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Category: Nemo – Books On Trial

Katharine Hepburn, among the prophets‏

 
to the icons of my art-infused philosophy,
Proust, primarily, and Beethoven, I am
adding this day, on the strength of this
very video, the indomitable Katharine
Hepburn, a veritable cultural treasure
and, here, a fierce and guiding light   
 
 
Richard
 
 
 
 
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Rodin on Descartes

Rodin on Descartes

“The Thinker” – Auguste Rodin

just saying

Richard

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (17 )‏


Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 00:08:23 +0000
To: richibi@hotmail.com
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
 

Richard,

You wrote, ” should there, in the instance, however, be a One, an Absolute, we would not, nor can anyway ever, from our intrinsically divergent perspectives, be able to, in any meaningful way, know It”

Our opinions are not “intrinsically”, but “accidentally” divergent. If they are intrinsic, they would not be affected by changes in our circumstances. But often times our opinions are affected by external circumstances. Therefore, they are not “intrinsic”. For instance, your story about the color of the wall reminds me of a similar story of how the English chemist John Dalton discovered color blindness. He himself was color blind but never realized it until his mother (or aunt) disagreed with him on the color. Without such a defect, there would be no disagreement.

Truth cannot be a sum of opinions or even an unanimous decision of all people. Why? Because the sum of contrary opinions amount to nothing, and the sum of contradictory opinions only lead to confusion, since people are never unanimous about anything.

To use a classic Platonic analogy: If you have a serious disease and want to be healed. Will you call everyone in from the street, hold a public assembly and have them vote for a treatment of your disease? Of course not. You’ll seek out the specialist in the field and have him examine you and give you the proper diagnosis and treatment. Because he possesses the knowledge, whereas the others don’t. Even a grain of truth is worth more than a boatload of false opinions.

Having said the above, however, I agree that the truth may be multifaceted, like the color of light shining through a prism. Because our senses have their limitations, we can only see part of the spectrum, similarly, our rational faculty may also be limited, and we only see the Truth in part. This is why dialogues such as we’re having are meaningful. That we may see the rainbow, while not losing sight of our own color.

“So please your majesty
That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.”
King Lear Act IV Scene VII

 

 

oof, Nemo, again where do I start, I’ll try to
tackle merely Truth here, deconstruct It, so
that we can know what we’re even talking
about
 
what do you mean by Truth
 
 
something corresponds to what it is that
we see, hear, feel, I would think, to be
locked in my head, my spirit, a fundamental
unity, without the support of an underlying
Reality, would be horrible, a profound, and
unbearable, solitude, I don’t want any more
to even try to imagine it, though, in my
youthful invincibilty, I once did, it would
nearly drive me, sometimes, I remember, 
crazy 
 
I would try to guess what people would
say in their next breath and found that
mostly I could do it, that mostly I could
get it right, which didn’t do much for an
outside Reality
 
but, again, babies must learn to separate,
not easily, their suddenly unfamiliar world
from their initially undifferentiated senses,
their identity from what we understand to
be Reality, I’d been merely atavistically
revisiting that fundamental experience 
 
I first fell in love, incidentally, when I met
someone I wasn’t able to preempt, to my
utter fascination, at which point I was
forced to acknowledge not only Reality
but also probably a Heaven, it has
become a condition, I fall in love with
only people from other planets, or, if
you like, dimensions
  
 
so, Nemo, I am also subservient to an
ideal, or even an Ideal
 
but it, or It, is my utter fabrication, though,
manifestly, not an uninformed one
 
my Truth is that ethereal, a bedrock, 
however, of my nevertheless basically 
nebulous view of life, made out of,
indeed, thin air
 
my opinions are therefore entirely
speculative, except for my
understanding of myself
 
I think, according to Descartes, therefore
I am, and of that, of myself, I am not at
all speculative, for I think, listen   
 
 
Truth, incidentally, is a function of our
species, assuming that it is a formal
Reality is akin to placing ourselves,
as we once did, at the centre of the
Universe, we were apparently
egregiously wrong about that, it
seems to be generally now agreed,
I suspect an Absolute, or Idealized,
potential Reality, is asking for hubris,
and too often, incidentally, we get it,
see wars, torture, man’s inhumanity
to not only man
   
 
about the world which has mathematical
dimensions we are mostly in agreement,
two plus two will always equal four in our
rational construct, and Science seems to
flow pretty smoothly from that
 
therefore Truth with respect to matter I
will not question, it is the grid we are all
at least comfortable with, like speaking
the same language, despite its even
basic insufficiencies, these fairly easy
mostly to patch up with persistence
and ingenuity   
 
but Plato’s Truth, Ideal, or Absolute, is
of a more noumenal, spiritual, which is
to say, abstract, order, and as such, like
Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,
Truth is what we think it is
 
is John Dalton wrong to have seen a
divergent colour, and who could tell
him that his blue was green, his red,
orange, when these were categorically
his impressions, dissent is a matter
merely of concensus  
 
Truth, I believe, is our accommodation,
and is no more than the sum of its
collective parts, the truths that
scientists unearth are Science, not
Truth, Reality, not Wisdom     
 
other worlds would have entirely
different conceptions of the Universe
for being other than we, us
 
we are assuming we have the answer,
Nemo, to imponderables 
 
therefore, not Philosophy, I insist,
but Art, and metaphorical rather
than categorical imperatives
 
see Beethoven for that, and / or Proust   
 
 
Richard
 
psst: according to these two excellent
          programs,
 
                  Bernard Williams on Descartes      
 
                  Bernard Williams on Descartes (cont.)
 
           two parts of an interview with an
           authority on Descartes, I could’ve
           easily been a figment of his
           imagination for sounding nearly 
           word for word, to my surprise
           and delight, very much like him
 
           though he probably wouldn’t,    
           by my calculations, therefore,
           have loved me      
 
 
 

“To These Eyes” – W.S. Merwin‏

 
this poem, Nemo, my most recent
favourite, seems particularly
germane to our conversation
 
 
           To These Eyes
 
               You only ones
               I ever knew
               you that have shown me
               what I came to see
               from the beginning
               just as it was leaving
               you that showed me the faces
               in the realms of summer
               the rivers the moments of gardens
               all the roads that led here
               the smiles of recognition
               the silent rooms at nightfall
               and have looked through the glasses
               my mother was wearing when she died
               you that I have never seen
               except nowhere in a mirror
               please go on showing me
               faces you led me to
               daylight the bird moment
               the leaves of morning
               as long as I look
               hoping to catch sight
               of what has not yet been seen
 
 
                                     W.S. Merwin
 
 
cheers
 
Richard
 
 
 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (16)‏

 The School of Athens - Raphael

                                             The School of Athens

                                                         Raphael   

                                                     ____________

 


Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 22:47:05 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
 
Richard,
 

As I said at the very beginning, you are “sensitive”, and I was right, because you rightly perceived that I was becoming impatient. My apologies. Patience is not my forte. 🙂 However, you have not “touched a nerve”, as this is by no means an emotional discussion from my pov. I have no intention to “vehemently reject” your position (after all it is yours not mine), but only to share my perspective, including what I perceive to be irrational arguments.

Here are the two statements you made;
” I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible”,
“I do not profess to “know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust[s]‘”.

Is that not a self-contradiction?

You say that you’re making an interpretation. But, what is knowledge but an interpretation? A translation from the concrete and the objective to the abstract and subjective, just as we translate a work of literature from one language to another? By interpreting Nietzsche to yourself, you gain a rational understanding of him, and by interpreting him to others, you share that understanding.

I think an important distinction should be made between a) the belief in the existence of Absolute Truth” and b) the belief of one’s monopoly of the Absolute Truth. You seem to be passionately rejecting b), which is quite understandable. But Platonism is not b) but a). It does not claim monopoly of the Absolute Truth, but instead, Plato and Socrates both exhort their listeners to pursue Beauty, Goodness and Truth, to pursue virtue, to be the lover of wisdom, which is the literal meaning of “philosophy”,

According to Einstein, this pursuit of the Absolute Truth is also the guiding principle of the scientists. Without this passionate pursuit of the truth, we would never discover that the earth is not flat. Now think about this: Can you still insist that it is uncertain whether or not the earth is flat, that it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the shape of the earth?

You argue that uncertainty makes people less likely to kill. But most people who kill are not driven by belief in the Absolute, but by their lust for pleasure, wealth and power. Some may kill in the name of Truth as a disguise for their ulterior motives, but it would be unfair and irrational to blame the Truth for their acts.

I’ll refrain from discussing the Catholic Church, partly because to me this discussion is about Platonism, and Christianity is not Platonism (though they share many similar aspects), and partly because I’m not associated with the Catholic Church and frankly don’t know enough about it to say anything useful

 

 
first of all let me raise a glass to our conversation,
a toast that it might live long
 
and thank you for your continued respectful and
penetrating participation, I will endeavour to as
assiduously hold up
  
 
that said, we get into, as I see it, the question
posed by Wittgenstein, an obstacle of the
most impenetrable sort, the egregious
unreliability of language, what do you mean
when you say something, and how does that
synch with the other guy’s interpretation of it,
or, indeed, girl’s 
 
your meat could be my poison, my Plato,
your Proust   
 
indeed which one of us is right about this,
is Plato a saint or a sinner, a boon or a
blight
 
though Proust, of course, would remain 
unquestionably and irreversibly here,
ever, surely, for both of us, benefactor
of positively Promethean, natch, 
proportions   
 
what has become here then of the
Absolute, gone up in a whiff of, just
as insubstantial, smoke, the exhalations,
note, of a fully material mens sana,
sound mind, which can be nothing
without the enveloping corpore sano,
sound body   
 
should there, in the instance, however, 
be a One, an Absolute, we would not, nor
can anyway ever, from our intrinsically
divergent perspectives, be able to, in
any meaningful way, know It
 
 
more practically and topically, when
my mother had her living room walls 
painted, my blue was her green, or vice
versa, in either case adamantly, trying
both of us to eke out from each other
concessions to a position, undyingly,
each, though ever politely, both, held, 
a model accommodation, which is to say,
without the often attendant bombs 
 
we remained puzzled, however, each,
ever, by insidious, and inescapable,
doubt, who saw the right colour 
  
 
there is a technical solution to my mother’s
wall, I know, but only after great psychological
adjustment, even torment, will the blue think
his or her visual impression another colour  
 
and who is mistaken 
 
or can some people be ever right, 
and ever wrong
 
this, incidentally, is the central problem
of philosophy, not just our own central
topic
 
and its resolution the central problem
of politics
 
 
in this instance when her cataracts were
removed, her blue became green, or vice
versa, I’d have to be in her apartment, I
can’t remember which colour, right now,
it was I saw, another philosophical
conundrum, but surely, you get the
picture, interpretation is highly
subjective, and porous 
 
which is why Science requires absolutely
unanimous approval, if you’ll forgive this
metaphorical only use of that prickly
adverb here, to determine Its still 
fundamentally ever tenuous theories
 
we’ve even only recently deconstructed
even time,
 
or Time
 
now there’s a God for you, Giver of context
 
however, even there, It would appear arbitrary,
there may be another Reality beyond our
particular three-dimensional Plato’s cave
 
but I digress
 
 
my misuse of the word “know” in citing
my apparently contradictory statements,
is at fault, I can never know, I can only
interpret, with custom we have come to
accept our suppositions as fact, and hope
that everyone else will do the same, which
we mostly do, except when we have wars
because of some intractable position,
where someone has set a price on his, her 
incontrovertible, but still fundamentally
arbitrary, opinion, even of ownership,
family structure, interpersonal affairs,
like this one 
 
but we are talking with only air, no
concrete certainty    
 
I believe Nietzsche, in other words, to
have thought my thoughts, or I, rather,  
to have incorporated his, but that is only
my understanding of it, which surely I
propound, though I might quite possibly
be wrong, but, Nemo, I can’t remember
the last time I was, I could check, I keep
a tally
 
 
scientists, I believe, are indeed seeking
always to know, perfecting their idea of
Reality, but Truth can only be the sum
of all things we think It is, nothing else,
nothing more, after all what other entity
that we know knows anything at all
about It, about Truth
 
we can only think there is a Real out
there, and make the best of It, the rest
is, Shakespeare again,  
 
           “…………………………………. such stuff
           As dreams are made on; and our little life
            Is rounded with a sleep.”
 
                                             The Tempest – act 4, scene 1
                                                                            lines 156 -158
 
 
cheers ever
 
Richard 
 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (15)‏

 
 
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 00:40:39 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
 

Richard,

You wrote, ” the possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, understanding of the substance of our world, something you ardently affirm, but I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible

If it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the world, of which Nietzsche is a part, then it is impossible to know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust”. Do you realize that your statements are contradicting your philosophy?

I find your accusation of Plato irrational and groundless. How is belief in an objective Absolute Truth murderous? On the contrary, I think it is life-saving. For instance, it is wiser to accept that the Law of Gravity exists, then to disregard it and suffer the consequences of a bad fall. If anything, I think a philosophy that only acknowledges the existence of oneself and disregards all others is more likely to cause it’s adherents to commit murder, because other human beings are no more than phantoms in his sight.

As for Fido being an artist, just give him a pint of paint, and you’ll find that he does indeed paint pictures. Some people call it “modern art”. What’s the difference between a plagiarist and an artist who imitates Providence but does not acknowledge the source of his inspiration?

Nemo

(P.S. I have not responded to your comments about Christianity, though I disagree with them, because I think it is beyond the scope of this discussion)

 

you argue, Nemo, that one cannot “have a
rational understanding of the world, of which
Nietzsche is a part“, and profess to
simultaneously “know what Nietzsche
believes or “fervently mistrust[s]
 
but I do not profess to “know what Nietzsche
believes or “fervently mistrust[s]”, nor did I
profess to “have a rational understanding of
the world“, in the sense that I have all the
answers, I am only expressing opinions,
as informed as I can make them, an
interpretation, as indeed I believe
you yourself are
 
therefore there is no contradiction in my
opinion, the one you most vehemently
seem to wish to reject, I do not profess
certainty
 
which might be what you are about to
do 
 
 
but further
 
the pursuit of an Absolute, an immutable
standard, has too often, and therefore
probably inherently, fallen prey to its
dogma, crucifying, metaphorically of
course but also otherwise, and often,
opponents
 
I’m afraid of pehaps sensing that most
nefarious side in your often less than
patient comments
 
the Absolute imposed by the Catholic
Church threw the Western World into
the Dark Ages for an unbelievable
1500 years, before we came out of
our, indeed, Platonic cave 
 
I have no use for the Absolute as an
abstraction, the Absolute can only
be the sum of all the opinions of
those who have, have had, will have,
a notion about It, nothing otherwise 
 
but an opinion seems to be the way
in which we find our path
 
that seems to me closer to our answer
 
 
and a free, respectful always, exchange
of opinions, no matter how entrenched,
seems to me the only manner in which
to move forward, after all, how long was
the earth believed to be flat before
someone had the nerve, the verve, and
the determination, to wonder about it  
 
in a world where everyone’s view is
considered, a less certain world, we
would be less willing to die, or kill, 
for any of our arbitrary ideas
 
incidentally, these are the teachings of
Jesus, remember, turn the other cheek

 
read also Martha Nussbaum here, ever
profoundly pertinently  
 
 
what else, Nemo, is, meanwhile, “beyond
the scope of this discussion”  
 
or should we merely agree now to having
disagreed
 
 
let me say that it has been for me a
delightful conversation that I would
not want to see end, I think we could 
have a lot to learn from each other, but
perhaps I’ve touched, however
unintentionally, a nerve, for which I
wholeheartedly apologize
 
 
best wishes, of course, ever
 
and cheers, no matter what
 

Richard 

 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (14)‏

 
 
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:37:42 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
 
Richard,
 

Beauty, Goodness and Truth are a triad, but not all triads are Christian in origin or character. Belief in the unity of beauty and goodness is characteristic of the ancient Greeks, and Plato further demonstrate the unity of Beauty and Truth in Symposium. As for the “glorious” deities, their priests have no place or recognition whatsoever in Plato’s Republic, which is ruled by Reason.

Plotinus has changed my way of looking at art, which is commonly defined as a human activity. Since Intellect permeates the world, art is not limited to human, but even plants and flowers, though they are not sentient beings, are capable of artistic activity. To use an analogy, a choreographer consciously designs the dance moves, but the dancers perform the moves.without being conscious of the whole design.

Come to think of it, all human artists either imitate directly or draw inspiration from Providence. How can they deny the artistry of Providence, and then turn around call their plagiarism “art”?

A mirror, in so far as it is a mirror, enables us to look at the world from a different angle, and presents to us features that have been hidden before, but it is still a reflection of the multifaceted reality. Since you found transcendence, have you experienced anything for which there is no counterpart in this world?

 
 
you’ve gone off in so many different, doubtful
to me, directions, Nemo, I don’t know where to
start, then again I must sound ever the same
to you whenever I write, there’s apparently
much here we have to discuss 
 
but I think the central issue remains the 
possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, 
understanding of the substance of our world, 
something you ardently affirm, but I, and the
demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally
fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally
impossible
 
Descartes, by the by, remained on the fence,
he never found out what hit him, never realized
what he’d done, but began nevertheless in his
wake the irreversible march toward uncertainty,
modernity, which we dressed up in the powerful
attractions of science
 
we’ve come a long way from superstition,
we’re even presently on our way to Mars,
we’ve even discovered what’s being called
the God particle, but I think we’re still in
Plato’s cave with respect to certain
knowledge, we’re only seeing shadows,
we can never see the sun 
 
there is surely an underlying reality, but
you, I, we, can only imagine it, which is
why we’re still wondering what it’s all
about, despite having of course our
kids and building our houses, we are
compelled to invent our environments
with the tools that we’ve been given 
 
 
I don’t think animals and plants are
artists, we supply that moniker for
them, some of us, to describe what
we, some of us, can, but only really 
anthropomorphically, see, Fido will
never acknowledge himself an artist,
nor paint our picture, for instance, on 
his doghouse wall, no matter what
Plotinus might’ve said to the contrary   
 
 
where do I get my own, ahem, inspiration,  
I will admit, not from me alone, but that
doesn’t make me a plagiarist 
 
have [ I ] experienced anything for which
there is no counterpart in this world?“, all
that I have experienced is in my world,
unquestionably, I think it might have
some conjunction with the one you
call this one, but I’ll never be sure,
I can only suspect
 
 
all of this would be moot, Nemo, and indeed
many will think one could better spend one’s
time than at splitting these merely philosophical
apparently tresses, were it not for their
revolutionary consequences, men will kill, Nemo,
to preserve their god – not ever, note, the plural
here, never their “gods” – but their one imperious
divinity, in the figure of a man, by the way, mostly, 
their Platonically inspired Ideal, their Platonic, but
patently murderous, Absolute, I blame Plato for
that, not Nietzsche 
 
and I blame the Christian Church, furthermore, 
for distorting the Platonic Trinity, your beautifully 
rendered  Beauty, Goodness and Truth“, though
that’s something also, I think, of an anachronistic 
distortion
    
 
cheers especially ever
 
Richard
 
 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (13)

 
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 19:04:56 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment]“Ennead I” by Plotinus.
 
Richard,     
 
You wrote, “my experience is that I cannot know even dimensions before I formally deduce them,”

That is a unique experience. Einstein came to the same conclusion when he developed the Theory of Special Relativity, though perhaps he didn’t have quite the same experience. You both beheld the same underlying reality, although you expressed it in different ways.

Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One, is immanent. It is distinct but not distant from us, and every soul can ascend to it by reason and intellect. There are different types and levels of beauty, in the human body, in nature, in the universe, in science and art, literature and music. One doesn’t have to be a “Superman” to see beauty or create beauty. Every life is an artistic activity. Every individual is an artist.

The concept of Absolute by no means deny or diminish the freedom of individual existence. On the contrary, the more diverse and free the individual existence, the better and fuller it manifest Absolute Beauty. For instance, Beethoven’s Ninth, unless each member of the choir and orchestra plays his/her best part, the beauty of the symphony cannot be manifested nor experienced by the audience.

Unlike Kant who believes that the noumenal is unknowable, Platonists reason that the noumenal and the phenomenal correspond with one another (sort of like the way an image in the mirror corresponds to the original), since they are both derived from one and the same intelligible reality. Because of this “correspondence”, it is possible to do science. We have been able to predict with accuracy the movement of the stars and other events occurring in nature; Because of this “correspondence” between our consciousness and the outside world, it is possible for us to interact with other people and the world

 

you say, Nemo, “Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is
Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One“, which
seems to me anachronistic, a premature
conflation with Christian, however implicit,
thought, I don’t think Plato would’ve had a
Trinity, whatever for in a society replete with
a variety of quite serviceable, not to mention
glorious, deities
 
when you speak of “[e]very life“, “[e]very
individual” being “an artistic activity“, “an
artist“, what about animals, insects, trees,
do roses perceive their own beauty, these
are lives, even creative, even inspiring ones,
though I draw the line at inspired, I suspect
they don’t consciously know it 
 
therefore “Beauty, Goodness and Truth” are in
the eye of the beholder, no, as we ask in
French, and the beholder is our own human
only, it appears, incarnation, blessed as we
are, for better or for worse, with
self-consciousness, ““Superm[e]n”” need
not even, but only superfluously, apply  
 
the Tree of Knowledge bore the fruit of
which all of us have partaken, for better or
for worse, by our very nature, and we’ve
created a poem around it in order to
understand
 
it has been mighty, if flawed
 
 
about mirrors, when I yearned for word
from above, or from wherever, I understood
I’d have to forego my entrenched scepticism
 
under the influence of Sartre and Camus,
the Existentialists, whose ideas dominated
the Western World, and my university years,
however nowadays incredible, a time when
Van Cliburn, a Classical music pianist, 
would return from a sealed Communist
Russia, no less, to a New York ticker tape
parade, a more idealistic time than our
present more rapacious, morally bankrupt,
apparently, epoch, I’d believed in Being
and Nothingness, and the corollary Absurd,
I was alone in an indifferent Universe
 
to assume spirits, an extraterrestrial entity
who might be responsive, would require
an act of absolute faith, a profound
disorder in my otherwise determinedly
rational perspective
 
but I had no choice but to succumb to
even irrationality, I knew, for any chance
of grace, you need to believe in miracles
to experience them  
 
need I say that I found that transcendence,
I called it crossing the Bridge of Faith
 
where everything was the same but
different, Nemo, like crossing through a
mirror, like Alice, and discovering another,
infinitely more enchanted, however
numinous and otherworldly, world   
      
 
Richard
 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (12)‏

 
 
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 16:50:52 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus.
 

Richard,

I like your comment, “I won’t try to impose my perspective, I can only tell what I see”, which reminded me of a sentimental story that I had heard a long time ago. The story was in first-person narrative and went like this:

I [an art merchant] traveled to a far country on a business trip, and found lodging in a small family inn owned by an blind old man and his daughter. During an after-dinner conversation, I learned that the old man was actually a connoisseur of art with many famous paintings in his collection. Naturally I was delighted when he offered to show me the paintings. But his daughter was visibly distressed and signaled me to follow her.as she went to fetch the paintings. She explained to me that they had fallen on hard times and she had no choice but to sell the paintings to survive, in spite of the old man’s firm instructions that the paintings must not be sold, because they were his life. He had become blind due to sickness so he didn’t know that the paintings were all gone. When the daughter brought the blank frames to the old man, he proudly presented them to me, naming them one by one, while caressing them gently with his withered hands. Staring at the blank frames, I listened in silence and shock. Suddenly, the old man stopped, he sensed that something was missing, something didn’t feel quite right. What happened to his beloved painting? The daughter looked to me in desperation for help. I hesitated but finally mustered enough courage to speak. I picked up where the old man had left off, and, recalling from memory, I described the details of the paintings and complimented the old man’s taste. He beamed with pride and delight.
….
There are many ways to interpret the story, one of which is this: if the “paintings” were all in the old man’s mind, and “I” had not seen them nor anybody else, it would be impossible to carry out the conversation, and there would be no sharing, nor inspiration, nor delight.

This is the armchair Platonist’s answer to the demented Nietzsche: we are able to share our thoughts and feelings with one another, because we both behold the same underlying intelligible reality, both within ourselves and without. If we are only conscious of ourselves and nothing else, conversation would be impossible and pointless. Even Nietzsche, before he fell to dementia, couldn’t resist the desire for conversation since he published his works– as you say say rightly, philosophy is conversation. Otherwise, he could have kept all to himself, in his private notebook

 
your question is probing, Nemo, I’m not sure
that even Plato would have come to such
corollary conclusions as what you seem to
be suggesting, which is to say that Plato’s
absolutes, distant and distinct from us, as I
understand them, as God, yet received by
us a priori, or, inherently, at birth, as you
would have it, suggest the underlying 
existential commonality of our experience
 
you forget the pivotal factor of birth here,
Nemo, I think, incarnation, spirit, or
something, made matter, like buds in
spring, bursting with each its own
unpredictable, and wondrous, existence
  
my experience is that I cannot know even
dimensions before I formally deduce them,
before I enter this world, though the
dimensions themselves may indeed be there 
 
who knew love, Nemo, before experiencing
it, the thing that more than anything else
moves our world, remember the adolescent
who had to put it all together piece by
disconcerting piece, we had to learn it all
at the movies to finally make any kind of
sense of it, playing out our battles in water
too deep for most of us most of the time,
and ultimately too treacherous for many  
 
there is mathematics, there are probably
even dimensions, Nemo, but I don’t know
about any other merely abstract world
beyond this one, for better or for worse    
 
therefore Proust
 
and therefore Beethoven  
 
 
Richard
 
psst: your parable is delightful, even
           unforgettable, and it merely
           bolsters my recommended
           literary and musical advice
 
 
 
 

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (11)‏

 
 
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2013 15:56:00 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
From: comment-reply@wordpress.com
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus
 

Richard,

Forgive me for saying so, but it seems to me that your philosophy is quite incongruent with your personality, which is passionate, sensitive and kind. As far as I can tell, you’re much more gregarious than the demented Nietzsche.

If, as you wrote at the beginning, you can’t even be sure that I exist, why are you taking the trouble to have this conversation? If everything is in a flux, what is there to “grasp” and “tackle”? If all is a figment of the imaginations of beings in their separate cages, what’s the point of conversation? You’re still trapped in your own cage anyway.

Kant may be wrong about some things, but I do agree with him about the difference between noumenon and phenomenon. Our thoughts revolve around the phenomenal, and consequently, they are in flux, “peripheral” as you put it, or evolving, as some believe. But, this doesn’t negate the noumenon, the eternal and unchanging. To use an analogy in biology, when you observe the growth of a seed or an embryo, it seems to be changing constantly, and if you didn’t know what it was, you would think that everything was in flux, but all the while it remains the same substance: a human being

 
 
what’s to forgive, Nemo, I don’t mind at all being
called “passionate, sensitive and kind
 
thank you
 
 
and you are right, after a study of philosophy I
went my own way, which was what philosophy
had taught me to do, it is a conversation, I
learned, rather than an ideology, that secular
cousin of theology, either system oftentimes
flagrantly autocratic, for instance Plato, or
take your pick of religions 
 
along the way I discovered miracles, I wanted to
talk to my beloved, but somehow I’d only asked
my dad, who’d died earlier the same year, to
speak to me from beyond the grave, I’m your
son, I said, I’ll hear you, and, Nemo, I did, and
all, eventually, the others, I’ve been talking to
all of them ever since  
 
this might seem very strange, of course, but
you can tell from what I’ve written to date,
surely, that I’m not entirely demented,
conversely, maybe I’m inspired, maybe just
eccentric, who knows, take your pick, so
long as I’m not, I think, hurting anybody    
 
 
Kant, incidentally, didn’t affirm the noumenon,
he merely did not deny it, so he’s made room
for my unorthodox constructions, and miracles,
as a corollary, in general
 
this was also Descartes’ dilemma essentially,
or Shakespeare’s, There are more things in
 
also my own 
 
we cannot beyond our consciousness affirm,
we can only interpret, I am the only thing I can
affirm, the rest is what you make it, for better
or for worse, this from “the demented“, Nemo, 
Nietzsche
 
therefore Beethoven or Proust, or maybe
even me    
 
 
I believe in miracles, and so I experience them
 
I’d asked a friend on a cold winter day with
only icicles everywhere in the city, what
should we do, let’s go out and look for
beautiful things, he replied, we did, and all
the icicles consequently shimmered and
glistened, I’d found a key to finding beauty,
another valuable parable 
 
later, needing more than just beautiful things
to cheer me I asked for miracles, which, Nemo,
like the earlier beautiful things, profusely in
their turn abounded, you just have to be
ready to receive them
 
 
I believe there is a noumenon, but I’ll never
be able to prove it, though I feel it profoundly,
and judiciously sort out with the help of
wisdom and poetry, truth and beauty, all
I can muster, the information I receive 
 
I hope it might be of some service
 
 
to me there is poetry behind everything,
shimmering, glistening magic, but I’m not
sure that’s what everyone sees, nor wants
to see, I won’t try to impose my perspective,
I can only tell what I see
 
and I’ve long seen more than mere facts,
what I see, have long seen, is an inherently 
transcendental reality 
 
which suggests the probability of other
noumenal worlds
 
so, to answer your question, I do think
you indeed exist, though I can’t be
absolutely sure of it, though you might
not be a figment of my imagination you
are nevertheless to me merely my
impression of you, but who really are
you, that’s a tricky question, cause you
don’t even know
 
meanwhile there’s no harm in sharing
even a virtual, irony of ironies, 
conversation
 
   
cheers
 
Richard