Sunday, October 30, 2011

Greek crisis: what would the ancients say?

More than 200 international philosophers braved strikes and protests to come to Greece this month to join a forum and debate matters of the mind.

Topics on the program included "The Limits of Abstraction: Finding Space for Novel Explanation" and "Partial Realism, Anti-realism and Deflationary Realism: Can History Settle the Argument?"

For the organizers, the event was a success, a sign that life goes on despite economic hardship and perceptions abroad that Greece is one step from anarchy.

It was also a victory for thinking at a time when the country's debates are dominated by hoarse-voiced slogans. After all, Greece's illustrious ancient thinkers built the foundations of Western scholarship, and their philosophy stands as an unquantifiable source of national wealth even during a financial crisis.

"Sometimes people think that the philosopher is up on Mount Olympus, thinking about abstract things," said Stathis Psillos, a philosophy professor at the University of Athens. "We philosophers have somehow to stand up and say, 'Look, OK, money and profit and the bailout are important. But there are people also.'" more