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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal

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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728

philosophypathways.com/newsletter/

Issue number 76 25th January 2004

CONTENTS

I. 'On Walter Benjamin's Concept of History' by Alfredo Lucero-Montano

II. On God and 'I': Response to Geoffrey Klempner by Tony Flood

III. 'The Value of Philosophy' by Tatomir Ion-Marius

-=-

EDITOR'S NOTE

In time for Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27th January, here is an essay by Alfredo Lucero Montano on the Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin, who died while escaping the Gestapo in 1940. This is the first part of two essays. The present essay, entitled 'On Walter Benjamin's Concept of History', deals with the relationship in Benjamin's thought between history and politics. The second part, 'Benjamin: Dialectics of Solidarity', will address the issue between politics and ethics.

Before I had time to write my reply to David Robjant's response in the last issue to my answer on 'God and I', I received a second response from Tony Flood which I reproduce below. I am postponing my response to Robjant and Flood until the next issue.

Tony Flood's piece draws heavily on the great 20th century philosopher A.N. Whitehead's 'Process and Reality' (1929, reprinted 1978 with corrections by the The Free Press, Macmillan). For a relatively easy introduction to Whitehead's thought see Ivor Leclerc 'Whitehead's Metaphysics' (Unwin 1958).

Finally, a short inspirational piece on the value of philosophy by Tatomir Ion-Marius from Romania.

-=-

I. 'ON WALTER BENJAMIN'S CONCEPT OF HISTORY' by Alfredo Lucero-Montano

1. The reflection on history seems a constant theme in Walter Benjamin's thought (1892-1940). From his early works to his last texts, this concern constitutes the conducting thread, which grants to his diverse work an underlying unity. For Benjamin, the fundamental question seems to be how to interweave "the theory of historiography with the theory of the real course of history," how "history itself is referred to its 'making' -- political praxis," [Tiedemann 1983-84, 91] that is, how to generate a certain interrelationship between history and politics. This question refers us not to the nature of the historical process but to the way we acquired historical knowledge, not to historiography but to philosophy of history. Here the implicit issue is the construction of a new concept of history.

Benjamin draws his concept of history through three differentiated answers: In the first phase, 'On Language as Such and on the Language of Man' (1916) and 'The Task of the Translator' (1923), he propounds a theological paradigm of history. Later, in 'The Origin of German Tragic Drama' (1928), he develops, concerning history, an aesthetics paradigm. And finally, starting from 1925-1926, which marks his Marxist turn, Benjamin steadily develops a political paradigm of history, which its clearer claim is 'The Arcades Project' (1927-1940) and the theses 'On the Concept of History' (1940).[1] This article only deals with Benjamin's political paradigm, which is the synthesis of his historico-philosophical thought.

In thesis XVII, Benjamin distinguishes between a history, whose "procedure is additive: it musters a mass of data to fill the homogeneous, empty time," and another by virtue of which "thinking suddenly comes to a stop in a constellation saturated with tensions, it gives that constellation a shock, by which thinking is crystallized as a monad." [CH, thesis XVII, 396][2] Benjamin illustrates the relation between these the two models of history with the chess game between an automaton perfectly programmed to win, and a Turkish puppet moved by a little hunchback, cleverly camouflaged, which is an expert chess player. The puppet can win the chess game provided that it can make use of something underestimated by enlightened reason, namely, a political-theological reason, that is why the latter is represented by a little hunchback clown hidden to avoid hurting the sensitivity of his contemporary fellowmen. To put it another way, Benjamin's analysis of history draws a distinction between two philosophies of history: on the one hand, a philosophy of history that refers to historicism (Enlightenment's idea of progress), and on the other hand, an "interruptive" philosophy of history (political messianism).

For Benjamin, the notion of the past turns into the keystone of all conception of history. We could think that the future might dissolve the priority of the present. But the future is really such, as a new radical possibility, when it becomes something else than just the continuity of the present. It seems that the future assumes the breakdown of the present, but the breakdown of the present is only a matter between the present and the past. "In order for a part of the past to be touched by the present instant, there must be no continuity between them."[AP, 470, N7,7][3] Benjamin's concern is to dissipate the illusion of continuity in history, and that it is possible only if the past and the present are polarized, that is, if the past puts in critical condition the present. This is Benjamin's view of history as interruption of time, or in his own words, as "dialectics at a standstill." [Ibid., 463, N3,1]

Benjamin breaks, then, with the classical model of the philosophy of history, namely, the theory of progress. Philosophy of history's idea of progress is a unilinear, homogeneous and continuous process capable of self-fulfillment. The telos of history is precisely this self-fulfillment. This immanent progress we could call humanity, absolute spirit or communist realm of freedom. But all these abstractions reveal is that for all modern philosophies of history what really counts are not the details of everyday life, but the history of events, not the individual destiny, but the history of the species. In other words, what constitutes the heart of these philosophies is not the historical subject, the man of flesh and blood, but the subject of history -- the ultima ratio of history. The everyday life and the transient, the grief and the misery, are just temporaries -- all that has no historical interest.

Thus Benjamin does not stop with an ideal model of progress that would identify the historical process with the endless process of history to self-realization. What Benjamin does not accept is the belief in progress as a kind of indefinite self-realization that determines almost automatically the evolution of mankind. Moreover, Benjamin splits up himself from this kind of history:

The concept of mankind's historical progress cannot be sundered from the concept of its progression through a homogeneous, empty time. A critique of the concept of such a progression must underlie any criticism of the concept of progress itself. [CH, thesis XIII, 394-5]

2. In contrast to those philosophies of history, that usurp and devour the concept of utopia reducing it to a mere continuity of the present, Benjamin suggests the image of his Angelus Novus (the "Angel of History"). The nature of that image force us to assess all the details, for all of them are loaded with meaning.[4] The story goes like this:

     There is a picture by Klee called Angelus Novus. It shows
     an angel who seems about to move away from something he
     stares at.[5] His eyes are wide, his mouth is open, his
     wings are spread. This is how the angel of history must
     look. His face is turned toward the past. Where a chain of
     events appears before us, he sees one single
     catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and
     hurls it at his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken
     the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm
     is blowing from Paradise and has got caught in his wings; it
     is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. This
     storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his
     back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows
     toward the sky. What we call progress is this storm.
     [Ibid., thesis IX, 392]

Two details call our attention: the eyes and the wings. The angel has his gaze turned back, toward the past. It is a gaze of horror, shaken, frightened by what he sees. What does he see? It is pertinent to stress that the angel does not see in history what we see. While he sees a catastrophe, a pile of debris that grows incessantly, what we see is a chain of events, with its logic and its explanation. The angel is set to fly for he has his wings opened. But here it is significant, that he would like to stop but can't. In front of such misery, he would like to help; moreover, he would like to resuscitate the dead and to rebuild the many ruins. But he can't. The power of a stormy wind (progress), which comes from Paradise, does not let him close his wings but propels him forward, toward the future, a future that the angel turns his back on.

If we follow Benjamin's hermeneutic pathway, we discover a double view of history, the angel's and ours: What seems for us to be the logic of events, for the angel is pure catastrophe. Benjamin illustrates, then, the existence of two conflicting philosophies of history: the one, symbolized by the angel, and the other, symbolized by the storm. On the one hand, the storm, which is wind and spirit, refers to a conception of history as power and dominion. Thus enlightened man -- the one fallen and expelled from Paradise -- has hoped to gain with his own forces the happiness that he had once in Paradise by means of progress. On the other hand, the angel of history, as a good angel that he is, unveils his significance in a biblical mode. According to the Bible, there is only the past that paradoxically is what is before us, and the future is what we are turned away from, what is hidden behind our back. Nevertheless, Benjamin does not want to take comfort from this theological interpretation of history; and that is why his angel cannot find consolation by raising the dead or repairing the ruins. He also does not find consolation in the philosophy of history we take for granted, because he understands that so many sacrifices, past and present, cannot be understood as the price of the future. For the angel of history, the future is other, namely, the hopes brought from Paradise and maintained by tradition. But Benjamin does not think that an apparent tradition (the ideology of progress), which establishes continuity (historicism), can fulfill those unsatisfied hopes:

     It may be that the continuity of tradition is mere
     semblance. But then precisely the persistence of this
     semblance provides it with continuity. [AP, 486, N19,1]

Benjamin claims for an authentic tradition, for he believes that all those hopes of happiness must pass on to philosophy -- an irruptive philosophy. In this respect he writes: "It is the inherent tendency of dialectical experience to dissipate the semblance of eternal sameness, and even of repetition in history."[Ibid., 473, N9,5] If philosophy takes charge, it is not to mechanically reproduce the same old answers, but to actualize and illuminate new questions.

Benjamin's specific point of view is to seek the future in the past. But, what is meant when he puts the hope in the past? Maybe the key is in Benjamin's claim about his angel of history "who preferred to free men by taking from them, rather than make them happy by giving to them." [Benjamin 1931, 456] Opposite to the philosophies of history whose abstract issues promise the happiness of men, Benjamin stresses the power of liberation of those who can have reasons for hope. The reasons and hopes of the oppressed who claimed their rights not settled -- the past and present suffering and injustice -- is not the last word. In this Benjaminian circle, the possibility of history is at stake.

Benjamin opposes to the teleological principle that rationally determines the course of history the memory of men that relates liberation with the grasping of those voices of the past that claim justice. For Benjamin, liberation lies on receiving a gift -- anamnesis -- from those of the past -- and the present -- that have nothing. According to Benjamin "only for the sake of the hopeless ones have we been given hope."[Benjamin 1919-22, 356]

However, if happiness is liberation from chains, can we be happy remembering the chains of our ancestors? Can we be happy remembering the frustrated hopes of our ancestors? Is not this a condemnation to unhappiness? No. Hope does not arise from satisfied men but from unsatisfied ones. Only if the present generation makes the hopes of the past generations its own hopes, can it break the present, and hope something different from what already it is. In Benjamin's words:

     There is a secret agreement between past generations and
     the present one. Then our coming was expected on earth.
     Then, like every generation that preceded us, we have been
     endowed with a weak messianic power, a power on which the
     past has a claim. [CH, thesis II, 390]

Benjamin's language seems to us unintelligible and unacceptable, if we take a theological reading of it. Let us consider, to understand that thesis, Tiedemann's gloss on it: "Succeeding generations cannot simply ratify the fact that what has been lost (the loser's own praxis) has been lost for all time, and that the dead have no more access to any praxis, for another praxis is within reach," [Tiedemann 1983-84, 79] that is, our own praxis "on which the past has a claim." However, according to Mate, there is a philosophical translation, in ethical code, of Benjamin's theological reflections:

     While the cause of the oppressed does not prevail, the
     victors of yesteryear would continue to produce victims,
     new victims. That entails the acknowledgment of solidarity
     between generations; the noble causes of the past
     generations make it possible to overcome the injustices
     that are committed against us. And they will not die again
     in vain if their cause would triumph in posterity. [Mate
     1991, 215]

Benjamin, like his Angelus Novus, does not forget the face of the past. It is true that the angel's face seems terrified by what he sees, but at the same time he is trying to say that today those who lightheartedly speak of happiness do so because they do not dare to see the past. The modern victors see the past as the price of history we have to pay and leave it behind; the angel of history sees with horror the past, but wants to take charge of it. That is the difference.

3. In Benjamin's view, the past that really matters -- the liberating past -- is the one that is not present. For the theories of progress, the past assumes the cost of the future; for historicism, the past is the substance of ideology that legitimates the present, and facilitates the reproduction of the past, that is, the relations of domination and power. But Benjamin grants the past a new meaning. He seeks for that past capable of shaking the actual structures, capable of stopping the trade of present happiness for past suffering, capable of stopping the reproduction of past misery and injustice. It is a special past, which must reveal a new dimension of history. He describes the nature of the past as follows:

     The true image of the past flits by. The past can be seized
     only as an image that flashes up at the moment of its
     recognizability, and is never seen again. [...] For it is
     an irretrievable image of the past which threatens to
     disappear in any present that does not recognize itself as
     intended in that image. [CH, thesis V, 390-1]

The past that Benjamin is interested in is that, as hitherto, unknown side of reality that could rise in the light of the present. We can discover this hidden past in the debris of history. Benjamin is not looking for what is most valuable: his gaze is fixed on the debris, on the insignificant. The pay off is an unknown light to discover the present. Here we must assume an emergent link between the historical subject who seeks to know the past, and the object of his attention, which tries to make itself present: "knowledge comes only in lightning flashes." [AP, 456, N1,1] There is a convergence between the instance of the object of knowledge (the past) and the momentum of the subject of knowledge (the present). In order to avoid mere tautology or reconstruction, as conventional historiography does, and to have the possibility to reach the unknown, the subject must be an unsatisfied man, a subject unsatisfied about what he knows of the present, because it throws him into a loss of his dignity and freedom, and consequently, to an alienated condition.

The relation established by Benjamin between the past and the present is really original. Whereas historicism goes from the present to the past, Benjamin comes to the present from the past. The change of direction is dialectical:

     For while the relation of the present to the past is a
     purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of
     what-has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression
     but image, suddenly emergent. [Ibid., 462, N2a,3]

Past makes its present appearance as an assault, interrupting the nowadays. Time is stopped, as the French revolutionaries wanted "to make the day stand still," [CH, thesis XV, 395] the same first day of the Revolution, shooting on clock tower faces which strike the time that was not their time. The revolution irrupts in the relationship within which subject and object, present and past, meet in a historical perception:

     Formerly it was thought that a fixed point had been found
     in 'what has been,' and one saw the present engaged in
     tentatively concentrating the forces of knowledge on this
     ground. Now this relation is to be overturned, and what has
     been is to become the dialectical reversal -- the flash of
     awakened consciousness. [AP., 388, K1,2]

According to Benjamin, the historical consciousness must start with an awakening. This image of awakening is an inversion:

     The new, dialectical method of doing history presents
     itself as the art of experiencing the present as waking
     world, a world to which that dream we name the past refers
     in truth [...]. Awakening is namely the dialectical,
     Copernican turn of remembrance. [Ibid., 389, K1,3]

The image of awakening refers, then, to a dialectical inversion, a qualitative metamorphosis of consciousness: In the extreme limits of sleep, what seemed to belong to the realm of dreams is transformed into the real, while what we have taken as reality retrospectively turns out to be merely dream-like imagery. This is an essential moment of consciousness: What has been lived as reality loses its veil, and reveals itself as an illusion -- awakening is a metaphor for demystification. For Benjamin, then, the historical consciousness of what-has-been "has the structure of awakening" [Ibid., 389, K1,2] -- political awakening. In this threshold of consciousness, precisely, "politics attains primacy over history." [Ibid., 388-9, K1,2]

4. Benjamin understands historical intelligibility not as the establishment of a causal connection between two events, but as the clash of a moment of the past and a moment of the present "in which time takes a stand and has become to a standstill." [CH, thesis XVI, 396] From this sudden clash does not rise any new scientific paradigm committed to discover the laws of history, but one based on a hermeneutic model which offers an interpretation of events; one that enlightens its meaning. From the clash between these events -- not in a continuous sequence -- arises, then, a new figure of thought, where the present enriches the past, and awakes the forgotten or repressed meaning within it, as the past recovers, in the very core of the present, a new actuality (remembrance). This clash of the present and the past functions according to the metaphor model, where the coincidence of two signifiers belonging to different semantic frameworks raises an absolutely new third signifier. Here present and past are not absorbed in a common concept; on the contrary, from their conjunction rises a new reality. This new reality takes the form of a "dialectical image."

In Benjamin's thought the concept of "dialectical image" is loaded with historico-philosophical implications. But what is the logic of the "dialectical image" in Benjamin's political paradigm of history? This logic does not form a discursive system, but an instantaneous flash where the past is illuminated precisely at the moment of its disappearance into the present:

     Every present day is determined by the images that are
     synchronic with it: each "now" is the now of a particular
     recognizability. In it, truth is charged to the bursting
     point with time. (This point of explosion, and nothing
     else, is the death of the intentio, which thus coincides
     with the birth of authentic historical time, the time of
     truth.) It is not that what is past casts its light on what
     is present, or what is present its light on what is past;
     rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together
     in a flash with the now to form a constellation. [AP,
     462-3, N3,1]

On the one hand, the dialectical image illuminates truth as historically fleeting: "The dialectical image is an image that emerges suddenly, in a flash. What has been is to be held fast -- as an image flashing up in the now of its recognizability." [Ibid., 473, N9,7] This fleeting image "is not a process of exposure which destroys the secret, but a revelation which does justice to it." [Benjamin 1928, 31] For "truth [...] is bound to a nucleus of time lying hidden within the knower and the known alike." [AP, 463, N3,2] Hence, truth is not a philosophical construction, but an immediate grasp of a dialectical image. The cognitive experience provided by it is a historical perception. This perception within a charged force field of past and present produces political electricity in "lightning flashes," that is, generates a tension-filled constellation within this "nucleus of time" that becomes politically charged, dialectically polarized:

     Every dialectically presented historical circumstance
     polarizes itself and becomes a force field in which the
     confrontation between its fore-history and after-history is
     played out. [Ibid., 470,N7a,1]

On the other hand, the political nature of the articulation of these two moments of the past and the present is clearly showed in thesis VI: "Articulating the past historically [...] means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger." This danger, writes Benjamin, "threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it."[CH, thesis VI, 391] Benjamin understands by "those who inherit it," the oppressed of history, those that are suddenly aware -- through a historical consciousness-raising shock -- of their "tradition," the meaning of their hope, which is in danger of being forgotten. Here the awareness of danger has an ambiguous meaning: either "the spark of hope" is about to become extinguished or "the awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode." [Ibid., thesis XV, 395] However, the consciousness-raising shock is linked to political praxis; by virtue of which the subject of tradition recognizes the sign of "a revolutionary chance in the fight for the oppressed past."[Ibid., thesis XVII, 396] This means that there is a chance to introduce a revolutionary change into the present.

From this point on, history is constructed in a politically explosive "constellation of past and present," as a "lightning flash" of truth. Thus hope is now historically "actual" in the sense that it is realizable -- "time filled full by now-time (Jetztzeit)." Past and present overlap in a political possibility; they remain disconnected until political action explodes the continuum of history and blasts humanity out of it like "the tiger's leap into the past [....] The same leap in the open air of history is the dialectical leap Marx understood as revolution."[Ibid., thesis XIV, 395] Political action is, then, the link between the past and the present. This link is possible because the history of the individual recapitulates that of mankind, as the "now-time, which, as a model of Messianic time, comprises the entire history of mankind in a tremendous abbreviation." [Ibid., thesis XVIII, 396] The truth of history is verified by the historical subject's experience. It is the unfulfilled potential for happiness of our own recollected past that give us insight into the possibility of the present. In other words, our experience of the past is the condition of our insight into the present historical time, as one that does not exhaust the potential of reality:

     The idea of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the
     idea of redemption. The same applies to the idea of the
     past, which is the concern of history. The past carries
     with it a secret index by which it is referred to
     redemption. [Ibid., thesis II, 389-90]

The subject of knowledge establishes the substance of the relation between the past and the present when he "grasps the constellation into which his own era has entered, along with a very specific earlier one. Thus, he establishes a conception o f the present as now-time shot through with splinters of messianic time."[Ibid., thesis XVIII A, 397] The Messianic time must be understood as a break in the course of history -- the "time of the now" or interrupting time -- and not its culmination, as a potential present that charges dialectical images in the consciousness of man with explosive power -- in the political sense. At this point, Benjamin's political paradigm of history turns into his political philosophy of history.

---

FOOTNOTES

1. See Stephane Moses, 'El Angel de la Historia', trans. Alicia Martorell (Madrid: Ctedra, 1997).

2. Hereafter the references in the text to "On the Concept of History" (CH) and to 'The Arcades Project' (AP) are given by its abbreviation.

3. The references given in letters and numbers adopt the German editor's, Rolf Tiedemann, referencing form to 'The Arcades Project'.

4. In particular I draw heavily on the work by Reyes Mate, 'La Razon de los Vencidos' (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1991), 204-208.

5. The reference is to Paul Klee's ink-wash drawing Angelus Novus (1920), which Benjamin owned for a time.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Benjamin, Walter. (1919-1922) "Goethe's Elective Affinities." In 'Selected Writings', Vol. 1. Ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996.

___. (1928) 'The Origin of German Tragic Drama'. Trans. John Osborne. New York: Verso, 1998.

___. (1931) "Karl Kraus." In 'Selected Writings', Vol. 2. Ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland and Gary Smith. Trans. Rodney Livingstone et al. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

___. (1940) "On the Concept of History." In 'Selected Writings', Vol. 4. Ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings. Trans. Edmund Jephcott et al. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

___. (1927-1940) 'The Arcades Project'. Trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Mate, Reyes. 'La Razon de los Vencidos'. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1991.

Moses, Stephane. 'El Angel de la Historia'. Trans. Alicia Martorell. Madrid: Ctedra, 1997.

Tiedemann, Rolf. "Historical Materialism or Political Messianism? An Interpretation of the Theses 'On the Concept of History.'" In 'The Philosophical Forum', XV, 1-2 (fall/winter 1983-1984): 71-104.

(c) Alfredo Lucero-Montano

E-mail: alucero@telnor.net

-=-

II. ON GOD AND 'I': RESPONSE TO GEOFFREY KLEMPNER BY TONY FLOOD

One way of interpreting Klempner's view of God's omniscience is to draw this conclusion: only the God of pantheism can be omniscient. In pantheism, "I" refers, ultimately, to only one real subject of experience. If theism is true, however, then God may no more use the pronoun "I" to refer to, say, the person writing this sentence than that person may use "I" to refer to the person now reading it.

To engage Klempner's criticism, however, we need to do more than mind our syntax. We need a metaphysics that envisions fundamental entities adequately. We need not choose between a pluralism willing to live with apparently real subjectivity and a monism willing to live with apparently real individuality.

Mr Robjant's reference to human sympathy and compassion hands us a clue. I run with it to suggest, following Whitehead, identifying the ultimate actualities with feeling-entities that (at least partly) determine their responses to what they feel. (That is, the past did not exhaustively determine what is happening now, and this is not true only for beings with "free will.")

The dominant, contrary dogma assumes the fundamental reality of entities that are utterly bereft of subjectivity. Whitehead derided them as "vacuous entities." They are conceived as having all "outsides" but no "insides." In a world comprised of such things, "passio" and "pathos" can describe nothing real, and so neither can "com-passion" or "sym-pathy." A philosophy that presupposes such a world can no more do justice to human than it can to divine sympathy. It renders problematic a "scient" being of any kind, let alone an omniscient one.

On an alternative metaphysics, the fundamental entity is a temporally as well spatially atomic subject of experience. It is a "feeler" and then an integrator of previous episodes of feeling and integration. On this view, an instance of knowing (whether divine or human) is a feeling of a very high, differentiated kind involving conceptual contrasts, but it is nevertheless a species of feeling. Subjectivity ("for-itselfness") is identified with partially indeterminate, present becoming. Upon completing its process of becoming, subjectivity converts to objectivity ("in-itselfness").

On this alternative view, subjectivity equates with the present and becoming: momentary and partly indeterminate. Objectivity equates with the past and being: permanent and wholly determinate. Being is, as it were, "matter" that becoming ingests, assimilates, and creates with. Each entity plays a decisive role in determining its successor after having felt and then integrated, with varying degrees of relevance, its entire past world. Each resulting being is a new denizen of the past, a complete, objective fact, available for integration by later subjects.

Each entity feels the feelings that its immediate past bequeaths to it. Every "macro" body in our perceptual experience is a society of societies of discrete drops of experience. The latter both transcend and are immanent in ("enter into") each other. (Transcendence and immanence are not just attributes of God.) This metaphysical commerce, running along the temporal transmission belt of feelings, secures the reality both of individuals and of their mutual solidarity. This insight cracks the columns supporting the problem under discussion.

If, on this speculation, knowledge is a high-grade (conceptual) feeling, God's knowledge is no exception. God knows all determinate being because God immediately perceives each instance of it as it comes off the becoming "assembly line," so to speak. God is therefore at least omniscient in this sense. God does not "remember" the past, but rather freshly feels every just-past being. God's esthetic "snapshots" are factors in the divine provision of initial aims for successor entities.

But God also immediately feels and therefore knows each present entity as it verges on its decision. God's sympathy or compassion therefore no more requires a fusion, or loss, of finite subjects, or a pantheistic absorption of the nondivine into the divine, than does human sympathy or compassion. After deciding upon its integration of its data, the no-longer-becoming entity "closes up" (Whitehead), thereby preventing further influx of creativity and aim, and taking up permanent residence in the (increasingly remote) past.

God is the unique entity that is always becoming, never determinate, never past. God is "in unison of becoming" with the present (Lewis Ford, 'Transforming Process Theism', 2000). God "abuts" the present temporally, but does not occupy it. Bringing about the past is the present's unique office. God cannot usurp it (as traditional theism has God doing from time to time).

As the source of the creativity and aim of each finite becoming, however, God brings about the present. (Ford has argued for temporally locating God in the future.). That is, without God, no temporally atomic successor entities could arise. And without God, there would be no initial aims that are necessary conditions of their co-creating anything resembling a cosmos. That is, without God there would be only a lump, heap, or aggregate of aimless, rudderless entities whose supply would have long ago been exhausted.

So for all fundamental entities (x,y,...n), God knows "what it is like to be" (x,y,...n) in this sense: before (x, y,... n) existed, they became. They "pluralized" God's future creativity into the present plenum of entities (Ford's modification of Whitehead). God, feeling their feelings and integrations thereof, is therefore omniscient, the "omnes" being (x,y,...n).

Sympathy and empathy are not metaphors, but metaphysical primaries. To feel another's feeling is to experience that very feeling re-enacted in oneself, not to absorb the source of the feeling out of existence. The transmission of feelings does not involve identity theft.

(c) Anthony Flood 2004

E-mail: anarchristian@juno.com

-=-

III. 'THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY' BY TATOMIR ION-MARIUS

De philosophiae valorem

     How much better it is to get wisdom than gold.
     The Bible, KJV Proverbs 16:16

Philosophy leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to the Truth, Truth leads to understanding, and understanding leads to Philosophy. There is no end. And there is no beginning. That is Philosophy. And that is the true Value.

Philosophy is the art of asking, and through the questions, even those not answered, to acquire wisdom.

Exactly the absence of the answers, is the essence.

This is stimulus for checking again and again the details of a problem, but of course, from different aspects.

In this way come to life, into existence, new philosophical directions, enriching the level of knowledge -- and, why not? -- daily life.

Philosophy evolved in time, through finding new ways of asking about Truth.

Where is the real problem? The real problem consists in an old Chinese saying that "everyone has got his own truth", and following this reasoning, the conclusion is that I have this right, and you, and she, and he, and we, and they, and so on.

So, why we are arguing? Or do we not?

I am asking. I begin again with philosophy...

You can't ask without words, without expressivity.

So, you must speak. Normally, before you speak, you should think what you will ask (and not only from Cartesian reasons); though sometimes people say greater truths suddenly, than after the examination of their thoughts; in my humble opinion, that is because self-censure is diminished, and here appears the Shakespearian truth; "we know what we are, but know not what we may be..." (Hamlet IV, 5).

Truth is divided among men, there is no philosophy holding the whole truth, but only a few aspects of it: each philosophical direction holds a part of the truth, but none holds the whole truth.

The value of philosophy consists in the fact, that philosophy helps to accord the right value of a value; philosophy helps a correct perception of values, but this affirmation should not be considered as having absolute value.

I am not doubting what I am saying, but I would not like to participate at the burial of Philosophy, but rather, at its Rebirth...

Philosophy means improvement and communication, awareness of reality, though this awareness can be painful; according to the words of the Book of Ecclesiastes: "in much wisdom is much grief" (1:18), due to the hard materialist present in which we live, and which is very harmful to the charm and the purity of Philosophy...

Don't tell me that I'm a dreamer, a romantic, or sentimental...:no, please tell me, don't stop according values, judging, reasoning, asking, analyzing, doing Philosophy...

Keep close to you the bag with all the questions, and use them shamelessly, don't be shy, do you want to get knowledge or not?

If so, each question, even unanswered will help you get a step closer to accomplishing your purpose.

According to Francis Bacon "knowledge (itself) is power". Knowledge, Philosophy, will strengthen you when you confront hard days of your life, when you are disoriented, when you have problems; and if you are so lucky that these hardships do not touch you, than the knowledge, the Philosophy you fashioned, will reward you by showing the value you have, like a mirror of yourself, and your value will reflect the value of Philosophy which you followed...

     Wisdom is the principal thing.
     The Bible KJV 4:7 Proverbs

(c) Tatomir Ion-Marius 2004

Sighetu-Marmatiei Judet Maramures ROMANIA

E-mail: tatomir@usa.com


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