The Religious Attitude

By and large, the religious attitude is characterised by the consciousness to which a man becomes aware, regarding the impossibility for him to be fully and definitively satisfied (or “appeased”: be-friedigt) in the Here Below, that is to say, in the World where he is born, lives and dies; and this not only in fact, but also in principle or necessarily, that is to say, in any “worldly” hic et nunc. As it is, this attitude is not viable. For if we accept as a premise that Man, whoever he is and whatever he does, can never be satisfied anywhere or ever during his lifetime, we can only deduce from this a single consequence, which is revealed in empirical Existence by the phenomenon of suicide properly speaking, that is to say of death fully conscious of itself and perfectly voluntary.

But the properly religious attitude is not purely negative: neither discursively or theoretically, nor actively or existentially. The Religious is not completely eliminated from the World in which we live (and Religion lasts and extends in the Universe of Discourse, both as the practical Discourse which is Prayer, and as the theoretical discourse that is Theology) because Satisfaction (which is the beginning and the end, even the cause and the goal of human existence as such) is not denied purely and simply by the Religious, but “suppressed-dialectically,” that is to say, preserved and sublimated in and by its very negation. In other words, the Religious attitude only denies the possibility of Satisfaction in the world in which one lives to affirm it in the Beyond, that is to say in the World-below where one lives as a rehearsal to death (Socrates).

It is this (possible) Satisfaction in the Beyond that characterises the Religious Discourse (practical or theoretical) and Religious Existence. But religious discursive Existence admits three essentially distinct variants. What characterises Religion as such is the “absolute” impossibility for the Religious Man to satisfy himself in the Here Below or in the World where he lives. Now, this impossibility is absolute only if, and by definition, nothing is really satisfactory in all that is still just a function of the life of Man in the World.

In particular, Man cannot be satisfied either by the fact that he is or exists-empirically in the Extended Duration, with all that which “automatically” results from it, nor because of what he himself does or of what results from his “conscious and voluntary” actions. And this is precisely because the existence in question is his existence and because the actions in question are his actions. But this does not mean that an existence determined by actions other than his own cannot give him satisfaction. On the contrary, Man is religious only insofar as he admits such Satisfaction as a function of “transcendent” actions, within the framework of a “transcendent” existence.

Now, the first religious variant admits that a Satisfaction is possible in the very World, where one lives, after being born there and before dying there; and that on the condition of supposing that the empirical existence of Man in the world Duration-Extension also implies a “spiritual life”, or that the “soul” lives not only according to its “bodily” desires, but also to a “divine will”, which is opposed to them. It matters little, moreover, whether the transcendent or divine actions take place in an “immediate” way, in and through the human-animal body, or are “mediated” by a “consent” or even by a “cooperation” of the human soul embodied in this body. If empirical existence is determined by “transcendent” acts (immediate or mediated), it will be satisfactory throughout its extended duration. Thus, Man can be satisfied during his lifetime, but his Satisfaction can only be religious: that is, once understood as not coming from him [all alone].

But if we radicalize this first variant of religious existence, we transform it into a second variant. One can deny the possibility of any Satisfaction in the Here below, on the pretext that, in the Extensive Duration, a co-operation of the Man who exists there-empirically is necessary and that no human operation could be really satisfactory. So, the affirmation of Religious Satisfaction, that is to say, the maintenance of Religion as such requires the affirmation of a Beyond where the man knows he cannot (really!) BE down here, that is, to hIS fullest extent.

However, if we note, on the one hand, that “the true being of Man is his Action” (Hegel), that is to say, that Man as such does not exist empirical, and that he only exists to the extent that he acts, consciously and voluntarily, in the world of Duration-Extension; and if we admit, on the other hand, that no human action can be fully and definitively satisfactory, we must conclude that Religious Satisfaction in the Beyond can neither result from any activity nor consist of any active existence. In other words, religious Satisfaction cannot be anything other than an “extinction” (nirvana) of the extended duration of human empirical Existence. And this “extinction” can be reduced just as little to simple death, which is still part of the pith, as it does not result from any activity whatsoever of this life itself: when one lives by acting, one dies only by acting; to be reborn by the perfectly satisfactory extinction is obtained only if one succeeds in living and dying in a total in-action, which suppresses even the very desire to act.

There are thus two extreme religious variants: one admits a Satisfaction in the Here Below, on the condition that Man acts there according to a will which is not his own; the other seeks this same Satisfaction only in a Beyond where there is no longer any action at all and therefore no longer any human existence, that is to say, voluntary and conscious. And these two “extreme” variants (thetic and antithetic) admit a third “intermediate” variant (or parathetic). This one admits a conscious or human Satisfaction, but it admits it only in the Beyond. This Beyond, where Satisfaction is human in the sense that it is conscious (if not voluntary and discursive), by the very fact of an”other world”, where man survives his life and death in the here below. Nevertheless, this World of Survival is not a “proliferation” of the World in which one lives, but an “other world”. Because Satisfaction that can be obtained there is so much different from all that one obtains in the Here-below, that it could not be obtained anywhere nor ever in the duration-extended of the empirical-Existence. And this is precisely why this World of surviving is “transcendent” to the World where one lives and dies.

Now, this Transcendence would not be religious if Satisfaction in the Other World were a necessary consequence of the conscious and voluntary life of Man in the Here Below. Nor would it be if, in the Beyond, Man could derive satisfaction from his own actions, even conscious and voluntary or human existence. If this were so, Man would not be religious, but divine: it is as God that he would outlive himself after dying as Man. The attitude towards the Hereafter is religious only insofar as the Satisfaction in the Otherworld is supposed to be just as “transcendent” as that which the first variant of Religion admits in the down here world. In other words, Satisfaction in surviving, that is to say in life after death, can only be conscious or human insofar as it is not voluntary, in the sense that the satisfying action is not [only] the will of the one whom it satisfies. In short, the intermediate (or parathetical) religious variant supposes a double Transcendence: a transcendence of God to the transcendent World, where the soul survives after the Body’s death (or pre-lives before the latter’s birth).

In this third variant, the Universe of religious Discourse involves three superimposed Worlds of which we speak: the Here Below, or the World of bodies, even of incarnated souls; the Beyond, or the World of disembodied or pure human souls; and the disembodied and inanimate divine World, or God. The first two Worlds have this in common, that they are both Worlds properly so-called, which are “phenomenal” in the sense that they are conscious of themselves. In other words, their constituent elements are structured units or Monads, each of which is distinct from all that it is not, thus being one (in itself) and unique (of its kind) in and for itself. These two phenomenal Worlds have this in common, too, that there is for each a Beyond of itself, in the sense that in speaking of all that which constitutes one of them, we do not exhaust the totality of what we are talking about or can talk about in a uni-total, even “coherent” and “complete” Discourse. The second World is not a mere replica or reduplication of the first. Indeed, if in the first World Man lives and acts, as an incarnated soul, without being able to be satisfied by his active existence, he can be satisfied fully and definitively in the second World, without however being able to act there himself.

Consequently, if the Soul can pass from the Here Below into the Beyond by “disembodying”, that is to say by ceasing to act and even to desire action, it cannot transcend this Beyond itself. Because inaction in the World where the incarnated Soul lives is just enough to pose, by disembodying it, the World of the survival of pure souls. Inaction during survival cannot, therefore, carry the Soul beyond the Otherworld. And if it acted [par impossible?] in the World where it survives, it could therefore only re-incarnate and therefore be re-born in the World of life and death without Satisfaction. If, by disembodying, that is to say, ceasing to live and act, the Soul survives its active life (limited otherwise by death), it cannot, whatever it does and even if it does nothing at all, transcend its limitless survival. The divine World where God is just as inaccessible to the disembodied or pure Soul as is inaccessible to the body and to the incarnated Soul of the Beyond that constitutes the intermediate World between that of the Beast and of God, even of the Gods or, if you will, Angels. If a man is not a Beast because his soul survives the death of his body, neither is he an Angel, because his disembodied human soul is immortal, so that, not reaching its own end nowhere, it cannot never exceed it.

If the religious or theological Myth presupposes the animist Myth, the latter does not, as such, presuppose the theological Myth. If the ideal World, where pure or disembodied souls live on the death of their bodies, is there only to allow men to gather the fruits of their active life in the Here Below or to make up for the lost time in obtaining there their active Satisfaction that they could not or did not know how to obtain during their lifetime; this ideal or transcendent World, thus, has no divine Beyond and the man who believes he will survive his death there is not a religious person. But if he is a Religious, that is to say, if he admits that even in acting he cannot be satisfied unless he acts according to a will other than his own, he must admit in itself a “transcendent” Soul which can only be satisfied by the will of a satisfying God. It is therefore quite natural to say that the transcendent or divine will is fully and definitively satisfied only in a transcendent World, where souls survive the life of their bodies and where the soul is disembodied and fully and definitively satisfied by its God Himself; and no longer does anything; – never and nowhere.

Now, the authentic myths of Plato are religious and theological myths. It is only insofar as these myths are theological and religious that they are also, and necessarily, animist myths. In other words, an animist myth is authentically Platonic only insofar as it admits a double Transcendence: the transcendence of the ideal world, where the disembodied souls survive (or prevent) in relation to the World of the duration-extension of the life who dies; and the transcendence of the inanimate Divine or the soulless God from this ideal World itself.

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Aristotle About Platonic Ideas

Plato should be asked why the ideas are not in place, since place is that which participates.

Aristotle physics IV, 2, 209, b; 33
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The Sophistic Theory of Protagoras

I would like to briefly analyze the best known Sophistic Theory, namely that of Protagoras.

If we take literally what is said about Protagoras in the Theaetetus (161, a -168, c), we see that Plato ranks Protagoras among the “Heracliteans” (in the broad sense). Indeed, Plato puts in the mouth of Protagoras the following summary of his doctrine: “everything moves ”; “What seems to each one is, as such, real, to the individual as to the City “(Th., 168, b).

Now, if everything moves, it is because everything about which one speaks becomes different from what it has been said to be; it becomes, at the limit, the opposite. We say of a thing which is A that it is A and it is true “; then this thing becomes (No -A =) B and it is then false to say that it is A; but it is “true” to say that it is B (= Non-A); it would however be “false” to say of the thing which is (still) A, that it is (already) B. Thus, it is just as “true” to assert that the thing about which one speaks is A as to deny it, by asserting that it is Non-A or B. If we define Truth by the “coherence” of discourse, we must then admit that it is just as coherent ”to affirm A as to deny it by affirming No-A. And if we define Truth by “the adequacy” of what we say to what we talk about, we must admit that what we are talking about is just as much A as Non-A. Without doubt, to say that something is A and Non-A is to contradict oneself and therefore discursively annul everything that one has said.

Now, to say nothing is to speak of nothing or to say that what we are talking about is Nothing or pure Nothingness: to say of something that it is A and Non-A, is to say that what we have thus spoken of (“In truth”) is (more) nothing. Thus, the thing of which we have spoken annihilates itself to the very extent that we annul all that we say about it, having said “in truth” that it is A and T Non-A. Everything about which we speak is annihilated just as much as the discourse which speaks of it is annulled (by counter-saying itself).

Only, if everything moves (without ever stopping anywhere), the thing which is annihilated only gives way to a thing which is and which is also another thing, which is not No -A or B, but C (forgetting, like Heraclitus, that Non-B = Non-non-A = A!). Now, by definition, what is C is also Non-C or D; and so on, indefinitely. Thus, the Speech develops without end: while contradicting itself everywhere and always, it never cancels itself anywhere; and it is “true” always and everywhere, both according to the criterion of coherence (of each of its contrary elements) and according to that of adequacy (partial and total). This is true not only of all “individual” (“positive” or “negative”) discourse, but also of “collective” discourse (“positive” AND “negative”; and therefore, it is true of discourse as a whole, even of the Speech as such. All this is authentically Heraclitean. But if Heraclitus himself, as a Philosopher, was interested not (only) in what one speaks, but (again; in what the One says about it, that is to say to the Speech as such, Protagoras (at least according to the Theaetetus) seems to be interested in the Speech as such only to “justify” what he himself says. Protagoras is therefore not a Philosopher properly speaking (nor even a Para-philosopher), but a Theorician or an Intellectual in the proper sense of the word.

As a Sophist, Protagoras claims to be able to give an
“adequate”(ib., 167, cJ.
education to his students; that is to say, “Morality” in the broad sense: he is therefore a Moralist. In so far as he “teaches” he talks to someone (namely his students) and he is then a Practitioner of Morals or a Moralist of practice. But insofar as he also speaks of his “teaching” (moral) (without speaking however of what he says about it), he is an Intellectual, namely a Moral Theorist or a theoretical Moralist.

As a theoretical, the moral or moralistic discourse of Protagoras is, by definition, exclusive. By saying of moral behavior that it is (or must be) A, he therefore excludes statements according to which this same behavior is not A, being Non-A. However, as we will see immediately, his assertions about moral behavior are not axiomatic, but dogmatic. And they are so because he is skeptical, in relation to axiomatic affirmations: he admits (following Heraclitus it seems) that a given axiom is neither more nor less true (in the sense consistency and adequacy) than the contrary axiom which contradicts it, “without anyone having false opinions” (ib., 167, d).

Protagoras excludes all moralistic statements “contrary” to his own solely on the basis of the exclusive effectiveness of the latter. Now, this “efficiency” is an “experimental” and therefore non-discursive criterion. Those who contradict Protagoras’ statements (moralists) can be, according to him, just as coherent as he himself is. And what one says, by counter-saying it, of a moral behavior contrary to that of which he speaks, can be, according to him, just as adequate. There is therefore no discursive criterion which would allow Protagoras to exclude the dissenters who contradict his own. Such an exclusion criterion can only be found outside the Speech and, for Protagoras, that criterion is effectiveness.

Those who contradict him speak (in principle, in a coherent and adequate way) of ineffective behavior: he alone speaks (in a coherent and adequate way) of an “exclusively” effective behavior.

If one defines discursive Truth by coherence or by adequacy, the moralist discourse of Protagoras is, for him, neither more nor less “true” than the discourse which contradicts it. But his (exclusive)speech is the only one to have a (non-discursive) efficiency value: we can therefore maintain it alone, to the exclusion of all the others.

It is also possible to say, if you will, that this discourse is the only one to be “true”; but we must then add that the criterion of this “discursive truth is a criterion which is not discursive.” “For me, they (opinions) are more valuable than each other;(ib., 167, b). Now, if the Sage “tells the truth”, while the Madman “is mistaken”, we can say “that there are people, each wiser than the next, without anyone having false opinions ”(ib., 167, d). And this wisdom is discourse. Only it is not philosophical, but “theoretical”, because it is“ exclusive ”and because the criterion of its “exclusivity” is non-discursive. Thus, in fact and for us, Protagoras is (even for himself) not a wise man properly so called, but an Intellectual, more exactly a dogmatic theoretical Moralist.

In addition, the dogmatic theoretical Morality of Protagoras is fundamentally pagan, even “biological” and not really “human”. Because, if the effectiveness that he has in view is for him a Virtue, this Virtue is nothing other than Health, even Happiness what this health brings to the healthy. Also Protagoras compares himself (as “Sophist”) to the Physician (cf. ib., 167b). “This is how I define … the Sage:..and at ease, knows how to invert the meaning of things so that they appear to him and are to him
good ”(ib., 166, d). For example: honey is “bad” (bitter = unpleasant) for the patient and the patient says “true” when he says so; it is “good” (soft = pleasant) for the healthy man and this one says “true” when he says it (by counter-saying what claims the disease); the “Sage” (= Doctor) “invert iridescent”, so that the sick person (while recovering) can counter say what he said (as sick), by saying (as healthy) that honey is “good”; the criterion of “Wisdom” (medical) is non-discursive approval, and not the meaning of what one says.

[According to Plato (cf. ib., 167, c) Protagoras “justifies his“ salary ”by the“ efficiency ”of his“ teaching n. But we can also say that this salary is the criterion of the “truth” of Protagoric discourse: Protagoras’ discourse is “effective” because it brings him a salary; Protagoras receives a salary because the discourse which he emits is “effective” in the sense that it makes “happy”, that is to say “healthy”, the one who absorbs it; however, only a happy speech is “true”; and the happy man says of himself what Protagoras says about it; the salary received by it therefore “shows” (without discursively demonstrating it)
the “truth” of what Protagoras says. And what is valid for the individual also applies to the City, or even the whole of Humanity, which would be quite “Hegelian”, if it were not about Happiness (animal), but Satisfaction (human), that is to say Recognition.

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Athens Empedocles and the Parmenidean Poem

Empedocles and the Parmenidean Poem

Judging from the evidence that has come down to us, Empedocles’ philosophical value seems to be inferior even to that of Anaxagoras. In any case, we are not shocked by the mockeries of Plato (cf. in particular Soph., 242, a) and the (quite relative) praise of Aristotle (cf. Met., 985 4-22 and 1000 “25) seems to us rather undeserved. Moreover, tradition seems to have placed Empedocles clearly below Anaxagoras, not to mention Parmenides or Heraclitus.

More exactly, one can wonder if Empedocles was a philosopher in the proper sense of the word. In other words, one can wonder if Empedocles spoke and wanted to speak (also) about what he said himself if he wanted and could answer the question of knowing what “is” the Concept as such and whether it is or not.

Undoubtedly, the beginning of Empedocles’ Poem consciously and voluntarily imitates that of the Parmenidean Poem. But Empedocles imitates Parmenides only to emphasize the irreducible difference between their works.

Thus, it is the Goddess who teaches the Truth to Parmenides. But it is Empedocles himself who teaches it to a certain Pausanias (who passed for his lover, moreover) (cf. Diels, 21, B, I).

Certainly, Empedocles also appeals to the Gods (in the plural!) And to the Muse (in the singular!) (Cf. ib., 1, 1-3) and he goes so far as to say to Pausanias that to listen to him is to hear the voice of God (cf. ib., 23:11).

But he only asks the Gods to remove from him the errors of ordinary men (cf. ib., 4, 1) and he asks the Muse not to lead him astray by raising him above the earth; and in so doing allows him to imagine that he knows more than a man can and to believe wrongly that he sits on “the heights of Wisdom” (cf. ib., 4, 3-8).

However, the errors of common men consist in the illusion of having found the Whole when, in fact, they can only see particular things, by definition temporal in the sense of temporary.

Thus, the great error from which Empedocles would like to be preserved with the help of the Gods is nothing other than what is for him the basic error of Parmenides.

So it is for him above all: “while walking [like Parmenides] from top to top, not to walk until the very end only one Path [as this same Parmenides did”] (ib., 24).

Therefore, for Empedocles there is nothing which is one in itself and unique in its kind, being everything that can both be and be conceived (if only in silence) and which is in fact and for us, as already for Parmenides, the Concept as such.

It, therefore, seems that, for us, Empedocles in fact “denied n the Concept, like Heraclitus, in this sense at least that for him too all that is, while also being able to be conceived”. It is by definition that the Temporal as/is a set of all – which is temporary.

But if he was so, Empedocles would only re-say Heraclitus. Now, in fact, he also re-says Parmenides.

And he contradicted himself to such an extent by telling them both that we have the impression that he did not understand exactly what they were saying and did not know that they were talking about the Concept. In this case, he himself would speak of the Concept only “unconsciously”, or even only in one, i.e., implicit, way, and would therefore not be a true philosopher.

However that may be, there is no doubt for us that Empedocles indeed re-said Parmenides, without however re-saying everything he had said; and he does this by also re-saying part of what Heraclitus said.

He also realized it himself, as well as his contemporaries. And it is probably to defend oneself against the reproaches of reprimands, even of “Plagiarism”, which he said (by provoking the mockery of Plato; cf. Gorg., 498, e) that “what is right can well be said even twice” (ib., 25).

Indeed, is it not re-saying Parmenides to say:

“The fools! Their thought is short, for they imagine that what was not previously exists or that something can perish and be destroyed; for as it cannot be that anything can be born from what does not exist in any way, it is likewise impossible and unheard of that what is can perish; for it will always be in whatever place it is placed [that is to say, everywhere]; and in the Whole, there is nothing empty and nothing too full; in the Whole, there is nothing empty; whence, consequently, could come something which augments it ”(ib., 11-14).

However, even if one disregards the dubious “consequence” contained in the end of the last sentence and the other small “imperfections”, this is not at all what Parmenides says.

For Empedocles speaks not of the One-all-alone, nor the One-which-is-all, nor even of the All-which-is-one, but of a set of particular, multiple, and varied things, which appear to be transient.

He also contradicts himself when he says, on the one hand, that nothing that is [by constituting in its entirety the All that is the Cosmos] can neither be born nor perish and, on the other hand, affirms that “we mortals are not even anything at all before been composed, and after being dissolved” (ib., 15, 4).

But this “contradiction” arises only from the general imprecision of Empedocles’ discourse. What is more symptomatic and more serious is that he expressly claims to be able to “reconcile” Parmenides with Heraclitus (whom, moreover, he does not name) in and by an “eclectic” system.

With the latter, he does not aim at a “balanced” or “synthetic” ending point, when his point of departure to correct Parmenides is rather antithetical, that is to say predominantly Heraclitean.

Now, this alleged “synthesis” of Empedocles is a veritable monstrosity from a philosophical point of view. However, it is through it that he mainly acted (especially on Aristotle) and it is therefore in the interest of stopping here a little.

The parathesis qua the eclecticism of Empedocles is “classic” and well known. Empedocles wants to reconcile the Parmenidean “Sphere” with the “River” that Heraclitus opposed to the One.

“Classically” a parathesis should partially affirm the two contrary theses, by not having any, if not in part: everything about which one speaks or, if one prefers, the Whole of which one speaks (and which is for Empedocles the Cosmos and not the Concept) is “At the same time” in part “River” and in part “Sphere”.

Only, the parathetic contradiction would then be too apparent, since, according to the Parmenidean Thesis, there is only the one all alone, motionless, while, according to the Heraclitean Anti-thesis, everything is “fluid” only.

This is why Empedocles uses a synthetic solution, replacing the co-existence in two opposites “which would be spatially limited to each other, by a succession in Duration, where one succeeds the other (by limiting itself temporally or temporarily) so that each can be unlimited in its extent, namely, during its entire duration.

To be sure: quite the contrary, Heraclitus was made to argue. it is the “eternal return”, even the purely spatial character, of the phenomenon in question.

Because there, where there is Tourbillon, there is no flow in the proper and Heraclitean sense of the word, that is to say, a certain flow where what flows disappears forever, as that which flows being fed by a spring from which new waters always flow.

Without doubt, in speaking of his “Sphere”, Empedocles has in view the Cosmos, even the Universe or the World · where · one · speaks, and not the Concept as such.

His “Sphere” is really “material” in the bodily sense and this to the point that he believes it useful to insist that the Cosmos in its spherical state has neither feet, nor knees, nor genitals [what Plato Will say but ironically so that to make fun of the spherical cosmos of Timaeus-Eudoxus, which impressed Aristotle to the point that he thought he had to praise the pre-Socratic precursor of the great Platonist scholar (cf. Tim., 33, bd)].

But if we interpret what Empedocles says about it by believing to re-say Parmenides again, we have to say that he is in fact talking about what the latter was talking about, namely, the Concept itself.

Or, the parathetic character of this so-called re-saying will then appear clearly to us, because we will see that according to these statements, the “spherical” Concept is the Eternal and not Eternity. Not only ! Because it is (spatially) unlimited like the One which is or the Being-one of Mélissos (cf. Diels, 21, B, 28) [which means that it extends and lasts by consequent at least in the sense that it is everywhere present “at the same time”, that is to say in a Present which is distinguished from the Past and from! Future], but also and above all because it has a (temporal) limit which is natural ”or“ necessary ”(in the sense that it is everywhere and always the same).

It carries Love (“spherical” or “Parmenidean”) and Hate (so that the Past of the “amorous Sphere” is the same as its future, while being different from its Present (cf. ib., 30).

Therefore, the Concept of which Empedocles speaks without knowing it is not! ‘Eternity.

And it is the Eternal only insofar as the Past of his past and the Future of its future are the same as the Present of its own presence; and it is eternal by its “relation” with Eternity which is the Eternal Return (already Aristotelian) of all things and hence, that which is the extended duration of these.

Empedocles is, moreover, perfectly aware of this himself, at least with regard to his picture of the Cosmos or the Whole of which he speaks and which constitutes the everything of which he speaks. In any case, he says so explicitly, over and over again.

… and does not deny trust to any of the other parts of your body through which there access to thought exists, but only thinks of each particular thing as to the extent that it presents itself clearly [ through the senses] ”(ib., 4, 9 and 12-13).

Undoubtedly, Empedocles attacks here eternity which is the transcendent Concept of Parmenides.

But Aristotle will not speak otherwise when he criticizes the “transcendence” of the (or: -Structured) Eternal-Multiple, that is, the Platonic Concept as “Cosmos noétos”.

However, the anti-Eleatism of Empedocles has a distinctly Heraclitean allure. And it is indeed there that the only interest of his Poem resides from the point of view of the history of Philosophy.

By going back to the sources, even the Empedocleean analogies of Aristotle’s philosophy, we see more clearly than if we only considered the latter, how well Plato saw things when he affirmed (notably in the Theaetetus, the Sophist and the Politician) that Aristotelianism (inspired by the Science of its time, as it was embodied in Eudoxus) had as a distant origin (if we disregard the views “of Homer and of Hesiod) the Anti Heraclitean thesis of the Thesis of Parmenides.

The Analogy between Aristotle and Empedocles is, moreover, almost complete in the sense that neither of them fully exploits the Heraclitean idea of Measurement in a quantitative or mathematical sense ”(as ‘have already done in their time, probably Theaetetus and certainly Eudoxus and his emulators).

Without doubt Empedocles speaks of a sworn contract “which forever determines this time” or the duration of the Cosmic Cycle (cf. ib., 30). But, just like Aristotle, he does not even try to measure the “Great Year” (as some have tried to do, if the Timaeus is to be believed).

This Cycle “is, for Empedocles, a “law”, fundamentally qualittive, just as the cyclical laws “of Aristote, as being determined “in the last analysis by the revolution of the First Heaven”., will be qualitative.

As well, they both seek their “laws “much more in the domain of Life and} “History than in the purely bodily domain”, where the Scientists themselves will soon attempt to establish this “measurable” relationship.

Anyway, it seems that the main, if not the only this philosophical merit of the eclectic system of Empedocles lies in the fact that he was perhaps the first to seek the Eternal “concept״ which “stabilizes” the Speech as Truth “) not outside or beyond” the Heraclitean river (by anchoring, as Plato does, this discursive Eternal in the ‘silent Eternity of the Parmenidean Hereafter), but in this River itself, by making it flow in circles ”and by discovering there whirlpools, “Cartesian” in nature, which Aristotle will also see there.

It seems in any case that Heraclitus correctly developed the Anti-thesis of Philosophy, at least in the sense that the Temporal had for him neither beginning nor end, being everywhere and always new, instead of being re-produced cyclically so as to be always and everywhere, even before or eternally, “the same, never becoming” as well as what it is “from all eternity.

Without doubt, Heraclitus seems to admit the “Cycle” which transforms Earth into Fire, Fire into Air, Air into Water and Water into Earth, etc: c – = :; – T – + F– + A – + E (cf. ib., 12, B, 76); Empedocles said again, speaking of: the “Cycle “c – = – + A – + E – + T – + F (cf. ib., 21, B, 115, 9-11).

But the fragment in the question of Heraclitus is obscure, mutilated, and doubtful, while, generally speaking, there is no trace, in him, of the “Eternal Return” (the “Cosmic Fire” being obviously a Stoic misinterpretation).

We can therefore admit that even if Heraclitus had glimpsed the impasse of the Antithesis in intuition of the parathesis, he deliberately did not commit to it, preferring to develop the Anti-thesis proper.

On the other hand, if the fragment in the question of Empedocles belongs to his religious Poem “, all that we know of the scientific poem” shows us that the notion of the parathetic Cycle “is at the very basis of everything that he said there.

All in all, if it is possible that it was Empedocles who made the great discovery of the “Eternal Return” or of the Eternal cyclic that is supposed to be “Eternity in this Time ”(that is to say in the Extended Duration of the Empirical Existence)- so dear to Aristotle- it is certain that he neither knew how nor wanted to expose it himself, either philosophically or scientifically.

He seems to have been too impressed by the Heraclitean River and by the River-Discourse, predicted by Heraclitus, to try, as Aristotle will do, to build anything that is definitive”, stable” or “eternal”, even prone to the permanent side, on the mobile basis of the “whirlwinds” that he had seen there.

He also seems to have resigned himself (moreover quite easily) to a “skeptical” Relativism, which soon takes on, among the neo-Heraclitean Sophists, a “sociological” or “historicist” appearance.

In any case, he warns us from the beginning of his scientific poem “that we will find there, to tell the truth, only “hypotheses”, which are as little certain “as those of which Plato will mock in Timaeus (cf. above all ib., 2 and 4).

No doubt he said to his friend-lover: “However, it is always the fact of low spirits to be wary of strong spirits; but you, learn as the revelations of our [in the sense of: my] Muse order, after his speech has passed through the sieve of your knowledge ”(ib., 5). But we are very far from the “Goddess” of Parmenides.

The “Muse” of Empédocles is only a literary mask (and perhaps a parody) which barely hides its own face and he is very close to admitting that what he is going to say can be contested.

In any case, he warns us that everything he is going to tell us will be only human, not to say “too human” (cf. ib., 2, 9). And he doesn’t worry too much.

However, his (rather great) ambition is far from being satisfied by a disillusioned skeptical “Relativism”, which only allows him not to be “worse than another.” He would also like to be “the best of all”. However, it is not in and through Philosophy that he wants to be: it suffices here to counteract Parmenides and “dethrone” his Wisdom (cf. ib., 4).

Neither is it a political role in the state that tempts him, nor the “wisdom” which would be recognized as a reward for a rigid “morality”. Empedocles wants to be great among the Great (and says he is) as a “religious” and Prophet (cf. ib., 112), by “imitating” perhaps Xenophanes. And there, despite his hateful attack on Parmenides, he seems ready to admit that there are things “to keep in your mute heart” (ib., 3).

However! This appeal to xenophano-Parmenidean silence is found in his “scientific” Poem, addressed to a young man whose father was perhaps very wise (cf. ib., 1), but who himself was considered to be his “Cute”.

This means that Empedocles was “in truth neither a Prophet nor a Sage, but a skillful dilettante and a more or less charlatanic” diviner “, who moreover seems to have ended badly (and still not as a hero of ‘a famous German prose poetry).

In any case, he does not seem to have seen what the Question of the Concept was and if he has glimpsed the Eternity-in-time that is the Eternal Concept of the antithetic Parathesis, we will have to wait for Aristotle to find out this parathesis of Philosophy to be developed in a philosophically complete and correct way.

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042119 27 Ancient History Philosophy Science Biology Aristotle Greek Greece Hegel s Plato is Aristotelian
אפלטון, אריסטו, הגל, פילוסופיה, קוז׳יב

Hegel’s Plato is Aristotelian

Since the Sophists and the Socratics were Moralists and not Philosophers, the Dialectical Scheme of ‘THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY has no place for them, while we are assigning one to Socrates, insofar as the latter can be considered as the initiator of the philosophical statements relating to the Eternal Concept.

Now, the Hegelian Schema provides for a triple discursive development of the (parathetic) notion of this Concept, the first constituting the thetic Parathesis of Philosophy and the second, its anti-thetic Parathesis, while the third and last is presented as the same parathesis synthetic, where the thesis and Anti-philosophical thesis are supposed to be in equilibrium (static).

History teaches us that Plato was the first to develop the Socratic notion of the eternal Concept discursively and that he did so in the sense of the thetic Parathesis, putting the conceptual Eternal (called Idea) in relation with Eternity Parmenidean situated outside <<Time >> Becoming “or the River” of Heraclitus. Soon after, this same Socratic notion was antithetically-developed by Aristotle, who put the Eternal Concept in relation with! ‘ Eternity in “Time”, that is to say, with! ‘ Eternity of the “eternal return” on itself of the river, where Becoming has thereby become “ swirling or “ cyclical”. As for the development of the Socratic Concept into a Synthetic, Parathesisit was only Kant who carried it out in a correct and complete way (for reasons which will be discussed later). 

But sketches of this Parathesis appear immediately after Aristotle and follow one another until the end of Pagan Philosophy (without being able to do so, in the absence of a Christian Trinitarian Theology, resulting from Judeo-Muslim monotheism, which needed all the Middle Ages to develop, in opposition to the ancient Philosophy of pagan Henotheism, even Parmenido-Platonic, of perhaps xenophanic origin).

However, the review of the ancient parathetic Philosophy naturally articulates in three sections.

  1. Plato’s Thetic Parathesis.
  2. Aristotle’s Anti-thetic Parathesis.

c) The pagan prodromes of the synthetic Judeo-Christian Parathesis.

In Hegelian terminology, Plato represents, from the historical point of view, the theosophic paradigm or thesis of Philosophy. In the Hegelian Dialectical Schema, Plato’s Para-thesis presents itself as a discursive development of the Concept, according to which the relation between the Eternal to Eternity is one situated outside Time (in the broad sense).

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 live by participation. It appears that Plato just changed the word, replacing imitation in participation. For he, as “they” [the Pythagoreans and Plato], leaves open the question of what could be the specific nature of Participation in or Imitation of Forms.

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 involving several similar symbols instead of forms or ideas, which are 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] as, for example, Matter, while the One [would be the principal or constitutive element] is as the essential reality itself; 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.

Still, Plato concurred with the Pythagoreans, that the One is the substance (as opposed to a predicate of something else). Also, he agreed with them that the [ideal] Numbers are the causes of other things’ reality. 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, providing that the Pythagoreans say that [Sensitive] Things themselves are Numbers [mathematics]. Hence, Plato is all-alone in locating the objects of mathematics between Forms and Sensitive things.

The divergence from the Pythagoreans, separating the One and Numbers [ideals and mathematics] from [Sensitive] Things and the introduction of Forms, is in the centre of Aristotle’s criticism. For Hegel, this is the way to Plato. Let us move to see the resulting discussion.

It is indisputable that the three Aristotelian texts are clearly “polemical”, not to say maliciously. 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.

Thus, a “summary of Platonism made by a man exceptionally qualified to understand Plato adequately and to tell us what was really essential and practically 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.

Therefore, it is 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. My question is to try to show the agreement between Aristotelian analysis and the “dialectical” or “Hegelian” analysis of Platonism.

Like 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 “contrary” or “negative” to the “Anti-Thesis of Philosophy.” 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. The notion of discourse has a different meaning for him than for Aristotle. 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 always be and everywhere re-spoken, but nowhere, or never, contradictory(unless it is self-contradictory in the so-called).
But Heraclitus 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, where 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, namely the possibility of constantly speaking about everything that ‘we want.

Without 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 cancelled thus discursively; but nothing prevents us from saying afterwards that S is Q and so on indefinitely. Therefore, as opposed to the Parmenidean (also permanent) Silence, the Logos of Heraclitus is a Discourse and Discourse just as endless, 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”, once this philosophy implies (also) a Heraclitean element, which I call “antithetic”.

More precisely, 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 to be silent, but 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. 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” denied the existence and even possibility. Therefore, Plato had to transform this (negative) thesis to bring it in line with Socrates’ (positive) thesis. And this is 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, 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 susceptible to the Parmenidean 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). Still, with its contrary, properly-taken or so-called, that is to say with the Eleatism, the authentic Philosophical Thesis. Aristotle is perfectly aware of it 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 a 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.

The Aristotelian statements, therefore, in no way prevent us from repeating, per 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 admits (again, in the quoted passage) that Plato opposes the Pythagorean Thesis, 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 it 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 admit a Something situated outside the (extended duration of) the whole empirical Existence (or even Cosmos) taken and understood as the Heraclitean River.

The bulk of Aristotle’s critical or polemical effort is unquestionably directed against Platonic Ideology or, more precisely, against the transcendence of Ideas asserted by Plato, that is to say, against the u-topical character of the pretended Cosmos noels – imagined by the latter, even against the attempt to situate what one is supposed to speak in truth beyond Heaven, that is to say, outside the extension (and therefore the duration-extension) of the whole of the empirical or phenomenal world, where one lives while speaking.

The “question” which one must ask of Plato and Platonism, in general, is thus reduced, according to Aristotle himself, to the question of knowing why the Ideas are not in the place (or do not have of hic (and Nunc), Phys., IV, 33).

And all of Aristotelianism can then be considered as an answer to this fundamental question. Moreover, the answer on the “negative” to Plato, a response which denies the Transcendence affirmed by Plato or which affirms, if you will, Immanence, that is to say, the presence of Ideas in the place, even in Duration-extended of Phenomenal Empirical Existence.

Aristotelianism is reduced to the claim that one can speak” in truth” only if its empirical existence reveals it in Duration-extended, depending on what presents itself here and now to “Perception as” perceived.

The Tradition therefore only follows Aristotle himself when it presents Aristotelianism as a negation of authentic Platonism or as the “contrary” thesis of the “thesis” supported (for the first time) by Plato. If we represent Platonism (as I did above, following Hegel) as the thetic-Parathesis of Philosophy, we must see in Aristotelianism the antithetic Parathesis of the latter.

Consequently, as soon as we express the Philosophical Tradition in the terminology that I have chosen, we immediately see that this Tradition assigns to Aristotle the very place he is supposed to occupy in the Hegelian Schema of the history of Philosophy.

As far as Platonism proper is concerned, its development by Plato can be entirely “deduced” by developing correctly, up to the point where it developed precisely from the Concept, i.e. from the Concept understood as the eternal caught in his (alleged) relation with Eternity situated outside both the phenomenal Duration-extension and the objectively-real Space-time and even the dimension of Spatio-temporality as such.

The development (by Plato) of the Platonic notion of Concept revolves around Ideology [in fact “contradictory”] elaborated by Plato, who [wrongly] claims to speak “in truth” (and therefore without contradicting himself) of a Cosmos Noetos or of an ideal [supposedly] objectively-real world, as supposed to be situated beyond the phenomenal world and to have an intermediate situation between that of this world and the One-all-alone; that is (for Plato, as for Parmenides) the doubly transcendent (and therefore ineffable) given-Being.

So much so, one can just as easily “posit” (as “axiom”) the Platonic notion of Cosmos noetos (simply) transcendent and “deduce” from it the whole of Plato’s system, by completing Energology (“ideolo- geology”), which is constituted by the “immediate” development of this notion (energologic), by an Onto-logy (“theological” or “henotheist”) and by a Phenomenology (“idealist” or “spiritualist”), which respectively constitute the explanations of what this notion implicitly supposes and presupposes as posited.

Now, given that Aristotelianism is reduced to the “contrary thesis” of Platonism and can therefore be “deduced” from or by the “negation” of the latter, the situation, as regards the re-presentation of Aristotle’s System, can only be analogous to that which arises when one wishes to re-present systematic Platonism

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