A bit more on Prashant and Preparation
Here’s what’s on my mind philosophy wise this morning. I thought I’d write a bit more about preparation. When Christina and I were here seven years ago, Prashant talked constantly about the necessity to prepare yourself. Prepare yourself, prepare yourself, prepare yourself. He didn’t say much about preparing for what. It was sort of like the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” Okay, good advice generally. However, I got the overall sense that philosophy for him, much like for Socrates, was largely a protreptic endeavor, meaning that the we constantly engage in the process of readying ourselves for what is to come, or to see what is ready at hand. Not long after that last trip, and I asked Eddy Marks, if Prashant thought philosophy was anything other than this, and Eddy said, “Yes. But the majority of people are not ready.”
There’s a fair amount of debate in the Plato scholarship about whether philosophy, for his character, Socrates, is anything other than this continuous exhortation to examine oneself. I, myself, think there is more to the practice of philosophy, we are preparing ourselves to see something, maybe not something fixed, but something that provides a deeper insight into the nature of reality, but I agree completely that a lot of what Socrates does in the dialogues is attempt to prepare people for philosophical engagement, to the extent that they are able to be prepared to engage. Seven years ago, I was working a lot with dialogues like theLysis, Charmides, Protagoras, Euthydemus, Republic to some extent, where this protreptic quality of Socratic engagement is quite obvious, so perhaps it is not surprising that I heard what Prashant was saying in those terms as well.
Yesterday in class, Prashant did say something like, “I’m going to assume that you are prepared, so now the project is to go further.” Or maybe he’s just going further anyway. It is hard to believe we are collectively more prepared or that any group one month of June is comparable to June of another month over time.
But maybe so, maybe there is something he does sense over time in a kind of collective studentship. I’m certainly more prepared to be here than I was seven years ago. Seven years more of practice and study. A lot of time with Patricia, whom, I had not studied with (Except for one Dallas workshop) even more time with Laurie, Mary and Eddy, and others, but they are really the senior teachers whom I feel most prepared me to be here. Another certification, which in and of itself is not a sign of preparation, but the preparation of study and the process of doing it is a preparation.
It also strikes me that much of what Prashant says is aimed at preparing us for the practice of philosophy in the absence of BKS Iyengar. As it turns out, I’m actually writing about this phenomenon in the Socratic context as well. The next set of dialogues I’m working with all have to do with the death of Socrates and becoming prepared to philosophize without him. Here’s a bit from the recent BACAP, presentation soon to be paper out there in the world, that talks about this point.
“In the meantime, their immediate challenge is to learn how to live and philosophize without their beloved guide. Socrates tells them how he became prepared to philosophize on his own so that they might have a model of how to philosophize on their own.
Phaedo imitates that process by telling his story as a means of caring for the Philians and helping the Philians care for one another. The Pythagorean context has very much to do with legacy. Surely Plato would have been aware of the different groups of Pythagoreans, the split after Pythagoras’ death. The Philians are there as a group caring for each other. Surely the followers of Socrates are expected to go forth and do likewise.”
Off to work more on Aristotle and do a bit of preparatory yogasana. Ladies class is at 9:30.