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"The meaning of life" in the hypostasis of ancient virtue

The peculiarity of the problem of the meaning of life is already inherent in its very formulation, breeding (or reducing), or rather, putting these two concepts in the position of mutual search. Meaning and life: life, which should make sense, and meaning, which finds its objective realization in life. How does their mutual “fertilization” take place, is it of an innate or acquired, active nature? This lifelong dichotomy resembles the problem of virtue in Plato. If virtue is innate, then why bring it up? If it is acquired by training and is not given by nature, what is the point of punishing it for its absence? Indeed, the inability to do anything, like a natural defect, cannot be subjected to public condemnation (Plato, 1968).

Is there a meaning in life itself that needs to be discovered and developed, or is it superimposed and comes from outside, as a socio-psychological assessment, examination of human existence, as a requirement of personal self-identification at the junction of the public and the individual. In this connection, the myth of the origin of man, told by Protagoras in the Plato dialogue of the same name, is interesting. According to him, the inability to live together put people on the brink of extinction, despite the fact that thanks to Prometheus they learned to maintain their physical existence. Then Zeus ordered the introduction of shame and truth among people, so that everyone was personally involved in them. This involvement, however, did not mean, according to the philosophers who participated in the conversation, the actual presence of these moral (as well as other) qualities in each individual person, but only the universal possibility of gaining them as a result of the strain of all internal and external forces: “Life, that fate has given me, therefore, I am not wasting it / For the sake of the hope of the futile, to find perfection among people ... ”(Plato, 1968, p. 233).

The contents of Protagoras (Plato, 1968) and other dialogues of Plato (Plato, 2000) are entirely devoted to the discussion of various aspects of this problem, the solution of which is considered as a necessary condition for a peaceful and creative unity of the individual and the general.

Sophists, constant Platonic opponents, interpret virtue as the acquisition by a person of certain sociocultural standards of behavior (cleverness in domestic and state affairs), with the help of which one can identify the most optimal ways of acting that are familiar to a given community and authorized by it. At the same time, the personality’s worldview turns out to be a projection of social space that transmits its borders: the “flying arrow” is not at all flying, but resting, and the swift Achilles is doomed to stagnate in one place, giving way to the “palm” of the turtle.

This approach, criticized by Plato, gives a one-dimensional view of the relationship between the individual and society: the individual appears as a personified image, an instance of the social and cultural standards of a traditional society. Understanding of the inner world of a person also turns out to be significantly limited: again, a one-dimensional, lacking depth and volume conception of him as a world of meanings, but not meanings, about a world of habits, but not aspirations, about a static world, devoid of history and development, is dictated . Behind the standards of behavior and motivation, which reveal the connection of a person’s worldview with a certain sociocultural system, interests, needs, attitudes, and personality are hidden. But it is precisely these latter ones that preserve a deeper connection between the being of the individual and the being of society, the experience of the formation and self-affirmation of the personality - that directs its life activity and makes it necessary to use constants taken from the culture of society as a means of socio-historical creativity (Ogurtsov, 2002, p. 38 )

Actually in this regard, the speech of Socrates sounds about the correlation of the verbs "become" and "be." It is difficult to become a virtuous (fair, courageous, pious, civil, etc.) person, but perhaps to remain in this state, that is, to be so constantly, a person can’t do: “A good deed is done, everyone will be good, / Evil, will be bad ”(Plato, 1968, p. 232).

For Socrates, virtue as a synthetic indicator of the value of human life, and thereby its meaning, is not set from the outside, but is rooted in the understanding of a person towards himself and the world he perceives. “I know that I don’t know anything”, therefore - “know yourself” and the world as an idea through its universal definitions. The forms of behavior, motivation, thinking, drawn from socio-cultural experience, are interpreted by him, unlike sophists, as a result of the formation and development of individual being of an individual based on knowledge. Knowledge, which, along with the sciences, included rhetoric along with other arts (music, poetry, theater), based on a certain pattern, was to create “order and order” in the soul, leading it from a state of fragmentation to a state of wholeness and harmony with itself. And this, in turn, led to the expulsion from the soul of the desire for bad pleasures and unjust acts. The Socratic pedagogical attitude makes sense to a greater degree a “personal affair” of each, reduces it to reflection on the fate and happiness of an individual, on bliss and moral well-being, achieved despite any blow of fate thanks to reason.

This position is consonant with the epicurean views of Lucretius, the author of the famous anthology of Greek philosophy “On the nature of things”: “Unaware of what they themselves want, constantly striving for places to change in order to get rid of this oppression.
/ Often he leaves his chambers to whom he is disgusted / His own house, but returns there again suddenly, / Not finding any relief outside of him ... / So here everyone is running away from himself and, of course, cannot / Away to escape; unwillingly remains with himself in annoyance, / For the ill person does not know the reasons for his illness. / And if he understood it, he would have left everything else, / First of all, he tried to comprehend the nature of things ”(Lucretius, 1958, 1050-1070).

Aristotle criticized Socrates's conviction that “no one with knowledge will oppose good”, since this thesis of Socrates allegedly contradicts the obvious: it is one thing to have knowledge of good and evil, and the other is to be able to or want to use this knowledge. Knowledge and action are not the same thing, knowledge is general in nature, but action is always private. The knowledge that courage is the middle between two vices still does not give the ability to find this middle in life. Virtues - not qualities of reason, - concludes the philosopher in a polemic with Socrates, - they are only associated with reason. The main thing in acquiring ethical virtues is not knowledge itself, but education, habit. Performing brave deeds, a person gets used to be courageous, getting used to be a coward - a coward. The task of educators and the state is to instill virtues: “Not all evil people were evil” (Aristotle, 1984, 1337a10).

It is possible or impossible to teach virtues, determine their content, fill life with meaning, etc. - all these questions “wander” in the historical and philosophical time, not finding a definitive answer, and remind the story of the city cook. This cook was supposed to cook food for all citizens who did not cook it for himself, but he was strictly forbidden to cook food for those who cook it for himself. He would have to starve to death, because, preparing food for himself, he would prepare it for a person whose service was banned, and otherwise - cooking for himself - he would violate the rules regarding those persons whom he was to serve supposed to. Is it possible to solve this logical paradox and feed the cook? (Mende, 1969).

Philosophical thinking about the world has never been a simple description, an indifferent depiction of a picture of external reality; it always contained in itself a certain position of the subject looking at the world, expressed one or another attitude of a person to existence. And this attitude, no matter how abstract it may seem, has always been carried out within the framework of very concrete truths. That is why philosophical and moral views were constantly met on the general basis of life-meaning "limit" questions and went into the field of pedagogy with them: theories on the transformation (enlightenment and upbringing) of the human race were built on them (Drobnitsky, 1977). “... Together with talent, they (philosophers) received the obligation to be mentors to their fellow citizens” (Chernyshevsky, 1950, p. 315).

The pedagogical material on the study and reflection on the problem of the close connection of philosophical truth, morality and the meaning of life gives an unusually interesting form and content of history and the history of antiquity. It shows that the formation of a theoretical and pedagogical idea of ​​the “semantic” being of a person within a certain community — about its formation, self-assertion in itself and in society, about the immanent orientation and active implementation of this being — takes place in ancient times (Drobnitsky, 1977) . In subsequent periods of the history of philosophy, the problem of the “semantic” being of a person in the being of society, from traditions laid down by antiquity, continued and continues to be developed both through the “mechanics” of the influences of the external social world on the needs of the individual and on his consciousness, and through consideration of the process of internal formation its needs, strengths and abilities (Kemerov, 1977).

Being, like a “buridan donkey”, between two completely identical in appearance and quality armfuls of hay, that is, being subject to the action of two absolutely necessary quantities - life and meaning, the person is doomed to their cognitive-moral-active and concrete historical interaction (even in the case of complete passivity), but not at all on the inaction or starvation of a donkey, which the latter can avoid by calling another donkey.

The prospects for solving the problem of the meaning of life and its pedagogical definition today, as before, depend on the optimal combination of ideas about the objective conditions of social life as a real basis for the formation and functioning of a person with ideas about a person as a separate integrity involved in the “semantic” restructuring of these conditions.
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"The meaning of life" in the hypostasis of ancient virtue

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