Περιγραφή του ιστολογίου

Στο παρόν ιστολόγιο μπορεί κανείς να βρει πρωτότυπα ερευνητικά και φιλοσοφικά κείμενα. Οι κατηγορίες (labels) του ιστολογίου είναι χαρακτηριστικές των φιλοσοφικών τάσεων που διέπουν τις αναρτήσεις. Παρότι οι τελευταίες δεν είναι συνήθως ολοκληρωμένες μελέτες, αλλά στοχαστικές παρεμβάσεις και σχόλια σε επιλεγμένα ζητήματα, αφορούν τη βιοθεωρία, την κοσμοθεωρία και τη γραμματολογία της παραδοσιακής σκέψης, της νεωτερικότητας και της μετανεωτερικότητας.

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

Τετάρτη, 6 Αυγούστου 2008

IMAGINATIVE CITIES


Different kinds of Art can raise the feeling of the sublime. One of them is the literature of fantasy, where one can find imaginative cities; frightening or monumental cities, cities in other planets, which look at other suns and other moons. Due to the surprise of its daedal and imaginative narrative, its driving rhythm or its otherworldly terror, it can cause an escape from reality. Often one has the chance to experience imaginatively, through this art of escapism, that he is a citizen in some other cities, with exceptionally extreme and strange characteristics. The cities of science fiction are not only metropoles, but also megapoles of the universe. They are imaginative and astral archetypes of the terrestrial cities.
Sometimes, these cities haven’t got a utopian but a dystopian form, and tend to obtain a not-at-all ideal character. Hence, they become the imaginative exorcism of the worst nightmares of their creators. Thus, e.g. The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath by Howard Philips Lovecraft is an adventure with labyrinthine plot; Lovecraft’s hero has an underlying mystical fate. Nevertheless, the rules that govern this imaginative world are not only cruel but also weird. While the peaceful and calm city of Celephais, - an early novel by the same author – is an escape, but in an ideal, imaginary and harmonious utopia, during his period of maturity, he carries us to the wild and terrifying Kadath. If, in his earlier novel, he had described a utopian city with positive characteristics, in the posterior novel, he developed the quest and the discovery of a deserted and frozen town, which is the residence of the Great Gods. The course towards the unreal city of Kadath is full of adventures and meetings with strange beings.
In another famous novel of fantastic creation, not only of a city but of a whole planet, is the work of Jorge Luis Borges, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis, Tertius. It is about an imaginative formation of a world totally extraterrestrial. Its transparent tigers and towers of blood tend to provoke and to rouses imagination, but through the composition of a strange metaphysics that the inhabitants of that unreal planet are supposed to have; the author presented the feeling of a dream that he created only for the pleasure of himself and its recipients; at the same time, its purpose is the wonder and the surprise of the reader.
In imaginative literature, the cities don’t exist only as ideal archetypes for imitation; they are monuments of fantasy that aim to the bizarre and the strange. Their construction, even if it is subsequent to the lows of the universe, is specific and concrete, targeting to scientific originality or to a futuristic vision. Nevertheless, some of these imaginative cities include elements of real cities, which continue to the unreal; so they create the necessary link with the ideal cosmopolis, bringing in mind its images, unreal, of course, but they lead to the elaboration and intelligible experimentation regarding its possible structures and its characteristics. The bizarre character of these cities implies their exceptionally distant, probably impossible perspective; it also shows how abysmal these super-poles are imagined to be by the modern residents of cities.

Τρίτη, 5 Αυγούστου 2008

Christos Terezis, Damascius. His Philosophical System. The Last Gleam of Ancient Greek Philosophy. Ed. Gregoris, Athens 1993

Damascius is the last director of Athen’s Neoplatonic School, whose operation was stopped in 529 A.C. by the order of the Byzantine Emperor Ioustinianos. As the one who kept up the Ancient Greek Reason, he contrasted the vigour of the Christian image of world which dominates the spiritual horizon of the «ecumeny» in the 6th century A.C. He is the agent of the pure ancient spirit to which it will be given a new meaning by the Christian thought.
Mr Christos Terezis, professor in the Philosophy departement of Patra’s University undertakes to present in details the thought of this neoplatonic contemplator and to make known the last enlightment of the Ancient Greek Philosophy. As far as his method is concerned, he insists on the interdisciplinary demand of our era but on the other hand, he puts emphasis on the fact that the reality is one, avoiding in this way the perspectivistic danger. This positivistic belief in relation with the documentation method contradicts the transcendental context of the source under discussion. However the writer proceeds to the cognitive distinction of the studied disciplines. So, they function parallelly and separetely philosophy, theology and physics. The supervisory perception doesn’t hesitate to give ground to the particular areas of knowledge, so that the necessary importance is given to the multilateral nature of the existing. Terezis reveals modern ways of thinking in Damascius and he connects it with the contemporary science of Physics. He doesn’t confine himself to registering the ancient spiritual context but he makes an interpretative effort to use contemporary searching terminology. This doesn’t mean that he ignores the importance of the textual approach but he balances successfully between the past and the contemporary need for a new perspective on the subject under discussion.
Let’s come back, presenting the context of the book. In Damascius’ time, takes place the combination of the two cosmic theories that compose the Hellenochristian civilisation. The writer focuses on three axis of union: a) God and Universe, with the dialectic relation which is developed between them, without underestimating the world of the senses, b) the evolutional development of the existing by a Principle or One i.e. God and c) the possibility of systematization of the metaphysics, mainly by the Neoplatonism, as it connects ontology and Theology as well as in the effort of connection between Plato and Aristotle.
The basic characteristic of Damascius and of the entire Neoplatonic School was the connection between rationalism and mysticism. To the point where the philosophical reason comes to a deadend in front of a non- perceptible field, the mystical way of thinking intervenes. The apophatical consideration of the first principle of Damascius is the main element that made him well-known. However, according to the writer, in a gnoseological level, the philosopher proceeds with systematisation to set the limits of the real. The ontological climax has got as starting point the superior being to the inferior, opposite evolution of course in comparison with the established modern theory.
The presuppositions of Damascius’ thinking are the scientism, the transcendency of empiricism without its abolition and the placing of the human mind as the unique criterion of truth or lie. Perhaps, it is not useless to claim that the contemporary epistemology supports in opposite that the human being is not an absolute guarantee of the validity of knowledge because he may commit a mistake. So, Christianity will put in the place of the absolute judge, a transcendental subject, guard of the reason. And there are the recent post-modernistic efforts of the foundation of a «logocentricism» without subjects, with an intense anti-humanistic character.
Another point which we think that is under discussion is when the writer - influenced by the western perception of the Ancient Greek Philosophy - considers the relation between Plato and Aristotle as an opposition. At the contrary, in antiquity and in Christian Byzantium, the two “stars” of philosophy are not considered to be rivals. The Neoplatonism considers Plato as its inspirator but it uses Aristotle as well. The rivalry between the supporters of Plato and Aristotle is subsequent in Byzantium, influenced by the West.
In the first part of the book is outlined the dialectic relation between the metaphysical level and the world of senses or according to the writer’s terminology the relation between the over-emperistic There and the emperistic Here. They are highlighted the articulated functions of some elements that are parts of a descending productive climax, i.e. the transitional procedure from the one to many. Of course, in Neoplatonism, these intermediate - which are called «mid-causes»- are developed in the Theogonic polygenesis.
Terezis correctly, points out that the necessity of this theogonic variety derives from the contradiction with Christianity. However, he is not extended so that to refer to the patristic reaction which abolishes exactly the logical and ontological bond of the genus and species in order to eliminate the danger of polytheism.
In the second part of the book it is presented the rational elaboration of the metaphysical problems, always under consideration the problem of the Species. Also, it is used very correctly as a commendatory basis the dialogue Parmenides of Plato. The thing that is highlighted mainly is the dynamic character of the intelligible level without abolishing at the same time the unchangeability of the nuclear sources of the existence. The realism of Damascius shows the reality as a presupposition of the conscience giving presence to the logical categories which he uses from the ancient traditional arsenal. Nevertheless it seems very optimistic his belief for the scientific character of the metaphysical thinking of Damascius. It is not easy to claim that his composition is a system of perfect reflective potentiality and of realistic predictability. It is underestimated his frequent inclination to resort to easy mysticism and mythological solutions like the entire movement of Neoplatonism.
The third and last part of the book is reconciliation between the Metaphysics and the Physics. Here, the work of Terezis is situated in the cadre of the concrete and the cognitively accessed. It is examined the empiric world as a network of relations, determined by regulative principles. It is undertook in this way an effort of estimation of the material world. So it is avoided the mystical ideal of the Neoplatonic sage which has got as his main characteristic the escape from the world and the abstinence from the social activities. Finally, even the experience may be an axis of a soteriological perspective. We shouldn’t forget that the scientific work of Damascius is not based on the observation and the experiment but on theoretical analysis and deductive generalisations.
A posing of multiple questions over the way of thinking of the last Neoplatonic has got as a result the documentated logically and perfectly morphological analysis. Christos Terezis undertook the difficult task of the examination of a difficult and sometimes occult ancient text. He manages to bring to an end a labyrinthous course of problematic, revealing the sceptical view of the ancient philosopher in all its dimensions. He contributes in the illumination of the Neoplatonic tradition that influenced the entire Christian thinking as well as the recent philosophy.

Η ΣΥΝΕΧΟΥΣΑ ΤΟ ΠΛΗΘΟΣ ΑΚΛΟΝΗΤΗ ΑΡΧΗ

Τα είδη προσεγγίζουν τα πάντα χωρίς να εξέρχονται από τον εαυτό τους, κατά τον τρόπο της διάλαμψης μίας φωτεινής πηγής. Αυτή η τελευταία μορφοποιεί ό,τι δεν αποτελεί εν δια της δικής της πανταχού παρούσας ενότητας, χωρίς να διασπάται σε κάποιο σημείο της ύλης. Η απειρία των ειδών συγκροτείται, ωστόσο, σε μία οντολογική και λογική δομή. Είναι η εκ του Δημιουργού ζωή που συνδέει όλες τις ψυχές κάτω από τη σκέπη μίας άπειρης Ψυχής. Η οργανωτική ψυχή μοιάζει με «λόγον αυτόν αύξοντα την φύσιν αυτής», που παράγει τα πάντα παραμένοντας  υπόσταση εντός της οποίας η ενότητα διακρίνεται από την πολλότητα. Κάθε ποσοτικός προσδιορισμός της πρώτης και μοναδικής αρχής συνιστά φανταστικό ισχυρισμό της συμμετοχής στο Εν. Πώς συμβιβάζεται λοιπόν η έννοια του πλήθους με το Εν; Το Έν ενέχει πλήθος ως δύναμη, όχι έξωθεν προερχόμενη αλλά εκ του εαυτού του, παραμένοντας έτσι όντως ένα, ενέχοντας την απειρία και το πλήθος στην ολότητά του. Περιέχει έναν «λόγο» που υφίσταται μέσα του χωρίς ποτέ να χάνεται, αν και μπορεί να υπερβαθεί. Αφού εγκαθιδρυθεί το παν, το Εν μένει αμετακίνητο στην έδρα του. Κάθε μετακίνηση του θα σήμαινε για τα όντα καταστροφή, αφού θα αποσταθεροποιούνταν η βάση και το στήριγμά τους. Όμως ούτε το Έν θα ήθελε να διασπαστεί και να εγκαταλείψει τον εαυτό του στην τοπική διακύμανση που θα σήμαινε πλήρη έλλειψη εμπιστοσύνης και αυτάρκειας.  

ΣΥΝΟΨΗ ΤΗΣ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑΣ ΤΟΥ ΠΛΩΤΙΝΟΥ

Η σημαντικότερη θέση του Πλωτίνο και εν γένει του Νεοπλατωνισμού είναι η κυκλική κίνηση της πραγματικότητας, καθώς όλα τα όντα παράγονται δια της αυτομάτου υπερχειλίσεως του Ενός, στο οποίο και επιστρέφουν τελικά. Κάτω από την υπέρτατη πραγματικότητα του Ενός ή Αγαθού ξεδιπλώνονται οι λοιπές υποστάσεις. Ο Νους, ως βασιλιάς, κυρίαρχος και ζωντανό Ον, εμπεριέχει τις λογικές αρχές κατά το πρότυπο των οποίων θα προκύψει η δημιουργία του κόσμου. Με τη μεσολάβηση της υπόστασης της Ψυχής κάτω από το Νου, τα υλικά όντα θα αποκτήσουν μορφή και ύπαρξη. Εδώ παίζει το ρόλο της και η Φύσις, ως ένας ακόμη ενδιάμεσος κρίκος που συνδέει τις ανώτερες υποστάσεις με την ύλη. Ο σχηματισμός των υλικών πραγμάτων και η ζωογόνηση των έμψυχων οργανισμών, όπως είναι ο άνθρωπος, προϋποθέτουν ακριβώς αυτή την ακολουθία των επιπέδων.
Αντίστροφη αυτής της κίνησης απορροής από το Εν, είναι η επιστροφή όλων στην πηγή και αιτία του Είναι τους. Ιδιαίτερα οι ατομικές ψυχές επιστρέφουν σε αυτό που τις γέννησε. Η κατάσταση της μονής, ως στάσης πλήρους ευδαιμονίας εντός του Ενός, συνιστά το αποκορύφωμα της Νεοπλατωνικής μυστικής ενώσεως.
Μέσα σε όλη αυτή την κίνηση απορροής, επιστροφής και μονής η ψυχή βρίσκει τον εαυτό της. Διότι πέφτοντας στον κόσμο των σωμάτων δεν λησμόνησε εντελώς τον υπερουράνιο τόπο καταγωγής της. Αντίθετα με τους Γνωστικούς, που θεωρούσαν τον κόσμο κακό, όπως και τον Δημιουργό του, το τελευταίο ελληνικό φιλοσοφικό κίνημα του Νεοπλατωνισμού αναγνωρίζει την ομορφιά και την αξία του αισθητού κόσμου. Παρά τη Νέο-πλατωνική αποδοχή ενός άλλου, υπέρ-γήινου και νοητού βασιλείου, που καθορίζει άνωθεν την υλική πραγματικότητα, αυτή η τελευταία ακόμη και ως μίμημα του πρώτου, διατηρεί τον αξιοθαύμαστο και αξιοθέατο χαρακτήρα της. Η υποψία, ωστόσο, που διαπερνά το έργο του είναι ότι μπορεί να υφέρπει ένας δυϊσμός· ότι δηλαδή πότε προκρίνει τη μία άποψη σε σχέση με την αντίθετη της και το αντίστροφο. Ούτως ή άλλως, η φιλοσοφία του Πλωτίνου ενδιαφέρει όσους αρέσκονται στις τεμνόμενες αντιθέσεις: σκέψη αρχαία και σκέψη χριστιανική, φιλοσοφία της αναγκαιότητας και φιλοσοφία της ελευθερίας, νοησιαρχία και βουλησιαρχία, μυστικισμός και ορθολογισμός, στοχασμός και πραξιολογία, κυριολεξία και ποιητικότητα. Όμως καταφέρνει συχνά και ξεγελά αυτή την υποψία, ισορροπώντας με σύνεση αλλά και ρίσκο· αν και συχνά μοιάζει να αμφιταλαντεύεται, η βασική τοποθέτηση στο έργο του εκ των ένδον, αλλά και εξωτερικά καταλήγει να είναι αυτή μίας πρωτεύουσας πνευματοκρατίας που καταλήγει σε ένα θεϊστικό ενισμό ή μονισμό.