THE COSMOSEMANTIC STUTTERINGS OF
culture, every human being has an understanding of the metaphysical
laws that rule our planet. Some thinkers have put them down on paper.
Let's see what European philosophers, especially since the time of
the presocratics, have said about these laws.
philosophy came in contact with cosmosemantics. Thales is said to
have traveled to Khemit (ancient
Egypt) and to have thence brought
back to Greece the science of geometry. He seems to have discovered
how to calculate the distance of a ship at sea from observations
taken at two points on land, and how to estimate the height of a
pyramid from the length of its shadow. According to Aristotle, he
thought that water is the original substance, out of which all is
formed, that the magnet has a soul because it moves the iron
(ATTRACTION); further, that all things are full of gods.
held that all things come from a single primal substance, infinite,
eternal, neutral in the cosmic strife, ageless, and "it
encompasses all the worlds." He made this remarkable statement:
"Into that from which things take their rise they pass away once
more, as is ordained, for they make reparation and satisfaction to
one another for their injustice according to the ordering time."
Doesn't that sound like he is talking about PROPORTIONAL
COMPENSATIONS, an idea of justice, both cosmic and human?
spoke of an eternal MOTION, in the course of which was
the origin of the worlds. According to him, the worlds were not
created, as in the judeo-christian theology, but evolved
Mathematics, in the sense of demonstrative and
deductive argument, begins in Europe with Pythagoras. Pythagoras is
believed to have taught "first, that the soul is an immortal
thing, and that it is transformed into other kinds of living things
(EVOLUTION); further, that whatever comes into existence is
again in the revolutions of a certain CYCLE, nothing being
Heraclites regarded fire as the fundamental
substance. Everything, like flame in a fire, is born by the death of
something else. "Mortals are immortals, and immortals are
mortals, the one's living the other's death and dying the other's
life," he wrote. There is UNITY in the world, but it is a unity
formed by the combination of opposites (COMPLEMENTARY
CONTRADICTIONS). All things come out of the one, and the one out
all things. But the many have less reality than the one, which is God
(COMPLEMENTARY CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN THE ONE AND THE MANY).
talked of the world as the mingling of opposites. "Men do not
know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attunement
of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre." His
belief in strife is connected with this theory, for in strife
opposites combined to produce a MOTION which is a harmony. There is
UNITY in the world, but it is a unity resulting from DIVERSITY.
said: "Couples are things whole and things not whole.
drawn together and what is drawn asunder;
The harmonious and the
The one is made of all things,
And all things issue
from the one."
Sometimes he spoke as if the unity were
more fundamental than the diversity:
"Good and ill are
To God all things are fair and good and right,
hold some things wrong and some right.
The way up and the way down
is one and the same.
God is day and night, winter and summer, war
surfeit and hunger; but He takes various shapes,
as fire, when it is mingled with spices,
is named according to the
savour of each.
Nevertheless, there would be no unity
were no opposites to combine:
It is the opposite which is good for
This exploration of Khemitic wisdom (where Umics
really began) contains the germ of Hegel's philosophy which proceeds
by a synthesis of opposites.
For Parmenides, the only true
being is "THE ONE", the plenum, which is infinite and
indivisible. It is not, as in Heraclitus, a union of opposites, since
there are no opposites: "cold" means only "not hot"
and "dark" means only "no light" or "not
Empedocles is the one who established earth,
air, fire and water as the four elements for Western doctrine. Each
of these was everlasting, but they could be mixed in different
proportions, and thus produce the changing complex substances that we
find in the world (CHEMISTRY, HIERARCHY). They were combined
and separated by Strife. There were periods when Love was in the
ascendant and others when Strife was the stronger. This introduced
the CYCLE: when the elements have been thoroughly mixed by Love,
Strife gradually sorts them out again; when Strife has separated,
Love gradually reunites them. Thus every compound substance is
temporary; only the elements, together with Love and Strife, are
everlasting. - There is a similarity to Heraclitus, but a softening,
since it is not Strife alone, but Strife and Love together, that
produce change. The doctrine of Empedocles, outside science, consists
in the theory of the four elements and in the use of the two
principles of Love and Strife to explain change.
held that everything is infinitely divisible, and that even the
smallest portion of matter contains some of each element. He taught
that mind is the source of all MOTION. It causes a rotation (MOTION,
CYCLE) which is gradually spreading throughout the world.
founders of atomism were Leucippus and Democritus. The latter, a much
more definite figure, spent a considerable time in Egypt in search of
knowledge. Leucippus, if not Democritus, was led to atomism in the
attempt to mediate between MONISM and PLURALISM, as represented by
Parmenides and Empedocles respectively. They believed that everything
is composed of atoms which are physically, not geometrically,
indivisible; that between the atoms, there is empty space, that atoms
are indestructible, that they always have been, and always will be,
The atomists, unlike Socrates, Plato and Aristotle,
sought to explain the world without introducing the notion of purpose
(or final cause). The "final cause" of an occurence is an
event in the future for the sake of which the occurence takes place.
Why does the baker make bread? Because people will be hungry. Things
are explained by the purpose they serve. When we ask "why?"
concerning an event, we may mean either of two things: "What
purpose did this event serve?" or "What earlier
circumstances caused this event?" The answer to the former
question is a teleological explanation (explanation by the final
cause) and the answer to the latter question is a mechanistic
explanation. Experience has shown that the mechanistic question leads
to scientific knowledge, while the teleological question does not.
The atomists asked mechanistic questions and gave mechanistic
If you have been reading this discourse closely, you
may have noticed that each of these presocratic characters bumped
into one metaphysical law or another, and sought to explain the world
by it. It has always been so in Western philosophy. Hegel
that complementary contradictions, dialectics, could alone explain
everything and lead man to the knowing. Darwin came and made much
noise with evolution. All he did was to masterfully prove that
evolution exists and is a true law of nature. For those who already
knew, Darwin was a complete waste of time.
The existence or
not of God is important in Western philosophy. It's vital in the
world of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. With the advent and growth of
Christianity, God became central. Until Nietzsche killed Him. And
Karl Marx buried Him. Western philosophy these past 50 years is a
discussion with Nietzsche. Western politics these past century is a
debate with Karl Marx.
Personally I see in both the discussion
with Nietzsche and the debate with Karl Marx the angst of a people
begging for God to provide guidance by performing a miracle. They
like the idea of God's death (or God's murder) and His replacement by
Man but when they, and we all, see Man's (polluting) work in only two
centuries of industrial revolution, they, and we all, shiver.