Cezanne The Forest Eight Notes on Plato amp Aristotle
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Eight Notes on Plato & Aristotle

Estimated reading time: 60 minute(s)

7 Notes + 1 (what is eight?) a rather long 5 notes on starting to show his philosophy via the Aristotelian perspective. /1. Creation ex nihilo does not mean the actualization of pure “power” (which is nothing, as such) which is Plato’s indefinite Dyad or Aristotle’s Prime Matter, but an Act which is chronological. – Logically posterior to pure Power: God is first of all vis-à-vis nothing and it is only then that he is in the presence of the World, which was nothing before he made it, while being perfectly able not to do it, by doing nothing at all. The creative “Word” of the Judeo-Christian God is therefore not: Let there be Light (Being)! but: May the Darkness (the Nothingness) be no more! All in all, this is a correct definition of active Negativity or Negative Activity, in fact anthropogenic and therefore virtually discursive (spoken action or active speech). / ועכשיו ניתן לזה ניסיון בעברית. בעברית שלי, ועדיין עברית: היצירה אקס ניהילו אין פירושה מימוש של “כוח” טהור (שהוא כלום, ככזה) שהוא הדיאדה הבלתי מוגדרת של או החומר הראשוני של אריסטו, אלא מעשה שהוא כרונולוגי. – מבחינה לוגית, זה שנמצא פוסט-פאקטום הכוח הטהור (שהוא כלום, ככזה): אלוהים הוא קודם כל אל מול כלום ורק אז הוא נמצא בנוכחות העולם, שלא היה אלא כלום לפני שעשה אותו, בעוד שהוא היה מסוגל לחלוטין לא לעשות כן, על ידי ״המשך״ בדבר לא עושה כלל. ה”מילה” היצירתית של האל היהודי-נוצרי אינה אפוא: יהי אור (הוויה)! אלא: שהחושך (האין) לא יהיה עוד! בסך הכל, זוהי הגדרה נכונה של שליליות אקטיבית או פעילות שלילית, למעשה אנתרופוגנית ולכן למעשה דיבורית (פעולה מדוברת או דיבור אקטיבי). *ההערה על הקריאשן אקס ניהיליו עמוקה ביותר אגב. מצאנו ואי הוויה ואנחנו בדרך לקרוא את זה עם השיר של פרמנידס, שאפלטון, עם הדיאלוג שכתב עליו, אולי היה נותן את הכותרת being and nothingness, אבל צריך כמה ימים להבנה הזאת.לגבי הכרונולוגי-thing.זאת פעולה, היא חייבת להיות כרונולוגית. הכרנולוגיה הזאת מסדרת את הפעולה הראשונה בסביבתה וכך משנה אותה ל-May it be no darkness anymore. /2 seems to have been aware of what is, for us, the antithetical character of the philosophical Parathesis. Indeed, he expressly says that for him it is a question of finding a “compromise” between and Heraclitus, while giving preference to the latter: “Pretending [as Parmenides does]…that everything either at rest and looking for a rational proof of it in defiance of the sensation, is a weakness of mind… Certainly, it is perhaps also a mistake to affirm [like Heraclitus] that everything is moved; but it is less than the preceding opposed to the [correct] method” (Phys., VIII, 3; 2534-6). [One would gladly read, in Plato, the “opposite” of these sayings; for there is no doubt that, for him: to claim that everything is in motion and to seek a sensible proof of it in defiance of reason, is weakness of mind; of course, it may well be an error to affirm that all is at rest, but it is less opposed to the correct method than the previous one.] As for the “fundamental thesis of the Para-thesis as such, namely the the “axiom” of the Eternal, formulates it explicitly on many occasions, as “self-evident”. It “goes without saying” that the Eternal “is better” than the Temporal (cf. Phys., VIII, 7; 260, 19 sqq.); the movement must be “eternal”, the Eternal is only being able to be Circular movement; (cf. Phys., VIII, 5-10). Moreover, Aristotle knows very well what it is. He says, in fact, this: “If the motor and the moved are always other things [as claimed by Heraclitus, who admits an “inexhaustible” or “infinite” reservoir from which “becoming” draws], the total movement cannot be continuous [i.e. eternal], but consecutive [i.e. temporal or temporary]” (Phys., VIII, 6; 259, 19). It is therefore a question of eliminating from Spatio-temporality any temporality whatever it may be. And Aristotle says that the only way to escape the Parmenides-Heraclitus dilemma (by “complementing” one with the other or by giving “partially” reason to both) is to bring the “Heraclitean (allegedly “infinite”) River” , and transforming it into a cyclic or circular (and therefore “finite” or de-finite) “whirlwind” [cf. Phys., VIII, 8; 265 4]. / 3. To say it right away. the so-called Platonic anthropology is purely cosmo-logical, while that of Aristotle is exclusively biological. Now, from this point of view again there is progress in relation to Plato, in the direction of Hegel. According to Hegel, Man himself creates his (final and definitive) Satisfaction from the human nothingness that is Nature. On the other hand, in Plato, Man obtains Satisfaction (-Bliss) passively, as a divine grace: he is therefore comparable to a scrap metal attracted by the magnet. As for Aristotle, he affirms that the Satisfaction of Man (as of any living being, that is to say of any Phenomenon) is obtained by him by actualizing his own power, which is his “nature”. (innate or given by the celestial Gods). And Aristotle is very aware of his opposition to on this point, because he explicitly reproaches him that (his) Man cannot do anything himself to achieve Satisfaction (-Endimony) which is, according to Plato (cf. Philebus), a Beatitude (cf. Eth. Nic., X, 2; 11725, 26-11734, 4). / 4 Philibus. Either there is no Satisfaction for Man (at least during his lifetime), or else the satisfaction must be silent (in the sense of beibg beyond of Discourse); and it will then be Beatitude (which is NEITHER a “theoretical” joy, NOR [even less (?)] a sensible” or “sensual” pleasure, NOR a “mixture” of the two), that the Philosopher will taste (from less “at times”) in a silent contemplation of the ineffable One; which is for the Philosopher the “absolute” (silent) Truth and which is in itself the Good [of which the Philosopher will speak, as far as possible, in the unique and one philosophical discourse, presenting itself as the sine qua non of discursive “Truth” as such, that is to say of the “finite” or de-finite Discourse, which must and can be reproduced everywhere and always in its perfect or “absolute” identity with itself]. By definition, the Philosopher seeks Wisdom, which he loves “with all his soul”. Now, according to Plato, this Wisdom (perhaps forever inaccessible to man) is both discursive Truth and silent Beatitude; or, more exactly, it is the true Speech which leads to a blissful Silence, the Silence or the Beatitude thus being the “end” of Philosophy, in the sense that the silent Beatitude is at the same time the term and the goal of the Philosophical or “dialectical” discourse. As for those who will not be fully “satisfied” with the perfectly blissful state that is supposed to be the “Parmenidean” silent Wisdom, which completes or perfects the “Platonic” Dialectic, all that Plato can say to them, is that they were never true Philosophers – at least in the “Platonic” sense of this word (which is perhaps, even for Plato, purely “Platonic”). /5. Anticipating the System of Knowledge, we can still say this: If Plato could [by impossible] speak of the Cosmos noetos, his discursive System would nevertheless imply a silent lacuna, since the Theos is for him rigorously ineffable. This “systematic” lacuna would, moreover, be filled by a “Heraclitean” pseudo-discourse, “contradictory” by definition and without beginning or end, relating to the Cosmos aisthetos which corresponds to it and which is in perpetual flux. On the other hand, by admitting the cyclic character of the Cosmos, as well as the spatial nature of Theos, Aristotle could complete, and this without gaps, the development of his discursive System, if the Discourse were in fact possible without Temporality properly speaking, that is, without “historical” Duration or even Future. However, Kant recognizes the impossibility of doing so. He therefore introduces Temporality into his System, including historical or human Duration. But, on the one hand, he re-introduces there the Platonic Theos (punctual and ineffable) and, on the other hand, he conceives human Duration in the image of Heraclito-Platonic cosmic Duration (rightly refusing to reduce this historical Duration to the Aristotelian cyclical Duration, in fact purely biological). Whence again a silent gap in the System, filled by an “endless” pseudo-discourse, that is to say without goal or term, which this time no longer relates to the Platonic Cosmos aisthetos (which is replaced in Kant by the Aristotelian cyclic Cosmos, minus the irreducible opposition between the celestial and terrestrial Worlds), but to the Anthropos in its in-definite historical evolution. It is by admitting that this evolution has reached its goal and its term (as a circular movement, but not cyclic, that is to say as a one and unique process), that Hegel was able to complete the development, & without the silent gap, of the philosophical System, which has thereby become the System of Knowledge, where one speaks of everything (without contradicting oneself), except what is ineffable (except to say that one cannot talk about it), including the one who had until then been called “God”. /6. Or another swifting generality: Using Aristotelian terminology, we can present the dialectical “possibilities” of Philosophy as follows (excluding Eleatism, which has no First Principle, since it knows only one , which is the One-all-alone, and Heracliteism, which knows no Principle at all): Plato the First-principle is immobile and does not move; Aristotle: it is immobile, but it moves everything; Kant: it is mobile but does not move anything; Hegel: it is mobile and it moves everything. Moreover, if Plato acquired immortal glory by introducing for the first time an (ideological) Energo-logy into Philosophy (which thereby became “systematic” and therefore transformable into a System of Knowledge), Aristotle advances the three Parts of the philosophical System: the Being-given is not yet Spatio-temporality, but it is already Spatiality (and not Punctuality); objective-Reality is not yet Inter-action, but it is already Action in the sense of Succession (and not simple motionless co-existence); Phenomeno-logy is not yet (also) an Anthropology, but it is already (also) a Bio-logy (and not only Cosmo-logy). It is moreover in the Phenomenology that Aristotle also acquired immortal glory. For it was he who first elaborated the correct notion of the Phenomenon which is taken and understood as a Monad, situated in a hic et nunc proper (that is to say tri-nitarian). /7. It is interesting to note that Aristotle fully realized the situation (seeing very well that the “philosophers” who “speak” to deny the very possibility of Discourse [properly speaking, that is to say, having a de-finite meaning and thereby developing into a discursive Knowledge which is integrated into the System of Knowledge] are nothing other than the sophisticated Rhetoricians, headed by Heraclitus, who does not accept the ” Principle of contradiction”). According to Aristotle, one cannot “refute” (i.e. contradict) someone who does not claim to be telling a “truth” (i.e. who does not say that he is speaking In the proper sense of the term); but he who says that he discursively affirms the impossibility of all discourse, speaks in the proper sense of the word and “contradicts himself” in doing so, since he contradicts (in speaking) what he says (in speaking of the Discourse as such and therefore also of the discourse which is its own) (cf. Met., K, 5; 1062, 32-1062, 11). That last 1 was for “our times”. /8. A rather long 5 notes on Plato starting to show his philosophy via the Aristotelian perspective. /1. In Hegelian terminology, Plato represents, from the historical point of view, the theosophic paradigm or thesis of Philosophy. Or, in the Hegelian Dialectical Schema, this Para-thesis presents itself as a discursive development of the Concept, which understands the relation between the Eternal to Eternity as one which is situated outside Time (in the broad sense). /2. For Plato, the apparent or common could not serve as a definition of any sensible thing, since it is always changing. Plato then called Ideas things of this other kind, and he says that sensible things are all named after Ideas and by virtue of a relation to them; because Multiple Things exist by participation in Ideas that have the same name as they. Only the word Participation was new [in Plato’s account]; for the Pythagoreans say that things exist by Imitation of Numbers and Plato says that they exist by participation. It appears that Plato is merely changing the word, replacing imitation in participation For he, as in “they” [the Pythagoreans and Plato] leave open the question of what could be Participation in, or Imitation of Forms. /3. The objects of mathematics, which occupy an intermediate position, differ both from sensible things, by being eternal and unchangeable and from forms or ideas, by the very fact that there are several similar ones, while the form itself is unique in each case. Since the Forms would be the causes of all other Things, Plato thought that the [-constitutive] elements of the Forms would be the [-constitutive] elements of all Things. The Great and the Little would be principles or constituent elements of Ideas as Matter, while [the] One [would be principle or constitutive element] is considered as essential Reality; for the Numbers [ideals, that is, the Ideas numbered in their hierarchical or deductive order] come from the Great and the Little, by participation in the One. But Plato agreed with the Pythagoreans that the One is substance and not a predicate of something else; and he agreed with them that the [ideal] Numbers are the causes of the reality of other things; but to pose an indefinite Dyad as a constituent element of ideal Ideas or Numbers (in which Numbers and other Mathematical Objects and Sensitive Things participate) and to construct the infinity of the Great-Little, [that is to say, of the indefinite Dyad], instead of treating the infinite as one [and not as Two or as Dyad: Great-and-small], is particularly Platonic; it is the same for his opinion that the Numbers [ideals and mathematics] exist separately from Sensitive Things, whereas the Pythagoreans say that [Sensitive] Things themselves are Numbers [mathematics] and do not locate the objects of mathematics between Forms [they do not admit] and Sensitive things. The divergence from the Pythagoreans, in separating the One and Numbers [ideals and mathematics] from [Sensitive] Things and its introduction of Forms, is in the centre of Aristotle’s criticism. /4. It is indisputable that the three Aristotelian texts are clearly “polemical”, not to say malicious. Nevertheless, they are coming to us from a man who has been a member of the Academy for nearly twenty years and who has elaborated a philosophical System (besides anti-Platonist), whose out of par “originality” is as evident as its extraordinary longevity and exceptional historical influence. It is thus a “summary” of Platonism made by a man particularly qualified to understand Plato in a proper way and to tell us what was really essential and essentially new in the Platonic philosophical system, while indicating to us what could be contradicted or explained as contradictory (by Aristotle and Aristotelianism). If it is by no means absurd, if it is even necessary to understand a philosopher better than he understood himself, then Aristotle is our best option, as no one could understand Plato better than Aristotle did. It is therefore not for us to “criticize”, but only to understand what Aristotle tells us of the philosophy of his master. Which, besides, without being impossible, is very far from easy. In any case, it is only thanks to Hegel and his Dialectical Scheme that I have been able to acquire the feeling of having been more or less successful. It is now my question to try to show the agreement between Aristotelian analysis and the “dialectical” or “Hegelian” analysis of Platonism. /As the philosopher who sought a “synthesis” of two “opposing theses”, Aristotle first names the “thesis” of Heraclitus (although in fact and for us it is a “second” thesis), since it is “contrary” or “negative” to the “Anti-Thesis of Philosophy” itself. And he sums up this “thesis” by saying that in a Cosmos where everything is “in flux”, no (discursive) thought is possible, but of course Heraclitus himself would not have summed up his thesis in this way. For the notion of discourse has a different meaning for him than for Aristotle. For him this notion has the meaning assigned to it by Plato, following Socrates (but not Parmenides, for whom Knowledge was not discursive). /It is for Aristotle a permanent Discursive Knowledge, even of a Discourse (theoretical, that is to say speaking of Something) finite or definite, everywhere and always the same or identical to itself, that is to say, as it can be always and everywhere re-spoken, but nowhere, or never, contradictory(unless it is self-contradictory in the so-called). /But Heraclitus actually denies even the possibility of such a Discourse (which may be called Socratic), because for him we can always and everywhere say the opposite of what we say about everything we talk about,{as Aristotle tells us elsewhere, in his usual contemptuous manner and by “refuting” it, by a “sophistic” argument, which says that Heraclitus himself contradicts himself by saying what he says; cf. Met., 1062a, 32-1062b, 11}. But, for Heraclitus, this does not mean the negation of Knowledge as such, if we give it the meaning he gives it itself, namely the possibility of constantly speaking about everything that we want. /Without a doubt, having said that S is P, we must say sooner or later that S is not P or is Non-p, and therefore not say what we had said, but the contrary and the opposite is canceled thus discursively; but nothing prevents us from saying afterwards that S is Q and so on indefinitely. Thus, as opposed to the Parmenidean (also permanent) Silence, the Logos of Heraclitus is a Discourse and Discourse just as permanent, as such, as Socratic (Discursive) Knowledge: except that the latter is repeated incessantly, while the Heraclitean Logos develops endlessly or indefinitely, while remaining everywhere and always, that is to say necessarily, what it is , namely Speech. Be that as it may, Aristotle is correct when he asserts that it is Heraclitus’ thesis n (negative or negating) which is at the origin of Platonism, at least in the sense that Plato’s philosophy had for first and main goal (not to re-say, but) to contradict the Heraclitean “thesis (which itself contradicted the eleatic thesis, that is to say: the thesis of philosophy). /Plato’s purpose was to reiterate Socrates’s sayings about (discursive) thought while reiterating what Heraclitus said about the Universe or the World – where – one – lives -while- speaking. Therefore, according to Aristotle, Platonic philosophy has a ”parathetic” tone, once this philosophy implies (also) a Heraclitean element, which I call “antithetic”. /More exactly, Platonism is intertwined in two points with Heraclitus, thus opposing Parmenides on both points. On the one hand, Plato admits with the first against the latter that the Saroir du Sage is not silent, but discursive; so that the Philosopher seeks (discursively) Wisdom not in order to be silent, but in order to speak (by developing discursively “Socratic Discourse”) On the other hand, and it is only the counterpart of this first hold (“antithetic”) of position, the World of which one speaks (while living there) is not finished (in its extended duration), as so wished Parmenides, who claimed that all “contraries” cancel each other out in a “permanent” or ”definitive” (somehow “simultaneously”); the world of speech is unfinished (at least in its duration), as said Heraclitus, who admitted that every “opposite,” annulled by his “contrary,” is always and everywhere going to create a “new” opposite. But, once again, if Plato admitted this second “premise” of Heraclitism, he denied his conclusion, because he modified the first premise. /He admitted, in fact, following Socrates (at least according to Aristotle), that permanent silence could be substituted for a speech that was just as permanent (which is in the strong sense, as opposed to the “ephemeral” sense of the term), without becoming therefore in-defined or “infinite” (that is to say, in fact, and for us, as for Plato and probably already for Socrates, devoid of meaning proper and, therefore, purely symbolic, mathematical or otherwise). For this to be so, it was sufficient for the Discourse to be at one and the same time coherent or finite, and indefinitely repeatable as it is. But such a Discourse is precisely the Socratic Discourse, whose “Heraclitean Thesis” was denied existence and even possibility. Plato therefore had to transform this (negative) thesis in order to bring it in line with Socrates’ (positive) thesis. And this is precisely what Aristotle tells us at the beginning of the first text quoted. Now, the “Socratic Thesis in question is, in fact, and for us, a Para-thesis. For by affirming (hypothetically) the possibility of Discursive Knowledge, it implies an antithetical element, that is to say in fact Heraclitean or anti-Eleatic. But the identical, or even the finite, namely, the limited or definite character of the Socratic Discourse makes Plato’s discourse apparent to the Parmenidian Silence and opposes it to the Logos of Heraclitus. /To say, as Aristotle does, that Plato wanted to reconcile Heraclitus with Socrates is therefore equivalent to asserting that Platonism is an attempt at the synthesis of Heraclitism (that is, the anti-thesis of Philosophy), not with Socratism (already < synthetic > in the sense of parathetic), but with its contrary, properly-taken or so called, that is to say with the Eleatism which is the authentic Philosophical Thesis. This is what Aristotle is perfectly aware of, since he tells us a little further that Plato re-said the Pythagorean thesis (by contenting himself with the claim for Participation instead of Imitation). Namely, Plato would agree with the Pythagoreans that the One is substance and not predicate of something else. Now, although we know very little of pre-Socratic philosophy in general and that of the Pythagoreans in particular, we know enough to say that the Plato-Pythagorean conception conveyed by Aristotle applies perfectly well to the only-one-Parmenidean concept. /5. The Aristotelian statements, therefore, in no way prevent us from repeating, in accordance with the Hegelian Schema, that Plato (following Socrates) attempted a kind of “synthesis” of Heraclitus with Parmenides, that is to say of the Thesis of Philosophy with its Anti-thesis; which is peculiar to the philosophical Para-thesis. This historical correction of Aristotle is moreover compelling, all the more so because he himself admits (again, in the quoted passage) that Plato opposes the Pythagorean, in the sense that he asserted the transcendence of the One that the latter denied (by making the One the Matter itself: the Cosmos itself, instead of situating it beyond of it, as did Plato, precisely after the authentic Eleatic). Now, as we know and as we will have the opportunity to see again, the Platonic trans-formation of Heraclitism (in view of the non-contradictory affirmation of the possibility of Socratic Knowledge) is only possible if we admits a Something situated outside the (extended duration of) the whole empirical Existence (or even Cosmos) taken and understood as the Heraclitean River. & and yet, you have to read Plato himself. & and just do it! etc.

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