Belief and Organization by Peter Case, Heather Höpfl, Hugo Letiche (eds.)

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By Peter Case, Heather Höpfl, Hugo Letiche (eds.)

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One can read not to analyse and criticize the author’s argument, but to find answers to one’s problems, conflicts and doubts. The text can be valuable as a companion to better living and not judged as rationality or argumentation. It is this radical humanist idea of the potential of text that Michel Foucault borrowed from Hadot. Hadot’s project was to reveal how to make use of texts to support the quality of one’s existence. Reading Stoic, Epicurean, Sceptic, Socratic and so forth texts, supposedly could help one to make oneself more true to the real.

Unity in Plotinus was mystical; in Marcus Aurelius it entails humility, service and the radical lack of all pretension. The ‘orphic’ attitude of honouring and respecting the unity of nature in the ‘one’ of the cosmos persisted throughout Hadot’s oeuvre. From Marcus Aurelius, Hadot got the idea of texts that admonish one to live more at one with existence; that is, texts of right behaviour exploring the spiritual quality of existence. These texts, supposedly, are not written to be analysed or valued for their conceptual rigour, but to help the reader to live better.

Of course I did not ask him, but it made me begin to think about what religious belief really is. It is not an intellectual assent to specific statements. Instead, it is an adhesion to a religious perspective that envisions a certain wider, cosmic actuality that it takes to be really real, in some different sense and different way than the common-sense world is real. The reality envisioned by the religious perspective does not simply extend further the common-sense world. Anthropologists had too long 20 Alphonso Lingis described cultures in which the scientific perspective is absent and where the aesthetic perspective is nowise disengaged from the religious and the practical, as religious cultures, as though everything individuals do there – hunting, cultivating gardens and fields, bathing, having sex – is experienced to take place in the cosmic theatre depicted in their myths.

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