Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Henri Bergson

'Others will dig even deeper. Under these joys and these sadnesses that can ultimately be translated into words, they will catch something that has nothing in common with words, certain rhythms of life and breathing that are more interior to man than his innermost feelings, alive law being, variable with each person, of his depression and exaltation, of his sorrows and hopes. By releasing, exacerbating this music, they will impose it to our attention; they will make us insert ourselves into it involuntarily, as walkers entering a dance. And through it they will lead us to shake too, completely inside of us, something that has been waiting the moment to vibrate.'


Henri Bergson, L'energie spirituelle

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Splendor of the Fruits of the Trip

What Arabi calls deity or spirit is not static quite the contrary. In fact it is as variable as our mind or our soul, which is terribly labile. Moreover, our soul 'moves' as much as do, because 'the spirit of the universe' moves it, he says. 'Divinity itself 'travels'. And it does so by way of life-giving 'blow', breath, giving live and keeping all creation as a great blower without location or form. But the divine journey is not, however, a route or a linear displacement, like the creatures experience, but a renewed creation at every moment, a sort of pumping or beating, than a moment after another, as a heart present everywhere and nowhere, keep alive and awake the cosmos'. So clever summarizes Carlos Varona Narvión, from the meticulous knowledge of the translator, in the introduction to El esplendor de los frutos del viaje.
There is always in creation (and all creation is creation of our mind) a mixture of body and spirit that is where it reaches the 'blow'. We are body and spirit. The blow reaches each of us, our body, and manifests in our mind, pumping, breathing it. It is said that the spirit is everywhere, lighting and covering all the created, because the air covers us all and creates everything in our psyche. This is how 'Allah' illuminates the universe by his blow, renewing the creation (our thoughts) at every moment by the blow at every cycle of our breath.
'God' is a pulse that reaches the entire cosmos. God has no form but is everywhere shaping the world in the minds of us thinking beings. 'It is a center of the universe that is everywhere and circumference nowhere' style to Leibniz says Carlos Varona.

'The origin of life is movement. It can not be immobility, then it would be back to its source, which is the absence. Never ever ceases trip, nor the upper nor the lower world, and even the divine truths do not complete their journey, coming and going. (...) The movement at every moment of the four elements, and created beings, changes and the transformations generated with each breath, as well as the journey of the mind, both as laudable as reprehensible, trip of blows of who breathes, and of the looks of seen things in waking or sleeping, as the crossing from one world to another with its weighting, all this is definitely a trip to the human mind. Never in all eternity we cease to travel, from the moment of our conception, and the first creation of our foundation. When in front of you appears a house, you affirm that this is the end of your journey, while, in reality, it opens another path to you. In fact, when you see a house, you say, "This is my goal!" But it just come, you do not delay in starting again.' (El esplendor de los frutos del viaje, Chapter 3)
Our minds, along with everything that they creates, do not stop 'traveling'. Truths, even the 'divine', are not static, but vary continuously as much as our head produces. Changes are generated with each breath: in thoughts, morally good or morally bad ('both as laudable as reprehensible'), in perception and dreams ('the looks of things seen in waking or sleeping'), in our will and our motivations, the 'houses' that have to safeguard us in a stable environment, we believe, but just achieved they fade away to open new ways into previously unforeseen goals... The ideas and experiences, by nature, by definition, they come and go.

'Therefore, there is no immobility in this world, but their movement is constant; succeeding the day and night, as do thoughts, states and forms, by alternating, according to the divine truths.'
The breath is air and spirit. It is spirit when it manifests in our mind, but is physically the air of sky. Depending on how it blows this air is manifested in one way or another in us. So Arabi distinguishes different 'skies' or 'divine names' which are a kind of 'celestial' archetypes through which the first essence, 'Allah', reveales in all its creation in general and especially in our minds. Thus our mental states and our experiences take shape, evolve and change. (These are the "seven skies", each with its guardian angel who prints their own mental states and knowledge in us, of the Koran, but they also appear in Christianity, see for example Eckhart.)
'Divine truths descend on the divine name the merciful, as well as on the caller's name to repentance, and the merciful, the provider, the donor, the avenger, and all other names. They also act which falls on you of gift and forecasting, revenge, repentance, forgiveness and mercy.' (Chapter 5)

From this basic configuration of the universe Arabi infers the attitude we should keep to behave in an appropriate way in life: 'The faithful should use on his side thought and reflection, so differentiate into the way, which the divine law will forces, and where happiness resides, between the journey towards Him, in Him and from Him. He must also discern in all these journeys both the law imposes him as not, what it is the duty to walk on earth for the lawful, the travel trade of worldly lucre and other similar gears, or the travel of the breath itself, with its inspiration and expiration. This is, in effect, as no imposed or not determined by law, but is its physical constitution which decides.' (Chapter 6)
In this connection we can distinguish two groups of people, Arabi said. 'The travelers in Him are divided into two groups: the first is that of those who travel in Him by the thoughts and the mind, and have deviated from the path, not finding as a guide in their search than his reason. These are the philosophers, and those who are in this aspect. The second group consists of those who travel with Him, the group of the messengers and prophets, that of the elect among such saints, what are the men of Sufism.' (Chapter 7)
All persons we travel by pure physical nature 'in Him'. But only a few get to understand enough to adapt and travel 'with Him' in fact. Putting on his side, carried away by his movements, knowing them.


Ibn Arabi: El esplendor de los frutos del viaje. Edición de Carlos Varona Narvión. Siruela. Madrid. 2008.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Arabi & Lispector

Ibn Arabi thought that the reality we perceive each of us is renewed every moment, 'the world' that we perceive is born again at every breath, he says, as we breathe 'the blowing of God'.

According to him the air insufflates blows of thought. Our ideas are 'forms' that take the blows. And the flow of our consciousness is merely the result of the succession of these murmurs or blows in time.
But the breath itself is empty of content: it provides the flow, the progression over time of the act of thinking, not the specific purpose of thought, which is a matter of 'receptacle' that we are each of us.
"'God' is as light of a glass that veils and tints the look with its own color. Colorless by itself, it presents you colored to illustrate what is your reality when compared with your Lord. If you say that light is green because glass is of that color, you tell the truth and senses testify to this. If you say that is not green nor has any color, following which tells you good sense, you are also telling the truth and thus give witness to the evidence of a healthy intellect."
Glass is the person and his knowledge and conditionings. Everyone tints with his personal experience the pure light of the intellect. An opaque glass and personality give a color that stains all, a monochrome mode of seeing the world. More transparent glass and personality are brighter and better show forms (ideas) of the world in its diversity, better reveals the reality.

"The color of the water is the color of its container". Insists the Sufi master, and continues: "The works of anybody professing any religion, who only praises the divinity present in his faith and remains steady in it, return to him, and he will not be praising nothing but himself. Indeed, to praise a work is to praise the author of the work, being it lovely or not. So, deity that adores who profess a religion is his own work, designed to himself. The praise he addresses to what he loves is actually a compliment to himself. Therefore criticizes what others love. He would not do that if he was equanimous."
The thought of someone is the reality as himself. Is the reality that he produces, whether it be of a religious or any other content. Praise you make of any element of the world is the praise of the way you have to see that aspect of the world.
This is the difference between event and content. We bring the contents which are the result of our personal experience and knowledge. The event is not: we have no control on our thinking activity, its flow, we do not decide to think more or less, in one direction or another, it just happens. It's nothing individually created but is given to us.
Knowledge of thoughts is our personal creation of the world. The act of thinking, however, is a reality that is beyond our knowledge and that at a time subjugates it: is 'the tension of divinity' or 'the breath of God', says Arabi.

The contents of our thoughts are association of ideas, trial and error, speculation... about reality. The act of thinking is a reality in itself, however, so immediate reality and so veiled to our knowledge that it has always been associated with God or 'divinity', not only in the case of Arabi but in most of the philosophical and religious traditions.
Our Sufi says that 'divinity' is the individualization of universal Spirit or Live in things, while the correlative term 'humanity' is applied to the receptacle are people of this Life or Spirit...

The divine breath is the starting material of the forms of the world, that is, of the ideas we have of the world, of thought. 'God' holds the world's knowledge in the divine breath, somehow keeps it in a tension, until we manifest it in ideas through blow energy, which generates the movement in our mind. The blow releases this energy and ideas take form conditioned by the personal situation of each individual, but is the breath that initiates and maintains the action of thinking.
The world to us success in the breath, thoughts about the world hosts in the breath. Breath and thought, act and content, mind and world acquire an inseparable intimate connection. So, in short "who wants to know the divine breath must acquire knowledge of the world, he who knows himself knows his Lord", says Arabi.

The breath releases the knowledge in a kind of renewal of creation: when acting creates knowledge, creates reality. What happens, however, it is that "nobody has the science of this divine power. The man is not aware that at each divine breath 'he is not, and then he is' even".
Blows are that: comings of thought to our consciousness, so that each one appear to replace the current until then, comings from those normally we are unconscious because they themselves have us abstracted in their contents: we must be aware of the awareness (meta-awareness) to detect the flow of their succession.

* * *

Blow happens over time and simply can not be controlled or predicted. Blow is the assault of time that we can not do more than fit.
Clarice Lispector says: "I am a little afraid: afraid to surrender, because the next moment is the unknown. Is the next moment made by myself? Or it is made by itself? We make it together with breathing. And with the poise of a bullfighter in the arena."

The moments of thought are ephemeral; when we are aware of them, if we are, they have become a new moment; and are ethereal, as breath air that accompanies them: "I tell you: I am trying to capture the fourth dimension of time-yet that such fugitive no longer exists because it has become a new instant-yet it now does not exist yet. I want to take possession of of the 'is' of the thing. These moments that take place in the air I breathe, as fireworks explode mute in space. I want to have the atoms of the time. And I want to capture the present which, by its nature, is forbidden to me; the present eludes me, the present time runs away, the present time is always me in present time. (...) And there is the 'is' of itself in the moment. I want to get my 'is'."
The instant is the 'is' of the thought thing, and at the same time is the 'is' of me that I think.
"The instant-yet is a firefly that flashes on and off. The present is the moment when the wheel of a car at high speed minimally touches the ground. And the part of the wheel that still has not touched, will touch in the immediate future that absorbs present instant and makes it past. I, alive and sparkling as instants, turn on and off. (...) More than an instant I want its fluence."

Instants and moments flow into our consciousness.
The now is pure reality; past and future are actually just thought, simple psychology.
"What I say is pure present and this book ('Aqua viva') is a straight line in space. It is always current. (...) If I say 'I have lived' or 'I will live' is present because I say it now ."
"I'm a concomitant being: I bring together past time, the present and the future, while beating in the ticking of the clocks."
"I am in the midst of shouting and swarming. And it is subtle as the most intangible reality. Meanwhile time is what it lasts a thought."

Breathing is what patterns time and, therefore, thought.
"The world has no visible order and I have only the order of breath. I let happen myself."
"I am writing at the exact time itself. I develop just in the actual. I speak today -not yesterday or tomorrow-, but today and in this exact and perishable instant. My little and framed freedom joins me to the freedom of the world; but what is a window but the air framed by squads?"

You are, more than you think. The flow of time is of existences more than of thoughts. Or of existences beyond thoughts. Too often words fail us to translate our states and existences into thoughts.
"There are many things to say I do not know how to say. Words fail me. But I refuse to invent new ones. The existing ones have to say what you get mean and what is forbidden. And I guess what is forbidden. If there were strength. Beyond thought there are no words. You are. (...) In this land of 'you are' I'm pure crystalline ecstasy. You are. I am."
"I see the fury of visceral impulses, tortured viscera guide me. I do not like what I just wrote; but I'm compelled to accept the whole paragraph because it has happened to me. My essence is unconscious of itself and so I obey blindly."
"Now is an instant.
It is yet another now.
And other. My effort: now bring the future until yet now. I move into my deepest instincts blindly fulfilled."

The objective world, the pure reality of the present, we call it God. We have always called God. All mystics and philosophers have always done, traditionally, from the most ancient times, not only Arabi.
"(...) I know that God is the world. It is what exists. I pray to what exists? It is not dangerous to approach to what exists. The deep prayer is a meditation on nothing. It is a dry and electrical contact with oneself, an impersonal oneself."

Reality simply exists and escapes us, it is veiled. It is the hidden, invisible, omnipresent and timeless truth: These are the qualities of God and yet are the qualities of air, blow, 'pneuma'.
"I'm breathing. Up and down. Up and down. What excites me most is that I do not see things yet exist. The truth is somewhere, but it's useless to think. I'll not find out but I live by it."
"I hear the hollow beating of time. It is the world that forms silently. If I hear is because I exist before the formation of the time. 'I am' is the world. A world without time. My conscience is now light and it is air. The air has no place or time. The air is the non-place where everything will exist. What I'm writing is music of the air. The formation of the world. Gradually comes what will be. What will be already it is. The future is forward and backward and sideways. The future is what has always existed and will always exist. (...) The first flower borns in the air. The ground floor, that is earth, is formed. The rest is air and the rest is slow fire in perpetual mutation. Does not the word 'life' exist because there is no time? But there is the beating. And my existence begins to exist. Does the time begin then?"

The world is born and dies for us at every breath: it is renewed, breathes.
"It has occurred to me suddenly that it is not necessary to have order to live. There is no pattern to follow, and there isn't even the pattern itself. I am born.
I'm not ready to talk about 'he' or 'she'. I demonstrate 'that'. 'That' is a universal law. Birth and death. Birth. Death. Birth is like a breath of the world."
It eludes reason. It is latent. Even if scientifically proved, perhaps common sense would not capture it. "When my existence and the existence of the world are no longer sustainable by reason, then I'm loose and I follow a latent truth. Do I recognize the truth if it was found?"

The breath is a rhythm, a beat, music.
"Regarding the music, after played where does it go? The music just has of concrete the instrument. Far beyond the thought I have a musical background. But still beyond is the beating heart. So the deepest thought is a beating heart."

The air carries the breath and it creates the time in our thinking when the wind hits our soul.
"That open air, that wind hitting me in the soul of the face and leaves it anxious imitating a distressing ecstasy new every time, again and always, every time immersion into something bottomless where I fall always, falling steadily until death and to achieve finally silence. Oh sirocco wind, I don't forgive you the death, you who bring an injured remembrance of things lived which, alas, always repeat, even in other and different forms. The lived thing scares me as scares me the future. This, as passed, is intangible, mere supposition.
I am at that moment in a white empty waiting for the next moment. Counting time is only a working hypothesis. But what exists is perishable and this requires counting the immutable and permanent time. It has never started and will never end. Never."

The time of soul and thought, if it really is air, it is also the weather: the atmosphere, the wind...
"I pride myself on always foresee weather changes. There is something in the air. The body tells that something new is coming and I joy of all. I do not know why."

Life is nothing neutral or abstract. We live moment to moment until death, with all its consequences. With organicity, viscerality, with pleasure, pain, consciousness... The thread of our life, with the absolute specificity of flowing moments, is the air we breathe, breath after breath. The millions of breaths of our life, a finite number whose value nobody knows, each, at every moment, ignorant of the future, defines our thinking and defines us as thinkers.
"Don't you see that this is like the birth of a child? It hurts. The pain is the exacerbated life. The process hurts. Becoming is a slow and slow good pain. It is the wide yawn that makes us stretch ourselves to the limit. And the blood is grateful. I breathe, I breathe. The air is 'it'. The air with windblown is yet a 'he' or a 'she'."
"I've talked a lot about death. But I will tell you now about the breath of life. When one does not breathe is made mouth-to-mouth. You stick the mouth to the other's mouth and breathe. And the other begins breathing again. This exchange of breath is one of the most beautiful things I've heard tell of life. In fact the beauty of this mouth-to-mouth is dazzling me."

The flow of thought, as life itself because it is also the flow of life, is unpredictable.
"Oh, how uncertain is everything. And yet within the Order. I do not even know what I will write in the next sentence. The ultimate truth is never said. Whoever knows the truth has to come. And talk. We will listen afflicted."
"Writing is frustrating to me; when I write I struggle with the impossible. With the enigma of nature. And of God."

Our soul, mind, is like a mirror, reflecting always something, an image, a content. You can not surprise an empty mirror, when you look you don't see the mirror itself but you see yourself. And yet, the essence of the mirror is to be empty, it is not to be which reflects.
"What is a mirror? It's the only invented material that is natural. Whoever looks at a mirror, who gets to see it without seeing himself, who understands that its depth is to be empty, who walks into its transparent space without leaving in it vestige of self image, then this someone has understood its mystery."
"A mirror in which I see myself it is me yet, only an empty mirror is a living mirror. Only a very sensitive person can enter an empty room where there is an empty mirror, and with such a lightness, with such an absence of himself, that the image is not marked. As a reward that delicate person will then have penetrated into one of the inviolable secrets of things, have seen the mirror itself."

We do not choose to thought, as a psychological state or existence it is free of our will. Maybe we should not declare their authors.
"The thought called 'freedom' is free as an act of thought. It is free to the extent that to the thinker himself this thought would seem to have no author.
True thought seems to have no author."

Free thinking does not obey the logic of words, it's a mental blow at the same time it's a blow of air.
"The primary thought thinks in words. The 'freedom' one, on the contrary, is released from the bondage of the word."
"Today is Saturday and is made of pure air, only air."

It's a fluence that never ends: the thought that always arises in the present.
"What will be after is now. Now it is the domain of now. And while improvisation lasts I am born."
"What I write you is a 'this'. It will not stop, continues.
You look at me and love me. No, you look at you and love yourself. That's right.
What I write continues and I am still enchanted."

* * *

Ibn Arabí: Los engarces de las sabidurías. Edaf. Madrid. 2009.
Clarice Lispector: Agua viva. Siruela. Madrid. 2012.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

The physical philosophers: Diogenes of Apollonia.

The last of materialistic and monistic philosophers of ancient Ionia, Diogenes of Apollonia, around the years 440-430 BC, also went right down the same path as his predecessors and held, openly and explicitly, that the air is the 'beginning' of all things.
Just some fragments of the writings of this philosopher, belonging to his work 'On the Nature', are preserved, which were collected by Simplicius. But if we listen to different quotations, he seems to have written several more books, one 'Against the Sophists', one 'On meteorology', and one on medicine that he would have entitled 'On the Nature of Man', which Galen would referred when he said that Diogenes had compiled diseases and their causes and remedies in a treaty. Everything indicates that Diogenes of Apollonia was a doctor by profession and would have published, indeed, this medical treatise in which their notions about the origin of diseases would appear related, surely, with the ideas of his general theory, which ones have been preserved and we'll see here.

Diogenes thought the world and its parts were ordered in the best way possible by the intervention of a divine intelligence that would be present in originating substance that is air. By the provisions of this 'air intelligence' the world is not a chaos but a real cosmos, where everything is distributed according to some regularities, like the seasons, day-night cycles, weather variations...
The essential substance the whole of reality is air, said Diogenes, for the obvious reason that living beings if they can live is by breathing air. The air is 'soul' understood as vital principle (which gives life), as deduced from the fact that life leaves the body when breath leaves.
This idea was already in some uses of 'zimós' and 'psijé' of Homer, who Diogenes praised (claimed Filodemo) because "he told on the divine not poetic but truthfully and claimed that Zeus himself is the air explicitly".
Diogenes relates both outdoors air and the air contained in the body, in the vein of Anaximenes, and relates the term 'pneuma', which means soul or spirit, as a synonym for breath and wind. Air is the giver of life, thus becomes God, because if it gives life it has absolute power on everything, on all the phenomena of human existence. It is infinite, eternal and immortal, it is not subject to time limits of life of any body, it does not perish with it (on the contrary, is it that gives and removes life) and it extends everywhere.
The air is responsible for the regularities and irregularities of the cosmos, and also of the human psyche. Not that the air contains intelligence, but it is intelligence because it is what orders and disposes the mind and the entire cosmos, it really is the intellectual soul, is what has knowledge. "The air is great and powerful, eternal and immortal and knowing many things" (Simplicius, Physics 153, 20).

One of the reasons that prompted Diogenes conceive the air as the principle of all things and as 'god' was, as mentioned in the case of Anaximenes, the fact that the air is so subtle substance that eludes the senses and seems intangible or incorporeal. Another reason, also commented, is its omnipresence: "the air rises to the top and down to the lowest and fills all the spaces." Incorporeality and omnipresence are two attributes of the apparent 'metaphysical' or 'divinity' of air, but actually, paradoxically, they are just a pure physical phenomenon of nature.
One difference with Anaximenes lies in the fact that, to Diogenes, changes that would explain the phenomena of nature are not confined to the rarefaction or condensation of air, but also another factor involved is its temperature. To Diogenes, the distinctive feature of divinity and humanity is heat, in complicity with the ideas of Heraclitus on the 'igneous ether'. To Diogenes of Apollonia intelligence is hot air, warmer than the atmosphere although not quite as the ether that surrounds the sun.
The temperature of air producer of intelligence, what Diogenes says is very interesting, would register continuous slight temporary modifications which may explain, in turn, the numerous and unpredictable variations that occur in time in our perception, our thinking and our psyche in general.
A moderate heat would be the distinctive feature of air-soul or 'pneuma', which would explain, according to this wise, fluctuating changes in mental states and acts, from the most subtle variations of thought and perception to the most extreme states of sleep and death, which also correspond to extreme changes of 'pneuma': "Diogenes says that if the blood, spread throughout the body, fills the veins and pushes containing air toward chest and bottom belly, sleep occurs and the central part of the body is heated, but if all the air goes out of the veins, death occurs" (Aetius, V 24, 3).
Clearly Diogenes of Apollonia thought as a physician and led theses of Anaxímenes to the field of physiology. He did not maintain outside the body but he entered to explaining how the air acts in the body to produce the phenomena of soul. The universal air gets into the body by breathing and flows, driven by the blood of the veins of the body, to the brain, which acts as an interpreter of fluctuations or 'logos' of this universal air.
The air inside our body partakes of the 'divinity', is part of it, by transmiting the universal to our personal soul. Our thinking becomes a kind of organ sensitive to fluctuations ('logos') of air. The ethereal element extends throughout the universe and also acts on the bodily 'pneuma' of each person by the action of breathing and blood circulation. Accordingly, changes in our mental and cerebral activity are due to variations in atmospheric air (in terms of temperature, density...) from the outside world but the body 'interpreted' by its natural functioning creating one cerebral and mental 'logos', internal and subjective.

The seat of soul is the brain. The brain is the organ that interprets changes in air, it is which intellects. The brain is the instrument that uses air to think. The (other) sensory organs are subordinated to this main organ that produces the act of understanding. The brain 'resonates' with certain variations of air that give it a 'logos', as ear resonates under certain frequencies to offer sounds and sonorous languages. Outside air 'feeds' the soul and comes first to the brain and stays there; the remainder spreads throughout the body through blood vessels and engages, thus, the whole body in insights and emotions. Whole body, but especially the brain, 'vibrates' with air.
Diogenes maintains that, when a large amount of air is mixed with the blood and lightens it according to its less heavy nature, and penetrates, subtilized, whole body, pleasure originates; and when air is present against its lightweight nature, by action of moisture, and does not mix to be weighed, blood clots, weakens, it becomes denser and hence arises displeasure and pain. Similarly moods, such as trust and its opponents distrust and shame, and health and its contrary illness, originate, says Diogenes.
What is the thought itself is caused by the pure, dry and hot air, as all wet emanation inhibits intelligence. This is the reason, he argues, because the thought appears diminished in sleep, in drunkenness and satiety, because in them the air is concentrated in the belly and it become dirty by elements that are there, he says.
Another proof that moisture removes intelligence is indicated from that other living beings are inferior in intelligence to man because they breathe the air closest to earth, which is wetter and impure, he says. (The birds breathe fresh air, true, but he argues that they have a similar to fish constitution, because its flesh is solid and air does not penetrate completely but is detained around the the abdomen... and understands that plants are totally deprived of intelligence for the simple fact that have no air in.)
To Diogenes intelligence is the same as the vital intensity. This is very interesting. There are different degrees of intelligence and different degrees of vital intensity corresponding to the first. These quantitative differences in intelligence and vitality would be originated from, according to him, besides the properties of the surrounding air, the permeation of air into the body. The least, plants, then fish and birds, have a low degree of vitality and intelligence, it is assumed, by low penetration and diffusion of air inside.
The human being is the one with a higher degree of intelligence and vitality, because he absorbs and disseminates a lot of air into his body, it is understood; but he is also highly variable from one moment to another, there is nothing static in him, quite the contrary. There are times when people live life intensely, when everything flows so fast and absorbent, which are those moments that we have a deeper and more vivid thinking. At other times the opposite happens, we are unable to mentally prepare anything and understanding of things is absent, and our existence is drab and boring. In these times, unlike the first, the degree of our vital intensity is low, such as our intelligence. And this changes would obey to changes in qualities of air and / or in our way of breathing. Intelligence (thought) is so unstable and volatile as the element that generates it...
The thought or intelligence, for the philosopher of Apollonia, is nothing 'superior' emerging from elementary 'lower' activities but is at the same level as sleep, senses, pleasure and pain, feelings, health... All are 'sensations' produced by the air. Everything is at the same level. The outside air comes into contact and mixes (or simply waves) with the air inside the sensory organs and the brain, through the veins or blood vessels.

To Diogenes insights come from air, which takes over the whole body through veins and blood, especially in those propositions in which the veins itselves provide an "adequate anatomy" (Simplicius, Physics 153, 13). The thought, the intellectual soul, is generated by the correspondence between the air and the arrangement of our veins and our brain. The clarity of perception and intellect of a particular proposition depends on the subtlety of air that diffuses into our body, and on the finesse and the straightness of the channels through which spreads: on the resultant of the specific anatomy of involved veins.
When air is mixed with the blood and is permeated in the brain and the whole body, the feeling of pleasure and vivid thought arises. Thought depends on the purity and dryness of air and, as pleasure, arises when air is mixed with blood, subtilizes it, and spreads throughout the body through the vascular network. Thought and pleasure are very similar things in reality. Think the world in an understandable way, understand it (intellective knowing), is a powerful form of pleasure. So, intelligence, thinking, vital intensity and pleasure are totally united in Diogenes. Vitality, enjoyment, insight, understanding, thought, reason... are interrelated in its own essence if they are not the same thing. Many philosophers have intuited that the understanding of the world is the greatest pleasure to which man can aspire, but have failed to explain the reason. Diogenes of Apollonia, the physical, the forgotten, did.


Cappelletti, A. J. Los fragmentos de Diógenes de Apolonia. Tiempo Nuevo, Caracas, 1975.
Cappelletti, A. J. Mitología y filosofía: los presocráticos. Cincel, Madrid, 1987.
Cicerón, M. T. Sobre la naturaleza de los dioses. UNAM, México, 1986.
Fernández Cepedal, J. M. Los filósofos presocráticos. Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.
Conde, F. Filósofos presocráticos. Página sobre filosofía, www.paginasobrefilosofia.com.
González, C. Historia de la filosofía. 2 ª ed., Madrid, 1886. Edición digital Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

The physical philosophers: Democritus.

Not far from the line of Heraclitus, Democritus, about 460 BC, extended the psychology of atomism of his predecessor Leucippus and taught that the human soul was a substance composed of very subtle and spherical atoms, as those of fire, and it was precisely because of their subtleness and sphericity that these atoms contribued to perpetual motion and heat of both the fire and the human soul.
The soul, to Democritus, is a very subtle and volatile element that exists within the body (made of much more inert and gross material). This volatile soul spreads and penetrates all parts of body tissues and produces the different organs and limbs own vital functions... The thought, consciousness and sensation, particularly, would be the result of a form of variable combination of these ethereal and spherical atoms. The unstable combinations of these would be the source of psychic manifestations and their fluctuations over time.
The atoms of the soul have a continuous circular motion which says Democritus is sustained by the inspiration and expiration of air. Breathing, therefore, is the essential process of life and of the psychic manifestations that occur over time. These are, again, breathing and air.

What the philosopher of Abdera called spirit is not a supreme creative force in the world, or anything supernatural or metaphysical, not even a principle of nature 'superior' to mechanical motion. It is not, in fact, an essentially different force from mechanical movement. What we call 'spirit', like 'soul', is just a more subtle material (air) compared to other grosser and solid (the body) or, if preferred, is the phenomenon resulting from the properties of these finer and subtler air atoms we breathe in their action on our body atoms.
Also, gods, whose existence he admits, are for Democritus basically the same: spirits, beings like the soul in its origin and composition, with no other difference with soul than having a more durable arrangement of their atoms, a longer life, but this is the only respect in which gods and spirits are superior to men and their soul. Gods are also mortal and subjected, like us, to the supreme law of fate, the only constant, ie the law of eternal, the necessary and universal motion of atoms, the unfailing flow of organization and disorganization of matter. Gods, spirits, soul, mind, consciousness, sensation, thought... are essentially the same: they are the similar phenomena resulting from the action of air in our body through breathing.

Cappelletti, A. J. Los fragmentos de Diógenes de Apolonia. Tiempo Nuevo, Caracas, 1975.
Cappelletti, A. J. Mitología y filosofía: los presocráticos. Cincel, Madrid, 1987.
Cicerón, M. T. Sobre la naturaleza de los dioses. UNAM, México, 1986.
Fernández Cepedal, J. M. Los filósofos presocráticos. Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.
Conde, F. Filósofos presocráticos. Página sobre filosofía, www.paginasobrefilosofia.com.
González, C. Historia de la filosofía. 2 ª ed, Madrid, 1886. Edición digital Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

The physical philosophers: Heraclitus.

Although this conception of the soul belonged to an ancient tradition expressed already in Orphism, the thesis of Anaximenes that conceived air as the physical substrate of the human soul was considered the first theory of antiquity on the human psyche in science and philosophy.
A similar version is that of Heraclitus, who maintained, around the year 500 BC, that soul was composed of 'igneous ether' (no simple air) and it was this 'igneous ether' what filled the soul and also all the sky. Sky and soul were, for this philosopher, a single matter, a matter that was psychic and celestial at a time. Then the soul of human and the universe, made of the same, behave according to very similar principles.

For Heraclitus 'logos' of the world is produced by the 'igneous ether' or 'fire'. According to him, in nature there is opposition and continuous confrontation between opposing elements, but there is also an underlying order in the becoming of things, though not always it is quite obvious to us. The world, due to 'logos of igneous ether', is a kosmos and not chaos; the 'fire' is the natural process that sorts and organizes everything, says the philosopher.
Human life must adapt to this natural order of becoming things, to this resulting 'logos', by wisdom. Since this is the 'logos' which governs the world, true knowledge can not consist in anything else than its understanding, and there can be no greater motivation and satisfaction that progress oneself in this regard and get positively accommodated to becoming reality.
Reason and 'logos of igneous ether' are the same, because the universe is arranged according to a plan that makes all things, seemingly different, keep organized and really be one, which the human intellect intended to capture continuously and instinctively. The 'logos' is what explains the existence of such a consistency that allows things, in plural and even contrary appearance, be actually linked in a coherent complex, human themselves are also a part of which.

For Heraclitus everything is constantly changing, everything flows, according to an order, yes, but which is not explicit but is veiled: "Some even say no that some things move and some not, but all are in constant motion, although this fact is beyond our sensory perception" (Aristotle, Physics 3 253 b 9).
"Different waters flow over those entering the same rivers. Spread and meet... meet and separate... they are coming and going." (fr 12 Arius Didymus, ap Eusebium, PE, XV 20;. fr 91 Plutarch, E 18, 392 B). Everything flows, but the senses usually inform us of plural and superficial manifestations of the varying things misleadingly: "Bad witnesses are the eyes and ears for men who do not understand their language." (fr 107, Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos VII 126). Understanding is what captures the 'logos', what everything have in common, the order that is in the evolution of kosmos, behind the sensible.
Not everybody come to grasp the world order, only somebody. Heraclitus calls barbarians ("barbarian souls") to those who are not able to understand and interpret adequately the language of the senses and are deluded by the superficial manifestations thereof. "...Must be followed what is common, but although the Logos is common most people live as having a particular intelligence" (fr 2 Sextus Empiricus, Adv math VII 133). Thus, there is a unique order-logos-language common to all people, a single intelligence which is not specific but all-encompassing, one true understanding that unifies all, that is not made of simple ideas created by the individuals, but it is the actual constituent of things, the primary cosmic element (the 'fire'), which is the world's intelligence while human intelligence.

Intelligence is not individual, but coincides with the "intelligence of the world ', with the understanding and apprehension of 'universal logos'. People is intelligent if is able to understand the worldly order, if his mind is able to apprehend and reflect simply the actual order of the world as it is given, that is, the natural relations of things, which is common to all things. Therefore, men can not have private, individual, personal intelligences, because there is only one common intelligence ('logos') to all nature and to all people, corresponding to the 'igneous ether' that 'moves' everything .
Human reason has to be a derivation of universal reason, a kind of organ of perception of universal logos, superior to all others senses, which, unlike them, does not deceive us continuously, quite the contrary. This is the 'sense of reason' which orders for us all elements of the universe. Traditional bodily senses only perceive things that happen and vary constantly, they are not able to perceive what is invariable behind the apparent, that is, the truth and the reason.
All science being guided exclusively by the sensory is necessarily false. Only through higher sense which is the human reason people can perceive the true, the eternal and permanent in perpetual flow of things, which does not change, which is the logos itself, the process of change itself.
For Heraclitus fire is the constant source of change processes. The logos of 'fire' is the order and the extent of continuous change imposed by the evolution of everything that happens in nature, with its regularities and irregularities. The 'fire' controls the matter, all matter in the cosmos, the strongest and the most ethereal, everything that exists, also the soul.
We must understand that we recognize the 'fire' as a highly dynamic process of ethereal element that the air is, which Anaximenes referred to as the constituent of the universe and the soul, as discussed in a previous post. The fire, in fact, is very hot air or 'igneous ether'. Indeed instead of the term "fire" Heraclitus often used "igneous ether", referring to the warm and subtle air flowing into the upper region of the sky (which, according to tradition, is identified with God and with the soul):
"The ancients assigned sky and upper region to the gods because they believed it was the only immortal area." (Aristotle, De Caelo B 1, 284 to 11.)
"Ether received their souls and earth their bodies ." (Inscription Graecae Y 945, 6; Athens, V century before Christ.)
"What we call hot seems to be immortal, what apprehends all things, what heareth, sees and knows all things, both present and future. His most part, then, when everything came into confusion, went toward superior revolution and I think is what the ancients called ether." (Hippocrates, De carnibus 2.)

Heraclitus thinks that the future of all beings on earth, especially man but also institutions that man has created, is intimately linked to the natural world surrounding and that is inevitably affected by the movements of hot ether that comes from the upper regions of the sky. What man created or participated is sensitive to human behavior and to mood and the 'igneous ether' variations, in a natural way. And he affirms that wisdom consists precisely in being aware of this fact, to understand how the entire world operates (although he admits that the unique thing that can achieve this goal in an absolute way is God, because the logos of the ether is a manifestation of God, or God Himself, and He is the one that is contained and fully understands himself). God is the absolute wisdom. Man and human institutions can not be understood outside the natural world (or God, therefore) but all things, even those that are a creation of man, indeed, are natural and are governed by the same laws of logos or common intelligence.

For Heraclitus the soul is the igneous ether governing body and mind of men. The human mind has a direct relationship with the soul-ether, such for Anaximenes had in the soul-air. Comes to be basically the same. The soul like ether or air has a "unattainable limits", moves dynamically throughout the universe, enters everywhere, penetrates all things and moves freely through all parts of body, and does so "according to its needs”.
The action of ether or air expands and acts on everything, but remains veiled to our conscious understanding; it has its own internal 'needs' that are so deep in some aspects that are not intelligible to us: "You do not get to find the limits of the soul in your way, not even through all the ways: as profound dimension it has." (Fr 45, Diogenes Laertius, IX 7.)
Different authors made their own interpretations of how empirically happens physical 'contact' of soul-ether with the logos of fire. Sextus says that, according to Heraclitus, we simply inhale the logos of igneous ether with air, which gives us the intelligence and place order and organizes what the senses capture; and that during sleep, he adds, the contact of the soul with the igneous logos remains exclusively through breathing, in a primary mode, being the senses 'closed'. Breathing this divine reason (logos) we become intelligent. We forget worldly things while we sleep, but we recover our senses again when awaken, he says. Being the channels of perception closed during sleep, our mind is separated from its links with the surrounding, retaining its unique linkage through breathing, like a kind of 'root' (Sextus Empiricus, Adv math VII 129). He adds that, while we sleep, not being so intense inhalation as when one is awake, the soul would be in an intermediate state between life and death, which is what characterizes sleep, apart from the separation of the senses.
Chalcidius, meanwhile, attributes to Heraclitus the consideration that the soul would only contact with cosmic reason precisely during sleep, being free of the senses and their interruptions, in a Platonic type of interpretation.
According Aetius souls are fed by internal and external exhalations: Internal ones come from the blood and other body fluids, while external would be those that are absorbed through the breath...
Breathing is the common denominator of Heraclitus and Anaxímenes: We breathe air, pneuma, the breath. The action of 'igneous ether', even if it comes from outside sky, reaches us in contact with air, enters our minds by breathing, and is through breathing that preserves, develops and renews our soul; as conserves, develops and renews 'the spirits and gods' that populate the world, because they are, in fact, the same that our psyche: they live there.

Cappelletti, A. J. Los fragmentos de Diógenes de Apolonia. Tiempo Nuevo, Caracas, 1975.
Cappelletti, A. J. Mitología y filosofía: los presocráticos. Cincel, Madrid, 1987.
Cicerón, M. T. Sobre la naturaleza de los dioses. UNAM, México, 1986.
Fernández Cepedal, J. M. Los filósofos presocráticos. Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.
Conde, F. Filósofos presocráticos. Página sobre filosofía, www.paginasobrefilosofia.com.
González, C. Historia de la filosofía. 2 ª ed, Madrid, 1886. Edición digital Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The physical philosophers: Anaximenes.

The work of the pre-Socratic Ionian philosophers often has been interpreted, over centuries, in a simplistic way throught the prism of a modern reductionist materialism that actually has little to do with the original approach of these ancient thinkers. It has been done, many times, a naive reading of their thesis on the elements of earth, water, air and fire as creative principles of the universe. A classical naturalist aproach considered these authors the remote initiators of the natural sciences, which visions and solutions becamed logically obsolete. These called physical philosophers have made contributions of great merit to geography, astronomy, meteorology, mathematics and biology, certainly, but their production is not limited, in my opinion, to the conventional interpretation throught the prism of current science, as their purpose was not that of making a science detached from the whole of man and his daily experiences. Do not be fooled, they were philosophers in the broadest sense and not 'physical' or scientists who provide some sort of technical solution as we understand now. Their goals were far-reaching.
Angel Cappelletti (1987, 59) points out in this regard that study of each of the pre-Socratic philosophers separately, and an overview of them, impels precisely to break schematic and restrictive conceptualizations of their work and look for something much more fundamental and intuitive: "... what compels us to see in them a true philosophical school are especially common problems centered on the idea of 'physis' and the shared worldview derived from an original intuition. A single, eternal, infinite and active reality which is at once matter, life and spirit, from which all things arise and return, and all are made of it, and by which all become what they are, that is the core of such a worldview ".

As Cappelletti says, these thinkers had a clear universal orientation and wondered for the principle ('arche') or origin of reality, of the whole reality. Their thought concerns the investigation of the origin of reality and being, poses an ontology, seeks a unifying principle, a common element to suggest that all is essentially the same. This concern converges in all cases in humans because despite the apparent subject of investigation is physical or a foreign to person matter, these thinkers assume that all natural phenomena arises from human experience or manifests in it. Thus, natural phenomena, the physical and material world, converges with the phenomena of perception, thought, consciousness (the phenomena of the soul and spirit). There is only one fundamental reality that is at once matter and spirit, which is life, by which all things exist and are what they are. Man, nature and being are either the same single reality, which works by unique (and eternal, infinite and active) principles.

We begin by noting the proposal of one of the initiators, Anaximenes, that the principle of all is air (single reality), an element that is unmeasurable (infinite reality), which precedes all things (eternal reality) and it is also the generator of all things (active reality). In its process of mutation, the air generates the other elements and these are also dissolved in it in their corruption, says Anaximenes. It is the first rise of both material things as mental and spiritual. We can say that the air is God. "Anaximenes established that the air is God, and that it is engendered, immense and infinite, and is always moving" Cicero collected in 'The nature of gods'. Matter, soul and God are manifestations of a single principle or reality.
Tradition places Anaximenes (acme around 546 BC) as a disciple of Thales and colleague and successor of Anaximander. Theophrastus said about him: "The Milesian Anaximenes, son of Eurístrato and colleague of Anaximander, said, as the first, that the underlying nature is infinite, but not undetermined, as Anaximander, but determined, and called it air; Anaximenes differentiates into the particular substances by rarefaction and condensation. By becoming more subtle becomes fire, more condensed becomes wind, then cloud, further condensed water, earth and stone. The other things are produced therefrom. Conceives also eternal its movement by which also generates change." (Simplicio, Physics, 24, 25-26)
Anaximenes sets as 'arche' the air, which is an invisible and infinite principle like the 'apeiron' of Anaximander, but the air of Anaximenes, as the water of Thales, is actually a precise and specific principle, has a physical and concrete existence. (In fact, philosophy of Anaximenes is generally understood as an attempt of synthesis between Thales and Anaximander: the air as 'arche' replaces the water of Thales, but also incorporates properties of undetermined 'apeiron' of Anaximander, as is infinity.)

Why chooses Anaximenes air as 'arche' and not fire, earth or water? Fernandez Cepedal notes that Anaximenes found in the air some empirical properties exercising better than the other elements functions of 'arche'. The air would be better than water the adequate material for the 'logos' of transformations of elements, throught its processes of rarefaction and condensation, because it would manifest very diversely becoming more subtle or, conversely, more condensed: becoming more subtle and slight increases its volume and temperature and is to become something like fire or fire itself. When condenses, on the contrary, decreases in volume and temperature and becomes something colder and stronger as water and earth, according Anaximenes. Are quantitative changes, the increase or decrease in density, what generates resulting qualitative differences. The same applies to the opposites hot and cold which Anaximander extracted forcedly from the 'apeiron' and that Anaximenes says that occur naturally from these same quantitative changes of condensation - rarefaction. "What is compressed and condensed is cold, and the rare and lax is hot" Plutarch says (De primo frigido, 7, 947 F).
This is a parsimonious theory because the whole comes simply from a single element which varies quantitatively. Then there is the special and interesting property of invisibility of air. As Hippolytus (Refutatio. Y 7, 3) says the air "when it is perfect is imperceptible to the eye". The air is infinite and determined, but the determination of the air is much more 'abstract', as it is imperceptible to the senses, than water, because it is invisible (like the 'apeiron'). So much so that the air is usually confused with emptiness (the existence of air as a matter actually was not demonstrated until the time of Empedocles and Anaxagoras).
The invisible air is infinite and "includes the entire cosmos" (Aetius, I 3, 4) because the air is empirically imperceptible and seems limitless and occupy a vast region of the world ('whole') and penetrate everything. Omnipresence of the invisible air is much greater than that of water, is almost complete. It is the perfect 'arche'.
Air is a very subtle element in motion and change, of which we are unaware precisely because of its great subtlety and lightness (plus invisibility), that being omnipresent and touching all the other elements and created things must be affected by or be involved in the continuous movement and changing of the 'whole'. It is not unreasonable to think, therefore, that the air must be the first cause, the dynamic principle that generates the rest of nature, hidden from our senses, which has therefore 'divine' character. "Anaximenes says that the air is God" Aetius and Cicero agree in affirming regarding our philosopher. Categorically.

We have seen elsewhere the explicit identification of air with the divinity that did Orphism, that the gods themselves are originated from air or are made of air, literally. Saint Augustine also makes an interpretation of Anaximenes in this sense when he writes "... Anaxímenes attributed all the causes of things to infinite air and did not deny the gods nor was silent about them, he did not believe, however, that the air was produced by them, but they themselves were born from the air" (City of God, VIII, II).
The 'divine' nature of air is related to the idea that the power of this element extends everywhere and penetrates everything, especially the bodies of human and animals, by carnal and 'solid' they seem. Thus the divinity of outside air, when it enters the body, becomes lifeblood, the soul is the air itself and its properties are the air ones. Thus we can say that soul is breath. Within us is soul and outside is air while spirit or divinity. The soul is the action of air in each individual person, and the spirit or divinity is the action of universal air on humanity.

The air is related to divinity and soul at least from Orpheus and Homer. "As our soul being air unifies us, so the breath (pneuma) or air covers the entire cosmos" (Aetius, I 3, 4). Our soul is air, Anaximenes says, specifically is the inside air that holds us united, and he says, is the same air that covers and bindeth the whole universe. He identifies cosmic air with 'pneuma', which in Greek meant air or breath while soul, just as the term 'psyche'. He considers the air as our soul and as the breath of the world ('the spirit of the world').
The 'aither' acts in the universe as the 'pneuma' in the body. Similarly the 'pneuma' (air-soul) penetrates and remains attached the body, giving life and governing it, the 'aither' (air-spirit) penetrates and remains attached the universe, giving animation and governing it. There are no boundaries between our body and other material objects. All is one. The Milesians regarded the universe as a living being, a kind of huge body. The soul and life are not generated individually from the body, but it receives them from air-spirit of the universe, which is 'God'.


Cappelletti, A. J. Los fragmentos de Diógenes de Apolonia. Tiempo Nuevo, Caracas, 1975.
Cappelletti, A. J. Mitología y filosofía: los presocráticos. Cincel, Madrid, 1987.
Cicerón, M. T. Sobre la naturaleza de los dioses. UNAM, México, 1986.
Fernández Cepedal, J. M. Los filósofos presocráticos. Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org, 2000.
Conde, F. Filósofos presocráticos. Página sobre filosofía, www.paginasobrefilosofia.com.
González, C. Historia de la filosofía. 2 ª ed., Madrid, 1886. Edición digital Proyecto Filosofía en español, www.filosofia.org, 2002.