Sykoutre's Philosophy Of Life

Philosophy of Life is a series of lectures given by a modern Hellene, legendary, philologist, Ioannes Sykoutres, around 1930. Foreign scholars wrote that modern Hellas met a second presence from ancient Hellas, meaning him. He was a professor at the university of Athens and he studied at the Universities of Athens, Berlin and Leipzig, entering the circle of Willamowitz and Jaeger. He founded philological societies for students, writers and professors and the school Askraios. He also participated in any attempt of bringing the ancient and the modern civilization to the surface.

This article has not any real connection with the Goddess, but it shows from the eyes and the mind of a philosopher, how we should think about life and how to be a hero of life, if we chose that role. In the text that follows, I have chosen the main teachings based on his book "The Philosophy of Life", divided in categories. His philosophy seems to be heavily influenced by the stoic philosophy (expect an article soon).

Applying Philosophy in Life

Sykoutres writes:

“Every man will be assisted to meet, to become aware, to acknowledge of himself, if he uses philosophy to his life, by that, he will move from life as we live (reality) to the life as thought, from life to sane/reason/consideration (Λόγος). And we should not forget that life also the sane. A living purified with the mind, with inner unity and coherence, with a clear knowledge and discretion of the means and the purposes.”

So, according to Sykoutres, we should move from a life we live passively, by just noticing, to a life of thought, of using our mental abilities to cleanse our living, to make better choices in order to find balance.


Dealing with misery, grief and unhappiness is stating that misery cannot be generally be fought, (for example, by a government or an institution) but we should take each case (meaning each human being) and try to solve each case differently, as it happens with medicine. We do not cure the disease in general, but each person’s condition. A technical organization against misery is not going to solve the problems of an employee or make him happy. “Each case should be faced differently, each person who lives in misery, from disease or from lack of money, or from social belittlement… as persons are not numbers of a statistic, neither amounts. The lowers person is a part of an anonymous flock and at the same time an ego, an independent ego, a unique center of existence, emotion and happiness.”

He continues to give the definition of the soul through an example. “As each human being hides inside of him a new, personal and special breath of the Creator (he means the Cosmic Soul) and lives its inner world as a unique and self-governed planetary system, which and by analogy only, under the prism of its own center, its own ego, can conceive things of his outer world and the life of other people. This center is what we call soul, but the name doesn’t matter, what is matter is the realization of the absolute solitude... So we can approach truly the other person, not as a number, but as individuality.” According to professor, each human is different, so each case of happiness and misery it is different. So, having a plan with general solutions will not bring happiness to people, things may get better, but it doesn’t go further than that. If we acknowledge the fact that each person has a certain personal ego we can approach any other human being by accepting that he has also another personal ego, which is used by him to center its world. So to be friends, to love and create relationships we have to accept our differences and lower our egos and approach him by our soul. But to do that, we have firstly contact our soul, and comprehend our soul. (The famous tv line “love yourself to love others”.)

Continuing the problem of misery, he takes the problem of hunger. This can be divided to the real hunger and the hunger of justice, in other words the lack of justice. “When you suffer without having to suffer, when you don’t deserve to suffer, the ethical humility, the one they force you to have in order to survive, the total breakdown of your emotions when you see children and elderly have nothing to eat and being in pain, to miss things they cannot buy and dealing with unjust, when you see that there are people, especially women, who do not work, but they humiliate themselves, many and many times to the most valuable thing they have, the impulses of their love. The hunger becomes misery from the moment it will come in contact with the ethical consciousness of people, from the moment it will be an ethical phenomenon.” The text is quite clear, so I won’t comment anything. But I will add that modern science (at least in my country) and employment, are on that category. People who represent science and people who work, accept to lose ethics in order to work with low salaries for else, they have nothing to eat. When Sykoutres wrote this paragraph about hunger, Hellas tried to find herself from the betrayal of Smyrne, a betrayal which came from the allies and from the local politicians and generals. Today, Hellas is in another type of war, having no visual enemy to fight, nothing to claim, but Hellas is in worst condition than the one that our philologist describes.

“Happiness is something, by which the person lives with all of its strength, as a kind of organic feeling, as a kind of psychic welfare.”

If bad things, misfortune, illogical situations, sudden events keep happening to you, there is no way to find happiness. But if you have good luck with you, you are not going to find happiness either. You have to be happy, not just live with luck. You have to act well, to do good things, to be happy.

Living With Happiness

Life manifest with two functions: self-preservation and reproduction. But we are not going to speak about life, but good life, eu zen, as it was called in ancient Hellas. What gives meaning to life and what takes life from a biological phenomenon to a ethical, completely humane phenomenon is that eu zen (ευ ζην). How we reach that inner condition? Well, all ancient Hellenes philosophers provided solutions according to each school of philosophy. Sykoutres is following them writing that we have to “cut and abandon goods, bury wishes…, quit and lose real opinions and good thrills… So the meaning of life is not a synonym to happiness. Happiness or unhappiness, objectively or subjectively can be the life of an animal. But it has no meaning, as it should have consciousness of ethics… If you put your living under sense, thought, the human will reach heights and he will be over life. Of course from life you will draw the meaning of life and thanks to life you will set it!” How this meaning is obtainable? Let’s see. “The assessment of axiological gradations of goods, which are accepted or denied is the weapon , with which human can obtain and govern (life). It is the guarantee, by which you ensure yourself that he won’t be a slave or a victim either of glamour or caprice of life.” For the really meaningful content of happiness, Sykoutres claims that he didn’t learn about it, as much as he read or taught. But he says that even if he knew the answer it wouldn’t have any meaning to reveal it, “as happiness cannot be described. Is not sensible. Only the person who has it, knows it and only when he doesn’t have it anymore, can describe happiness”. He means that when we are happy, we feel happiness and at the moment this will end, that moment we will realize that we lived in happiness.

This is possible if you understand that coming to your own place is happiness, not going to a foreign one. Returning to Ithica, Odysseus found happiness. Live your happiness as you live your life. When you are in pain, understand that your pain is right, this sense will guide you to happiness. True happiness is not going away from pain, but accepting the right pain. At this point, the philologist expands his thoughts to a point that I cannot write, as he will be misunderstood.

The Inner Emptiness

Having in mind that having happiness is a problem to some people of our society or that this century of civilization brings a loose faith on happiness, laziness on value of life. Too many people believe that this civilization is a work of satan. “The thing that characterizes our period is the lack of faith on happiness, a sense of void, a void inside of us, a void in our outer life, in which every moment we feet vanity. You feel that you act just for to act, you do something that has no meaning, not something absolute, full of meaning, neither you do something for obtaining happiness.” The pursuit of pleasures is not a manifestation of life, it an illusion of life, it is an act of a tired person and this temper, does not come from vitality, but from illness. That’s why this kind of persons try to find pleasure with technical means, like drugs. Those people are sick inside, they have lost their power, their soul lacks of energy.

How Unhappiness Expands

A moment of unhappiness or a fact of unhappiness or when you miss something and you feel bad about that, if those things become the causes of misery, people will become unhappy. They will become causes if the person lets one of them to have meaning in his life. So, the time period you handle one unhappy energy, determines the expansion of the unhappiness. Personally, I would say that if you have an ugly situation to handle or to accept, do not let this situation interfere with your thoughts or your daily life. Handle it, take your lesson, give a solution and move on. You have targets, put your energy on them. At least, that’s what I do and it is something I learned from athletics.

The Higher Human

The ideal human is the one who acts on behalf of his mental advantages. As much precice and without mistakes, mind thinks, the more higher this person is. He is the ideal of the the period of Enlightenment, 18th century’s positivism and 19th century’s scientism. Inside of human being lies the ethical law. Free is the person not as a physical figure but as a ethical personality “and in analogy its ethical personality is enhanced, enriched and purified from its own, placed the human energy.”

A characteristic of the heroic man is polymereia, to have different parts. Sykoutres comments on that, that polymereia gives the impression of illogic, as it is rich and each part could be a different section, an independent world from many people, but “the heroic man does not look like good careful people who drive their horse car, slow and safe from the flat roads. He is a charioteer who governs, four or eight angry horses, each of them following a different direction. But his hand is strong, not to give an end to their energy or revolutionary action.”

The heroic man is a free man. Free on his solitude. Keeping the distance with others, saying his opinion with courage. He is proud on the fortress of his solitude. So, he is not jealous of anyone, he doesn’t like comparisons with others, he has no need of confirmation from others. He is giving love without waiting for something back. He wants to give, as his stock never ends. He works with the attitude of using his mind and his body to solve difficult problems. He studies not to achieve a social status. He studies because he feels that happiness that a difficult matter is going to give to him. He also likes timeless commitments and after all, he values personal honor above everything.

Sykoutres ends his lecture quoting an ancient writer: “no one is going to build that bridge for you. You owe to pass that stream of life. Nobody else, except you. There are a lot of paths and bridges and semi-gods who want to pass you, but they will ask you to pay them with yourself. In the world, there is one and only road. And you can walk this road. Where it will take you? Don’t ask. Walk on this road.”

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Theurgy and Philosophy are two different methods which lead to the union with God.


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