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Thread: Jesus Christ as a Philosopher?

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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
    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.
    I didn't criticize Confucius, or even bring him up... and neither of us quoted him, though you attempted a vague paraphrase.

    His concept of benevolence among human beings was actually very similar to Jesus' perspective on the kingdom of God, in many respects at least; they were in agreement that a human has a certain social duty, but that if one wished to be seen as virtuous, one must exceed the expectations of that duty, not simply meet them. As I recall, Confucius had a very skeptical attitude toward friendship, at least if it resulted in showing partiality toward some and not others, which a junzi (gentleman) should never do.

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

    (attributed to rabbi Hillel the Elder, possible contemporary of Jesus).

    The last part is sometimes expressed as “the rest is commentary”.

    I’m not sure religious philosophy, possibly even just human moral philosophy as a whole, gets much better or more profound than that.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 06-06-2020 at 10:33 PM.

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    In the GOP primary debates of 2000, I remember the candidates were asked to name a philosopher who'd influenced them, and Dubya of course went for the Jesus vote, saying something like, "It was Christ, he changed my heart." When Alan Keyes had a chance to respond, he dumped on Bush for referring to Jesus as a philosopher. Apparently, to Keyes, it was disrespectful to call Jesus a philosopher and not a supernatural being or demigod or whatever.
    My dictionary starts its entry on philosopher with 'a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.' I think Jesus fits. There are ironies in the designation:
    1- As noted in other posts, it is truly impossible for the scholar to credential all of the Jesus statements in the NT as true quotations. Especially when comparing the Synoptics to John, you have on the one hand a terse, sometimes elusive speaker who loves to teach in parables, and, in John, a philosopher-poet who speaks in extended metaphors and doesn't once use the parable as a teaching technique.
    2- His followers today lack unanimity on what Jesus' philosophy teaches. Believers will tell you that you can pray to Mary as an intercessor in heaven, or that praying to Mary is idolatry; that Christians should be pacifists, non-resisters, and noncombatants, or that Jesus requires no such thing; that to follow Christ one must renounce wealth and possessions, or that Christ taught no such thing; that Torah law is done with, or that 'every jot and tittle' is in force.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

    (attributed to rabbi Hillel the Elder, possible contemporary of Jesus).

    The last part is sometimes expressed as “the rest is commentary”.

    I’m not sure religious philosophy, possibly even just human moral philosophy as a whole, gets much better or more profound than that.
    Nor do I think simply repeating it—as Jesus did—would make him any kind of philosopher. Normally, what distinguishes a philosopher is if they come up with something new to ponder about the human condition. Unless one wishes to count telling slaves to rejoice in their suffering as something new, all Jesus ever (allegedly) preached was the golden rule, which predates him and is, as you noted, the single moral foundation to Judaism.

    The best, I think, that anyone could say of Jesus in this context is that he was just another Rabbi.

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    Actually, I think the embellishment of the hell concept is a new wrinkle from Mr. Jesus. Who, previous to Jesus, bore down so heavily on the eternal torment that the love god was going to bring down on most humans? Jesus had a real fix on that wailing and gnashing of teeth business.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Well, that was much in the spirit of the times. The early Roman imperial years were not easy on the more distant provinces, and portrayals of the afterlife grew savage indeed, to meet them in like kind.

    I don't know if I would consider cosmology and philosophy to be necessarily the same thing? We posit philosophies, but assume cosmologies, except in certain unusual cases of intercultural contact. I mean, do you consider your cosmology to be a philosophical conclusion?

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    I have a cosmology?? Sorry, I can't tell eyeliner from mascara.

  8. Top | #28
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Well, exactly. We think consciously about philosophy. Most people don't give a second thought to whether the universe is what "everyone knows" it is.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Well, that was much in the spirit of the times. The early Roman imperial years were not easy on the more distant provinces, and portrayals of the afterlife grew savage indeed, to meet them in like kind.

    I don't know if I would consider cosmology and philosophy to be necessarily the same thing? We posit philosophies, but assume cosmologies, except in certain unusual cases of intercultural contact. I mean, do you consider your cosmology to be a philosophical conclusion?
    This seems to confuse general and specific. Example: all bananas are fruit but not all fruit are bananas.

  10. Top | #30
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Well, that was much in the spirit of the times. The early Roman imperial years were not easy on the more distant provinces, and portrayals of the afterlife grew savage indeed, to meet them in like kind.

    I don't know if I would consider cosmology and philosophy to be necessarily the same thing? We posit philosophies, but assume cosmologies, except in certain unusual cases of intercultural contact. I mean, do you consider your cosmology to be a philosophical conclusion?
    There seems to confuse general and specific. Example: all bananas are fruit but not all fruit are bananas.
    In that case, if simply having a cosmology is a philosophical position, then the correct answer to the OP is that all religious leaders in all times are philosophers, since all have posited some manner of cosmology.

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