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Vico's Poetic Philosophy within Europe's Cultural Identity 2/2 Vico's Poetic Philosophy within Europe's Cultural Identity 2/2
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2007-06-17 09:44:02
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So the crucial question is this: How should the reader approach Vico? The simple answer is this: on his own merits, as the unique thinker he was and the originator of a new original orientation for philosophical thought. The originality of his philosophy consists in placing the image over the concept. For a tradition conceiving of its origins as Aristotle’s rationality this sounds topsy-turvy; for indeed “reason” continues to dominate it together with scientific thought. But let the reader pay attention to the title of Vico’s work: it is not a New Philosophy but a New Science. So Vico is far from abandoning reason and science as such.

In any case the tradition begins with the Platonic quarrel (which some have misguidedly resurrected as the quarrel between ancients and moderns) with poetic images; although it must also be said that Plato’s language remains ambiguous because it uses the poetical and the mythological and images galore when it best suits him. In fairness to Plato one ought to keep in mind that he made a distinction between “good poetry” (that which spoke of the gods and the heroes) and "bad poetry," everything else. Aristotle reinforces the rationalistic tradition by defining man a rational animal with no clue that integral to reason, even at its most developed stage, are feelings and emotions from which it originally sprang. But in reality, despite Croce's brave attempt at integration through Hegel, Vico stands outside the Western philosophical tradition.

Cassirer who like Croce had a great affinity for Vico, also attempted an integration by distinguishing the philosophy of spirit (Geist) and the philosophy of life (Leben). This is a distinction that may prove useful for understanding Vico’s position vis a vis modern philosophy without subsuming him under the ancient philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. However, the fundamental model of the symbol in Cassirer remains cognitive. It is a brave attempt to extend a cognitive model of thought to other form of experience: language, art, history, myth. Something that Plato would have vehemently condemned. Cassirer gives due credit to Vico by calling him “the true discoverer of the myth” [der eigentliche Entdecker des Mythos in Erkenntmisproblem inder Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neuern Zeit, 1973, IV, p. 300], as translated in The Problem of Knowledge by William H. Hoglam and Charles W. Hendel, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1950, p. 296), but he remains different from Vico because he discovers the myth through the rational concept and in so doing he has to necessarily identify Vico with the philosophy of Geist. As with Croce the attempt here is to try to incorporate Vico within the Western rationalistic tradition.

How so? In the sense that Cassirer sees philosophical idealism moving from Leibniz to Kant and Held within the philosophy of Geist all the way to his own conception of symbols (see his Introduction to The Symbolic Forms). He sees the role of the imagination in the schematism of the Critique of Kant and the Critique of Judgment as important aspects of Kant’s thought. And indeed Kant has a great interest in the bond between intuition and the concept and the existence of the “unreflective judgment” (reflektierende Urteilshkraft) and organic form pointing in the direction of a concrete philosophy of all areas of human culture. Cassirer also appreciates Hegel’s effects within the philosophy of the concept as something abstracted from experience in order to create by means of the speculative proposition [speculative Satz] a new sense of the concept as “concrete universal” [begriff] within the Western tradition of reason. He transforms reason from simple understanding [Verstand] into reason as the inner form of experience [Verneuft] in his Phenomenology of Spirit. Cassirer himself point out that their transformation ends up as the reduction of the idea to the simple form of logic in Hegel’s Science of Logic.

On the other side of the spectrum of the Western philosophical tradition there is the philosophy of Leben, of life and existence and even the irrational which Cassirer sees as a reaction to Geist, an attempt to come to terms with the immediate. It is most apparent in the thought of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sheiler and Heidegger. Here one waits for the appearance of Being. Spirit (Geist) is seen not as a transformation of life but as alienation, an inauthentic relationship to Being. So, Western Philosophy presents us with a disjoint: either we pursue philosophical understanding in terms of the principles of evidence, the concept, the syllogism, the argument; or we think directly from the situation of life, we "transvaluate values" as Nietzsche suggests, or wait for Being, as Heidegger advices. Vico offers an alternative to both traditions because his thought begins outside this disjoint. It begins neither with Geist nor with Leben but with fantasia as an original and independent power of the human mind. Here images are manifestations of an original power of spirit which gives fundamental form to mind and life. Vico calls these images "universali fantastici" but they are not concepts in poetic cloaks as rationalists tend to assert. The image is not understood in relation to the concept but on its own terms.

By building his philosophy on fantasia Vico creates a position outside Western philosophy as traditionally understood. His is the kind of thought that teaches the art of memory and recovery. Unfortunately philosophers of memory have enjoyed no respectful standing in the general histories of philosophy. They are seen as literary, rhetorical, not philosophical in nature because they are not conceptual. What is not conceptual is simply denied philosophical standing. Within this rationalism imagination is at best conceived as the handmaiden of the concept, an element of the mind subject to investigation by a theory of knowledge (standing between perception and concept) or perhaps viewed as part of a theory of aesthetics. Within the latter imagination is seen as apart from the concerns of theory of knowledge; the image is free only apart from the concept seen as supreme achievement of reason fully developed ["ragione tutta spiegata" Vico calls it].

In other words, imagination is considered a mere subject matter, never a mode of philosophical thought. At best the image and the metaphor become devices to illustrate conceptual philosophical meanings. Plato is exemplary here. In his dialogues, the image remains outside the form of philosophical thought to be used only when conceptual reasoning rises toward what he considers a view of the whole, or it is used as a simple instrument of communication to liven up the thought. Vico to the contrary insists that philosophy, atronomy, economics, morality, politics, history, even logic can be poetic (see book II of The New Science).

Paradoxically, without imagination, a view of the whole cannot be reached. See the image of the charioteer and the two winged horses in the Phaedrus and then read book X of the Republic where the rational idea is separated from the wisdom of Homer (a figure most prominently displayed in Vico's frontispiece). This contemptuous cavalier attitude toward the image considered inferior to the idea, has dogged Western philosophy for twenty four centuries. Vico proves that indeed there is no such thing as an individual called Homer: he is the representation of the oral poetical tradition of the Greeks and in that sense, despite Plato's esoteric opinion, he is the exoteric "educator of Hellas."

In conclusion, I would like to propose that Vico's philosophy offers a fresh new starting point. It is not a question of siding with the poetic wisdom of Homer against the rational wisdom of Plato, but of interpreting wisdom (and therefore reason too) in a new way as "sapienza poetica," (poetical wisdom). It is a sort of synthesis, a novantiqua; a blending of the two to arrive at a new understanding of both image and idea. That is what Vico shows the reader: he works his way back to the world of original thought (the myth) since for him "verum factum convertuntur," the true and the made are convertible and Man can return to origins via what he himself has made: history, institutions, languages, artifacts, etc., in fact he can do that more surely than with science observing a nature that he has not made. Through his discovery of the imaginative universal, of fantasia as a way of thinking and acting, Vico finds a new origin for philosophical thought. Heidegger calls it "originative thinking" without however giving much credit to Vico for this insight, but then he did the same disservice to Kierkegaard’s powerful critique of Hegel’s philosophy of history.

In any case, it is Vico who with his conception of fantasia creates a novantiqua outside of the above mentioned disjoint between Geist and Leben and the ancient Platonic disjoint between idea and image. I suggest that Vico in the 21st century ought to be accorded a fair hearing on his own merits as an Herculean hero of philosophy. His message, just as Levinas’, is urgently needed for a reassessment of the cultural identity of Western civilization in general and of the European Union in particular.

PART ONE
PART TWO


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Sand2007-06-17 10:46:04
As with the initial section of this presentation this entangled jungle of esoteric references and undefined terminology defeats me at gaining a clear understanding of what is attempted to communicate. Perhaps I am completely stupid and, if so, your message almost totally eludes me and my situation is hopeless.

I am especially puzzled with one thing amongst many others. It is your (or perhaps Vico's) contention that ideas are divorced from images. As an artist that continually operates under the assumption that many of my very fruitful ideas are images with no linguistic counterpart this total cleaving strikes me completely out of sync with reality. There are many sensations and creative combinations of sensations that are manipulable in thought but are totally outside the scope of language to encompass. One cannot convey by language alone the taste of vanilla or ginger, any perceived color, the odor of any particular flower or strong chemical, almost any piece of music. These require direct experience through the appropriate receptive nervous structures and someone schooled in the manipulation of these very basic sensations knows very well that manipulation of these sensations constitute a huge field of ideas that can be transmitted fully only by experiencing the elemental sensations. Image and idea are the same thing.


Paparella2007-06-17 22:03:06
Again it fascinates me that you find everything I write obscure and obfuscating but then ask for explanations. I would aver that you are not stupid, you are just not reading very carefully. What is stated in my piece is that it is the rationalists, both ancient and modern, who make the dichotomy imagination/rationality, not Vico who to the contrary harmonizes them even when distinguishing them. So the good news seems to be that you are not a hard wired rationalist after all since you seem to leave open the possibility of an harmonization of rationality and the poetic, the image and the idea. See the comment under today's lead article on "poetic logic" and if you should find that obscure too, see Vico's second book, section two of the New Science.


Eva2007-06-18 02:04:07
I, for one, enjoy the Sand & Paparella bickering - I see you as two lancers but instead of lances you use words - elegant fighting, boys :)


Eva2007-06-18 02:04:58
..oh, and now what was the article about again..?


Sand2007-06-18 05:48:37
If I did not find you obscure I would not need explanations. I also find your characterization of a non-linguistic idea as "poetic" quite odd since poetry deals with language. Your continuous ranting against rationalists requires, it seems to me, at least some indication as to who these people actually are. You indicated that you felt technology and science to be neutral and not "rationalist". Who then are the rationalists. Are they people who are unconvinced that there is a super manager directing the universe? Clarification is one of the imperatives of anyone proposing an idea. To claim that you are perfectly clear when people request explanation is the sign of arrogant psychosis.


Paparella2007-06-18 07:40:42
Projecting of one's wn shadow might have been a preferable tern to arrogant psychosis. In any case, a rationalists are those who despite their hight degree of education can plan and rationalize a Holocaust in two hours, and exectute it in three years; they can set up a totalitarian worker's paradise buttressed by a rationalizing ideology, usually replacing religion, and exterminate six million farmers in the process. They are those who are willing to sacrifice native cultures to the altar of inevitable progress. Those who see a tree and immediately try to figure out how many houses can he build with it and how much profit can be derived from it, before even noticing its beauty. It is the man who thinks a robot can make a suitable companion for one's children and believe that computers are superior beings vis a vis man. It is the man who believes that science is capbable of solving by push button fixes all the immemorial existential problems of what it means to be a man and act like one. It is the man who having dehuminized himself believes that he is worth only the sum of its parts and soul refers to what is under his feet. It is the man who can cavalierly assert that a watch found in the street does not indicate a mind by its complexity and purpose. It is the "enlightened" man who is willing to doubt everything except his own method of arriving at truth. It is the man who does not believe in Truth but only in provisional instrumental truths and has reduced life to a sort of chess game. Just look around and you will see such men. C.S. Lewis called them "men without chest."


Paparella2007-06-18 07:50:26
Oh, I forgot, the term poetic refers only partly to language, more generally it refers to all the artifacts and even instittutions issuing from the human mind. When the poetic is missing in any human artifact you may have an instrument but not a work of art. The cosmos, not made by man unles he, like mad Caligula, declares himself a god, has its own beauty which leads some 99% of scientists to posit a supreme Poet who says it all with one Word and makes it at the same time. The other 1% do not believe that, which does not make them stupid, just misguided rationalists.


Sand2007-06-18 08:18:37
Thank you for an answer that can be examined for a cogent response.
I still remained puzzled about what a wn shadow might be. I am delighted that you may not be psychotic. It is an encouraging possibility. A rationalist is then a person who approves of the Nazi Holocaust. Does that also apply to the use of the atomic bombs on Japan? To the massacre of millions of Vietnamese to no purpose whatsoever? To the establishment and support of various brutal and suppressive governments in the Middle East, in South America, and South East Asia? To the genocide of the original inhabitants of both North and South America which continues today? To the brutal expeditions of the Crusades which plundered, pillaged, raped and murdered untold multitudes in the name of the rather kindly Jesus Christ? To the believers in Allah who disagree amongst themselves to butcher each other and anybody who would request they rethink their conflicting and unrealistic doctrines? To a government that seeks only to bloat the profit of corporations without regard to the waste and destruction that entails? To those who disregard the beauty of living animals like cattle and pigs and chickens in order to subject them to miserable lives ending in mass daily slaughter to slake the immense greedy appetites of overstuffed populations ? To scientists that continuously reveal the intricacy and beauty of the universe that operates quite well with no supervision? To someone who discovers that minds are the result of natural forces requiring no more than the interactions of observable unsupervised natural forces for their creation and may, on occasion, produce a timepiece as well as other intricate machinery? To admit that no knowledge is permanent and fixed but that must be continuously modified by newly acquired knowledge and thereby acknowledge that absolute Truth is a mirage that possesses demented minds that have not the imagination and flexibility to look closely around them and accept that there is much yet to know and much that remains unknown?

Perhaps men without chests (something that remains an enigma to me) is much to be preferred to men without active and open minds.


Sand2007-06-18 09:00:32
Your slightly clearer definition of poetry which I assumed and my dictionary indicates is an art involved with linguistic expression is evidently something different from what is ordinarily accepted. Be that as it may, your generalization enlarges its scope to dimensions that obviously make it more comfortable to you since you have an obvious predisposition for hazy generalities wherein it is convenient and simple to confuse the observer of your submissions.
It is acknowledged by all good scientists that the cosmos still has within it huge mysteries and human perception of it can only construct approximations of its structures and dynamics. Since you seem amazingly confident of your view of the universe far beyond that of people who have spent their lives examining and speculating about it I find your viewpoint rather curious and frankly, suspect.
I would appreciate information as to your source as to the beliefs of 99% of scientists. Information I have gathered from other quite reliable sources seem to be in conflict with your evaluation.


Paparella2007-06-18 12:18:46
Since Eva called us boys, "boys without chest" will do as well, I am sure C.S. Lewis would not mind. One of the symptoms mentioned by Lewis of the men or a boy as the case may be, lacks a chest under his shirt or a face under his clown's mask, is their inability to carry on an authentic dialogue. They just juggle with words and even attempt to reduce language to logical positivism and mathematics.

All the rest, unfortunately remains obscure to you, or perhaps understoo only too well judging from its reaction. In any case, to beat on the messanger delivering unwelcom news remains egregious; I suspect that the more perceptive readers can see what's behind all those cavalier gratuitous charges. wise cracks and one liners passing for wisdom.


Sand2007-06-18 12:22:20
You are denigrating me and not replying to my questions. I would much appreciate that you follow your own advice.


Sand2007-06-18 12:43:05
What is particularly intriguing to me is your colossal ego wherein you take the folk tales of, perhaps intelligent, but abysmally ignorant ancient people to construct a total fantasy of the nature of the universe and declare it absolute Truth. Very bright people working over many years and high precision and very expensive equipment advance very slowly in their understanding of the universe and continually revise and check their work and still find themselves with much to learn. You will never find atheists in faux wholes.


Paparella2007-06-18 17:35:26
I spoke too fast. You may be after all a hard-wired rationalist who truly beleives that myth is the equivalent of falsehood and imagination and intuition has no place in science. As we know, Einstein for one knew better.


Sand2007-06-18 17:40:07
Since my fate rests in your hands I humbly request a clear outline as to what this monstrous thing, a rationalist might be. I have yet to hear what your good Lord has set upon my head.


Paparella2007-06-18 18:12:43
A hint: Einstein believed in God and so no contradiction between his belief and his science. Even when he said,
God does not play dice with the universe he could still continue to do science since as an intelligent man using reason (but not rejecting intuition either)as applied to natural science. Aristotle could also do natural science and did a lot of it and keep it separate from his metaphysics where he postulates a Prime Cause and an Unmovable Mover.

The hard wired rationalist will deny that one can do valid science and still believe in a Creator and in doing so he will contemptuously and arrogantly think himself superior to those who believe in a Creator because he has convinced himself that he has superior methodology which doubts of everything at the outset (I think therefore I am) except his superior methology. Rousseau had it more on target, albeit he too was only clever by half, when he said "I feel therefore I am." In between those extremes there is Vico harmonizing the two. If all this is still confusing to you, as I suspect it will be, all I can tell you is to go and read Vico and decide for yourself why people still read him some two hundred and fifty years later. Shalom.


Sand2007-06-18 18:52:07
Even you can very quickly discover this on Google.

I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

It is sad that you must rely on lies to put forward what you believe.

At least it is becoming clear what you believe a rationalist to be. Someone who does not believe in your God. That comforts me.


Sand2007-06-18 19:11:18
Incidentally, when Einstein trusted an unreasoning instinct and proposed that God does not play dice with the universe, he was proven wrong. Instinct should not be ignored but it must be tested by scientific method which you seem to despise.


Paparella2007-06-18 19:11:52
Even a rationalist with an average IQ can find this quote in Google:

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings"

But of course the rationalist will ignore that quote since that may make Einstein at least a deist. Moreover that may suggest to the rationalist that he ought to read a bit more reflectively Dostoyesky's The Brother Karamozov wher one of the brothers makes the argument that with all the evil there is in the world he cannot believe that at the beginning there was a Cause or God who began the process. Eistein rejected a beginning and called that the biggest mistake of his scientific career.


Sand2007-06-18 19:39:40
If, with Einstein, you conceive as God as the order itself of the universe then it becomes merely a matter of semantics and I cannot claim that the universe is disordered. But frankly, you have not convinced me that you think that this order is not specially concerned with mankind and all the small odd nonsenses that pervade formal religion. Your predisposition to twist facts to justify your opinion (as clearly
demonstrated in the Einstein discussion) has destroyed your veracity for me. The big bang theory of the universe's origin says nothing about an intelligent creator any more than a volcano demonstrates Vulcan throwing hot rocks.


Paparella2007-06-18 19:57:16
I'll be glad to let readers gudge for themselves. Your personal opinion of me as an individual and of my opinions concerns me not a bit, considering the biased source, nor have I asked to be your friend, but one ought to stop parading decency rethorically and doing something else in practice, albeit in a debating forum. In any case I stil think you ought to pick up Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamozov and reflect on the message about Deism there, independent of your opinion of the messanger. If Dostoyesky has just received the kiss of death as far as you are concerned,so be it. That is your problem not mine.


Sand2007-06-18 19:58:28
If, with your indeterminate IQ, you look bit more deeply into Google you will discover that Spinoza is classified as a rationalist.


Paparella2007-06-18 20:01:40
So is Aristotle and to a certain extent Plato, but they all believed in a Creator. Not all rationalists are atheists and some who are embued with the poetic (George Santayana for example)and understand that a myth is not a falsehood, are atheists. Google can explain that even to Forrest Gump.


Sand2007-06-18 20:04:02
Any browser on our conversation is welcome to look and comment but I am not parading before readers. I am talking to you and my demeanor does not involve lies or improper behavior.


Sand2007-06-18 20:17:44
I see. So all that rant against rationalists was merely a side issue. To be acceptable I must believe in God. At least I now know where I stand. Aristotle and Plato believed in many things I find unacceptable. Am I to assume you adhere to all of the beliefs of these two or do you cherry pick their beliefs? You seem so secure in what Forrest Gump and the Tin Woodsman and goodness knows what other fictional characters think. Are you equally adept in the psychology of fairies, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, vampires,the Frankenstein monster and the Golem? That could provide more interesting material than what we have been discussing. But if those insights are as valid as your understanding of the creator of the universe I'm afraid we're in a mess.


Paparella2007-06-18 21:44:02
To the contrary, George
Santayana is perfectly acceptable to me. He was an intelligent atheist, not a myopic rationalist and understood the true meaning of myths and fairy tales. With him I could have had an meaningful dialogue. If he knew Fellini he could have also talked to him.


Sand2007-06-18 22:15:26
Well at least you're consistent in one way. You're very comfortable with dead people. The more ancient, the better. You certainly cannot hold up a relevant conversational end with me.


Paparella2007-06-18 23:13:53
On the other hand, to be constistent with your own philosophy of inevitable progress and what comes at the end is always the best you should try talking to those who will come in the future. That embryo from Rumi's poem for instance. That should make for an interesting cutting edge dialogue, albeit a bit solipsistic. Wait a minute! Isn't that what is actually going on?


Sand2007-06-19 07:23:16
I would much appreciate your not indulging in your bad habit of ascribing to me things I have not proposed. Although I do admit to being somewhat prejudiced in favor of the latest accomplishments of protoplasm over the original slime clinging to prehistoric rocks, I go along with Gould in guessing that a changing environment influences the state of an organism's future and in no way guarantees that surviving individuals would be superior to previous ones. But the filter of time, over the long run, seems to have made more adaptive individuals more general.

If you persist in your vague references I would suggest you get a bit more specific. Rumi, the 13th century Sufi poet has many poems on the web and in lieu of quoting the poem directly (which would save me some trouble) I would suggest in courtesy, that you at least supply the title.

How does solipsism enter our discussion? In the final analysis we are both subject to that.


Paparella2007-06-19 09:13:53
Rumi whole poem on the embryo was quoted in one of my pieces on Vico but apparently it escaped you with many other things mentioned that remain confused in your mind. Solipsism goes on when people think they are having a dialogue but are really only listening to themselves.


Sand2007-06-19 09:36:58
If you do not think it worth your trouble to requote the poem for my easy access, it is not worth my time to dig through all those murky submissions to comment on it.

As I said before, solipsism is pandemic. You are no more immune than me.


Paparella2007-06-19 10:32:43
Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo. You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate. There are wheatfields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom."

At night there are million of galaxies, and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer. There is no “other world.” I only know what I’ve experienced. You must be hallucinating. –

--Jelaluddin Rumi


Paparella2007-06-19 10:38:07
It is relevant to remember that Rumi founded an academy where knowledge was pursued rationally, then he had a sort of conversion experience, discovered the poetic and from then on he gave up rationalism and became a full time poet.

The poem was quoted in the context of An Imaginary Conversation on Mount Olympus.


Sand2007-06-19 12:25:00
Sorry. Now I remember. At my age things slip away. My response, as I recall, was that none of us, can deal with things outside our experience with any capability. Any attempt will be merely a reformulation of what we know in a distortion of both the familiar and the unfamiliar but that is the way knowledge progresses, in shaky tangential pathways. Not solipsism at all.


Paparella2007-06-19 17:01:24
Meaning I suppose that a man can never describe the experience of being a mother, or vice-versa a a women that of being a father. True enough, for most rationalists. But you see, there such thing as imagination within reason and so a Shakespeare can do a pretty good job at imagining and then describing experiences that he never underwent. Dante for example describes in the 14th century the experience of walking on the moon and seein the earth from it and does a much better job than our modern asustraunots mouthing platitudes and banalities. Check it out, it is in the Divine Comedy still being taught nowadays at both Harvard and Yale. Evem wondered why?


Paparella2007-06-19 17:06:38
I suppose typos are inevitable when jotting down a fast answer. The word should have been astronaut, not asustraunots.


Sand2007-06-19 19:26:15
Just a quick check. Did Dante describe the relative loss of weight and airlessness. Frankly, I doubt it. And these are very fundamental sensations in the experience.


Sand2007-06-19 19:48:53
In addition, since you were so accommodating in presenting the Sufi poem I would appreciate a more precise location of the section on Dante's moonwalk so I can appreciate his prescience. The Divine Comedy is an extensive poem and it would speed my search if I knew exactly where to look. I am reasonably sure your acquaintance with the poem is far better than mine.


Sand2007-06-19 20:10:03
I have examined summaries of all thirty four Cantos of Dante's work and they all refer to successive circles of hell with no mention of a walk on the Moon.
Perhaps you remember the Moon walk from some other of Dante's work. I am curious to see it.


Paparella2007-06-19 21:26:58
It never ceases to fascinate me that when a rationalist finds a message not to his taste he will often try to descredit the messanger delivering it in the hope of descrediting the message too. Another stratagem is to impune the professional competency of the messanger These are old ploys suggesting that human nature has not changed that much in millions of years, even if we can now go to the moon and back.

Stay tuned. I have forwarded a whole article on Dante's relevancy for the EU where the verses of Dante's describption of the earth as seen from the moon are quoted and commented upon. It should be out shortly. I trust the wait will not let you lose too much sleep. Not to worry in any case, Dante will be around taught at all the best universities around the world for another 800 years at the very least, even if he could not give us the exact composition of the moon's temperature. Why do you suppose? In any case, when you get the exact words of Dante's description, I encourage you to compare them to what was actually said by Neil Armstrong in a miserly attempt at being poetic, when he first put foot on the moon.

What in fact you have perfuntiorly examined is one third of the Divine Comedy: there is an introductory canto and the 33 cantos of Hell. His journey (which is the journey of everyman and that is why he continues to be read 800 years later) takes him to Purgatory and then Paradise. So there are 66 more cantos (33 for each realm) for a total of 100. Much more in the article on Dante.



Paparella2007-06-19 21:56:50
I just came across a quote by Einstein which is relevant to our discussion:

"God is clever, but not dishonest,"

Food for thought. Dante would agree.


Paparella2007-06-19 22:08:36
Another fascinating characteristic of rationalists is their penchant for pigeonholing people into categories or schools or systems to better control them or manipulate them. They get very annoyed at people who do not fit into any of their neat precise categories. Vico is one such. I wonder if that is the experience of other readers out there.


Paparella2007-06-19 22:20:08
When the maverick cannot be brought around to the rationalist's mind set three things may happen to him: he may be demonized, he may be ridiculed, or he may be declared a nut ready for the lunatic asylum.


Sand2007-06-19 22:28:22
The ferocity of your reaction for a simple request for a literary reference seems to me remarkable and symptomatic of something or other but I cannot see what. As much as I admire Einstein I doubt he is in direct communication with the mind of God. He was wrong about the Almighty's gaming habits so I have little confidence in his perception of God's other qualities.


Sand2007-06-19 23:56:54
Mr.Paparella I have engaged you in a long dialogue and played several games to dissuade you of your strange and naïve delusions to small effect. You spoke with great admiration of poetry, of gods and myths and heroes as if heroics were some lost art now denied to mankind. You continuously demeaned the sincere and dedicated efforts of the best of humanity to puzzle out through the ages the nature of this strange and devious universe that surrenders its secrets reluctantly to minds barely capable of seeing how it functions in favor of the childish stories that ignorant men who did their best with meager information to formulate their simple thoughts into some integrated but now obviously inadequate whole.
I accept that you may not have the perception nor the mental flexibility to see the accomplishments of this long line of earnest and clever seekers but I find your rejection of the accomplishments of the real heroes who underwent great and selfless danger and did what no other form of life on Earth could do about as mean and vile as human judgment could be.

It has been
Almost half a century
Since the basic stuff of which we’re made
Reached out across the chasm to our Moon
And said “Now,
Now will protoplasm start to claim
Its presence in the universe.”
We are made of star guts spewed
In stellar death.
Neil Armstrong’s footprint in Moon’s dust
So declared
Our habitation to the stars
As we begin the long journey
Back to home.



Paparella2007-06-20 05:38:43
Ah. As that democrat turned staunch republican used to say: here we go again...with the demonization process in the name of sweet kind reason...claiming things I never uttered, all in the name of tolerance and political correctness. How is that kind of intollerance different from that of the taliban? I don't know either what it suggests but at the very least some sort of desperation. Vico calls it "the barbarism of the intellect." It would appear that the barbarians of the intellect are posed to spread like germs throughout the universe. It may be a devolution after all! The universe is contracting again. But not to worry, it will start all over again, eternally. Quite rational!


Sand2007-06-20 05:48:31
Babble on.


Sand2007-06-20 08:48:04
To this point I could accept
Your arguments, disarrayed
By lack of logic, minus concept,
Incongruent to perception, displayed
With arrogance from ignorance
Because I hoped to penetrate
Your shell, install coherence,
Revitalize your fate
And find
A mind.

But your persistent choice, dissent
To suck the dust of fossil erudition
And smear nobility with excrement
Leaves me left to wail your condition.
Sorrowful, I must accept defeat.
It appears there is no sense
Where mindlessness is complete
To prod total incompetence
Towards hope
Where no scope
Appears to move, emerge into reality
If you condemn yourself into dead finality.




Paparella2007-06-20 10:04:09
What is the name of this latest circus act: Grumpy Old Men? Are we having fun yet?


Paparella2007-06-20 10:12:17
A poem for rationalists:

I have lived
on the lip of insanity,
wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door
It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside.
--Rumi


Sand2007-06-20 10:36:48
Paparella, I write my own stuff. I don't need your second hand insights. You are no longer worthy of a response


Paparella2007-06-20 11:03:47
Noblesse oblige: I am deprived of Jan Sand's response and in fact I get the last word. So here is the last thought on how the rationalist's mind works: first you establish a false premise: we are a superior race; then you logically proceed to find the inferior races; once you have found them you logically exterminate them since evolution itself teaches the survival of the fittest; you are merely helping along. It is all iron clad logic and rationality, minus the human element. It is all more thoroughly explained in Erick Fromm's Escape from Freedom. Take a look sometime. Adieu Mr. Sand. It has been a learning experience in more ways than one.


Paparella2007-06-20 23:12:21
Ah, it occurs to me, Mr. Sand, that try as you may, no way you would have found Dante on the moon in Hell, for hell is under the earth in the Divine Comedy not above. I guess it is a comedy of sort after all.


Vico's fan2007-10-22 12:44:34
Sand is an expert of philosophy as I am of Arabic.
Listen to me; take up baseball or football. Philosophy and science are too much for you.


wikipedia english2007-10-22 13:07:41
Vico’s major work was poorly received during his own life but has since inspired a cadre of famous thinkers and artists, including Benedetto Croce, James Joyce, Bertrand Russell, Samuel Beckett, Isaiah Berlin, Northrop Frye, Harold Bloom, Edward Said, Marshall McLuhan, Thomas Berry, and Robert Anton Wilson. Later his work was received more favourably as in the case of Lord Monboddo to whom he was compared in a modern treatise.[1]

For Ernst von Glasersfeld, Giambattista Vico is "the first true constructivist" (in An Introduction to Radical Constructivism).
Dear Sand,
Italians don't like stupid foreign people who tries to minimize the contribution of Italian philosophers to the world. So shut up e come back to the jungle.



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