Friday, January 16, 2009

Two sources

I see in philosophy - in others words the thought of humankind - two main possible starting points: thought which starts by reflecting upon itself, and thought which starts by reflecting upon what is not itself.

In this respect, it is not correct, in the natural order, to say that we begin by reflecting upon ourselves. That is not what the child does! The child marvels on what around him is not him! Aristotle in this way seems to me to have this child spirit which marvels over what surrounds him and asks the why of things, whereas, for some time now, the Moderns have preferred the infantile spirit to the spirit of infancy - although they are persuaded of the contrary.

It follows that by starting with a philosophy of the spirit (or more exactly of relation - for the mind can radically only invent relations), negation evidently takes a capital importance, given that the spirit measures all the rest, and that the rest does not measure the spirit.

The two principal sources of Western philosophy are incarnated by Plato and Aristotle. The former developed a philosophy of relation, all sorts of relations, mostly proceeding from intuition and from a poetical inspiration which he had a gift for; the latter developed a philosophy of reality.

Have there been other philosophies since that time? Not to my knowledge. The immense majority of newer philosophies are philosophies of relation: Descartes with his "Cogito Ergo sum", setting explicitly his thought as solely reliable and as the first stone of all his research (he went as far as to indicate that he turned his back to Aristotle, and was therefore quite conscious of what he was doing); Hegel for whom the spirit also primes, the spirit being the spirit which transforms itself, and relation substituting itself clearly to substance; Nietzsche for whom man is the artistic person; Marx for whom man is the working man and who idealizes... matter!; Kant for whom what primes is transcendental subjectivity; Heidegger for whom being is being in the mind, and who reduces beings to... nothing. I don't see for that matter any other starting point which would not be either reality or relations produced by the mind, for philosophy would have to have a third actor which would be neither reality nor intelligence! I don't see any other... unless obviously if the profound nature of reality and/or of human nature were to change!

At the end of the day, the difference is there: there are those for whom being imposes itself to intelligence, and there are the others. In other words, either we accept that it is being which measures intelligence, and eventually, at the crest, being qua being, or we want to dominate over being, and in that case anything goes, absolutely anything! Further, to deny or refuse to give priority to being over spirit leads most often to stumbling into dialectics, with little chance of escaping from them.

If one does not accept to be dominated by being, and as one progressively discovers that it is via this route that intelligence attains its true nobility, then anything is possible, and it is this term "possible" which takes precedence over anything, for if intelligence is made essentially for being, to deny this leads to a suicide of the spirit. Therefore, that's where the choice lays, and, moreover and in my opinion, it would be rather sensible not to stray down the wrong path.

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  1. oh.. i got headache now. i never read about philosophy before.

  2. Hi Patronus!
    I also have headaches; my advice is to take an aspirin ;) Maybe a few definitions will help :)
    *relation = one of (Aristotles) ten "categories of being", the most tenuous... Categories are in essence folds of intelligence.
    *Being = all that exists
    *Being qua being is being as being (as opposed to being in the mind): Metaphysics is the science of being qua being...
    ok, gotta get back to work <=)

  3. Hello Mr. Kin,
    Believe me, I am light years from my friend whose texts I have translated here. It's a different vocabulary, which probably makes it sound more complicated than it is. :)

  4. Don't forget about Neo-Platonists, who essentially combined Plato and Aristotle's ideas. Now do we not only participate in the Good (the One) but also in the Many, at once.

  5. Hello Clare, I do believe neo-platonism is a philosophy of relation.

  6. One must be dominated by being! This being must stand up to everything including its own extinction and conditioning by its society. This is the key turning in the lock. Perhaps, this cannot be formalized by study,
    or the words of anyone.