Friday, June 27, 2014


THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENT [1] As I recall, Whitehead somewhere says that, in reviewing a mathematical work, the reviewer concentrates on the first half-page because it is there that the assumptions are set out from which the rest follows consistently if the author is a competent mathematician. [2] This applies to any work in which there is an extended argument. The argument in Plato’s Phaedo starts with the definition of death as the separation of soul and body. The assumption that the soul and the body are two separate and separable entities is the error that makes of the argument or series of arguments for the immortality of the soul a sham. Does that make the Phaedo, or, specifically, the argument for immortality of the soul worthless? Not at all. In the course of aegument the concept of the soul is transformed and enriched and the concept of immortality itself is raised from the plane of temporality to the plane of eternity. The most precious gift of Socrates’ philosophy – transmitted to us in Plato’s dialogues and particularly in the Phaedo – is the concept of the soul as the plane of spirituality, where reason is no more a tool for practical living but a creative principle that makes of a human being a god. When Socrates at the close of the argument says, “Wherefore, I say, let a man be of good cheer about his soul, who … has sought after the pleasures of knowledge; and has arrayed the soul … in her own proper jewels, temperance, and justice, and courage, and nobility, and truth” — the true import of these words transcends the confines of spaciality and temporality: the valuable revelation inhering in these words relates not to a time to come but to the eternity we realize here and now in a life of intelligent creativity. Pundits who, when examining the Phaedo, exert themselves to find fault with the argument, are splitting, thrashing, and pounding the husk and ignoring the rich kernel. [3] In the same way, Plato argues at length in the Phaedo in support of the doctrine of anamnêsis, knowledge as recollection. As I see it, Socrates emphasized the distinction between the intelligible and the perceptible. That was the ground principle of his philosophy. To him the intelligible realm was what gave us our humanity, and the intelligible was wholly generated in the mind and by the mind. Perhaps it was Plato who extended that, affirming that it was the intelligible that gave meaning to the things of the outer world. Plato shared with Socrates the insight that the intelligible comes from within, from the mind. But while Socrates seems to have accepted that simply, since he was solely concerned with the moral question, with what gave meaning and value to human life, Plato puzzled about it. He mythologized. He found in the Pythagorean or Orphic doctrine of palingenesis a mythological answer to the puzzle. But the core value of the myth is in giving expression to the insight that all knowledge, all understanding, all meaning comes from the mind and only from the mind. In the Theaetetus, in place of the myth of anamnêsis, we have the metaphor of maieusis. This does not indicate any change in Plato’s position. But the metaphor perhaps has the merit of focusing plainly on the essential insight. [-] Cairo, 27 June, 2014.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


If we wanted to exemplify how the profoundest philosophical insight can be – or rather cannot but be – enveloped in error and falsity, we could not find a more telling example than that breathtaking, soaring passage in Plato’s Phaedo, 66b-67b, which expands and expounds the dictum stated earlier, that a genuine philosopher practises dying and death. The founders of Christianity embraced the error and the falsity and turned the life-affirming philosophy of the Sermon on the Mount into the life-denying outlook of Augustine. The insight, developed further in the epistemological-metaphysical core of the Republic, remains largely ignored and at best only partly understood by philosophers. – D. R. Khashaba – June 16, 2014.


WHY 2+1=3 IS NONSENSE The formula 2+1=3 has one and only one true sense, and that one sense is purely formal and totally arbitrary. 2+1=3 simply says that 3 is the number that follows 2 in the series of numbers. Beyond that the formula does not have any content. The moment we presume to give it any content it becomes contaminated with falsity. You may say that 2 units and 1 unit make 3 units, but that goes only if you are speaking of the bare notion of unit which is destitute of any content. To say that 2 sheep and 1 cow make 3 is sheer nonsense, because your 3 then is not 3 of anything definable. Even “2 sheep and 1 sheep make 3” is nonsense because no two sheep are completely identical and so once again your 3 is not 3 of anything definable; it is 3 of nothing. Surely we can work with the formula; the genius that gave it us gave it us to work with not to find meaning in. Socrates said that you do not make 2 by adding 1 to 1 nor by dividing the 1 into 2. The only way to make two is by the Two, by the idea of Twoness. That is so simple that pundits have been puzzling on it for twenty-five centuries and have not yet comprehended it. A hundred years ago Wittgenstein discovered the vacuity of logic and logical symbolism but Analytical Philosophers continue to delude themselves into thinking that they can reach true factual conclusions by pure logic. – D. R. Khashaba – June 18, 2014.

Friday, June 13, 2014


THE SEED OF FALSITY IN ALL TRUTH It is extremely dangerous to accept any statement as absolutely and simply true, however sound and unobjectionable it may appear to be. Napoleon, addressing the Conseil d’Etat said, “ My principal aim in the establishment of a teaching body is to have a means of directing political and moral opinion.” Taken simply, this defines the aim of any reasoned educational policy, in other words, any deliberately and rationally adopted educational policy. Any intelligent educator must admit that her or his purpose is to equip their students for a specific social order. To deny this would be hypocritical. But that aim taken absolutely and pursued consistently would produce human robots bereft of all will, all creativity, all initiative, all intelligence. Indeed, Napoleon’s statement enunciates clearly and precisely the foundational principle of a fascist state. I am indebted for the quotation of Napoleon’s statement to William Heard Kilpatrick’s Source Book in the Philosophy of Education (1945) where that quotation is followed by some two pages devoted to Napoleon’s views and policies on education which fully confirm what I said about the foundation of fascism. I have diverged far and wide in commenting on this quotation, but the moral is simple: Any intelligible statement must in some sense be true, but taken absolutely reveals falsity hidden in its heart. Our guarantee of sanity is ceaseless Socratic demolition of seeming truth.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

In my forthcoming book, Metaphysical Reality, I defend two positions that, together, have from the very beginning formed the backbone of my philosophy. (1) The Platonic conception of reality. We ask: What is it that is real? We find that all that surrounds us in the outer world, including our own bodies, has no permanence and no intrinsic meaning. Everything in the outer world is, in itself, strictly unintelligible. It only acquires meaning when the mind confers meaning on it. Indeed our mind – not as a thing, not as a faculty – but as an activity, in other words, our active. creative intelligence, or better said, our intelligent creativity, that is the only thing we know of that is worthy of being called real. (2) The second position I defend in this book and have been defending all the time is that philosophy does not give us knowledge and does not produce any apodictic propositions. The whole end and purpose of philosophical thinking is ceaselessly to explore our inner reality. The insight gained in that exploration cannot be conveyed in any determinate formulation of thought, but, like all mystic experience, can only be intimated in parable and myth. Hence I assert that philosophy is of the nature of poetry and its utterances are oracular proclamations.

Monday, June 02, 2014


More than 200 years ago Immanuel Kant wrote: “If we are asked, Do we now live in an enlightened age?, the answer is: No, but we do live in an age of enlightenment. As things now stand, we still have a long way to go before men can be or can easily become capable of correctly using their own reason in religious matters with assurance, without outside guidance. But we do have clear indications that the way is now being cleared for men to work freely in this direction, and that the obstacles to general enlightenment, to man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity, are gradually becoming fewer.” More than two centuries have gone by since those words were written. Since then we (I am speaking of the human race, not of a particular country or society) have gained much new knowledge, multiplied our powers over nature, and acquired tremendous abilities and capabilities. But in respect of what Kant had in view in writing those words – in respect of enlightenment – have we taken a step forward or have we slid back? The question is at least debatable — and again I point out that I am speaking of mall humanity, not of any particular region or people or society.


For quite a while I have been finding difficulty in making postings on my blog when trying to post an essay or article. I intend now to revive the blog for occasional brief reflections. With my rapidly fading eyesight I don’t think I will be writing any more long, or even moderately long, pieces. The collection of essays I have submitted a few days ago to my publisher under the title Metaphysical Reality will, I believe, be the last. For long I have been repeating the words of Walter Savage Landor, “I warmed both hands before the fire of life, / It sinks, and I am ready to depart.” I am indeed ready to depart and I sincerely hope it will be before long. I have lived a life that was for a considerably long stretch of time unhappy and burdensome. But I have also had blessings and I have in a certain measure fulfilled the dream of my young years to make a worthwhile contribution to philosophical thinking. I hope that one day this contribution will be acknowledged and appreciated even if that may not be soon. Sorry! I have a new major problem with my blog. I am giving up!