The hallmark of the Hellenistic era was chaos due to the deteriorating political influence of the city states and countless ruinous wars among autocratic rulers. That Tyche, the mercurial goddess of chance, was highly venerated everywhere, clearly indicates the instability of the time. Hellenistic people were deeply cognizant of the omnipresence of contingency in their lives.
Ancient Greek mythology symbolized the existential considerations of the Hellenic Greek their origin and the nature of things. The Greek Pantheon consists of anthropomorphic beings with supernatural powers and desires. Much like humans, they are capricious, intolerant and bored. Therefore, these Olympians account for a frightening, unpredictable reality and the gratuitous suffering of mortals. Continue reading Ex Nihilo
Nothing at all. Our relationship with death has profoundly shaped Western culture. A pervasive death consciousness has created religions, nourished philosophies and eventually stimulated scientific investigation, as well as fueled fanaticism, a brooding and melancholic pessimism, which resulted in nihilistic conclusions. Such nihilistic sentiments are far more than merely isolated occurrences, pervasive although manifesting in various guises. Continue reading In the beginning… there was Nothing.
Today is my 45th birthday, so I thought I’d do a retrospective. After 10-plus years and 200-some odd posts, I thought it was about time to write a post about this blog, and re-contextualize some of them for new readers. Continue reading Heterodoxia Blog Compliation
A few years ago I ditched Facebook for the seductive promises of Twitter. I took the distinction between the two to be fundamental, that we were plagued by the ignorance of our friends on Facebook, but benefited from the wit of strangers on Twitter instead. However, in time this distinction turned out to be merely skin-deep. It took me a while to admit that both forms of social media were already compromised by the very nature of digital communication. Continue reading Get Off Facebook!
An alternative to the standard cookie-cutter history of philosophy, this blog presents the subject as a “way of thinking” that investigates the “Big Names” as character studies and intellectual portraits rather than a freeze-dried version that retains merely the propositional content of their writings. Continue reading Philosophers in Context
Some time ago, I wrote myself into a corner in a chapter from Pantheon, in which a character was forced to solve a conundrum: he had to stay at a location, safeguard a highly sensitive museum, but prevent interlopers from coming inside, while not showing himself to them, or destroy them, or the critical objects of desire. The more I thought about this, the less confident I was at solving this Gordian knot. After all, if the aforementioned options prevented all possible solutions, then somewhere there was an assumption that made the conclusion false.
It seems domestic politics always end in hostile impasses and international politics are charged with menacing acts of terror and revenge. These sociopolitical phenomena are symptoms of a fundamental rage, and revenge is the project of rage. If we cannot understand and address our rage, our age is doomed. It is odd that we haven’t really analyzed the emotion of rage to the extent that we’ve paid heed to others like love, sympathy, anguish or guilt. I find this odd, because rage is the most obvious driving force in psychopolitical realm – be it at the personal or national or international level. Perhaps we ignore the vengeful aspect of the political life because it is by definition anti-rational and anti-egalitarian. Whenever we are angry about something, we will not care for equal treatment or reasoning towards mutual understanding. Therefore, rage undermines any attempt at a normative political theory. Continue reading Are You Mad as Hell Yet?
It all began with mirrors – the birth of self-consciousness as well as the realization that we have been cut off from the great Earth mother, and therefore the source of life. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Narcissus died from the shock of recognizing his own identity. He was a young Greek of extraordinary beauty, but crippled by self-love. He rejected the love of others, and most famously that of the cursed nymph Echo. Gazing at an image on the surface of a pond, Narcissus became entranced with it. But once he realized that the image was his own reflection, and therefore couldn’t consummate his love, he fell into despair and drowned himself.
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus
The Red Pill in the Matrix liberates the human mind from the Matrix and grasp the true reality. In philosophy, the red pill is the principle of insufficient reality. In the book, Joyful Cruelty, Clement Rosset addressed the cruelty of reality and the standard evasive strategies philosophers have used to avoid it. Every attempt to minimize the cruelty of truth, or the harshness of the real, has the inescapable consequence of discrediting the most brilliant efforts and the most noble causes. Continue reading The Principle of Insufficient Reality