History Air in Philosophy
posted by April 24 at 14:59 PMon
What is evident is this: Philosophy prepares the way for things to come. Philosophy sometimes calls this preparation a clearing. A clearing made for a temple is one way of reading the historical relationship between Greek thought in the classical period and early Christianity (or Christianities). In this clearing the soul makes its appearance. The soul as it is understood in the West, and elaborated by Christianity, was invented (or established) by Plato’s Socrates. We must understand that before Socrates and his period the soul is another type of substance. The soul, in fact, is not even a soul. It has something to do with the air. Before the arrival of the personal soul, air is a god that humans live on. And when a human dies, he/she expires—stops breathing god. This type of soul has no personality and is called the psyche (not to be confused with our current use of that word), a simple substance that leaves the body through the open mouth. Air returns to air; god returns to god. It is Socrates who transforms the psyche into a soul, an individual, a thing that must be conditioned and morally improved. With Socrates, the soul becomes immortal. In The Republic, the soul journeys to the world of souls. Here it can be punished or rewarded. Here the virtuous and the “masters of wickedness” are sorted out. This is the soul that Christianity adopts and refines. Philosophy prepared this soul, but it also began dismantling it in the 15th century when it initiated a clearing for science. By the 16th century, Spinoza’s immanent God extinguished the Christian soul and prepared a place for the hard appearance of science. We are still at this stage of things. Philosophy has yet to make a clearing for what is next to come.