The etymology: Philosophy as love of wisdom?

1 Leave a comment on Absatz 1 0 All authors under examination here agree that the etymology of “philosophy” does not provide a valid definition of the concept of philosophy. Nevertheless, some texts explore the question whether there is a connection between wisdom and non-cognitive attitudes. For Montañés, the Complutenses, and Toletus love of wisdom is a property of the wise man, while for the Conimbricenses and Rubio it is a property of the student and a precondition for attaining wisdom.

2 Leave a comment on Absatz 2 0 Montañés points out that love of wisdom is neither an emotion nor can it be identical with the ‚desire to know‘ (desiderium sciendi) that is introduced as a part of human nature by Aristotle in Met. I.1. If love of wisdom was an emotion it would belong to our ‚vegetative soul‘, on a par with our ability to perceive and other capabilities of our soul that we share with animals. If love of wisdom was identical with the ‚desire to know‘, we would have to assume that all human beings are philosophers by nature (Montañés, Commentarii in Porphyrium, 15r f).

3 Leave a comment on Absatz 3 0 Montañés, the Complutenses, Toletus, and Rubio hold that love of wisdom should be ascribed only to the wise man. For Montañés, it is the enjoyment of philosophical insight for its own sake. He speaks of it as an activity that, as soon as we have acquired it, is ‚delightful and enjoyable to us‘ (actio qua acquisita et comparata cum voluptate fruimur, Commentarii in Porphyrium, 15v). The Complutenses (Disputationes, p. 5), Toletus (Commentaria, Una cum Quaestionibus, p. 1), and Rubio (Commentarij in octo libros  de physico auditu, p. 1) agree that this spiritual love of wisdom is due to the fact that “wisdom” and “philosophy” can be used interchangeably.

4 Leave a comment on Absatz 4 0 The Complutenses refer to Aquinas, who states in Sententia Metaphysicae, lib. 1 l. 3 n. 5 that all wise men are lovers of wisdom. This claim is based on the principle that higher-order ends are more valuable to us than lower-order ones. The reason why we want something is always more important to us than the specific means to obtaining this end. The Complutenses paraphase: “Qui enim aliquid propter alterum quaerit, magis hoc amat propter quod quaerit, quam quod quaerit.“ (Disputationes, p. 5) When striving for an apple, because we are hungry, it is more important to us that we find something to eat than it is to find apples.

5 Leave a comment on Absatz 5 0 In the case of intrinsically valuable things the distinction between propter quod and quod breaks down: We want to be wise, because wisdom has its value in itself – the quod of wanting, the ‚what-we-want‘, is identical with its propter quod the ‚why-we-want-it‘. But this does not speak against the fact that we do love what we want even if we want it for its own sake. Therefore, every wise man is qua being wise at the same time a lover of wisdom: The reference of “wisdom” and “philosophy” coincides ex impositione (Complutenses, Disputationes, p. 5). This insight, however, cannot be exploited for a definition of philosophy, because, as Rubio points out, both concepts can be understood in a variety of ways (see also his treatise on wisdom in his Dialectic). Therefore, we should regard the connection between love and wisdom as rhetorical flourish that clarifies and commends the dignitas of wisdom (Commentarij in octo libros  de physico auditu, p. 1).

6 Leave a comment on Absatz 6 0 The Conimbricenses and Sáenz de Aguirre deny that there is a direct connection between love and wisdom: It is not the wise man, but rather the student who has to develop love of wisdom in order to overcome the obstacles in his way. For them, wisdom is a perfection of our intellect, because it concerns our ability to understand the world. Love is a perfection of our will. Both texts quote the pseudo-Aristotelian Liber de secretiore sapientia: “Love accompanies the knowing man.“ (Pseudo-Aristotle X.14, p. 90). The intellect on its own (“in solitude and silence”) is incapable of becoming wise – particularly, if, as Sáenz de Aguirre adds, it is concerned with deep problems (cognitio rerum arcanarum). In other words: an intense desire (desiderium vehemens) and an ardent love (ardens amor) for truth are prerequisites for attaining wisdom (Philosophia nou-antiqua, p. 4).

7 Leave a comment on Absatz 7 0 In sum, all authors agree that the etymology of “philosophy” does not provide clues for a valid definition of philosophy. This holds even if it is assumed that philosophy is to be identified with wisdom, because the definition of wisdom is as controversial as the definition of philosophy. Whether love of wisdom belongs to the wise man or to the student beginning to attain wisdom, is a disputed question, too.

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