Metaphysical mistake | Karen Armstrong | Opinion | The Guardian
Jung's stand on this issue can then best be characterized as de facto antireduc- of the problem of mind-body relation, still leaves many questions unanswered. 2 See, for example, NESTLE () I:“Mythos and Logos —with these terms we the problem of mythos and its relation to logos (here mainly. Mythos & Logos: Two Ways of Explaining the World In this issue, I want to take a step back from these mythic narratives to contrast these two ways of thinking. (I explore this connection in an article discussing Shikasta.
Whereas both Plato and Aristotle conceived of different levels of mimesis of reality, this plurality went through a process of reductio ad unum, the result of which is modern realism. This was conceived of not as the opposite of non-correspondence, but as the opposite of forgetfulness: On this basis, Hesiod can claim to be a vehicle of aletheia. These latter still conceived of aletheia as the result of a process, but the road to it was no longer opened by the Muses, as it was for Hesiod, and still could be for Parmenides.
Thus, if they conceive of truth as correspondence to reality, how did they conceive of reality? The things that fall under the umbrella of ta onta include the things that reveal themselves for what they are: In this sense, ta onta are more true and more real than ta pragmata. When we make an assertion about a certain state of affairs, we only look at certain relationships that the things entertain with each other. Through our language, we point to only few aspects of its position within the sphere of being, because there are potentially endless divisions and communications between things, and our language can only express parts of it each time.
Inasmuch as they present the being in its clearest form, ideas are being that truly is. The latter, far from being purely mental Mythos and Logos: A Genealogical Approach 17 contents as we, from the time of Descartes, have started to understand them, were at the same time thought and reality. The idea of a hiatus between the knowing subject and the known object seems to be alien to antiquity.
As a consequence, knowledge cannot be conceived as the discovery on the part of a thinking subject of a given physical reality. Knowledge, until Aristotle, was rather conceived as a passive process because it is being that manifests itself in physis.
Aristotle also states that aletheia and falsity pertain to the ambit of unification and separation. He even states an explicit correspondence between the degrees of reality and the degrees of truth. According to what we read in his Metaphysics: Now every thing through which a common quality is communicated to other things is itself of all those things in the highest degree possessed of that quality e. Therefore, in every case, the first principles of things must necessarily be true above everything else—since they are not merely sometimes true, nor is anything the cause of their existence, but they are the cause of the existence of other things,—and so as each thing is in respect of existence, so it is in respect of truth.
Aristotle, unlike Plato, conceived of being as a synolon of matter ule and ideas-forms eidos-morpheand he conceived of becoming as the actualization entelecheia of a being which possesses it in potency dynamis. Now, given that what is in potency can pass into act only under the effect of something which is already in act, this made it neces- sary for Aristotle to postulate the existence of a being that is already in act and, following the chain of dynamis and entelecheia, we thus arrive at the postulation of a being that is always in act, i.
As Veyne maintained, a plurality of programs of truth existed for the Ancient Greeks: Indeed, when stating this principle, Aristotle added an extremely important qualification to it: Let me conclude here with a story.
They see no contradiction between the two beliefs, that the leopards fast on those days, and that they might attack their livestock in those days. In one case, it is the truth of their tradition that is at stake; in the other, it is what they have learnt through experience. Clearly, for them, it is a different truth that is at stake each time.
Chantraine, Dictionnaire Etymologique de la langue Grecque.
Histoire des Mots Paris: Pars I Odissea [Hildesheim: Pars II Ilias [Hildesheim: Clarendon Press, According to some interpreters, mythos in Homer would designate a specific kind of speech, i. Martin, The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad [Ithaca, N. Cornell University Press, ]. Iliad, XV,and Odyssey, I, Chantraine, Dictionnaire Etymologique de la langue Grecque, See Preface of F.
Nietzsche, Zur Genealogie der Moral. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers [Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press, ]. Freeman, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers: Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos: Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos; and J. Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy London: Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy. Penguin, Etudes de psychologie Historique Paris: Cambridge University Press, Abbagnano, Dizionario di Filosofia Torino: Utet, Meier,Bd. On this point, see, for instance, F.
Adorno, La filosofia antica.
Feltrinelli, ; and G. Colli, La nascita della filosofia Milano: Adelphi, ; La sapienza greca I: Adelphi, ; La sapienza greca II: For a general reconstruction of this debate, see H. Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker Zurich: Weidmannsche Verlags- buchhandlung,Fragm. Paradoxically, it is Aristotle himself who transmitted to us this fragment. This seems to suggest that also the common view of Aristotle has been deeply shaped by successive interpreters.
Morgan, Myth and Philosophy from Presocratics to Plato, Peloponnesian War, I, On this point, see G.
Logos and Mythos: A Response to Walter Burkert
Tutti gli scritti Milano: Rusconi,74, Suhrkamp,29— A Genealogical Approach 21 Seine Dialoge in der Sicht neuer Forschun- gen, ed. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, ; K. Geiser, Platons ungeschriebene Lehre Stuttgart: Klett Verlag, ; G. Reale, Per una nuova interpretazione di Platone. Rilettura dei grandi dialoghi alla luce delle dottrine non scritte Milano: Vita e Pensiero Phaedrus C— E. The extent to which literacy influenced the rise of philosophy is still very contro- versial.
Among those emphasising the impact of literacy for the rise of abstract rational thought, see J. Cambridge University Press ; E. Havelock, The Muse Learns to Write: Yale University Press, Among the critics, see R.
Finnegan, Literacy and Orality: Studies in the Technology of Communication Oxford: Blackwell, ; and R. Cambridge University Press, ; both of whom emphasize that literacy is, in the end, what a specific culture makes of it, i. II d—e; III a—c. II e—b; III a—c. III c; d. In fact, we cannot even say that we possess the texts of his esoteric lessons: Colli, La nascita della filosofia.
A similar point is made by Abbagnano, Dizionario di Filosofia, ; and by P. Ellipses, Whereas in the Metaphysics we only have two examples for the word mythos L. Olms-Weidmann, ],in the Poetics, we have fifty J. Centre Informatique de Philosophie et Lettres, ], On this point, see, also, the beginning of the Metaphysics and the distinction between empeira knowledge of the particular and techne knowledge of the universal Met.
See, in particular, Topica VI, 6, a15 and Met. It had, therefore, to correspond accurately to external realities. But logos could not assuage human grief or give people intimations that their lives had meaning. For that they turned to mythos, an early form of psychology, which dealt with the more elusive aspects of human experience.
Stories of heroes descending to the underworld were not regarded as primarily factual but taught people how to negotiate the obscure regions of the psyche. In the same way, the purpose of a creation myth was therapeutic; before the modern period no sensible person ever thought it gave an accurate account of the origins of life. A cosmology was recited at times of crisis or sickness, when people needed a symbolic influx of the creative energy that had brought something out of nothing.
Thus the Genesis myth, a gentle polemic against Babylonian religion, was balm to the bruised spirits of the Israelites who had been defeated and deported by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar during the sixth century BCE. Nobody was required to "believe" it; like most peoples, the Israelites had a number of other mutually-exclusive creation stories and as late as the 16th century, Jews thought nothing of making up a new creation myth that bore no relation to Genesis but spoke more directly to their tragic circumstances at that time.
Above all, myth was a programme of action. When a mythical narrative was symbolically re-enacted, it brought to light within the practitioner something "true" about human life and the way our humanity worked, even if its insights, like those of art, could not be proven rationally. If you did not act upon it, it would remain as incomprehensible and abstract — like the rules of a board game, which seem impossibly convoluted, dull and meaningless until you start to play.
Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge.
Mythos & Logos: Two Ways of Explaining the World | Journey to the Sea
Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao.
Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd. But during the modern period, scientific logos became so successful that myth was discredited, the logos of scientific rationalism became the only valid path to truth, and Newton and Descartes claimed it was possible to prove God's existence, something earlier Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians had vigorously denied.
Christians bought into the scientific theology, and some embarked on the doomed venture of turning their faith's mythos into logos.