Thursday, February 23, 2017
Theory of Knowledge - The Archdruid and Parmenides
When I first started writing the Hermetic Lessons, I assumed the readers would have a great deal of knowledge that simply isn't there. Subject knowledge that I thought was effectively required by the WMT, namely Mathematics, Science and Philosophy, isn't there at all or is way below the level that one would need to seriously navigate the field. The adage of ''What they do not know they fear and what they fear they destroy'' explains a lot of the bizarre animosity against science and mathematics that occasionally emerges as anti-intellectualism in our community and is further revealed by the way these topics are assiduously avoided in mainstream occulture.
On that note over at the Archdruid Report JMG is taking his readers through a powerful introduction to Philosophy of Mind and I highly recommend reading his work as a refresher if you are well grounded in the topic and as a solid foundation if you are not.
For those who are reading it there are a couple of points I'd like to address. A lot of the arguments that JMG is discussing, and partially critiquing, are based on a development of core ideas in philosophy that may or may not have been fundamentally misunderstood at the outset - similar to the way in which errors and misinterpretations totally destroyed understanding of the Kabbalah in the WMT. For instance to be able to distinguish between Plato and Socrates is itself a challenging task and to interpret exactly what either of them meant is problematic due to translation. Compounding this the problem with working with the Pre-Socratics, for example Parmenides, is that the work that has been passed down to us is extremely fragmentary.
In a book called ''To Think Like God: Parmenides and Pythagoras, the Origins of Philosophy'' Arnold Hermann argues that Parmenides was actually a lawyer so that when he was distinguishing between Truth and Opinion in ''On Nature'' he was not developing a metaphysical argument but a legal one. To what extent Socrates/Plato knew or did not know that is up for dispute (they may have reinterpreted this for their own needs) but all the way up to Popper etc we have been reading this [fragment of a] text as metaphysical in nature.
As Hermann argues, in Elea, Parmenides' home town, they enjoyed legal disputes and had a bizarre method of legislation by hanging, where the legislator stood with a noose around their neck and if the court didn't like the legislation then they would immediately be hanged. Situated on this litigious peninsula what Parmenides was really talking about was what really happened (i,e. the truth) in a given crime as opposed to what witnesses thought they observed (i.e. opinion). In his discussion of the logic that follows what he is really doing is laying the foundation for the cross examination of witnesses and the way in which lawyers will attempt to expose logical loopholes in their testimonies to disprove their worthiness. In the final sections of the fragments we have he discusses how science (as it was back then) is still in the realm of opinion - this is why scientists etc at court are referred to as expert witnesses.
We can, and many Gnostics and Kabbalists do, believe the universe is a crime scene or at least the aftermath of some tragic accident or catastrophe. Here I think there is mileage in continuing to transfer the legal explorations of Parmenides to a more universal metaphysics and indeed the system of Cellular Consciousness and the Metabolism of Time relies heavily on his work ''On Nature''. JMG argues that to suggest there is no such thing as movement or size, as Parmenides does, is fairly ''questionable'' but when you connect with Cellular Consciousness and understand that the universal substrate is Thought (like Anaxagoras) then you can easily show that the representations are made of one immobile undifferentiated substance. The system of MoT then builds on this as its foundation, in fact the Allegory of the Cave does too.
The truly tricky problem is what we mean by thought, or mind or consciousness and by focusing on Schopenhauer JMG is certainly pointing us in a good direction to a more advanced discussion of the topic even though based on the Archdruid's other posts I don't think I am necessarily going to agree with his conclusions. Although I agree that there is a ''thing out there'' I do not believe that it is ''matter'' persay but an interstitial fluid existing between the cells of consciousness, a bloodstream of time, which is co-created consensually from the stuff of the cells themselves i.e. according to his definition I am a reductive or possibly an eliminative idealist.
I must admit though that the work with Raziel and fully grasping that matter and consciousness can be best understood as time and anti-time (which is in fact the same thing, going forwards and backwards simultaneously) may shift my position as it unveils itself - probably ending in something truly esoteric like Zurvanism, which, in the way JMG is suggesting this all results in high end mysticism, I may in fact be proving his final point.