The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 30 May 2020 - Page 10

Symbolic pictures and an authoritarian monopoly of interpreting these pictures dominated all civilisation building and cultural transactions. These pictures were however not designed with philosphical intent and were in many ases ambiguous: “Symbolic pictures and products of the imagination replaced rational argument and the discipline of critical theorizing, Brett argues with considerable insight. No real philosophical analysis of the role and significance of pictures in our lives was undertaken until Wittgenstein introduced the criticisms of his own picture theory of meaning from his 1922 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In this criticism, he maintained that pictures do not have an obvious determined meaning but rather can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Pictures are essentially ambiguous. Elisabeth Anscombe in her commentary on Wittgenstein's theory of meaning uses the example of a picture of two stickmen in fencing position with stick swords. She points out how the picture can be used to illustrate either how to stand or how not to stand. A picture of a man with a walking stick on a hill can either depict a man walking up the hill or sliding down the hill”. Professor Brett, however characterises Stoicism problematically in the following quote: "Stoics and Epicureans alike are absorbed in the problem of the life of feeling: they acknowledge openly that mans whole being is concentrated in his passions and their thoughts centre upon the fact, whether they preach restraint or justifying indulgence. This is the new focus, the humanism of the new era." Stoicism has both important Aristotelian and Kantian aspects to be considered: “ The Stoics in this context definitely manifested an epistemological commitment to justification by argument in terms of external criteria or standards which in turn entails that if one is possessed by passions this is caused by mistaken judgments concerning what is good and evil. This is clearly a break with the Aristotelian context of exploration which is more developmentally oriented towards a more inductive process of steering a middle course between two extremes of excess and deficiency: a process more in accordance with a dialectical form of logic in contrast to that pure deductive form of logic prized by the Stoic logicians. The Stoic position is however reminiscent of the Aristotelian biologically based definition of the human being in that it emphasises our animal nature, perhaps even more than Aristotle did. The Stoic position does not begin with biology, however. It begins with the physics of the Cosmos and life emerges from this physical framework in accordance with certain deterministic principles. Human life reveals itself on this account not to be pleasure- seeking or pain avoiding creatures but rather beings concerned with the constitution and preservation of our own nature. Our survival in an indifferent world pursuing its own telos will be related to whether or not we deserve to survive. This position clearly diminishes the role of feeling favoured by the Epicureans, in favour of a will to survive that includes a will to preserve one's own offspring, a more complex task then is the case with other species of animal, because of the fact of premature human birth and a long human childhood. This de- centring from ourselves for long periods of time is the beginning of the constitution of an ethical position which the Stoics characterise in terms of a series of concentric circles extending from the circle of our family, including our children to other people in close proximity or more distant proximity to ourselves and perhaps outward to everyone who shares