02 March 2010


Since the Four Quartets has reduced me to (what I hope will be temporary) speechlessness, I would like to offer the following digression, which is a short meditation on a quote from Schopenhauer:

"[We] know not a sun, and not an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth... the world that surounds [us] exists only as idea - that is, only in relation to something else, the one who conceives the idea."

taken from The World as Will and Idea, paragraph 1.

This is a well-distilled articulation of the essence of modern philosophy. The human spirit is transformed into the human subject. Subjectivity becomes an acceptable term under which to describe feeling, sensing, thinking, and knowing. Man therefore ceases to be a "thing" defined in advance as a rigidly fixed entity dwelling amidst other entities. But instead of freeing philosophy to reflect on the essence of man, such an action instead transforms man from noun into verb instead of restoring the human essence to the non-grammatical. "Subject," as the new name denoting human essence, becomes "the support of the world," and "the condition of all phenomenon." Philosophy therefore becomes the examination of the contents and structures of subjectivity - that is to say, epistemology and ultimately psychology. Nevertheless, philosophy remains metaphysics within these transformations. It continues the errant identification of a mode of being (subjectivity) with being itself that has always characterized metaphysics. In the case of Hegel, we even see all the old metaphysical categories restored, but precisely as modes of being of the subject instead of modes of being of objects.

Thus modern philosophy persists in its metaphysical (and therefore Greek) roots precisely as it attempts to differentiate itself more and more form its origin. Even when it declares itself the completion of philosophy and declares its Greek origin unnecessary and flawed it still remains rooted to its origin, for it is still concerned with the same questions as the Greeks and can only claim completeness in virtue of its incomplete foundation.

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