharta Gautama (Buddha), were adding to the Hindu worldview. Just around the globe, Confucius and Lao Tzu were developing Confucianism and Taoism, which together with the older I Ching, form the heart of Chinese philosophy. This crucial period in those ancient civilizations was formative in the history of philosophy. I use this three traditions with my clients in approximately equal measure, tailoring my choices to the individual, naturally. (pages 53-54)

Here it is just one example. Talking about the I Ching, he writes:

You seek advice, you throw some coins, and the I Ching gives you expert guidance purely by chance. It doesn’t exactly add up, but it surely works. Hume thought that “chance” was a vulgar word, expressing only our ignorance. The I Ching ‘s reliability suggests that Hume was right. (page 304)

Considering series of events, Hume supposed that just “custom” or “habit” make humans sure that when one event follows another, the first caused the second. And for “custom” or “habit” once again, when we do not find events that follow one another, we claim for “chance”. (In this sense, the term simply dresses our “ignorance”.) The only problem is that so standing things, how is it possible that Marinoff gives trouble to Hume in order to justify what he calls “reliability” of the I Ching?! In fact, one only of these two possibilities may be true: either the I Ching is “reliable” or Hume “was right”! In this case, Marinoff plainly fails to apply Hume’s scepticism. What strange kind of “supernatural” reason persuaded Marinoff into the belief that if «you throw some coins», then the I Ching «surely works»?! And finally, what have to do Hume's opinion with his respectable but personal “superstition”?!

The Appendix E of the book of Marinoff, called “Consulting the I Ching”, «briefly outlines the proper way to use coins to point you to a reading» (page 301). Marinoff is not Chinese, but American; and he only pretends to be a “philosopher”. I want to respect his ideas, but I think it is better he become clear with himself before sentencing thing such as, «a lot of New Age thought takes as a premise that the world is just as it should be or is meant to be» (page 11). What is the real reason for which Marinoff thinks the I Ching is just “reliable” as it should be or is meant to be?! Actually, I find very strange Marinoff’s various attacks (not required) against the New Age: «This book can guide you. But rather than offering superficial New Age […], this book offers time-tested wisdom specifically geared to helping you live with fulfilment and integrity in an ever more challenging world» (page 7). This sort of justification and analogous expressions make me feel perplexed…

Instead to waste my time in criticizing Marinoff’s mess confusion of Western and Eastern thought, quite different each other from a strictly epistemological point of view, I prefer directly to quote some high reflection on the matter from Emile M. Cioran, a shrewd thinker who desperately suffered La tentation d’exister.

«La vie intense est contraire au Tao», enseigne Lao-tse, l'homme le plus normal qui fut. [...] Maîtres dans l'art de penser contre soi, Nietzsche, Baudelaire et Dostoïevski nous [au contraire] ont appris à miser sur nos périls, à élargir la sphère de nos maux, à acquérir de l'existence par la division d'avec notre être. Et ce qui aux yeux du grand Chinois était symbole de déchéance, exercice d'imperfection, constitue pour nous l'unique modalité de nous posséder, d'entrer en contact avec nous-mêmes. [8]

Des siècles d'attention au temps, d'idolâtrie du devenir. Nous en affranchirons-nous par quelque recours à la Chine ou à l'Inde?

La délivrance, si l'on y tient en effet, doit procéder de nous: point ne faut la chercher ailleurs, dans un système tout fait ou quelque doctrine orientale. [9]

Plus d'un a l'Inde facile, s'imagine en avoir démêlé les secrets, alors que rien ne l'y dispose, ni son caractère, ni sa formation, ni ses inquiétudes. Quel pullulement de faux «délivrés» qui nous regardent du haut de leur salut! [10]

As a matter of fact, both in nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many philosophers made some reflection on the relationship between the Western philosophy and the Eastern thought (Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, to name but few). Yet, Marinoff does not mention opinions on the subject at all, and that confirms once again his shocking superficiality as a “theoretician”. The most persuading effect of differences that exist between the Western philosophy and the Eastern thought concerns the birth of “Modern Science”: it is not a mere accident that happened in our world. For example, Edmund Husserl clearly argued the subject as follows:

Für das tiefere Verständnis der griechisch-europäischen Wissenschaft (universal gesprochen: der Philosophie) in ihrem prinzipiellen Unterschied von den gleichbewerteten orientalischen „Philosophien" ist es nun notwending, die praktisch-universale Einstellung, wie sie vor der europäischen Wissenschaft sich jene Philosophien schuf, näher zu betrachten und sie als religiös-mythische aufzuklären. [11]

Es ist verkehrt, es ist eine Sinnesverfälschung, wenn man, in den von Griechenland geschaffenen und neuzeitlich fortgebildeten wissenschaftlichen Denkweisen erzogen, schon von indischer und chinesischer Philosophie und Wissenschaft (Astronomie, Mathematik) spricht, also Indien, Babylonien, China europäisch interpretiert. [12]

 

A LITTLE LAST REFLECTION

The book of Marinoff has become a best seller in sixteen different countries (including Italy), painfully spreading all over the world its errors, misunderstandings, superficialities, etc., contained. How can we justify that fact? It is possible that  philosophical counseling represents so very successful ideas that even bad works like Marinoff’s book sells well. (So standing things, it is better you write a book on the subject as soon as possible!) Otherwise, it is possible to suppose that people do not read so carefully the books they sell. Probably, our world is too much filled with shouted slogans and wear-and-tear aphorisms to allow some space to consistency, honesty, composure or sacrifice of a really Socratic examined life today. I am not a pessimist; the point is that the great fortune of the book of Marinoff certainly represents a defeat of culture in general all around the world. One could even ask, how is it possible to continue to do philosophy in society after this clamorous rout?!

 

 


 

[1]  T.B.MUNTEANU, Critical Review of Lou Marinoff’s Plato, not Prozac!, in The Proceedings of the Friesian School,
Fourth Series
, electronic journal and archive of philosophy –
http://www.friesian.com/munteanu.htm.
[I made available an Italian translation of the review at the URL:
http://www.geocities.com/philosophy_practices/friesian_school/Recens_Munteanu.htm.] 

[2]  Here there is a list:

- The only source for Socrates and his philosophy is Plato [see page 57];
- Kant was a rationalist [page 65];
> - Kant’s noumenon is a way of &qquot;really look"-ing (appearing), not a mode of being [see page 65-66];
- Plato is a character in the Republlic [page 183];
- Plato is "the foremost naturalisst" [page 186];
- teleology is equal to philosophical uutilitarianism [see page 192];
- Socrates' negative elenchus reeveals only what something isn't, while Leonard Nelson’s Socratic Dialogue aims directly at what a thing is [page 262];
- etc.

[3]   G.W.F.Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes, Bamberg und Würzburg, bei Joseph Anton Goebhardt, 1807. (Full German original text re-printed in: G.W.F.Hegel, Fenomenologia dello Spirito, V.Cicero (ed.), Bompiani, Milano 2000; page 52).
My literal English translation: «To co-operate in order that philosophy may attain the goal to leave its name of Love for Knowledge for becoming Real Knowledge – that is the task I mean for myself».

[4]   In the twentieth century, various thinkers (e.g., some sociologists and philosophers of complexity) re-visited Hegelian dialectic in the sense indicated by Marinoff. (By revaluating some aspects of it, they made recurring the thesis/antithesis/synthesis process, or they suggested that the world is not black-and-white, nor false-and-true.) I suppose Marinoff read something about these re-visitations, but I doubt he directly knows Hegel's main original works.

[5]  In my opinion, the absence of  Heidegger is two time paradoxical in this case. In the first place, Heidegger can be peacefully considered as a reliable “existentialist”. (The alternative is “ontologist”, but Marinoff does not mention Ontology at all.) In the second place, I like to remember that Heidegger was one of the very few twentieth-century philosophers who affirmed that it is possible to consider in some way Nietzsche as an “existentialist”. (But I do not think that Marinoff knows such a peculiar position.)

[6]  In this sense, for example I do not find necessary the chapter so trivially entitled: “Hit Parade of Philosophers”. By the way, the “Hit Parade” is a “classification” – from the first item to the last. But Marinoff mentions philosophers following an “alphabetical order”! What a strange kind of “Hit Parade” is that?! Moreover, what have in common Western philosophers like Kant, Nietzsche, Gödel, Quine, etc., with thinkers like Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu or Confucius?! Probably, Marinoff would justify better and deeper his many extravagances ...

[7]  With respect to “emotions”, for example, I think that the simple expression of emotions is not philosophical at all, because philosophy is at the most to rationalize emotions.

[8]   E.M.Cioran, La tentation d'exister, Gallimard, Paris 1956; page 11.
My literal English translation: «"A deeply living goes not along with Tao", as teached by Lao Tzu, the most common man who has never existed. [On the contrary,] learned people of the thinking-against-the-self, such as Nietzsche, Baudelaire and Dostoïevski taught to let our trust in endangering life, to inwider the range of our ills, to come into existence by separating us from our being. And all that which for the great Chinese represented a falling into decay, or an exercise of imperfection, it is for us the only way we have to come into contact with – and to be in possession of – ourselves».

[9]   Page 12.
My literal English translation: «From time immemorial we take heed of time, idolatrizing the change. Could we redeem ourselves by appealing to China or India?».

My literal English translation: «Redemption, if you really are concerned with it, has to proceed from yourself: it is of no use to look for it elsewhere, in a recorded system or in some Oriental doctrine».

[10]   Page 13.
My literal English translation: «Many people easily have got India, pretending its secrets to be disclosed; but they are quite not predisposed to that, either for character, or formation or disquitude. What a pullulating of false "redempted" looking us from the highness of their salvation!».

[11]   E.Husserl, "Die Krisis des Europäischen Menschentums und die Philosophie" (1935), in Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phänomenologie, W.Biemel (ed.), Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1976, page 314-348: 329-330.
My literal English translation: «In order to understand the Greek-European science (in universal terms, Philosophy) and its fundamental difference from Oriental "philosophies", respecting all of them, it is necessary to go more deeply into the universal-practical attitude proper of all philosophies that were born before the European science; so, that attitude will reveal its own mythical-religious sense».

[12]   Page 331.
My literal English translation: «We are well educated in conceiving the scientific thought arisen in the ancient Greece, which was then worked out by modern science; hence, it is wrong – in the sense of  a falsification of meaning – both to talk about Indian or Chinese philosophy and science (astronomy, mathematics), and to interpret India, Babylonia or China into an European sense».

 

 


[*]  EDITORIAL NOTE

Dr. Alessandro Volpone is a teacher of primary school, qualified for high school teaching too. He graduated in philosophy at the University of Bari, Italy (06/29/1993). At present, he is taking a degree in biology, at the Campus of the same University, studying zoology and theoretical biology. Philosophical post-graduate courses of his are: Epistemology and Computing (1995/96), Bioethics (1996/97), Theory and Practice of Philosophy Teaching (1997/98) – all of them of the University of Bari. From some years, Dr. Alessandro Volpone co-operates as a teacher educator of Philosophy for Children with the C.R.I.F. (Centro Ricerca Insegnamento Filosofico), Italian Research Center for Philosophy Teaching, of Rome; and he is a founder-member of the A.I.C.F. (Associazione Italiana Counseling Filosofico), Italian Association for Philosophical Counseling, of Turin. Currently, other co-operations deal with philosophy and biology.

 

 

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