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Παρασκευή, 15 Αυγούστου 2008

COSMOPOLIS' METAPHYSICS

Cosmopolis, as a form of the Sublime, constitutes the most important philosophical challenge ever made, and it can be parallelized only with the someone’s effort to grasp the whole. Heraclitus, the dark one, wrote: “all are one” (εν πάντα), [1], and this is a dictum with great significance for Neoplatonism. This one-all, is considered by the Platonists as the residence of the divine – since the word “one”, is identified with the Good or the God himself, who produces and includes “all”. It can also be considered as enlightening dictum, which implies the impossibility of a probable definition or even a materialization of the form of cosmopolis. From the forms of myth, the religious structure of place, but also from the geometric city planning, till the modern technological netting, the city constitutes an image of the universe. But it is only an image which imitates the beauty and the goodness of its prototype, the whole and the one. It is an image which reflects its intelligible real being, if we consider the concept of cosmopolis metaphysically, mainly platonically.
The metaphysical form of the city is a kind of “supreme city”, in relation to which the earthly cities are simple houses, as Marcus Aurelius wrote - even if he was an adversary and persecutor of Christians. Still, it is inside Christianity, that human society is compared with a living body: in relation to the cosmic entirety, man is like a member of a big organism; this is why he ought to behave in concord with other members, with whom he must be feeling as a fellow being. In his letter to Ephesians, the Apostle of the Nations writes: «εν σώμα καί έν Πνεύμα, καθώς καί εκλήθητε εν μία ελπίδι της κλήσεως υμών· εις Κύριος, μία πίστις, εν βάπτισμα· εις Θεός και πατήρ πάντων, ο επί πάντων, καί διά πάντων, καί εν πάσιν ημίν», [2]. This means: “You are one body and one Spirit, as you have been called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and the Father of all, who is above all, and for all, and in you all”. The rules that Christianity tries to apply, which are the good adjacency between human beings and the solidarity or fraternization, fulfilled mainly inside the ecclesiastic body, declare a message that came to people in that era, when Apostle Paul acted and when Roman Empire dominated. Even when Christians were pursued and persecuted as dangerous for the coherence of the Roman State, there were those who constituted the real essence and quintessence of the Great Christian Empire that followed. Between Marcus Aurelius and Apostle Paul there is a similarity and an affinity, but they mustn’t cover up the heterogeneity of inspiration, [3]. In both cases the world is considered as a city, but the bonds which keep it united haven’t got the same texture: in stoicism it is the idea of community of all rational beings, but in Apostle Paul in contrast, it is the reality of the unique person of Jesus (the “secret body” - Corpus Christi Mysticum), [4], and the comparisons of the city with the body are applied in a lesser extent to the world and more to the person of Jesus.
To the extent that the terrestrial city tends to accomplish its intelligible – not to say divine – archetype, becomes better. To the extent that it is incomplete, formless, vast, noisy, unprincipled, violent, revengeful and dark it is far away from its good archetype. Often its beauty and truth are hidden or put aside. On the one hand, participating in Good only with a small part of itself, it hopes to find a sublime destination. On the other hand, it needs no archetype, no intelligible transcendence, since it is self-controlled. Nevertheless, the intelligible level that determines the city doesn’t exist only as a consolation coming from tradition; it constitutes part of its historical course. Inside order and disorder, the ideal of cosmopolis might be only an image. The cosmopolitanism, in the sense that the limits of man aren’t only the limits of its town, especially when man sees himself as a citizen of the whole world, takes another, more concrete and positive dimension in the era of globalization. In the global era, the game of the world on earth is extended and expanded. When we use the word “cosmopolis”, if we consider the word “world” (κόσμος) with its primordial Ancient Greek meaning as an “ornament” (κόσμημα), which is identified with the whole universe and not only with the planet earth, then might we not have to do only with a simple metaphor. That’s why science fiction with its megapoles and its astral metropoles gives a more specific idea of what we have to expect from the evolution of future cities. From the stoic cosmopolis, where all human beings ought to follow the universal rational rules, till the Christian metaphysics, which was expressed with the words of Apostle Paul: «Ου γάρ έχομεν ώδε μένουσαν πόλιν, αλλά τήν μέλλουσαν επιζητούμεν», that is: “for, we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come”, [5], this future city, the Celestial Jerusalem, isn’t it a cosmopolis in the sky? The next incident is said to have happened to Anaxagoras: «Καί τέλος απέστη καί περί τήν των φυσικών θεωρίαν ην, ου φροντίζων των πολιτικών. Ότε και προς τόν ειπόντα· Ουδέν σοι μέλει τής πατρίδος: “ευφήμει” έφη· “εμοί γάρ καί σφόδρα μέλει τής πατρίδος”. Δείξας τον ουρανόν», [6]. In other words: “And finally he retired and concerned himself with the investigation of nature without minding about politics at all. When someone asked, “Does your fatherland mean nothing to you?” He replied: “Hush! My fatherland is very important to me”, as he pointed to heavens”.

[1] Heraclitus, On Nature, Περί Φύσεως, Translated by T.M Robinson, University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1991, Fragment 50
[2] Apostle Paul, Letter to Ephesians, Πρός Εφεσίους Επιστολή, 4:4-6
[3] J. Pepin, “Hellenism et Christianism” in La Philosophie, Tome 1, De Platon à St Thomas sous la direction d François Châtelet, Éditions Marabout, Paris 1972. Translation in Greek by Kostis Papagiorgis, Ed. Gnosi, Athens 1989, 216-223
[4] J. Holzner, Paulus, Translation in Greek by Hieronymos Kotsonis (from the 21st edition), Ed. Damascos, Athens 1967 (7th edition), 432-437
[5] Apostle Paul, Letter to the Hebrews, Πρός Εβραίους Επιστολή, 13:14
[6] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol. 1, Books 1-5, Translation by R.D. Hicks, William Heineman Ltd, Loeb Classical Library No. 184, London 1925, II 7

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