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Comparative Philosophy


Daniela Fobelová, Pavel Fobel
Univerzita Mateja Bela

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ABSTRACT: Traditional thinking has understood the world in its totality as including both chaos and harmony. Lovelock's hypothesis gives us a new resolution to this problem by expanding or even relocating creativity from the human intellect to the world. Postmodernism is the return to the mythological-aesthetic reflexion of the world concerning the idea of order and harmony.

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Facing the publicly known and proclamated appeals for further prosperity, scepticism is being survived so deeply that a homogenous human effort, activity of every individual has not been able to influence the course of history or even effect the great macroscopic processes. Our era is described as the era of common instability. The chaotic state is always considered to be a natural element of contemporary civilization and democracy. On the other hand we are fascinated with the history where the human effort within its highest degree of creativity can influence gradual processes and emancipate it from an indefinite situation, human existence interfering with the entirety of the process in the appropriate linearity to which our thinking is liable. More important than other fields of study, philosophy always touches upon the entirety of human knowledge. An effort to concern all of our inner strains to interprete the world and the processes in a certain comparison, the idea of total disorder versus the idea of total order. For philosophers there is no need to emphasise that this idea is a part and even a necessary substance of philosophical consideration, not to mention the fact, that the early philosophical reflection has been its testimony. As to the effort to understand such an idea of totality the initial philosophical interpretation is primary. In addition, this initiative gives reason for a necessity of linear thinking by the most important philosophical interpreters. Simultaneously it confuses nontraditional philosophical ideas with aesthetic considerations a typical way of thinking called postmodernistic. The characteristic constancy of traditional thinking and traditional interpretation is that it was allowed to know and understand the whole world in its wholeness and without prejudice. From the known works in this area of thought it is possible to mention those that are most representative, for example the work of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes or Comte, and if need be, Hegel´s system. Many other alternativistic philosophical drafts are , of course, not out of the question. These works were established as standard interpretations in a historical-philosophical reflection. It did not matter whether it had a theoretical and philosophical accent it was recorded as philosophical contribution for the various spheres and branches of philosophy. "Each of them — according to Husserl — can take on responsibility from the beginning step by step on the basis of an unconditional opinion."

A possible interpretation of a certain world senario oscilates between empirical psycho-somatic experiences /different way of reception/ and real models of the human noetic situation with various heuristic aims, is pointing to the difficulty of any singular world interpretation. On the contrary, our knowledge is revealing difficulties of a multiaspected world interpretation, however the task of adequately overcomming the complicated world circumstances is more important. Verbal demonstration and interpretation of the chaos-order model tries hard to gain rational control of problems relating to hermatheutic stylistics or giving an acceptable interpretation to the temporarity of being. Any appropriate attempt to discover any existence in the universe according to the latest pieces of information forces us to think within antropocentrical version. We are not going to endeavour a philosophical universalism of world interpretation in scientic, ethical, sociological or a political modality. We will have attempted to analyse it in a philosophic-aesthetic aspect in the way as it has been developing from mythology to a "postmodern discussion". As far as the first mythological reflections are concerned the problem of harmonious aesthetic ideal of wholeness is dominant. It is an attribute of the mystic imagination. At the present time we are waried about threatening crissises and the collapse of the society. The aesthetic ideal more or less creates the background, like a scepticism after history, a type of the traditional modus of thinking and perception, not to be pretentious for its thematic fullfillness and sensitive satisfaction. Rather it is searching and rediscovering the old world, whereby it is very often inspired with the more "universalistic" oriental philosophers. Biocentrically applied we try to solve the complexities of the contemporary world and thereby its new reflection. It is possible to take as a starting point a principal important multidimensional philosophical problem like the symbiosis of man and nature, searching for harmony and the aesthetic expression. Nature with its spontaneous order reacts upon the new appearence of social and biological structures with as offensive a way as it is interfered with politics, economics, technology, biology, social and political relations within a technical civilization. Failure to adapt itself to the new conditions usually evokes a reaction which can only be overcome with a basic change of the value system and world perception, with a new psychospiritual shifting in the background of nature´s harmonious wholeness. World instability in all its unique orders gives us at present an impression that is also discussed in synergetics. When the system of wholeness is implicated then the more unstable this order becomes. If we accept these circumstances then probably some tendencies of a world synergetic process exists and compensates for this natural phenomen in such a way that these tendencies protect this supersystem and if fragments against the decomposition appearing in synergetic mash.

To us, the ideal of beauty seems to be harmony, unity within diversity setting up an order of differentiated qualities. If this is true then the aim of our efforts would have been to change all of the world into an absolutely harmonious cosmos and in order to survive this harmonious cosmos permanently our experiences would become purely aesthetic.

It is in the intensions of postmodernistic considerations represented by e.g. Adorno, Welsch and the others who find the starting point of the problem in the aesthetic— "the only way which is able to reflect the wholeness hereafter." This aesthetic consideration exponates and takes place within such a structure wherein the wholeness is visible, like a plurality of heterogenous formations. It is possible to say, that at present and in a broad sense it is determining the world picture of our times. From this point of view the basic world picture is outlined primarily as aesthetical. Therefore aesthetically exponating this basic structure is able to talk on behalf of this wholeness. However it is happening in such a way that it persistently keeps assurance of plurality against any form of totalization.

And it is this art that consistently inflames in us a desire for harmony and a longing for everlasting and eternal beauty. As Hegel said: "In science we do not treat it only as a pleasant or useful toy but with emancipation and conciliation of absoluteness in something that is sensible and evident, with some meditation on the truth as not to exhause the history of nature but as it appears in the history of world where the art itself is the most beautiful matter and the best reward for hard work."

Renewing the lost human wholeness, and social harmony through art is not a philosophical or aesthetical problem at all. Many philosophers, aesthetes and Utopians of Enlightement e.g. Schiller, Goethe, and also Kant owned the thought of art as one that could further a man´s ideas on reality, direct him from the chaotic and unharmonious world into harmony and shift him closer to the ideal to be reached. It could help him, either to percieve or to create the beauty, but mostly to live according to the laws of beauty and so to feel the necessity of beauty. However those philosophers were not the pioneers who looked for the way out of the chaotic world but they found it in an aesthetic reflection.

Applying certain criteria and signs typical for creating harmonious wholeness /in sense of order, harmony, coherention/ in a historical-philosophical reflection, the first aesthetic-philosophical form of its systematic interpretation has become a myth. More precisely a developed mythology or pre-philosophy with an outstanding aesthetic content. All the differences of being, order and harmony are formed in accordance with mythology from the beginning of chaos. The chaotic state seems to be like a common confessed state — with uncertain and unindentified beginnings. The polarity of chaos and harmony in later mythology has become the dominant idea of creating the world picture. It has become the first philosophic, ontological and aesthetic form of identification and selfconsciousness within either a world structure or a hierarchy of value. The complete ancient epic, in poetic form, offers first touches of beauty, harmony, a human sense of being as well as noble and a creative way of thinking of world existence and its values. An idea of chaos often seems to be a result of genetic beginning, differentiated and confused by nondefining quality too. At the same time the chaos is everlasting. It is not only genetic beginning but often the substrat of things all that they consist of from the very beginning, consequently it is their everlasting order. This moment has rather to be anticipated in philosophy than to be pointed out directly and exactly. It is possible to give reasons for accepting similar assertions if we start out of broader social moments typical for the ancient pre-philosophical considerations of the world — ancient myths — and kept religious and philosophical fragments in the three cultural centres with an autonomy of origin for their own separate systems of values in China, India and Greece. /It would be interesting to compare it with Sumero-Babylonian, Persian and Ancient Egyptian mythology./

An absence of formation in a chaotic indefinity, with some philosophers paying attention to the explanations of the order of formation from chaos, is accepted in a European pre-philosophical tradition. However it could find acceptance in the Greek spiritual tradition in a pre-philosophical era. The idea of chaotic beginning confirms the theoretical complexity if we speak about the semantic value of the term chaos often connected with Hesiodo´s expression. The first mythological-philosophical question was not so diverse and simultaneously so alike in problems, ways of consideration and opinions on the world that it is possible only with a careful selection to separate their opinions on order and origins from a certain indefinite state confused into a tradition of our philosophy and science upon a common chaos. As a matter of general principle we can identify the philosophical trials in our history that principally refuses the imagination of the primitive state of the world as chaos.

The ancient Chinese mythology has had an imagination about the primitive state of the world in chaos and the two contradictory rulers of that chaos. The heavenly Jang and earthly Jin. Both of them, Jang and Jin, created in the midst of the chaos and heaven, from their lighter elements and earth from the heavier particles. Simultaneously in the pre-philosophical thinking the ideas of Tao´s way appeared with its changes owing all to life energy provoked discussion with the bipolar views of Jang-Jin´s wholeness expressed in trigramic /hexagramic/ cyclicality. Learning Tao´s way implied a new way of thinking — everything in existence finds it itself, not only its own source of being but also many other sources of being. Tao seems like a substance of things and simultaneously like the origin at the same time. Tao lives up to idea of a holistic world. It creates harmony in many things, it can see the greate wholeness and does not open its eyes for imperfection. Tao´s order is offered as a spontaneous direction. It let the change simply take its own course. "Restlessness and peace, fullness and emptiness run in an overlasting cycle. Direction is expressed in such way that the meaning is signified to the whole being; order is expressed and all other particular beings are subordinated to." In the second myth the setting of chaos and organization of world structure is connected to the activity of a supernatural man called Pan-Gu, who was born inside the cosmic egg — the natural birth of chaos. The first ancient Chinese wise men´s philosophical thinking was in accordance with traditional pre-philosophical consideration aimed to solve the problem of social harmony. Harmony /Che/ is connected mainly with the keeping of the rules of certain ceremonies and so not only for ethic-social reasons alone but also requires an aesthetic character. In this way the aesthetic reflection has gradually been becoming the world opinion, the interpretation and emotive expression of life.

Inspite of many peculiarities presented in Indian pre-philosophical reflections and later philosophical ones on the world, the Indian pre-philosophical stage presents motives expressing certain states, situations accepted commonly for creating order, an arranged wholeness from a certain beginning.

In Indian cosmology we meet again a bipolar pair — this time a female and male element. The female element is represented by the cosmological mother Aditi who simultaneously represents everything that gives birth out of herself; the cosmological man Parusha transforms himself into the world and Universum by sacrificing himself. Creation is seen here as a result of sacrifice, something that is embodied in Man. It is always present when chaos is giving way to order. So the Man-universe is the origin, giving way to a heterogeneous world.

A lot of Gods are presented in Upanishads. They are considered to be a supercause of the world — Padzhapati /Lord of Creation, First /UN/born/ and eventually Brahman are the most important. Creation of the world by a god is conscious and willfull act. Upanishads, as a pre-philosophical work talk about an unpersonal principe-Brahma. It is expressed in a form of substance except for the absence of philosophical terminology. Brahma is the genetic and substantial beginning of every existence as well as its culmination. Consequently as to the pre-philosophical level of thinking alegory is substituted with philosophy whereas Brahma´s world is not being expressed. Brahma, who often identifies with Atman, is the beginning, the cause, evoking integrity and it is visible in limits of the time.

In Babylonian mythology on the world creation, Enuma Elish, chaos represents the very first beginning of being and a suggestion of an ordered being.

"When even the sky has not got its name
and festivals were not known
Apsu-water chaos, the first of the first
who breathed life to me in
I-its single form, Tiamat /chaos/ gave birth to
their waters were mixed together..."

In intectual sequences of a developed mythological wholeness the Sumerian-Babylonian tradition, in spite of its rich mythological and ethical creativity, has no reached up to its philosophical summit. Its extended thematical range and mature spiritual value asks for a more consequentional scan for the simple reason that the classical pre-philosophical motive of world creation out of chaos with its many influences on the European culture was already in existence here. As to the first Hesiodo´s philosophy of history we learn from his epic poem: "the first of all was chaos". Chaos is not only a primitive beginning of certain content phenomen but it is introduced itself as uncontent, as far as the necessary expression for interpreting indefinity, it is associated with a picture of empty space for the interpretation of the image of the original state of the world and life. Seen in this way, chaos has become a premise in Greek mythology of being sense, order and harmony. The effort of our ancient ancestors a long time ago was to introduce chaos into the harmonious order. To find out the right rate, the entirety of things, the structure of wholeness presupposes either complete on the one hand or on the other hand a fragmentation of the wholeness elements.

The Greeks in their art represented harmony as a being connecting two antitheses. Aeros — a grandson of chaos and the God of war who hated love and order and who tried to destroy it; Afrodite — the goddess of love and beauty who was quite inconsistant and her happiness used to be of short duration. Harmony has been happily married or at least fell into happiness because of punishment by the god Aeros upon her husband.

At this point in time mythology was very important thanks to Dionyz´s cult it had been kept under a mythological veil. We are introduced slowly into the Pythagoras´ numeral structures destined to endure all the ages to come. The middle ages aesthetical thinking picks out the thought of harmony being affected only by the interference of God. In modern times we try to understand harmony in the spirit of rational and sensual ways.

Above all, the Enlightener considered how to create harmony in their contemporary world. Schiller searched for a starting point in aesthetic education. "Legal state", "moral state" he wanted to substitute for "aesthetic state". He elaborated on a project of such a state in his "Letters on Aesthetic Education of Mankind". Hegel, in principle is against such a aesthetic utopia. In his system, the art is alternated with a world spirit as the only means of absolute knowledge. Simultaneously it is a sad fact that in Hegel´s art, the sense of harmony as an interpretation of an aesthetic ideal is not very clear. To him, harmony is present only in the art of the dawn of mankind. Contemporary life of human society and the art of his times shift harmony aside into obscurity and it is replaced with turmoil and chaos. "However the beauty of these ideals consists in an undimmed unity, calm and inner perfection. Turmoil disturbs this harmony and introduces an innerly homogenous ideal into disonancy and antithesis".

Similarly followers of the aesthetic ideal warn us about chaos operating with harmony and in this way they try to concern the deepest, the darkest form of man, human existence.

In present times we either like it or we do not, gently bringing it back into reference of our most ancient ancestors. We are not satisfied rending that what is rotting inside us. In the form of rationalism and sensuality. C.Lévi-Strauss is trying to explain that "a separation occures, a necessary separation — between scientific thinking and that what I have called the concrete of logic, it means respecting and using sensual dates in contrast to pictures, symbols, etc." We are to be witnesses of the moment when this separation is likely to overcome or overthrow our concrete logic because modern science is able to go on in its traditional line — to burry further and further in its narrow trough — but simultaneously also to extend that trough and to involve many problems." A result of such an effort would have been" to try to discover order in this illusion of disorder. Because if we look at intelectual human achievements and to their records all over the world the common denominator is always an attempt to set up some order. If it is like a basic imagination of order in the human mind and at least, if the human mind is just a part of the cosmos, may be this necessity exists because of a certain order in the cosmos and this cosmos is not in chaos."

In these intensions of world understanding and according to these times, aesthetic thinking has its irreplaceable and dominant position. Such thinking is based on a sensual perception. Human sensual relation towards the world has become equal to a rational one. Seen in this way science regards such a human behaviour as behaviour which is intended for beauty and hobbies. "Aesthetic thinking would perhaps have been able to open some ways for the future, not because of its absolute truth but because of a greater need than ever before"

Lovelock´s hypothesis on Gai follows in this spirit of better mythological thinking with apparent selfregulation of the earth´s atmosphere, where an expression of Gai has become synonymous with the integrated, selforganized and selfregulating living planet and we are its unseparated component. We are an integral part of this living cell, we are kept to live with its energetic streams and organized systems. This life does not only share our body and our human spirit, but its vitality depends on the swelling health of nature. A new way of perceiving our world is firmly rooted in it. Lovelock is awared with rational reasoning and with open senses that he turns into perception. Traditionally perception was seen only as a one way process involving dates from the surrounding world or environment. Dates are cleared of any value, shorted and brought to order by human interference. Life is being addapted to a basic, causal neighbourhood, senses are understood as a passive mechanism. The inner human mind /Descart´s "subject"/ is informed about those casual events within an outer objective /"object"/ world through sensual organs of mechanical structures. These transfer certain information into the nervous system. In spite of our awareness of not retaining the mechanical conception of a physic world in the 18th century, which declares absolute separation of mind from mass, we work with it in comfort.

Lovelock´s hypothesis Gai gives us a new view on observation and perception. The principal change is rooten in transfering creativity from human intellect into the surrounding world. It has not been human intellect subject that has been creating meaning, value and purpose. These have been in the surrounding world. Perception is the permanent meaning of communication running between organisms and an organic entity also involving organism/me/. Communication between individuals /microorganism/ and cosmos /macroorganism/ exists no more.

Also by Adorno, according to his experiences resulting from breaking down the ideals of "enlightenment" and it seems to be in a collapse of rationality intending on controlling nature. He brings the question of truth back into the aesthetics quite reasonably because only in aesthetics the sensuality has got an elementary function. Nature is supplied with sensuality as a substance, that has not been marked with the force of mankind on itself. Only such a nature with mastership having a form of reconciliation /harmony/ with it would have been an expressed result of human civilization. Natural beauty has become the picture of that reconciliation.

Thus the greatness of man as a rational being and humiliator of nature, has been, we hope, irreconciliable. The circle is waiting for the return of man to the dawn mankind in new dimensions. Mankind enriches with an immense ammount of new matters and knowledge and at the same time deprived of perception and feelings tries to consiliate with its mother Nature.

If we accept the synergetic thesis within a philosophical-aesthetical reflection we come to the conclusion that a postmodern philosophical-aesthetical reflection is a spontaneous product of the world´s synergetic process-surfeiting a linear thinking in its differentiation. It is also the recession of a traditional fragmental complexity of modernism in philosophy, put aside the solving of great themes /it is not equal with mythology/, but it is the tendention of differentiated, untraditional aesthetic reflection more or less withdrawing from rational models and advancements reasoning the totality of world problems. Simultaneously it is coming back into the human Ego, its aesthetic experience. Harmony opens itself for many different participating subjects.

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Husserl, E.: Kartezianske meditace. Praha 1968 s.8

Welsch, W.:Estetické myslenie. Bratislava 1993 s.109

Hegel,G.W.F. :Estetika II. Bratislava 1969 s.399

Ve svete taoizmu. Praha 1992 s.153

Juan Ke. : Mýfy Drevnevo Kitaja. Moskva 1965 s. 43

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Uhlig, H. : Sumeri. Bratislava 1983 s.21

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Hegel, G.W.F. : Estetika I. Bratislava 1968 s.139

Lévi-Strauss, C. : Mýtus a význam. Bratislava 1993 s.19-20

Welsch, W. : Estetické myslenie. Bratislava 1993 s.56

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