2004/02/08

Thoughts and reality

Western thinkers from the left as well as from the right take the substance of the idees that are foundational to their discourse from the Greek philosophers. These established as their ultimate truth that there is an absolute and general root cause to everything that happens, a root cause that influences even the conception of natural movements. In this model, reality is the result of a cause.

For both the ancient Chinese and the Greek philosophers, change is thought of as the result of the princip of opposites.
But while in the Chinese tradition the opposite princips of YIN and YANG by themselves contain the full explanation for all changes, the Greeks need to add a third term to the opposites (antikeimena).
For the Chinese, reality is THE FLOW FROM YIN TO YANG and vice versa while the Greeks, thinking that opposites distroy each other, had to reject the idea of opposites transforming into their opposites. Thus they needed to come up with a substantiation of the opposites into matter (hupomenei). Hupomenei could than change (metabole). In other words they thought that matter could change into its opposite.

The flow from YIN to YANG is powered by the perpetual burst of power that is unleashed by the differential of energy residing in both of those polarities which makes that change is conceved as spontaneous emergence in autoregulation mode.
In comparison, the Greek metabole is inert so to put movement and change into motion, the Greek philosophers needed to invent an external motor and energy (to kinoun). Change is then the result of an outside cause and causality is thus established as the philosophical model.
The external motor that will cause change is god (ens realissimus) and his energy is love or the thirst for his love. This thirst, and the desire that it induces, is then what allows the Greeks to stop the search for an earlier more originel cause, the relegating process had indeed been internalized as by an act of magic.

The advent of reality for the Chinese is just a spontaneous process of emergence that auto regulates. In this view, there not only is no finality but there is also no good and no bad, reality is only what is.
In the West, reality is seen as the consequence of god's universal love that projects upon all and everything which in return causes all and everything desiring to imitate god's so perceived perfection and love. In this process of perception, of god's perfection and love, lies also the "recognition" and the justification for the authoritarian establishment of those who perceive, god's perfection and love, as the holders of the supreme good. Bad and evil, defined as not bowing to god's perfection and love, are thus becoming the ennemy. History is full of this kind of thinking that led to so many wars. By the way, please check out the words of Georges Bush after 9/11, they seem to be the perfect caricature of what I try to describe here.

From the perspective of whatever side of the cultural divide between east and west, the other's cultural build-up upon such vastly different foundations is bound to be incomprehensible and thus the difficulty of the West and the East to understand each other.

Post-modernism, I think, shall be vastly different from what Western right and left thinkers are making about it. They are privileging the Western internal tendancies to the point of blacking out all that may be going on externally. But it seems to me that what is going on outside of the West is bound to have gradually a decisive impact on the West itself. The awakening I believe shall be rude because there is no doubt that the foundations of our Western civilization are already crumbling. We are nowadays economically so totally dependant on science that the conclusions arrived at by scientists will, there should be no doubt about it, shake our certainties. Their establishing the fundamental truth contained in the foundations of the Chinese civilization is bound to lead to the most fundamental revolution in Western thought since the early days of Western civilization itself. A very readable account of what is going on in the scientific community is given by Mitchell WALDROP in his books "Chaos" and "Complexity".

I believe that the recognition of the princips of spontaneous emergence and auto-regulation are engendering a whole new form of consciousness in the West and post-modernism is the right title, I thinks, to describe the forms that will emerge under this new consciousness.

Post-modernism is an economic rebalancing act. The center of capitalistic power is shifting towards noth-east asia. This process that is already at work should last some 50 more years at least and shall gradually pull in its track the emergence of Chinese culture on the world stage and in the process, I bet that Beijing shall impose itself as the world's premier cultural center. But what does this imply in terms of content in the arts? Well, first and foremost we'll assist at the relegation to the dustbin of history of large swathes of so called Western post-modern productions. It will not be a loss since most of those productions are not more than garbage that collectors' greed only can establish as works of art . Furthermore, it will also establich the primacy of personal visions instead of the vision of schools and that of their their masters. Last but not least, it will establish the primacy of the princip of rich content + technical skills.

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