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January 21, 2007


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Nice post.

Re: 'Embodying the profoundly humanist notion (traced back to Cicero and Quintillian) that speaking could only be effective (in promoting virtue, of course) if it was strictly tailored and shaped to the particular audience being addressed....' I rather suspect that this goes back yet further to Plato and Aristotle, indeed, it is one reason we find Socrates not resorting to the written word and why we read in the Seventh Letter that 'this subject matter cannot at all be expressed in words as other studies can, but instead, from living with the subject itself in frequent dialogue, suddenly, as a light kindled from a leaping flame, [knowledge] comes to be in the soul where it presently mourishes itself.' Indeed, neither written nor spoken words can express (first) principles as they are. Wisdom as such is a non-propositional knowledge 'by acquaintance' (not in the Russellian sense) evidenced in the degree to which one is living one's life well (a 'knowing how'), living the right kind of live (human flourishing or eudaimonia). The Platonic dialectical dialogues make this clear, for although one can write about these principles (or show Socrates discussing them in the agora) one is not thereby communicating knowledge of these principles. In Plato's case, therefore, one must make proper use of rhetoric (unlike the Sophists, for example, who made improper use of same). As Francisco Gonzalez explains, while Plato writes *about*, say, courage and justice or even the good, he resorts to instances (exempla), similes, analogies, metaphors, allegories, and so forth without telling us what the good, or justice, or courage actually is; and for Plato, there is an 'essence' to such things, but it is nonpropositional, an intuitive knowledge by acquaintance that one can only 'point' to with words, propositions, and images (indeed, the resort to propositional knowledge is unavoidable although we must be intimately apprised of its limitations). See, for example, Franciso J. Gonzalez, Dialectica and Dialogue: Plato's Practice of Philosophical Inquiry (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998)

Please read 'living the right kind of life'...

Whoops! The reference should read Francisco J. Gonzalez, Dialectic and Dialogue: Plato's Practice of Philosophical Inquiry....

Thank you, Daniel and Patrick, for such a rich discussion this morning. I would like to ponder the nature a few snippets of the relationship between nurse and patient. Since this is a time and space-bound relationship, one cannot help but think about how the patient and patient role is viewed and acted upon by the nurse. The underpinnings of the code of ethics for nurses allude to this relationship being one of advocacy on behalf of the patient. But many nurses act upon patients as animated objects on which to apply a discrete skill or procedure. There is some degree of passivity and compliance that is assumed to be the role of the patient. Expert nurses are thought to have developed high degrees of intuition and wisdom, which I have attributed to the ability to rapidly scan, assess, diagnose and act upon a very complex and comprehensive patient landscape faster and more subtly than can be observed by others, hence giving the impression of intuiting.

Thank you for hosting a wonderful edition of the Health Wonk Review!

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