Tuesday, April 05, 2011
We were left to look for our own forms of wisdom, to find it where we could, to seek it out, to nurture it and so make it clear and believable. We had the dream that we would be understood and that, ultimately understanding would prevail and we would prosper as we passed through. As a young man I took that road, not realising where it would ultimately lead nor did I appreciate the ardour of the journey or the full depth of the disappointment that I would feel as I neared it’s end. To travel so far for so long but never arriving was not something I was prepared for. I had comforted myself with the knowledge that friends walked with me, we were a troop, a cabal, a team searching but one by one they strayed or fell away until I too finally was lost and all but consumed. The road’s end now beckons, neither a cliff edge nor a dark cave, not a blinding light or a peaceful refuge, floating on some serene ocean many miles deep. No, there will be none of that, that is not my fate for I see now I never had a destination nor a direction, I followed and illusion and is into an illusion that I have travelled. There is no way back. Somewhere in the distance I hear a cat’s meow.
(Some scholars, such as Michael V. Fox, have suggested that Ecclesiastes is influenced by philosophies like Stoicism and Epicureanism. “The boldest, most radical notion in the book is...the belief that the individual can and should proceed toward truth by means of his own powers of perception and reasoning; and that he can in this way discover truths previously unknown…This is the approach of philosophy, and its appearance Ecclesiastes probably reflects a Jewish awareness of this type of thinking among foreign intellectuals…He does not look to revelation or tradition for guidance. He believes that he can discover what is good to do in life by acquiring wisdom and using it to examine and contemplate the world. This is the stance of Greek philosophy…Koheleth’s focus on individual experience, in particular the perception of pleasure, bears a significant resemblance to Hellenistic popular philosophy, whose central purpose was to find the way to individual happiness by the use of the powers of reason. The Epicureans sought happiness through pleasure and freedom from fear. The Stoics thought to find it in the shedding of desires and passions…In 1:4-7 Koheleth mentions that the four elements compromise the totality of the physical word – a notion common to Greek philosophers especially Stoics…These general similarities…support the hypothesis that the author was aware of some concerns and attitudes of philosophical thinking current in the Hellenistic age.")