Sharing Knowledge

Standard

“You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.” 
Albert Camus

Knowledge

Themistoclea, the sacred priestess at Delphi, and mentor of the renowned Pythagoras, did not hoard knowledge. Zeno of Elea, famous for his mind-bending paradoxes, did not hoard knowledge. Diotima of Mantinea willingly shared her ideas on Platonic love while Arete of Cyrene wrote 40 books during her 35 years of teaching the next generation of philosophers.

We live in the age of information, where technology allows us to connect with others on the other side of the globe in a matter of seconds.  Yet, there is a ubiquitous fear that if we share knowledge we may be at a disadvantage.  Within a highly competitive job market, dispensing shards of knowledge on a “need to know basis” is not uncommon.

Great thinkers share knowledge, without fear that their personal power will be eroded.   Joseph L. Badaracco, a professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School, suggest that “In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power.  If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.”

Thank you to my friends in the blogging community for sharing your knowledge, your creativity and your enthusiasm.  Our power is growing exponentially.

Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility. 
Robin Morgan, an American Poet, Author, Political Theorist and Activist

The Eureka Moment

Standard

“Eureka! – I have found it!”

Archimedes

 Eureka

I have often wondered about Eureka moments, sometimes known as an epiphany, which incidentally comes to us from the ancient Greeks, signifying a manifestation or striking appearance.   In the past, it was considered an insight given by the divine, or the supernatural, whereas today, it has lost much of this nuance.  Even so, when someone has an epiphany it usually means there has been a scientific, religious or philosophical breakthrough of grand proportions.

Archimedes is a shining example of this form of the extraordinary.  Diotima and her idea of Platonic love and Hipparchia’s decision to embrace the Cynic’s lifestyle, in my opinion, fit into this category.  In fact, all of the ancient great thinkers seemed to have encountered a new and deeper understanding or perspective. While we gratefully acknowledge their contribution, there is within all of humanity a wistful desire to experience a Eureka insight.

So let us consider the idea that most of us have, indeed, felt that moment without recognizing its profound meaning. We may be expecting a thunderbolt, when the reality may come as a gentle whisper.  Eureka insights usually signal a dramatic shift in thinking.  Some people consider it an “ah ha” moment. The catalyst may be a simple conversation, a line of a poem, or a book that challenged.

The ancients gave substance to their thoughts and ideas by sharing, teaching, documenting and living in accordance with their fresh awareness. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success suggested that, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good.  It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

“People think of these eureka moments and my feeling is that they tend to be little things, a little realisation and then a little realisation built on that.”

Roger Penrose, Mathematical Physicist, Recreational Mathematician and Philosopher

 

The Love of Diotima

Standard

“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” 
Plato, Symposium

A Path

Diotima of Mantinea’s place in the history is unrivaled. Indeed, without her, Plato’s Symposium would have been a rather commonplace affair.  You may recall the setting.  A group of brilliant thinkers came together, in the manner of the elite of Athens, to discuss the merits and intricacies of love.

The banquet’s guest list was a “who’s who” of Athens:  Phaedrus, an aristocrat, Alcibiades, a statesman, orator and general, Pausanias, a legal expert, Eryximachus, a physician, Aristophanes, a comic playwright, Agathon, a tragic poet and host of the event and Socrates, the eminent philosopher and Plato’s teacher. Everyone had their turn to speak, however it was Socrates’ dialogue that transformed our understanding of love. Over the course of a lavish feast, he related with persuasive eloquence the ideas that were given to him by the prophetess, Diotima.

Diotima’s inspiration was the concept of divine or Platonic love, the means by which humanity can ascend to the contemplation of the divine.  The most truthful way to love others is to embrace a love that transcends the earthly plane, to touch divinity.  A genuine Platonic love recognizes the beauty and loveliness in another person in a way that inspires the mind and soul to the spiritual, rather than the physical.

Diotima’s name means “honoured by Zeus.”  Her identity is shrouded in mystery, and there is some debate as to whether or not she actually existed.  Even so, we have the word of two reliable philosophers, who stated without reservation, that Diotima of Mantinea gave the world the best of all possible loves.

“Love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.” 

 Plato, Symposium