Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Harmony, which is a science and an art, is a human invention in view of abstracting laws. But one must be careful, for that is precisely where lays a subtle adjustment, which looks unimportant, yet the consequences of which are far reaching downstream. The Swiss know it well, the source of the Rhone and of the Rhine are relatively close by, but downstream it's a whole other story. One must not mistake the source!

Thus the subtle adjustment, which is crucial, is this one: there is an order in nature, but neither mathematics nor harmony are principles in themselves of this order. They are the fruit of human intelligence which interrogates and seeks to understand these principles. In realist philosophy, this is called a "quiddity", in other terms the intelligibility of a reality.

Let me put forth an example, a true story, to show what a quiddity is but also the error consisting in mistaking it for the first principle. Once upon a time, a little boy was looking at a sculptor chipping away at a large piece of marble. After a few days, out of the marble rose a horse on its hind legs, magnificent, down to the smallest detail. The little boy cried out to the artist: wooooow, and since how long was the horse inside the marble? Well it is the same mistake when someone says that man has not invented mathematics, but has discovered them (just as the little boy could not imagine that the sculptor insufflates a quiddity into the marble, nor creates the horse - the horse was in the marble and the sculptor discovered it.)

This is quite a lovely farce, which has seduced many and close between. I know some who, after hearing this story would say: "well I wish to remain like this little boy". And here we enter into an illusion, that which equates infantilism to the spirit of youth.


  1. Very interesting read even though I had to read a couple of times to get my head round it.

  2. Was your head spinning, Doctor ;) Actually, to get a real grasp of metaphyics/first philosophy, the end is as important as the beginning. Being sheds a light on becoming, and becoming sheds a light on Being. I'm still getting my head around it too :)

  3. Beautiful. I love the way you have used the sculpting story to make the point about mathematics!

  4. Hi! Glad you are following. I translated this a while back (see my profile)... Aristotles philosophical analysis starts with art as it is closer to our psychological conditionning, highlighting the essential creases of our intelligence. I think this will be the object of the next blogpost :)

  5. Lovely.. Harmony. I couldn't get it until I reach the example part. Very Interesting,

  6. Read couple of your writings. I am so glad that are those like yourself that we can still reach out.
    Keep writing. It's peaceful, poetic, truthful yet mystical.

    Look forward to more....

  7. I fully agree with your comments Rebecca, thanks. Avatar was also a "poet" but did not mix his artistic persona with his philosophical quest. He did mention to me most artists have a Heiddegerian mindset. So I'll keep translating :) Cheers!

    PS I cannot get to your blog through your profile page...

  8. This post reminded me of an interesting line I saw today on Clive Owen's recent movie (The International). Went like: there's a subtle difference between truth and fiction--fiction has to make sense.

  9. MtM,

    That sounds like Mark Twain: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."

  10. @Harvey
    Its not boring.. its interesting.
    But we need to think deeply..

  11. Do,

    The appetite of intelligence is to reach the first principles, which are simple (because they are non dividable).

    Boring was in reference to a world reknown subforum :D

  12. The power of simplicity! I love a succinct example.

    ps - I like that last comment..

  13. Great post. Like the Spin Doctor I had to read it a couple of times, once out loud to help my brain process it. I never knew philosophy could be this interesting. From the outside I thought that it was mind numbing and pointless. Now I think philosophy is the articulation of intelligence. So many scientist argue about theories and how things came into existence, but really it is a fundamental philosophical, not a scientific one.

    I want to know more about quiddity.

  14. LLnL,
    Glad your getting into in ;)
    Short comment for now:
    Quiddity comes from Latin: quid est (what is the subject)?
    Some suggest that the object of intelligence is the quiddity of sensible realities. This is true, but intelligence is also made for Being, which is not a quiddity of a sensible reality. There is thus (to quote my friend here), as always, a balance to find between Nature and the Human person - in other words between Science and Wisdom. :)

  15. nice...
    i need this article
    thank you....