Saturday, November 07, 2015

Western Image

I am putting a section from Raphael's School of Athens as the image on my cellphone cover. It sums up a good deal of the dynamism and the destructiveness in Western culture:

Plato and Aristotle. You can make a case that all of Western philosophy is connected to the two dominant tendencies in these two men.

Plato stands for mystical universalism and a thirst for utopia. Aristotle stands for rationalist empiricism and a tendency toward nihilism. (Although Nietzsche and Heidegger might say I've gotten the symptoms right but the outcomes reversed...)

In both cases, you end up with nothing.  That is, u-topia means no-place in Greek. And nihil-ism
is entrancement with no-thing, in Latin. Enantiodromia, as Heraclitus and Jung would say.

Our history can be read, on one level, as a fluctuation between these two extremes.

Gautama described his system as The Middle Way, avoiding both attachment to pleasures and attachment to asceticism. Not a bad idea, steering clear of both utopianism and nihilism.


*Its companion piece is The Dispute over the Sacrament, which images the overtly religious side of the Athens-and-Jerusalem dialectic in the West since the 4th century. Not to be underestimated.

1 comment:

-A said...

I paid most of my attention to the interesting "molding" on the ceiling. Now I want to go and research how they did it with stone/concrete. Does this make me stereotypical gay for renovation and interior design, or does this make me cool gay with an interest in architecture?


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