Friday, March 28, 2014

The Story of Philosophy Part 1 - Will Durant

Rajan Bala called me from Bangalore and demanded in his usual manner. 'Have you read The Story of Philosophy? Get a copy and read it today. Your education will never be complete without it.' I remember seeing that book, perhaps at my father's desk. I noted down the details.

Next time in a book store I called Rajan Bala and asked him the name of the book. It was in 2007 perhaps and it took em a while to get down to reading it. Now I am a few pages into the book 528 pages of packed content and I know that by the time I get to the other side, much water would have flown. So decided to break it up into small parts and write about things that made an impression on me. To start with Will Durant's observation of what philosophy is.

"Specifically, philosophy means and includes five fields of study and discourse, logic, esthetics, ethics, politics and metaphysics. Logic is the study of ideal method in thought and research: observation and introspection, deduction and induction, hypothesis and experiment, analysis and synthesis - such as the forms of human activity which logic tries to understand and guide; it is a dull study for most of us, and yet the great events in the history of thought and the improvements men have made in their methods of thinking and research. Esthetics is the study of ideal form, or beauty; it is the philosophy of art. Ethics is the study of ideal conduct; the highest knowledge said Socrates, is the knowledge of good and evil, the knowledge of life. Politics is the study of the ideal organization (not the art and essence of capturing and keeping office); monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, socialism, anarchism, feminism - these are the dramatis personae of political philosophy. And lastly metaphysics is the study of the 'ultimate reality' of all things; of the real and final nature of 'matter' (ontology) of 'mind' (philosophical psychology), and of the interrelation of 'mind' and 'matter' in the processes of perception and knowledge (epistemology'."

As I read the thoughts of Socrates of Plato and Aristotle, of Bacon,  I find myself thinking how much I'd have learned discussing the same with Rajan Bala.


Rajendra said...

I remember him singing some parts from My Fair Lady at our meeting in Bangalore Club during your book launch. Good conversationalist.

Harimohan said...

One of the best Raja. Great raconteur, firm in opinion and steadfast in dissecting the fact in all angles even if it meant taking the unpopular stand. What erudition! I do miss talking to him, strong opinions and all.