April 29, 2009

Master of those who know

The dude abides. A statue of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, courtesy of wikipedia.

In Dante's Divine Comedy, the Greek philosopher Aristotle is referred to as "master of those who know." In the 14th century, when Dante wrote his masterpiece, Aristotle's long lost teachings had been rediscovered fairly recently and seemed to many to be the last word on subjects of science, art, ethics, metaphysics and politics.

You could say that this says more about the state of human knowledge in the late medieval period than about Aristotle. It is kind of sad that knowledge, philosophy and science in Europe had fairly stagnated for centuries.

Part of the reason for that can probably be explained by what has been called "the terror of history," i.e. the massive disruptions caused by the fall of the western Roman empire, massive invasions and migrations, and all that. And it's hard to deny that the Christian religion in its first several centuries was singularly uninterested in the advance of earthly knowledge and that it held a commanding place in the lives of most people.

Having said all that, Aristotle was no slouch and much of his writing can be profitably read today, particularly his Ethics, Politics, and Poetics. (El Cabrero must admit that his acquaintance with his works on metaphysics and logic is second and third handed.)

My recently reinvigorated interest in Greek tragedy inspired me to take another look at his Poetics, which still has a vast influence over how people look at literature and the nature of poetry, drama and plot.

More on that to come.

ONE BIG UNION of unions may be on the way.

A PLANETARY SHIFT in American politics?

HATE GROUPS are ramping up again.

DIONYSUS is still here. He was all about people getting together and acting as one.

JUST FOR FUN, this article asks which movie bad guy does a certain vice president more closely resemble.


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