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Thread: Jesus Christ as a Philosopher?

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    I am of the position that if there is a god, he prefers the atheist.

    That said, I think that there's a good argument that may be had between that the ideas espoused in the Bible are very much compatible with the ideas of objective observational philosophical ethics and ethical game theory.

    One can, with some minimal effort, overlay a concept of ethics as a product of the shape of nature with the concept of a "father God" as a giver of truth, when combined with the messages of the man himself. It doesn't make him necessarily divine, though the concept that understanding of philosophical truth creates in someone an an ethical parity with all others who also have recognized this truth; that ideological identity is the most important part of who we are, and indeed is the most important who we are: the sum total of work that represents how we operate in the world with respect to each other. It is, in fact, the most meaningful part of who we are. And why wouldn't that apply to God, if there ever was such a thing? So I think that in a real sense, the person who encodes the truth of how to do right into each other, is one with any God that may be.

    So I see Jesus, if he was more than the invention of some writer, to be telling some real truth in the way that was available to him, within the context of the society that produced him.

    Do I think that everything he said is true and right? No. Do I think that the missing elements of the context are significant pieces of the truth he was trying to grasp? Yes. We are more right today in our efforts to understand truth and the mechanisms that make ethics a functional addition to human existence.

    If there is a god, I see Jesus as one of God's sons, and if there is not, he is still an important part of the history of the greater truth of understanding what is right for ourselves and each other.

    Paul, not so much. He's just a self serving piece of shit. Fuck him and his lies and everything he stood for with a garden rake.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Depends entirely on how you define "philosopher". He did have and teach a kind of philosophy, but he was not an upper class Grecophone who studied knowledge for a living as per Socrates and the like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Depends entirely on how you define "philosopher". He did have and teach a kind of philosophy, but he was not an upper class Grecophone who studied knowledge for a living as per Socrates and the like.
    Honestly, I think that kind of distinction is pure sophistry.

    I'm not a philosophy major. I don't have a degree or publish papers in academia. I find large swaths of academic philosophy to be sophistry and little more, at least with respect to ethical philosophy.

    I in fact came to.ethical philosophy myself from the side of wanting to understand religion and what people believed through faith, and eventually got to most of it through mathematical and logical approaches with respect to game theory, to the point where, some 20 years after leaving Christianity, my philosophy has gotten to the point where it supports most of Jesus's teachings without incoming a certainty of God or divine revelation at all.

    But I see Jesus as a philosopher who lived in a day and age where one could not reasonably talk about such things to normal human beings without invoking an extant God.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Well, it's just one of those things. Like asking if he was a "psychic"; your answer would depend heavily on how you define the term, and people have very strong opinions about that.

    To me, you don't have to be a philosopher in order to engage in philosophy, but I doubt Jesus would have had any interest in defining himself as a philosopher, if nothing else. He called himself, by most accounts, the "Son of Man", and seems to have seen his own role in a much more apocalyptic light than we generally associate with philosophers. But that isn't to say that he and/or the tradition that sprang from his teachings doesn't have something valuable to contribute to social and moral philosophy.

    I note that he was well aware of professional philosophers. If anything, they were taken more seriously in the 1st century world than they are now. But then, so were prophets.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Confucius - Have no friends not equal to yourself.
    Jesus - Love your enemy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Jesus - Love your enemy.
    And why are we to do that according to Jesus? Careful, it's a trick question.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Jesus - Love your enemy.
    And why are we to do that according to Jesus? Careful, it's a trick question.

    "...so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    "...so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
    And there is why Jesus was not a philosopher. He can't show the reasoning that led him to those conclusion, he can only assert it's so.

    It doesn't seem like wise advice anyway. My mom preferred Confucius' advice (without knowing it). She said "That one friend of yours, he's bad news". I said "But Mom! I can't just dump a friend". She said "Well, you really should, he one of those people who act friendly in order to get and not give".

    She was right. Every friendship should have a mutuality to it: respect both ways, intellectual reciprocity, etc.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    "...so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
    And there is why Jesus was not a philosopher. He can't show the reasoning that led him to those conclusion, he can only assert it's so.

    It doesn't seem like wise advice anyway. My mom preferred Confucius' advice (without knowing it). She said "That one friend of yours, he's bad news". I said "But Mom! I can't just dump a friend". She said "Well, you really should, he one of those people who act friendly in order to get and not give".

    She was right. Every friendship should have a mutuality to it: respect both ways, intellectual reciprocity, etc.
    The teaching is not that you should consider everyone your friend, but to love other people whether they are your friend or not. All manner of people were brought into this world. They will exist, and you will exist, alongside one another whether or not you form any affectionate or even tolerant feelings for them in your heart. From Jesus' perspective, you can only claim to be kind if you are kind to those you do not feel deserve it; patting yourself on the back for being only transactionally kind is silly, as nearly everyone is kind to those they are personally fond of. History's pages are littered with monstrous dictators who were nothing but kind and generous to their friends and family. But in Christian thinking, at least, virtue is only virtue if it is retained in extremis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    The teaching is not that you should consider everyone your friend, but to love other people whether they are your friend or not. All manner of people were brought into this world. They will exist, and you will exist, alongside one another whether or not you form any affectionate or even tolerant feelings for them in your heart. From Jesus' perspective, you can only claim to be kind if you are kind to those you do not feel deserve it; patting yourself on the back for being only transactionally kind is silly, as nearly everyone is kind to those they are personally fond of. History's pages are littered with monstrous dictators who were nothing but kind and generous to their friends and family. But in Christian thinking, at least, virtue is only virtue if it is retained in extremis.
    And do we know what Confucius said about affection or tolerance for nonfriends? Quoting Confucius giving a tidbit of advice that's very specifically about friendship, and Jesus talking about affection for nonfriends, would be an example of quote mining if it was intended (as it very much appears to be) to show one of these persons was only "transactionally kind" and the other wasn't.

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