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Monday, 22 May 2006


Nietzsche famously gave his "formula" for "happiness" (in Twilight, I think), as;

"A Yes, a No, a Straight-Line and a Goal".

We can deduce from that that happiness is not the blissful drift of hedonism, nor is it the contentment of bovines.
It is rather goal-orientated and decisive, even aggressive,
behaviour.

Sunday, 21 May 2006

Empedocles

None of Empedocle's work has survived in tact. We have only a few fragments and quotations made by other early philosophic writers of his work in commentaries.

It is Simplicius [flourished 500-540 AD] who gives us the most.

Simplicius writes, (and then quotes Empedocles);

"Empedocles also hints at a double world: 'For they are all in union with their own parts - Sun and Earth and Heaven and Sea - which have been separated from them and grown into mortal things' ..."
[Simplicius, 'Physics']

This suggestion of a 'double-world' is also found in mysticism;

"It is said of the philosopher and thaumaturge Empedocles that he claimed the existence of two suns".
[Alchemy and Mysticism, A. Roob, Taschen page 25]

Of course, the Presocratics are important in terms of their SUGGESTIVENESS - cf., Heraclitus.

Alchemical Adept

The many-too-many like to say that Nietzsche 'contradicts himself'.
This is only said by those who believe in 'antithetical values'.
They think that to speak of the base and the precious in the same breath is contradictory,but they do not realise that base metals and precious metals are formed of the same stuff.
The base is a decadent aspect while the precious is an ascendent aspect of the primary material.
Nietzsche is the alchemist of the will to power as he transmutes the degenerate stuff of modernity and gregarious slavish instincts into the gold of the superman.

This is why he asks in section 2 of BGE;
"How could anything originate out of its opposite?For example,truth out of error?or the will to truth out of the will to deception?or the generous deed out of selfishness?or the pure sun-bright vision of the wise man out of covetousness?..."

He then posits the alchemist's response;
"It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of those good and respected things,consists precisely in their being insidiously related,knotted,and crocheted to these evil and apparently opposed things-perhaps even in being essentially identical with them".[BGE,2]

The 'revaluation of all values' is equivalent to the Philosopher's Stone.
Philosophy like alchemy is a solitary enterprise.
Alchemy derives from blacksmithing;Nietzsche,like a Smith,philosophises with a hammer.
He forges the sword whose shadow is the philosopher's happiness.

The philosopher is the physician of the soul.

"In my book 'Antibarbarus' I had discussed the psychology of sulphur".
[Strindberg,'Inferno']

In the Preface to BGE Nietzsche describes dogmatic philosophy,Platonism,Christianity and astrology as monstrous falsehoods,making "promises across millennia".

Adherents of all the above systems still abound in the world and are likely to describe their own system as exclusively true,and the others as all false.
So for example the Christian will heap abuse on the astrologer,and the rational philosopher deride the superstitions of the Theist,and so on.

But Nietzsche shows that all those systems are false in their own way.The dogmatic philosopher is no better at truth than the astrologer.
Does it matter that a great piece of intellectual architecture is not 'true'?
Should we rather not look at the efficacy of the system and ask;does it enhance life?;does it enrich the spirit?

Not only that,we should look at the amount of creativity,wisdom and knowledge that has been poured into the template of those systems.

To make the matter clearer we might look at the most 'superstitious' of the systems mentioned,astrology.
Taking on board Nietzsche's remark;
"Why have truth,why not rather untruth?"[BGE,1],
We can understand C.G.Jung's position;
"Astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity".[Jung,'Psychology and Alchemy']
The "old gods of the planets" were the "astrological components of destiny" which preserved "the bridge" between consciousness and its "natural roots in the unconsciousness psyche".
"Astrology led consciousness back again and again to the knowledge of the dependence of character and destiny on certain moments in time".[Jung,ib.]

Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence' is founded on this aspect;
"That which was once possible could present itself as a possibility for a second time only if the Pythagoreans were right in believing that when the constellation of the heavenly bodies is repeated,the same things,down to the smallest event,must also be repeated on earth.But that will no doubt happen only when the astronomers have again become astrologers". [Nietzsche,'2nd Unfashionable Observation'.]

Both his emphasis on psychology and his sense of destiny became more and more acute as Nietzsche's philosophy evolved.
To return to the [Nietzschean] Jung;
"Science began with the stars,and mankind discovered in them the dominants of the unconscious,the 'gods',as well as the curious psychological qualities of the Zodiac;a complete projected theory of human character,astrology is a primordial experience similar to alchemy".[Jung,ib.]

Blake with his 'Infernal method' and the afore-mentioned Strindberg were both alchemical Nietzscheans.
All in all we see that astrology,alchemy and philosophy are monuments to radical perspectivism.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Solitude

"The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude". [R.W.Emerson, 'Self-Reliance']

Let us go back to that important imprecation;
"Few are made for independence - it is a prerogative of the strong [Vorrecht der Starker]".
[Nietzsche BGE 29]

Elsewhere, Nietzsche offers some advice for those who may want to shoulder this perogative;
"Not to cleave to another person, though he be the one you love most - every person is a prison, also a nook and corner: not to cleave to one's own detachment ... not to cleave to our virtues; One must know how to CONSERVE ONESELF: the sternest test of independence". [ib. 41]

To 'conserve', from the Latin 'conservare', from 'com-', thoroughly, + 'servare', to keep, to guard, observe. Never letting oneself go, practising constant self-vigilance;
"Perhaps severity and cunning provide more favourable conditions for the formation of the strong, independent spirit and philosopher than does the gentle, sweet, yielding good-naturedness and art of taking things lightly which is prized in a scholar, and rightly prized". [ib.29]

Indeed, as Montaigne says, "the contagion is very dangerous in the crowd. A man must either imitate the vicious, or hate them".

Constantly we see these associations in Nietzsche;
- strength + solitude + philosophy.
Strength is always emphasised most of all, the sort of strength needed in those great isolated Leaders of Men;
"The strong are as naturally inclined to SEPARATE as the weak are to CONGREGATE ".
[Nietzsche GM III:18]

Is that why I am up here - ALONE ?

Friday, 12 May 2006

Good Governance


The men of old, wanting to clarify & diffuse throughout the empire that light which comes from looking straight into the heart & then acting, first set-up good government in their states;


wanting good government in their states, they first established order in their own families;


wanting order in the home, they first disciplined themselves;


desiring self-discipline, they rectified their own hearts;


& wanting to rectify their hearts, they sought precise verbal defintions of their inarticulate thoughts;


wishing to attain precise verbal defintions, they set to extend their knowledge to the utmost.


This completion of knowledge is rooted in sorting things into organic categories.


[Confucius, from 'The Great Digest']