Democritus on Brawl; How can coherence be achieved in a Society and why this is important

In this post we present and analyze two excerpts from the ancient Greek Philosopher Democritus.


First excerpt: “Φιλονικίη πάσα ανόητος”

Meaning: “Every kind of brawl is mindless”

NovoScriptorium: The Philosopher urges Man not to pursue rivalry and juxtaposition, i.e. ‘brawl’. But what this ‘brawl’ really is rather than the ‘passion for victory’, the ‘triumph’ over other people? The pursuit of self-vindication. The will for ‘enforcement’ and ‘suzerainty’, physically and mentally, over other people. It is the ‘lust for Power’. Its source is the passion of Pride, obvious or hidden (conceit), the above measure egoism, the sick self-centeredness. Whoever exposes such temper is called ‘mindless’ by Democritus. In direct opposition to the person he would call ‘logical’ and ‘prudent’, as we have analyzed in previous posts. What is the crucial characteristic that makes all the difference? The ‘logical’ and ‘prudent’ man, according to Democritus (and Greek Philosophy in general), is deeply pious and struggles to obtain Virtues. The opposite type of person, the ‘mindless’ person, cannot be pious neither he can obtain Virtues. It is rather obvious that the road of divine things, i.e. the road of Philosophy, demands the exactly opposite from brawl; humility instead of lust for Power, offering to the fellow men instead of self-centeredness, help everyone be a better person rather than seek self-vindication. In two words, Humility and Love. The disputatious Man can never have these.

Second excerpt: “Ομοφροσύνη φιλίην ποιεί”

Meaning: “ ‘ομοφροσύνη’ creates ‘φιλία’ ” (‘ομοφροσύνη’ can be translated as ‘thinking alike’ but more exactly as ‘the brain works in the same way’. ‘φιλία’ can be translated as ‘friendship’ but also as ‘love’, or ‘the binding force’, or ‘the coherence force’)

NovoScriptorium: What Democritus says here is that in order for coherence to exist between people (in all kinds of relationships) ‘ομοφροσύνη’ is the prerequisite. This means common values, beliefs, understandings and goals. So, if, for example, one wants to have coherence in a Family, its members must share common thinking; coherence will never be there if father and mother believe different things, or if their way of thinking (use of the brains) is different. It is impossible for true and solid Friendship between people to exist if they don’t share common thinking, if their brains work differently. How, indeed, ill-matched and unnatural is to call ‘friends’ people with whom we differ in values, beliefs, understandings and goals! How tragic is to neglect the ‘ομοφροσύνη’ factor before entering to Marriage! Because one of the main reasons for the increasing numbers of divorces around the World is this. Finally, how is it possible for a State, a Polity, to stand when its civilians-inhabitants don’t share (even to extreme degree) common values, beliefs, understandings and goals? When the body of the Polity is broken in pieces, divided, and these pieces have ‘centrifugal’ tendencies between them towards different or even opposite directions, really, such a Polity, such a State, how is it possible to survive in the long run? History suggests, with multiple examples, that it is not possible.

There are two ways for ‘ομοφροσύνη’ to prevail among people: with ‘Fear and Enforcement’ or ‘with Παιδεία (translated as ‘Education’ but has broader meaning) and Persuasion/Conviction’. Sometimes with a mixture of both. Obviously, the second way is of real value and it was/is indeed one of the main goals of Philosophy.

Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos

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