Why Aristotle Has no New Perspective
I. Introduction to the Critique of Aristotelian Philosophy
In my many walks through life, and my many studies on the subject, I have always been attentive to the fact that the constitution of postmodern society finds itself in a stage of advanced decomposition from modernity.
This process of post-modernity, as we see, constitutes a very well defined decomposition of the values that have so far constituted modernity as we know it.
Thru this analysis, and after having in mind the atavistic instincts and my profound passion for history, including the history of every period, I can direct myself to the due cosmological comprehension of modern man, concluding therefore that it is made mainly of the leftovers of late Hegelianism.
Historically, Hegel has been one of the greatest architects of modernity together with Descartes. The conceptions of Hegel have made their way not only into the political and historical sphere, but have also shaped the whole cosmological perception of an epoch. As such, we might learn that in materialism, and also in absolute idealism, there’s a cosmological view into which most people frame their weltaanschaung, the shallower and restricted that it might ever actually be.
Even then, in this classical division between the continental and analytical spheres, we must realize that the main foundations of modern man are not only frozen, but also in a profound state of decomposition.
Technological society, and the technocracy in general, always in search for perennial advances, is now sliding thru a deep forgetfulness of its spiritual and ontologistical roots (a term which I invent here, towards a definite meaning, and also a definite goal).
In other words, the modern world works on the basis of Hegel and Descartes, but has lost in many respects its own idea or notion of that intellectual dependence.
The dense philosophical discussions of the 19th century, the rival schools, and even the later continental and analytical distinction are subjects that are deeply ignored nowadays, and might even be regarded as nearly dead.
In this case, we might verify that the figure of the savant, the intellectual with a monocle of the 19th, 18th centuries, the Renaissance, and such, who combined his interest in technological, physical, and earthly matters with a profound intuition and interest in metaphysics and Being, might be definitely dead in postwar Europe. The last representatives of this archetype, this emblematic intellectual figure, might be pointed out as Heidegger, Husserl, Ilyn, among others of the same age and sort.
This intellectual decadence must then offer us a good picture of the dimension that I seek to actively demonstrate: If our idealistic and rationalist cosmology has never gone further than the fundamental contradictions pointed in Heidegger’s work, it means that we must necessarily have serious problems, and also because the end has already been – for all – purposes, reached.
Modernity, built upon the rationalism of the 18th and 19th centuryies is already dying, or in the process of its termination, its sliding into the last stage of the sickness of nihilism and intellectual stagnation – a sickness that effectively places every dimension of society into a downward morass and suicidal spiral of moral and intellectual degradation.
Never, in any civilization, has been authentic knowledge devalued to such an extent as in our postmodern scientistic technocracy. And to the moderns, this might sound paradoxical, but our society as a whole is built upon a dismal ontological ignorance. We know how to go to the Moon, but we ignore the most basic questions that the intellectuals of yesterday have always trivially made.
II. Western Logocentrism and Truth as Presence as the Root Cause of Postmodern Nihilism
In a brief and cursory analysis on the subject, the intellectual legacy of the ancient Slavophile Ivan Kireyevsky is important enough to define the causes of this decadence.
I. Kireyevsky used to argue, from within the perspective of his profound Orthodox Christian sphere, that the intuitive vision of Plato and the Church Fathers, including the Desert Fathers (ignored by Western Christianity), was superior to the vision molded by Aristotle and Scholasticism. And in those days, when the Hegelian vision of late modernity was beginning to take shape, he identified it with the reductio ad absurdum, that is, the most nefarious and ultimate consequence of the analytical doctrines that have been devised originally by Aristotle, and that have – since times primordial – shaped the soul of the West within the chemise de force of absolute rationalism.
The analytical view, starting with Aristotle, divorced and still divorces the mind from the soul and thoughts from feelings. All of this, then, creates the illusion of a dichotomy between the knowing and thinking subject, and also the object of his knowledge, which would be later magnified and increased by Hegel and Descartes.
This singular view, which finds echo in intellectual figures as diverse as Oswald Spengler, Lyndon LaRouche, among others, makes us understand the dimension of the intellectual precipice that Modernity has placed upon us.
As such, we must necessarily conclude that the overcoming of late nihilistic modernity finds itself in the overcoming of the ancient and ossified Hegelian metaphysics, as well as the intellectual legacy of figures like Descartes, and also Aristotle, - destroying, then, the fiction of an essential knowledge of concepts that can be conceived in a purely objective character apart from the “viewer”, the subject who produces this knowledge.
III. The Overcoming of the Limits of Philosophy in German Idealism
We might also verify, within the molds that have been previously signaled by myself, the presence of a definite current of thought within German idealism that has persistently sought, despite all limitations, the overcoming of the subject-object dichotomy within the Cartesian paradigm.
It might be conceived as a current of so-called right Hegelianism, exposed by figures like Gentile, Evola (in his younger days), among others, whose main objective sought the effective reconnection of the Real through a sophisticated dialectic.
As such, we might verify the presence of a genuine philosophical current, that was since its inception aware of its own innate limitations as a philosophy bound by human language and perspective. In other words, being aware of the general limitations of human philosophy as such.
We might also verify the same broad tendencies in Ivan Kireyevsky. As such, and we might make a broad summary of the ideas we have already pictured in here, including the main tenet of this radical subjectivism, which indicates us that nothing that might be known by the I, has not already been imposed or created by this I in the first place.
This is the inevitable conclusion of Cartesian thought. Either we fall upon absolute subjectivism, in which everything is incorporated within the Ego’s mind as a projection, or we incur into the elimination of mind from body and the pseudo-resolution of this duality through an atrocious and totalizing mechanistic abstract frame.
As such, we might consequently verify in I. Kireyevsky the following statement:
“According to the laws of intellectual necessity, reason in its last, most definite manifestation derives its knowledge not from abstract notions, but from the very root of its self-consciousness, of the conscience of itself, where the act existence and thought are united within a single absolute identity.”
[ADAPTED]”Reason does not constitute into the most elevated instrument of cognition, and as if as a result of this false aspiration, it did not limit the faculties of human knowledge only to the aspects that are accessible to this rational and abstract form of gnosiology, said to be dianoetic.”
As such, the supreme realization of abstract philosophy must come necessarily to the notion that only existence, and the due fulfillment of a concept beyond its inherent abstract and speculative forms, constitutes in itself and only by itself authentic knowledge. In the same vein also speaks to us R. Guenon, in his outlining and exploration of the nature of metaphysical knowledge against mere speculative and abstract knowledge. As such, abstract essences, like those built upon by Aristotelian philosophy, don’t have their own existence set independently of the mind that conceives them.
And also according to Ivan Kireyevsky, in tandem with orthodox Patrology, the apostate and sinner first sins within his bosom and leaves away his faith, in order for him to later devise simplistic rational justifications – including also a rationalistic system that now overcomes his ancient faith.
While a believer makes his own heart pure, logical rationalism is incapable of touching him and making him abandon his fundamental beliefs. But, when his heart is tempted successfully, any argument – even the most puerile and summary one – can take away his faith.
This is a patristic and orthodox warning to these persons who would enjoy wasting their time in idle speculation; or even in the Thomist-Scholastic abstract onanism that is typical of some Catholic circles. As such, we might finally argue, based on the fundamental arguments proposed within this article, that:
“The belief in a prior essence that grounds things, being in itself prior to existence, is a belief that stems from a completely unjustified attitude.” Its furthest reaching and destructive consequences in Western thought have been the confusion of the thing in itself with the subjective thought of this thing, better expressed in the Cartesian “cogito” (but reaching a new peak of unrealism in the Idealism of the 19th century). This confusion is general and broad within the logocentric Western philosophy, and constitutes simultaneously the main root of its unrealistic, abstract character, which finds itself alienated from reality.
IV – The Overcoming of the Emptiness of Modern Philosophy in Plato, and Within the Confines of a Renewed Spirituality (Or a Continuation of the Critique of Aristotle’s Paradigm)
There lies, within Platonism and also Aristotelianism, the vestige of a teaching on mystery that – finding itself tied to the then newly coined term “Ta Meta ta Physis”, went so far as deducing correctly the presence of a more real world, beyond sensible appearances and even the most gross material reality. Plato for instance argues correctly that, based on mathematical relations such as the Golden Ratio – and in their process of distinction between the intellect and the mere opinions built upon sensible appearances, several traces of the super-mundane perception and their own hierarchy start to turn evident within the human intellect.
We must also see in Plato, that the notion of the nous not only as a mere rational process, as a mere rational intellect, but also a genuine superior aspect of the mind that is only ever awaken thru the fulfillment and spiritual exercises. Such a conception of nous, which remains in the later writings of Christian Orthodox Patristics, of Hermeticism, and also the Neoplatonist current, finds proper echo in the oriental teachings about atman, and the fundamental distinction between manas and buddhi. We see, then, that in all such currents, the presence of a genuinely perennial and “supernatural” wisdom, better saying a properly “esoteric” thinking, as devised by Pierre Grimes, as well as several others.
The problem of Aristotelian conceptions and their fundamental engagement lies in their naive empiricism, their naive essentialism, and the abstract rationalism, the lack of a real and decent mathematics, and also of praxis and cosmology.
There is no way to deny that Aristotle, in his Physics as well as in his Metaphysics, has brilliant intuitions to the core. But in Aristotle, we can already begin to grasp the beginning of a process of profanation and forceful enframing of cosmology within the arbitrary bounds of human subjectivity, given that such intuitions find themselves mixed to teachings of a very subjective and spurious character. As such, Aristotle’s physics are obviously obsolete, as well as the greater part of his own venerable Metaphysics. These can no longer offer us important grounding and good conclusions on the subject of “metaphysics” - that is, “that which is beyond Physics”.
In Aristotle himself, we might be tempted to conclude that the purely speculative attitude becomes totally dominant upon the operative attitude, and that this per se might have more important consequences in the direction of future philosophical disciplines.
In our critical dealings with Aristotle, we must recognize that in itself, there are no significant differences between Aristotle and Descartes: Both focus upon Physics, leaving aside a vestigial metaphysics as the mere poorly understood or insufficient epilogue or even the prelude to their main work.
As such, we might adduce from the very misplaced use of the terminology “Metaphysics” (“that which comes after the Physics”), can trace itself back to Andronikos Rhodios (Andronicus of Rhodes), an Aristotelian disciple who lived in the 1st Century AD, and in his collection of the works of the master that were taken from Rome to Greece in the times shortly before the institution of the historical Roman Empire. This collection would later become the classic, standard division of the Aristotelian corpus.
In Plato, on the other hand, the reader and attentive student finds not only an emphasis upon pure mathematics as a final and exact symbol of superior realities, but also a dedicated practice, and an active search for the spiritual wisdom; and also the Nous as a fundamental way and a complete path of spiritual ascesis, involving all the faculties of man, in the fulfillment of the union between the knowing subject and the object of its knowledge – thus fulfilling the main goal of the process of intellection, and also the aforementioned “metaphysical realization”, in our due conception laid here.
This can be found as much in Plato, as in his other later disciples of the neoplatonist school – like Proclus, Plotinus, Jamblichus. We also see then that thru its rigid – and also inflexible, and by many deemed unfeasible – realism with regards to the doctrines of the Universals, which is easily one of the most questionable aspects of its theoretical superstructure, the ancient platonic teaching was built upon far more than the concatenation of doxai (opinions) that formed part of the later so-called “philosophers”, beginning with Aristotle, but also including in here, a broad range that also contains Epicurus, Democritus, among others, and upon whom we might only clearly emphasize a total and inequivocal rejection.
V – On the Gnostic, Mystery Teaching of Plato's Doctrine
It is essential to argue, and we should mention this having in mind the subject explored deeply by writers like Ananda Coomaraswamy, Rene Guenon and also J. Evola, that the most fundamental element, the most essential and important aspect of the platonic doctrines was centered upon its gnosis, on the unwritten doctrines that were the subject of unconcealment and revelation – of what Heidegger would essentially lay down as aletheia – as was also rediscovered by the memorable and recognized academic philosopher Giovanni Reale.
The esoteric essence of these doctrines has always been something beyond what could ever be committed or reduced to the written form, due to its own elemental nature as a fundamental existential fulfillment.
But here we must witness, that in the Platonic view of “Philosophy”, or the so-called “Love of Wisdom”, there is no room for the confusion and concatenation of doxai that we so far have mentioned. There is not, by itself, a fundamental dialectics or a dialectical groundwork as in Aristotle’s work, and the Platonic methodology, by focusing on the praxis and the acquiring of the uncreated, divine “Wisdom”, or Sophia, there is no room for the speculations of a mental type that would become a dominant part of the abstract Scholastic frame of the rationalistic Aristotelian doctrines.
On the contrary, we must witness in Plato, as also in Plotinus and other authors of his type, like Robert Fludd, Suhrawardi, etc…, an essentially fundamental doctrine of mysteries, in which the acquisition of Wisdom is ultimately tied to initiation and gnosis in itself.
This key element, which is beyond even the most sensible minds in the sterile chairs of modern philosophy, must work as a key point towards our engagement of the subject. The gnosis in Plato, would be only the byproduct of the acquisition of a fundamentally interior doctrine, the sort of doctrine of which the dialogues in the Republic offer only a partial, personal preparation, of an ethical, moral, civil and external character, which is purely introductory in its “essence”, figuratively speaking.
This inner doctrine, which forms the heart of the theurgy of the late Platonists, would in itself be part of an essential property, and the most vital teaching of the Platonic Academy. It would be, then, that “philosophy” in its pre-modern and anti-modern conception, being fundamentally and perennially opposed to the subjectivism, to the sterile, shallow and easy circular thinking of the moderns (in the sense that it goes against the cult of rationalism and subjectivity that is given within the Western [pseudo-]Enlightenment), as a gnostic praxis that is fundamental, and that sought the acquisition of metaphysical realization – as devised eloquently by Rene Guenon himself – and thru this realization consists in the fundamental intuition and actualization of the realities that concern Being qua Being, without the speculative confusions brought forth by the later, profane, purely mental perspective that usurped the stance of First Science, and are fundamentally blinded by the limitations of the dualist human intellect and its limited perspective.
As such, we must understand that the “Form of the Good”, and the strict realism of the universals, works only as a meta-philosophical paradigm, essentially an affirmation that concerns itself with realities that would only ever be unveiled through the intuition and fundamental realization of the spirit, by the interior visit of which the alchemists also talk about.
The realism, the cold, direct objectivity of the Platonic doctrines, places itself as a direct opposition to the blind speculations of later philosophy, of dialectics in itself, and of other sciences that have falsely claimed to be the “lovers” of wisdom in place of the authentic true gnosis. This gnosis also tells us, through Philolaus, Pythagoras, Plotinus, and so many others, can reveal to us with exactitude that only that which can be known by man in his most immanent, basic, direct and profane nature – unaided by spiritual realization – assumes the form and the nature of number, which has many hierarchical dimensions beyond that of pure matter.
And that number also, for its transcendental and at simultaneously immanent dimension, would be the key towards the understanding of that which pertains to the intelligible world, in opposition to the mere ephemeral world of not very firm sensible realities.
It is for precisely this very reason that we must come to know that the modern physicalist Science also exists as a confirmation of the point of view already espoused very eloquently by the ancient Platonists. In General Relativity, as in Quantum Physics, or even in Classical Physics already, number – even though in a strictly materialized dimension – already places itself as the key towards the direct understanding of all systematic realities, of everything that is “exact”, as opposed to merely “subjective”, in the essence of every systematic reality which serves as the foundation for its own physicalist descriptive scope.
As such, the transcendental dimension of number, already demonstrated in the Platonic dialogues, and whose beginning lies in our day and age, shows that it is only via this same Number, according to what was later taught by Platonic monadology, and even before by the Pythagoreans, that lies equally the key towards the comprehension of esotericism and the realities that transcend the physical and naturalist plane.
And that this, per se, constitutes not only the groundwork of “philosophy”, but also the only genuine idealization that we can plausibly give to her, as much as we have accrued the name “Science” to the fields of physical inquiry that have been unveiled fully since the Newtonian age.
A clear example of this monadology can be viewed in the more recent discoveries, according to the esoteric nature of certain sections of the dialogue “The Republic”, the unveiling of the aspects of One and the Indefinite Dyad.
In this, it is only vital to argue that the conceptions that have been a byproduct of empiricism, of rationalism, of speculation, and the very misguided notion propagated by some that the nature of Gnosis is “dialectical”, in themselves, don't find anything more than a purely subjective, speculative, limited character.
In reality, we must not judge what is “Science” according to that which – in principle – amounts to nothing more than pure speculation, of pure subjectivity, and also of what is inherently circumscribed and limited by its own nature. It is also important to argue, that in Ancient Platonism, as well as in the deepest dimensions of contemporary physical science, we are able to acknowledge the deep limitations of empiricism – incapable as it is of solving the fundamental questions, and of building an understanding that is more than very shallow into what truly constitutes the supreme dimension of the human intellect, and of the limits of its effective understanding.
In the large perceptual gap that lies between Science as Gnosis, and Science as mere Episteme, it is only necessary to argue that there is a fundamental decadence, a fundamental “fall”, and that Heidegger has a deep intuition of all this process in his work – in consistently affirming that the contemporary intellectuality – here understood as mere ontotheology – is suffocated and stunted by a deep net of subjective limitations that prevent her from obtaining a correct evaluation of the nature of reality, and of its own innate limitations in perceiving this very same reality.
Furthermore, we should argue very precisely that this state of blindness is natural in our age of “Darkness”, where metaphysical realization becomes as a rule more and more difficult and unintelligible, and also, distant and rare. Such is our time, that Tradition understands as the final, most degraded Iron Age, the Age of the Wolf, the Dark Age, or the Age of the demon Kali, and this very same age also being characterized by the predominance of vice and transgression in every dimension of the materialized, corrupt and decadent human society.
Plotinus on the Identity of Knowledge With Its Own Known Object – Stephen Menn
“The Intellectual Principle constitutes, in itself, the Intelligible and the object of authentic knowledge – and at the same time the Subject of Intellection – the one with the authentic knowledge. The Intellectual Principle and the Real Being are identical between themselves, because the Divine Mind does not operate upon its object in the same fashion that [human] sensation does, over the material objects, but must necessarily work and exist beyond this. The Intellectual Principle of Truth actually consists in the whole existence over which it has exercised its Act” - Plotinus
Ivan Kireyevsky: On the Spiritual Root of Russian Philosophical Consciousness
Marcelo Perine's work on the unwritten doctrines of Plato (in Portuguese)
René Guénon – Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines
Ken Wheeler uncovers the hidden principle of the Monad and the Dyad within the Republic