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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Air in Philosophy

posted by on April 24 at 14:59 PM

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.

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are you about to go on a shooting spree?

Posted by patti | April 24, 2008 3:11 PM

I love the combination of condescension and cluelessness in this post. Well played.

Posted by Jay | April 24, 2008 3:19 PM

yes, all true, but meanigless because as becker so brilliantly argues, it is a neurotic soul trapped in decaying flesh.

Posted by SeMe | April 24, 2008 3:27 PM

You just cleared a small creative block I had...thank you. :)

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | April 24, 2008 3:28 PM

Unified Field Theory (believing it's there to be discovered); that's what's next.

Posted by Cath | April 24, 2008 3:31 PM

I'm not sure which is worse today - Erica's mindless drivel or yours. But at least yours was shorter.

Posted by Bwana | April 24, 2008 3:34 PM

Oh my god, Charles, normally I don't mind your posts -- sometimes I even like them -- but when did you suffer the incident that clearly led to partial amnesia, thus removing your memory of what paragraphs are for?

Posted by Sweeney Agonistes | April 24, 2008 4:41 PM

I'm pretty sure (and don't feel contradicted by my greek lexicon) that you're looking for the word "pneuma" as in "Spirit" not "psyche." Pneuma actually means breath or wind or life itself.

According to my lexicon, "homeric usage gives little support to the derivation from psychw - to blow/breathe."

Posted by Mr. Joshua | April 24, 2008 4:45 PM

Kumbaya, Charles, Kumbaya.

Posted by crazycatguy | April 24, 2008 4:59 PM

charles, you are either:
1) a masochist for subjecting your junior-year-in-college thoughts to this savvy and ruthless crowd, or;
2) strangely impervious to the withering criticism from this savvy and ruthless crowd.

Posted by ellarosa | April 24, 2008 6:47 PM

So where does Lucretius fit into this, Charles?

Posted by Greg | April 25, 2008 9:11 AM

I completely agree with this post. "Air" is among the most underrated songs of the Talking Heads' oeuvre. In order to truly conquer science and return to the state of natural grace advocated by Rousseau, we must all take a bong hit worthy of all seven billion of us, while listing to Fear Of Music in its entirety, using the Earth's atmosphere as a massive and inescapable loudspeaker.

Fear Of Music + Jean-Jacques Rousseau = Air in Philosophy.

"It's the Blimp, Frank! It's the Blimp!"

Posted by Jeff Stevens | April 25, 2008 10:12 AM

Just one more glaring example that the government's "war on drugs" is having no appreciable affect on either the availability or use of narcotic substances.

Posted by COMTE | April 25, 2008 12:54 PM

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