11. Epicurus: Ideology versus Truth
Epicurus of Samos (341 - 270 B.C.), Titanus Lucretius Carus (98 - 54 B.C.), Lucian of Samosata (Syria) (120-180 A.D): Dialogues of the Dead
IN MATTER: ATOMIC SUBJECTIVITY WITH FREEDOM OF CHOICE
O Plato, I see a horse, but I do not see horseness.
A living dog is better than a dead lion, for the living know
that they shall die but the dead know not anything.
Ecclesiastes, Hebrew Bible.
Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved, is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is
nothing to us.
Non omnis moriar.
(I shall not wholly die.)
On this truly happy day of my life,
as I am at the point of death,
I write this to you ...
„.... Later came the invention of property and the discovery of gold which speedily robbed the strong and the handsome of their pre-eminence.“
„O, Goddess! Who hatest the Poor, and are the sole subduer of wealth, who knowest how to live ‘well’ at all times, thou delightest to be supported on strange feet, and knowest how to wear shoes of felt, and ointments are a care to thee. Thee, too, garlands delight, and the liquor of the Ausonian Bacchus. But these things never exist, at any time, for the Poor.“
CONCERNING EPICURUS: IDEOLOGY VERSUS TRUTH
In this chapter we will see, how our controversial subject was one of the most enlightening historic subjects of the Alexandrian Empire. Ideologically, facing the world of Platonic and Stoic idealism, he had become a victimised subject of ancient aristocratic ruling class subjection, which subjugated his real subjective revolutionary essence. Notwithstanding, in the "spirit" of Horace, transhistorically, across the millennia, Epicurus' battle cry echoes forever, wherever, whenever: Non omnis moriar!! I shall not wholly die!! I shall not be dissolved completely!!
The young Hegelian-Feuerbachian, Karl Marx, approaching his intellectual „nodal“ point, sapiently and logically "fell in love" with this ancient hylozoistic admirer of sophía, and he even devoted a Dr. phil. dissertation in honour of Hellenic atomic materialism. What magnetized one of the fathers of patrian, historical, dialectical materialism was the Epicurean synthesis of the Luciferian-Mephistophelian, Promethean-Heracleitean Fire of ancient hylozoistic materialism into a voluntary, social revolutionary, earthly, praxico-theoretical, material force, which progressively would have the potentiality to grip the deepest optatives, desires and the imagination of the down-trodden, tellural masses, and which, according to Marx, could declare total war on Draconic class hegemony and violence in all its patrian, diabolical, fascist manifestations.
For this reason, in a Leucippian sense, Stoics had to transform the historical Epicurus into an epicure-monster, whose lascivious essence is an extravagant, concupiscent, libidinous drive -- analogous to the mesquin image, which the honourable Pope Gregory the Great had portrayed, in his Dialogues of 593 A.D., about the „dissolute“ life of the young heretic-revolutionary, St. Benedict. Other modern, modernized examples, pets of the current infowarfare, are Castro, bin Laden or Chavez.
Today still, in the philosophic faculties of the Western alma mater, especially in those unique „universities“ where only universal "facts" and "absolute truths" are being taught, but particularly, the particularities and peculiarities of private property and profit maximization, Epicureanism still has this „Hippie“ flavour, a „leftist“ commune image, a turgid epicurean touch, and an orgastic, orgiastic smell. Epicureanism is being equated with sensual indulgence, immoral hedonism and total addiction to avaricious appetites. The historic scientific truth is that the „Epicureanism“ of Epicurean atomic-hylozoistic, panvitalistic materialism had very little to do with Aristippus of Cyrene and his hedonistic school, but had much to do with Epicurus’ own „Garden School“ in Athens, whose revolutionary „hedonism“ we will expound later.
Sad to say, even though they themselves were brutally terrorized everywhere, even orthodox Jews fraternally joined the Platonist and Stoics in slandering the „materialism“ of the heretic pagan, Epicurus. In the theological field, anti-Atomistic character-assassinations were rife and the idealist slanders reverberated throughout the whole Graeco-Roman world, reaching even the ears of Diogenes Laertius, who was very receptive to Stoic scandalous legends and Hebrew theological tohu wa bohu. The orthodox Jewish hatred is today still contained in the rabbinical word, which connotates a religious renegade: in apikoras. But, Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary (1981 Edition) and Longman Modern English Dictionary (1976 Edition) in solidarity followed suit: an epicure is „one given to sensual enjoyment“, „a person of refined and fastidious taste, especially in food, wine, etc.,“ a person in „pursuit of pleasure“, and „given to refined luxury“; furthermore, an epicure is „a discriminating person“. Hence, slandering ad hominem of all persons, who are "politically not correct", who differ from the views of the established status quo, is nothing new, is not only a current CNN or international press hobby, e contrario, in the fatherland it is as old as Methusalem.
Diogenes Laertius, one of the main authorities on Epicureanism, for example, portrayed Epicurus’ mother as some quasi-priestess: „They (apparently the Stoics) say that he (Epicurus) used to go round from house to house with his mother reading out the purification prayers, and assisted his father in elementary teaching for a miserable pittance“. And, worse even, concerning Epicurus, Epictetus (60 - 140 A.D.), the religious Stoic, the slave-ideologue of the Roman Catholic Empire, was reported to have said: „This is the life of which you pronounce yourself worthy: eating, drinking, copulation, evacuation and snoring.“ (Quoted from Russell, History..., p. 249; see J. Bonforte, The Philosophy of Epictetus, New York, 1955; also see: Diogenes Laertius, Xyriai doxai, X, 35 - 154.)
Around the beginning of the 3rd Century A.D., a devoted follower of Epicurus, coincidently also named Diogenes, who had lived in Oinanda, a small polis in south-western Asia Minor, engraved extracts from the works of his teacher on the walls of a public passage, adorned with pillars, and, by adding his personal comments, in this way, he wanted to eternalize Epicurus’ philosophic maxima, and to contribute to the emancipation of man from the fear of gods, death and hell. Fragments of this remarkable ancient praxis-theory are preserved until our days. Furthermore, numerous fragments of Epicurus’ work On Nature were found in the ruins of Herculaneum. Moreover, all over Italy, Gaul and Northern Africa, Epicurean epitaphs can be read, engraved on ancient tombstones. (See H. Usener, Epikureische Schriften auf Stein, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 47, 1892, pp. 414 - 456.) Besides, as we will see later, Lucretius (98 - 54 B.C.) had perpetuated the Epicurean essence of atomic materialism in his artistic poem, De Rerum Natura, rescued and published by Cicero. (For further information, also see; H. Usener, Epicurea, Leipzig, 1887.)
Epicurus - ecce homo!
The philosophic teacher of Epicurus of Samos (341 - 270 B.C.) was Nausiphanes of Teos (born around 360 B.C.), a pupil of Pyrrhon of Elis, and who was profoundly influenced by Democriteanism, but also by Sophism. Probably the latter philosophic tendency had caused Epicurus to call Pyrrhon „The Mollusc“ - a „bad man“, whose habits „would never lead to sophía“. Epicurus’ father was a poor Athenian colonist and a schoolmaster, who had lived with his family on the island of Samos. At the age of 14, Epicurus began studying philosophy, and four years later, at the time of the death of Alexander the Great, he left for the metropolis, served some time in the Athenian army, and also attended the classes of the Platonist, Pamphilos, who probably did not impress him fundamentally.
Shortly thereafter, his family was driven out of Samos, and as refugees, Epicurus rejoined them. As schoolteacher he wandered around, and began teaching the principles of Democritean atomism. In Mitylene, in 311 B.C., together with his three brothers, some friends, and their children, he founded the first Epicurean philosophic school; this was later transferred to Lampsacus, and eventually, in 307 B.C., he returned to Athens, where he founded the famous „Garden School“ -- there he taught until his death. In Athens, the Epicurean community increased rapidly, and even slaves and hetaerae became members. In the „Garden School“ commune, the members led a simple primitive communistic life; materially, its existence depended on voluntary contributions.
Concerning this modus vivendi, Epicurus himself remarked; „I am thrilled with pleasure in the body, when I live on bread and water, and I spit on luxurious pleasures, not for their own sake, but because of the inconveniences that follow them“. (Quoted from Russell, History ..., p. 250.) Certainly, "(wo)man" does not live on bread and water alone, (s)he has also to act, think and excel -- this Epicurus accomplished with philosophic brilliance.
In Athens, after a poverty-stricken youth, Epicurus’ life became more organized and placid, but also more placitory. Probably, the „epicures“ had lived mainly on „bread and water“, and now and then, charitable presents came from more well-to-do friends. An important factor to understand Epicurus’ social and moral doctrines was that he suffered practically all his life from ill-health, which had affected his behaviour, moral and eating patterns, and which also profoundly influenced his philosophy.
Concerning his praxico-theoretical pathémata mathémata (his many-sided ailments), many ancient reports and extant fragments bear philosophic witness. In a letter, written a few days before his death, he stated; „Seven days before writing this the stoppage became complete and I suffered pains such as bring men to their last day“; another letter, written on the day of his death, tells us precisely what had caused his final end; „On this truly happy day of my life, as I am at the point of death, I write this to you. The diseases in my bladder and stomach are pursuing their course, lacking nothing of their usual severity: but all this is the joy in my heart at the recollection of my conversations with you.“ (ibid., p. 251) Concerning Epicurus’ philosophy about Death, about his belief in non omnis moriar, more later.
Sophism, Stoicism, Cynicism and Hedonism
In a previous chapter, we have already dealt with the Sophist movement, and its critique by Socrates or by the Socratic Plato. The idealist current in Platonism and Aristotelianism, we will expound in the following chapters. However, as we are not writing a "History of Philosophy", what will interest us specifically is the conception of matter and its praxical, sapient reflection in ancient Greek idealism. Meanwhile, in the 4th Century B.C., Hellas had already experienced the Peleponnesian War and the Persian invasions; also, the imperialist invasions of Alexander the Great had already terminated in Epicurus’ youth.
What concerned Epicurus in his epoch, were the Macedonian invasions; he uttered: „Getting rid of pain is not a panacea against all suffering”. Let us now sketch very briefly the main Hellenic philosophic currents which were prevalent in the 4th Century B.C. Let us see in which age, with which ideas, the majority of our contemporary earth-dwellers still live; from where most of their grand habits and sacred customs come.
Antisthenes (440 - 366 B.C.), a friend and pupil of Socrates, originally a Sophist, also profoundly influenced by Prodicus and Gorgias, tried to synthesize Sophism and Socratism; the dialectical result was the doctrine of Cynicism -- that is, a kind of ancient „proletarian“, „Back to Nature“, Hippie movement. It flourished until 400 A.D., and later probably inspired the rebel monks of the „Dark Ages“, including the order of St. Benedict.
Significant, as we will see later, is that the Cynic schools taught that man should lead a virtuous, good life, and that this can only be accomplished by self-control and austerity. Obviously, the Cynics were anti-social, that is, they were against the Hellenic ruling social conventions; hence they propagated social actions, which also made them anti-Platonic, and which gave them an Epicurean philosophic twist; but, their „flower power“ did not influence the Garden-Philosophy essentially. Antisthenes is reported ‘to have exclaimed; „O Plato, I see a horse, but I do not see horseness“. But, he had no intention to search for „horse-atoms“ either.
Aristippus of Cyrene (435 - 360 B.C.), -- a pupil of Socrates, who later broke with the teachings of his master, and was leaning heavily towards Sophism, especially towards Protagoras, -- had taught an extreme subjectivism, by declaring that true knowledge about reality is intellectually impossible to cognize. Hence, the only practical thing, which man can strive for, is the pursuit of earthly pleasures, of hedoné. And, this human happiness can only be achieved through hedonism, as his philosophy was called later. Deliberately, in the patrian tradition of the falsification of thought, of ideology and mind control, idealist scholars had confused Hedonism with Epicureanism. (See: G.B.L. Colosio, Aristippo di Cirene, Turin, 1925.) Of course, as mentioned earlier, some hedonistic elements did enter Epicureanism.
Stoicism developed from Antisthenes’ Cynicism and had an Aristippian hedonistic, subjectivistic magic touch. The Stoics believed in a Divine Providence which governs the world, that the celestial bodies are self-moving gods, that there is a divine design and purpose in the cosmos, that the world is a perfect divine creation, and hence, that divine necessity, and not human free will, determines man’s fate. Surely, such an idealist philosophy could never favour Epicurean materialism. However, let us just mention the main propagators of this idealist Stoic current.
After 310 B.C., Zeno of Kition (or Citium) founded this school in the famous Athenian stoa poikile; thereafter, many famous Stoics joined this philosophic trend; among them were Kleanthes of Assos (born 330 B.C.) and Chrysippus of Soloi (born around 280 B.C.) However, Stoicism, with which we will deal extensively later -- like all the other contemporary philosophic movements -- had its own contradiction within itself, and even traces of Epicureanism.
Consequently, all these philosophic movements would have been really ill idealist winds, had they not blown any good towards materialism. The chief of the Sophists, Protagoras, was violently attacked by Plato, but, not for no reason whatsoever; de facto, he formed an important dialectical link between ancient 5th Century idealism and materialism. As we would recall, he was all the following in one; a friend of Pericles, a teacher of Socrates, a contemporary of Anaxagoras, and, worst of all, a pupil of Democritus.
The latter links him to Epicurus. In spite of the Platonic-Socratic "critique", it was the Sophist movement which had opened the doors of scientific knowledge to the „wretched“ of Hellas, and which had spread Hellenic democracy, which many ancient materialist philosophers had defended. Through their discoveries in rhetoric and grammar, they made an important contribution to patrian philosophic expression and precision.
When Thrasymachus declared that „might is right“, Hellas could not veil its brutal slave rule, its ruling class violence anymore. Similarly, when Critias attacked religion in an iconoclastic way (in his Sisyphus) the rulers could not calmly continue to inculcate religious fear into the dominated plebeians. Moreover, Antiphon showed that all the ruling class laws were contrary to natural ones. Plato was forced to attack Protagoras directly, by claiming that God, and not Man, is the „measure of all things“.
However, in the last analysis, the Sophist movement in corpore did objectively support the reactionary ruling class status quo, in its life-and-death struggle against materialist revolutionary tendencies, exempli gratia, ancient Atomism. But, many „post-Socratics“, like the Hedonist, Aristippus, gave Democritus’ matter a new honourable ethical place, a this-sidedness of pleasure; and, Antisthenes, the Cynic, placed Man in relation to Nature, to the átomos and to kenón.
The main philosophic streams which Epicureanism had to counteract were Platonism and Stoicism, and this caused Epicurus to rectify scientifically the philosophical flaws of Democritean Atomism. (See; N. W. de Witt, Epicurus and his Philosophy, Minneapolis, 1954.) About half of Epicurus’ forty doctrines are direct contradictions of Platonic idealism, and, as a world philosophy, it was opposed to Stoicism, Eastern cults, Judaism and Christianity.
Atomic Materialism : Revised and Revivified
Epicurus, like his ancient contemporary, Euclid of Alexandria, influenced by Hippocrates’ concrete empirical studies of reality, and by utilizing Aristotle’s conceptual mode of thinking, had continued the Ionian philosophic, scientific tradition to liberate human psyché, lógos, nous and pneuma from the patrian, mythological, magical, superstitious, religious, metaphysical and theological shackles of Antiquity. He did not simply discard these idealist realities as nonsense, wisely like Bias, he carried them with him, gave them a historical, scientific interpretation within the limits of his own human, physical, intellectual, social and historic barriers. And yet, his materialist doctrines gave an insight, foresight and farsight of reality, which few 20th Century philosophers could claim as scientific inheritance. Later we will elaborate and develop the philosophic implications of his materialist atomism, especially in relation to fear of dying and Death. He revised and revindicated Democritus’ atomism, by codifying it in twelve basic materialist principles:
1. Matter cannot be created,
2. Matter cannot be destroyed,
3. The Multi-Universe is composed of solid bodies and to kenón (void),
4. The cosmic solid bodies exist either in simple or compound formations.
5. There is an infinite number of atoms which exist freely in the cosmos, or which make up the simple or compound solid bodies.
6. The void extends itself infinitely.
7. The atoms are perpetually in motion.
8. The velocity of atomic motion is uniform.
9. In the void, in empty space, motion is linear, but in compounds it is vibratory.
10. At any point in time, atoms have the capacity to swerve slightly from the vertical line.
11. Atoms have three basic qualities, not only shape and size, but also weight.
12. The number of the different shapes of atoms and things is not infinite, but merely innumerable.
(See; Novack, Origins…, pp. 249 - 250.)
We would recollect that Leucippus and Democritus had given tyché no chance in their cosmology; for example, Democritus gave spontaneity or choice of morality no chance in social praxis-theory; in nuce, he negated subjectivity in Universal and Human Being, which implies that neither an individual atom, nor an individual Human Being, had any free will.
Point 10 above, clearly verifies that Epicurus departed from Democritus' strict atomic determinism, and emancipated the Cosmos and Man from eternal „predestination“, from Kismet, from earthly and heavenly bondage, from the inescapable ever subjugation to physical causation, all, which eliminated, alienated every form of freedom of choice. It follows logically that he not only opened real patrian capitalist "future", but also emancipatory transhistory for the New, Authentic and Original.
Item: Nothing is determined, neither Cosmic Processes nor Human History. Thus, what happens in patrian Human Historic Tomorrow is completely open, depending on potency, potentiality, latency, tendency, possibility, discontinuity, id genus omne. At last, "progress", "development", "forward march" came into the closed labour system. Later, in the specific Marxist materialist contradiction, against Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg will launch a sharp polemic, concerning the role of spontaneity of the masses in revolutionary Praxis-Theory, and, in this respect, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky and Gramsci will continue this Epicurean tradition of introducing the subjective factor, liberum arbitrium, and revolutionary subjectivity into materialism qua dialectical materialism.
This is a historic fact, in spite of the reservedness of the 20th century European „Praxis“ School towards Marxist dialectics in Nature, and towards the Subject in the Cosmos. In our own philosophy, this Subject, Einai, is postulated, along with Cosmos, and Nothing -- none of them are derived from the other, or have to move in, into or out of the other; of equal stature, they are simply related in various levels, degrees and mensions, into, exto and "neither into nor exto" to each other.
But, already Marx, in his youth, as radical Hegelian and fiery Feuerbachian, in his doctoral dissertation drew attention to the above, and he regarded Epicurus as the most important philosopher of Graeco-Roman Enlightenment. In Part Two of his Dr. phil. dissertation, Chapter One, Marx elaborated the difference between Democritean and Epicurean physics:
„Epicurus assumes a threefold motion of the atoms in the void. One motion is the fall in a straight line, the second originates in the deviation of the atom from the straight line, and the third is established through the repulsion of the many atoms. Both Democritus and Epicurus accept the first and third motion. The declination of the atom from the straight line differentiates the one from the other“.
(Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 1, (50 volumes) International Publishers, New York, 1975, p. 46.)
How Epicurus had made use of dialectics and the dialectical method in his philosophic reasoning, the Hegelian Marx explained very piquantly:
„Just as the point is negated („aufgehoben“) in the line, so is every falling object negated in the straight line it describes. A falling apple describes a perpendicular line just as a piece of iron does. Every body, insofar as we are concerned with the motion of falling, is therefore nothing but a moving point, and indeed a point without independence, which in a certain mode of being - the straight line which it describes - surrenders its individuality („Einzelheit“): ... the solidity of the atom does not even enter into the picture, insofar as it is only considered as something falling in a straight line. To begin with, if the void is imagined as spatial void, then the atom is the immediate negation of abstract space, hence a spatial point: ...But the relative existence which confronts the atom, the mode of being which it has to negate, is the straight line. The immediate negation of this motion is another motion, which, therefore, spatially conceived, is the declination from the strait line. ... The declination of the atom from the straight line is, namely, not a particular determination which appears accidentally in Epicurean-physics. On the contrary, the law which it expresses goes through the whole Epicurean philosophy, in „such a way, however, that as goes without saying, the determination of its appearance depends on the domain in which it is applied.“
(Ibid., pp. 48, 49, 50.)
Concerning the above theme, in an article, written in 1967, Ernst Bloch expounded what Marx meant by the „law“ which pervades Epicureanism, in contradistinction to Democriteanism. Inter alia, Bloch explained the „subjective factor“ in the Epicurean „fall of the atoms“, its relation to the „human atoms“, the „individuals“. Democritus had confirmed the real, concrete existence of atoms, but it was Epicurus who had introduced the concept of „active beginning“, that is, „the energetic principle“, which we will also encounter in „Left“ Aristotelianism. This subjective factor in Epicureanism -- including the delineation, declination and inclination of the atoms -- had blazed the historic trail for the „Eleven Theses on Feuerbach“ of Marx, that is, the road towards Scientific Socialist Praxis-Theory. (See; Ernst Bloch, „Epikur in der Dissertation von Karl Marx oder ein subjektiver Faktor im Fall der Atome“, Gesamtausgabe, Band 10, Edition Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1977, pp. 526 - 531.)
To know what Marx and Scientific Socialism had inherited from Epicureanism, from Ancient Greek Atomism, doubting Thomases should just study very carefully the Dr. phil.-Dissertation and the „Eleven Theses“ of the „young“ Marx. At the same time, they will discover the material substratum of true, patrian, intra-systemic, negating Human Praxis-Theory, of "class struggle".
Epicurus, disentangling the Democritean determinist "Gordian Knot", made the philosophic entanglement of atoms possible, hence he could give a scientific explanation of how physical bodies came into existence. Having given the atoms an essential weight, he could explain how atoms fall vertically or could swerve -- in fact, recollecting Milesian hylozoism, this accomplishment can be traced, in its philosophic evolution, right back to the apeiron of Anaximander. Another Epicurean innovation was to make the shapes of atoms finite, but to maintain that they are innumerable.
It goes without saying, that, in the last analysis, Democritus and Epicurus, had expressed philosophically two essential associated aspects of ancient Greek thought; Anánke and Tyché; also Determinism a n d Indeterminism. The former gave Necessity universal hegemony, the latter gave Chance a chance. Both scientific attitudes very exactly reflected their respective historic epochs: the Periclean and Alexandrian ages. What they did not accomplish, was to see, that both their views, that their determinate a n d indeterminate materialism, precisely expressed the two inter-related "sides" of patrian earthly reality. Since millennia, till this day, modern natural scientists continue in this formal-logical, dualistic tradition of exclusiveness.
Later we will see how Lucretius will reflect and reproduce Epicureanism in the Roman Empire, which had made Stoic religious philosophy its official ideology. We have already witnessed how Heracleitus had given anánke and heimarméne (necessity, fate) an ambiguous-identical connotation, as Objective Truth, as the Universal Lógos. According to him, this Cosmic Justice or Law operates independent of divine or human will, it follows its immanent logical arbitrium. During the age of Lucretius, the Roman philosophic fatalitas-necessitas, under the influence of Cynic pessimism, Gorgian nihilism, Stoic subjectivism and religionism, would conceptualize this Universal Power.
As we will note later, Epicureanism was not only an enrichment and revindication of Democritean Atomic materialism, it was also an answer to the idealist onslaught of Platonism, which anticipated Plotinism and Neo-Platonism. In brevi, we will just state the essence of Plato’s cosmological argument, referring to the divine work of the Highest Good. In Phaedo, Plato stated that „the gods are our keepers and we men are one of their possessions“. What this astute, philosophic fox did not say, was that the polis-philosopher kings were the "gods", and that the slaves that they "kept" were "their possessions". At least, Aristotle was more honest, he called the slaves "speaking-tools".
Furthermore, Plato stated that the Cosmos is a beautiful piece of divine art work, created by a Supreme Intelligence. It was this Highest Good which had given the Cosmos a soul, a Pythagorean Stoic anima mundi, but he had also placed a living soul in each human being, which is the seat of its human intelligence. Of course, as mentioned before already, slaves and women did not deserve souls, consequently, they were not even sub-human, but rather talking, entertaining tools or animals. All this idealist hocus-pocus billions still believe to this very day.
What Platonism had introduced, „Right“ Aristotelianism would later complete, that is, to transmute patrian magic, superstition and mythology into feudalist, absolutist theology, into the "negation" of later bourgeois science and mechanical, materialist philosophy. To accomplish this ideological feat, on the one hand, Aristotle had placed teleology in the service of ignorance, conservatism and dogmatism. Thus, it was very easy to understand how Christian theology, especially Roman Catholicism, could later effectively plunder and pillage both Plato and Aristotle, and place their specific philosophic doctrines which suited feudalist absolutism in the service of particular class interests of the nobility and clergy, in nuce, on the burning altar of the Inquisition. On the other hand, "Left " Aristotelianism, as natura naturata and natura naturans, set ablaze the African-Arab world.
Both the Platonists and the "right" Aristotelians, the ancient idealists, the philosophic representatives of Hellenic autocratic, aristocratic ruling class ideas, undemocratically had criticized Anaxagoras for not giving to nous, the unity-and-contradiction of Love and Strife, that is, its Supreme Intelligence role. In general, they jeered at the synthesis of the hylozoistic philosophy of Empedocles and Anaxagoras, at Atomism. Plato went so far in his Laws, as to accuse and to condemn all Greek hylozoistic materialists as „godless men“, -- to this very day, godless men, "atheists", are worse than "communists" and "terrorists" in the eyes of billions -- as devils, who corrupt the youth, by spreading immoral ideas, by subverting the social order, by unleashing social agon, and, finally, by undermining the divine and State authorities. In fact, this is exactly what contemporary US global, fascist ideology has to say about the „terrorists“ who want to overthrow the international world order by „violent“ means.
Epicurus had challenged directly these idealist falsifications of subjective and objective reality, of patrian history. As we will note later, in his work, Concerning Nature, he revealed the ideological, conservative essence of the ancient Graeco-Roman academic, universal biblia abiblia (books that are no books). Against Plato’s conception of autarchy of the polis, he propagated self-reliance and self-sufficiency of the social individual. In protest, Epicurus had retired from the polis - which was becoming more and more cosmopolitan -- into his „Garden of Pleasure“, where the Platonists and Stoics had accused him of „Epicureanism“, that is, of concupiscence with the hetaerean women, whom he had placed on equal footing with „great men“, and in stereotypical ad hominem style, furthermore, of „copulation, evacuation and snoring“ -- a precise psychological self-reflection of Stoic-Platonic metropolitan practices and ethics themselves. Till this very day, by all social strata, this very age-old psycho-pathological ideological mechanism is being used to denigrate anything, anybody really human or democratic.
Atomic Gods and Atomic Souls: Cosmic Subjectivity
The Epicureans strove to liberate oppressed "man" from the domination of good and evil spirits, of Jehovah and Beelzebub, of the fear of divine interference in earthly affairs, and, especially from the fear of Death, with its concomitant eternal hellish punishments and its eviternal divine ataraxía and hedoné. Epicurus did not deny the existence of Gods; in any case, they existed in the brainwashed minds of all ancient Greeks. At any event, such a radical denial would have destroyed his philosophic subjective of human emancipation in its very fons et origo; as stated, at that time, the overwhelming majority of Hellenes had firmly believed in supernatural beings.
Hence, he attempted to explain the Divine and the Intelligent out-of-itself, in other words, he tried to neutralize the ancient gods, and to force them to withdraw from public affairs, thus robbing them of divine providence, and banishing them to an in-between world, into Not-Being, into Democritus' void, where they would have no contact whatsoever to atomos, to human beings and society. Somewhere, living in the Democritean nyx, in their own holiness and blessedness, they wouldl permanently drink alcoholic nectar, and devour fattening manna, would not develop an interest in chthonic matters, and would show no interest in hard labour to judge human souls. They would feel no temptation to police „law and order" down yonder, or up above. What an emancipatory, transhistoric parádeigma par excellence of immediate praxical-theoretical enlightment!
WORKING, LABOURING, MATERIAL GODS PERFORMING DIVINE HARA-KIRI
However, in accordance with atomic materialism, like Democritus, Epicurus had given the gods a physical constitution, he made them corporeal beings, endowed them with large human forms, but he maintained that they had to labour for their immortality. Like human beings, the gods themselves had to strive to achieve the highest forms of eudaimonía (happiness, well-being of the soul), in other words, they had to eliminate themselves, they had to achieve complete immunization from cosmic responsibilities, in order to enjoy divine ataraxic calmness of spirit. This simply meant, that the emancipation and immortalisation of the gods was precisely their rupture from cosmic and human affairs.
Very clearly, George Novack had related the Epicurean conception of the gods to the atomic materialist doctrine:
„The self-sufficiency of the atoms and the deviation in their motion, the imperturbability of the gods and their cultivation of eternal bliss for themselves alone form a symmetrical complement to the self-sufficiency of the individual and the ideals of life recommended by Epicurus.“ (Novack, The Origins ..., p. 253.)
It follows that the gods had nothing to do with earthly material development, with the creating and creative forces of Nature; in fact, they themselves were accidental creations of átomos and to kenón; there was no universal design or purpose to create them. In reality, there was no cosmic mason or plan to create anything, to produce solid bodies or even human beings. The earth, human history, social life, human being and human consciousness, were all results of cosmic tyché, of haphazard combinations of atoms in the void, and of chaotic adaptations.
Thus, in the final analysis, cosmic creation had nothing to do with godly design, metempsychotic transmigrations, divine predestination and intelligent foresight. If , instead of Platonic idealism, this world philosophy had reflected the labour base and superstructure during the last millennia, we would have been "better" off, however, as we shall see, the age of bourgeois mechanical materialism (Democritus) and historical dialectical materialism (Epicurus) would just have been ushered in "earlier". And yet, mankind would have been saved from the divine mental holocaust of absolutist, religious regimes, which till this very day strangle emancipatory Praxis a n d Theory.
Of great importance for our subject, is that for Epicurus the god forlorn universe -- in which gods themselves were subject to Chance, in which they probably were only mental creations, and were thus materially an intrinsic part of mere earthly human social existence -- has a material subjectivity, based in the arbitrium liberum of every single, indestructible, eternal, auto-dynamic atom.
Metonymically, we could say that for Epicurus, human subjectivity was a special mension of this universal subjectivity. It was a specific, compound, material degree of subjectivity, in which the human subjects could play historically and socially definite praxico-theoretical roles, at least within the framework of his „Garden of Pleasure“, and across the following centuries, within a kind of "pantheistic" world philosophy.
Like Democritus, Epicurus had taught that the human psyché or the lógos was material, and that it was composed of atoms, which were compounded in particles like those of heat or breath. Of course, in studying carefully the existent Epicurean fragments, we can conclude that he had considered air, wind and breath to be distinct substances. As stated previously, nowadays, it is nearly impossible to tell what precisely Epicurus thought, what he really understood by psyché with reference to spirits or gods. However, as we should know, who writes, what (s)he writes and about what (s)he writes, all these forever change, hence, transhistorically, we can approximate their praxico-theoretical essence a n d existence.
By utilizing the Democritean doctrine of eidola, which taught that solid bodies emanate thin films which travel through to kenón, and which our soul-atoms touch, hence, enabling sense- or cognitive-perception, he attempted to explain the process of acquiring knowledge of objective reality. According to him, the human soul-atoms are distributed throughout the body, consequently, we have an all-round potentiality of auto-perception and cognition.
Thus, the human "soul" and "spirit" were located not only in the heart or cranium, they were existing all over the body, even in the social environment. Furthermore, there is a dialectical relation between eidola and soul atoms, and, because eidola can exist even long after their material originators -- for example, human atoms or bodies -- had ceased to exist or had changed their atomic structure, in dreams, we can still establish contact with these films. It seems that Lenin was "right", the comrades should daydream more often! Although fantastic, it was a very original way of explaining parapsychological phenomena.
However, only in connection with a human corporeal body, soul atoms are capable of sensation. At death, the soul-atoms are dispersed, they lose their capacity of human sensation, and fade away into universal subjectivity, into Cosmic Chance. We would say, trialogically, that they transgress, transpass, transcend, trans-subjectify, emancipate themselves, into transhistoricity, into Cosmos a n d Einai AND Nothing.
From the above, we can conclude, in an Epicurean philosophic sense, always having quod erat demonstrandum in scientific perspective, that nothing is in the intellect, mind or soul, which has not before been in the senses -- nihil est in intelectu, quod non antea fuerit in sensu (Locke) -- received from the emanations of external and internal reality. Furthermore, the senses are not understood here in a narrow context, but as the action or relation of soul-atoms which are distributed throughout our body.
This simply means, that, contrary to the doctrines of metempsychosis and anamnesis, at birth, the soul or lógos has a phantasía, that is, a capacity, a potentiality and potency, to perceive and comprehend phenomena. Already at a tender age, as Plato's Republic suggested, patrian socialization, education, religion and "information" -- via ideology, mind and thought control -- have progressively, systematically, systemically and heinously destroyed this immense transhistoric, emancipatory potentiality; generally, in most cases, if anybody should have had the "luck" to eventually reach higher education -- the alma mater --, by then, her/his brains would already have received mind-laundering lobotomy, and her/his optimistic militancy been cut out with spinal column and all.
However, at its genesis, when its essence was still less developed, and its appearance was still very specific, the human anima was still a tabula rasa or as the ancient Greeks called it, still a pínax ágraphos -- an unwritten tablet, a clean blackboard. At death, everything was wiped off and out. Only the historico-social, práxico-theoretical „films“ would remain as general, historic human praxis and social consciousness. Human action and thought transhistorically would live on; this is quintessentially what Epicurus meant when he stated: quidquid animo cernitur, id omne oritur a sensibus. (Cicero, de fin., I, 19, 64.)
It goes without saying that for Epicurus the human soul was neither immortal nor did it have any divine attributes. It was created within the historical process and it perished within the social process as an individual soul. In reality, Man as an individual was nothing else but a material compound of general átomos, soul-atoms and to kenón. Of course, this is not crude materialism, is not inspiring for a staunch believer, however, it is more realistic than any religious, theological tohu wa bohu! However, in contradistinction to other material corporeal living bodies, it was the human soul, the material fire atoms, (apart from the anima mundi) which possessed reason, intelligence and memory.
Concerning mnéme (memory), which was a cosmic-ontic gift which the soul received from the mater of the muses, that is, from Mnemosýne, until today, our most brilliant social and natural scientists still cannot explain its real trans-spherical quintessence. Notwithstanding, for Epicurus it was crystal-clear that Cosmos, natura naturata, natura naturans, nature, matter, that is, pléroma-kénoma, created the human soul and human body, and therewith also the excelling, excellent, transcendental phenomenon „memory“.
What human, social, historical, poliversal and multi-spherical relation mnéme expresses, we will have to leave to emancipatory Uni-, Dia-, Tria-, Tetra- and Poli-Logics. According to us, what Democritean a n d Epicurean Philosophy had anticipated, although just in embryo, and not expressis verbis, was that matter is independent of mind, and vice versa, that it exists related to mind, and vice versa, that matter creates mind, and vice versa, that natural essence (being) determines social existence (consciousness), and vice versa, and that mnéme trialogically excels all these living, dialogical relations; in nuce: Cosmos a n d Einai AND Nothing. In fact, Epicurean memory, mnéme, has much in common with our multi-logical Bezug, with our Relation.
Like no world philosophy before, Epicureanism had emphasized the „this-sidedness“, the chthonic, patrian existence of Man, Man’s patrian immanence in historic transcendence; of the Patria in History, but also, of History in the Patria.
Epicurus had placed human matters squarely in human hands and minds. Man’s coming-into-existence was tyché -- and later Hegel would teach us that tyché was a synonym for absolute necessity -- and precisely because of this fact ergo propter hoc, "governed" by real, objective, scientific endeavours and true, subjective, philosophic knowledge, Epicurus gave Man all the chances of evolutionary-revolutionary praxis-theory and transvolutinary historic emancipation in his universe, gave him the objective-real and subjective-real material possibilities to convert Chance into Necessity, and Necessity into Freedom; not forgetting that Chance itself is a form of Necessity and vice versa. That Man, using his liberum arbitrium, his free will, has decided to labour, to work, to exploit, dominate, discriminate, militarize, globalize and alienate, to take the thorny road of universalizing self-destruction, well, in the truest sense of the word, that is/was/will be his very own tragic "business".
Logically, according to Epicurus, living, active, thinking Man had the unconditional opportunity to self-create, self-emancipate and self-universalize himself, to pursue social ataraxía and patrian eudaimonía, and even universal, historic hedoné.
Besides, Epicurus, and later Lucretius, against the Titans of Ancient Greek Idealism, against Plato and Aristotle, had placed the Universal Subject, Uni-logical Cosmic arbitrium liberum, on solid, substantial, material soil. Free from the fear of gods and devils, free from Thanatos, Hell and Heaven, Man could have become the radix of himself, could have achieved a universal role of material Being-Becoming and Becoming-Being. In nuce, Man, although godforlorn, was elevated to dynámei on, to Aristotelian In-Possibility-Being, and also, in the sense of the Stoicism of Epitectus, to being master and servant of the Universe.
The aforesaid are evergreen novelties, and, even if Epicurus himself was not fully conscious of the dynamism and far-reaching effects and possibilities of his materialist philosophy, at least, we have no more excuses for agnosis about panpsychic, panvitalistic, hylozoistic materialism and transhistoric, transvolutionary dialogical and trialogical discoveries.
Democritus and Epicurus had enabled the young student, Marx, to understand Hegelian objective dialectics and the Hegelian system, which simply meant that ancient Atomism had enabled the "young" Marx to surpass the "older" Hegel. To understand any praxico-theoretical thinker is to surpass him. However, we will probably take many centuries to come to understand Bloch, Trotsky, Lenin and Marx together, in other words, more precisely, we still have a lot of thinking and action to accomplish before we can surpass from Borgeois Necessity to Human Emancipation, from Scientific Production to Philosophic Creativity and Creation.
EPICUREAN ETHICAL PRAXIS-THEORY
Now, let us illustrate the typical Epicurean man who had very little in common with the current middle- or upper-class corporate epicures. Because he had a freedom of choice, he had the possibility not to participate in Athenian ta politiká. As such, he was master of his own destiny, and not controlled by overlords, kings or monarchs. He supported neither ancient democracy nor aristocracy, neither oligarchy nor tyranny, but he also had no respect for the chaotic mob, for the unconscious outcasts of society; the latter ones were left to be cared for by the Cynics and Stoics. However, like the Cynics, he was fascinated by everything which was directed against the status quo, against accepted morals and social conventions. Those women, slaves and hetaerae who were philosophically conscious, that is, those who had accepted the principles of Epicureanism as a modus vivendi, were organized within the „Garden of Pleasure“ to lead a self-productive and ataraxic life. They were taught to avoid any forms of pain and illness, to strive to achieve earthly hedoné and eudaimonía.
As indicated before, Epicurus had suffered from ill-health for a great part of his adult life. Consequently, based on personal experience, he taught that the individual, within her/his household, in communion with her/his closest fraternal associates, should strive to accomplish the highest forms of physical and spiritual health, free from all the social afflictions. Another Cynic element, which entered Epicurean hedonism, was (wo)man’s relation to her/his mater, to Mother Nature. Although the world and (wo)man were productive results of cosmic accidents, now that they existed, a healthy, sane relation between (Wo)men and Nature should be cultivated.
The „hedonism“ in Epicureanism can be summarised as follows: Hedoné was essentially the will of Nature; it was ordained, like Heracleitean Cosmic Justice; hence, "Man" had to pursue, to plan his life intelligently, to achieve ataraxic happiness. Instead of Socratic arete, the virtuous summum bonum , now hedoné , pleasure, was the „alpha and omega of the blessed life“. (Epicurus) In agreement with Berthold Brecht , „Erst kommt das Fressen, dann die Moral“ (First comes eating, then morals), Epicurus considered that the radix, the sustaining base of all Good, is the „pleasure of the stomach“, in fact, even Socratic éros and sophía, including all culture, „must be referred to this“.
Mental hedoné is not Socratic-Platonic meditation or contemplation, its subjective was not to comprehend or approximate the Highest Good in the World of Ideas, on the contrary, it had an earthly entelechy and teleology, it was reflecting on, producing and reproducing bodily pleasures, telluric social fulfilment and satisfaction. He gave mental pleasure a special role, simply because we exercise a greater control over mental pleasures. Later, contrary to bourgeois ideological belief, to mind control, Marx, who was fascinated by Epicurus, certainly did not "preach" asceticism and poverty for the proletariat, rather bodily amd mental pleasure for all in a classless society, including social fulfilment and satisfaction. Exactly the opposite was taught in the absolutist Dominican inquisitorial cloisters and monasteries.
But, Epicurus had warned expressis verbis against „epicurean“ pursuits of hedoné, and had counselled that prudence is the optimal virtue in such extravagant, avaricious appetites and undertakings. In this respect, he distinguished between active (dynamic) and passive (static, lethargic and suffering) pleasures. The irony was that Epicurus preferred static hedoné, although it did contain an element of lethargic suffering. However, he argued as follows; dynamic pleasure was achieved when an original desire, accompanied by pain, was eventually fulfilled; static hedoné could be compared to the state of quiescency reached after a good „epicurean“ meal and wine; static pleasures, nonetheless, could be accomplished without violent or painful joys or even a voracious, avaricious desire to eat.
Against such dynamic pleasures as violent orgiastic, orgastic, erotic love he declared total war; in his „Garden of Pleasure“, the safest of all pleasures was friendship. Concerning sex itself, Epicurus was rather very "old-fashioned", to a degree of machistic, masochistic arrogance; he stated: „Sexual intercourse has never done a man good and he is lucky, if it has not harmed him.“ (See; Russell, History. .., p. 253.) What it does to women, he did not tell us. However, once they were created, Epicurus was very fond of children; of course, of his friends’ children.
We would remember that the father of Atomism, Democritus, had similar views about women and children; later, even Lucretius would denounce love, but he, at least, saw no harm in sexual intercourse, provided that it was not enacted under the exotic guidance of Ate and Aphrodite, that is, provided that it was divorced from pathós, from sexual passions. The modern socialist materialists, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky -- although they loved their wives and children dearly, and dedicated very few works to women in general --, social products of their age, also could not overcome endemic "racism" and discrimination; yet they were slightly more "modern", more "revolutionary", in their world outlook.
What Epicurus had emphasized was stabilized pleasure, that is, to have a sound body and mind, to enjoy earthly existence to the fullest, because (wo)man would have no other. This has to be understood in the sense of Brecht’s famous exclamation: „Ihr sterbt wie alle Tiere / Und es kommt nichts nachher.“ (You die like all animals/ And nothing will come thereafter). Thus, hedoné, namely, voluptas, is equivalent to human health, when the human corpus and the human lógos function together harmoniously, progressively in tune with the rhythm of the laws of the eternal, infinite mundus, free from personal, class and social afflictions. Certainly, Epicurus did not negate the Democritean mirthful modus vivendi, but he abhorred a turbulent dolce vita, especially the type which flourished in the agoras of Athenian public life. He stated very clearly:
„I spit upon the beautiful and those who unreasonably adore it when it gives no pleasure.“ (Novack, The Origins ...,p. 255.)
Russell’s version of the above is as follows:
„... When I live on bread and water, and I spit on luxurious pleasures, not for their own sake, but because of the inconveniences that follow them.“ (History ..., p.250)
It follows that Epicurus did not teach religious self-denial, ascetic self torture or even liberal self-frustration, but the conscious disaccordance with „virtues that are empty and vain“ and the refusal of „harassing hopes of reward“, which a class society could never supply according to emancipatory merit. Evidently, he was against all forms of sensual indulgence and luxurious extravagance, in modem terminology, against anything which is associated with á gogo and agonistics.
It should be emphasized, however, that Epicurus did not see an immediate possibility of actively changing Hellenic society. Hence, he did not advise his pupils to participate theorico-praxically in the political struggles, nor did he encourage them to resist the evils of slave-owning society.
In any case, modern historical dialectical materialism as revolutionary praxis-theory, had not even been in statu nascendi as yet. Furthermore, it was not the social order of atomic materialism to lead the Hellenic-Roman ruling classes to feudalism; nonetheless, it could have served the slaves and serfs as Spartacist-Münzerian, Promethean-Heraclitean flambeau. Historically, analogous to the revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie in the 18th Century A.D., it was the democratic slave-owning ruling classes which were "revolutionary" in that age of transition, and with them, Epicurus had no business whatsoever.
Consequently, Epicurus had considered the Hellenic social forces to be „evil“ and uncontrollable; but he desired a philosophic-philanthropic cosmopolitanism, fraternal individual autarchy and sexual equality. Certainly, these were social praxico-theoretical revolutionary demands within the reactionary content of his epoch.
What he could not realize on a national or Panhellenic scale, he attempted to materialize within the boundaries of his own „Garden School“. As explained before, in contradistinction to the modern „leftist“ or anarchistic „communes“, which had the objective- and subjective-real possibilities to participate directly in international class struggles, the Epicurean materialists did not have this choice. Consequently, their emancipatory efforts should not be placed on par with current cynic, sceptic, anarchistic, existentialist, „anti-establishment“ communes. The counterparts of the latter, the ancient „Hippie“, Rastafarian and „back to nature“ movements, we will elaborate later when we deal with Cynicism, Scepticism and Stoicism.
What was a real novelty in the „Garden School“ was not the so-called Epicurean „drinking, copulation, evacuation and snoring“, but, in spite of a certain form of sexual repression, that women were treated as equals. An excellent example of the status of women within Epicureanism was the hetaira, Leontion. Applying the Epicurean principles concerning hedoné, she became a famous writer and philosopher, and was intellectually capable to polemicize against the second head of the Aristotelian Lyceum - and Theophrastus gave her his due respect, by praising her literary and philosophic talents.
However, in most of our official global text-books for philosophy students, her name does not even appear. Hence, like the world is a man's world, so the History of Philosophy is the History of Man's Philosophy. That Wisdom, Sophia, was feminine, over this, generally, our current, eminent, erudite, patriarchal philosopher-kings, in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Columbia, are placing a macho-blanket of silence.
Of course, in spite of their attitude to Hellenic political and social matters, the Epicureans did not degenerate or isolate themselves within their „garden“ atmosphere. They had utilized all possible opportunities to spread Epicureanism as a world philosophy, this is why it eventually became one of the ancient world philosophies. They encouraged anyone, irrespective of race, creeds, culture or social status, to join their philosophic school, but, cum grano salis, contrary to the Christians and Marxists, they were not religiously fanatic in their endeavour of conscienticizing the Greek-Roman lower classes.
Epicureanism was the first philosophy which had penetrated Roman Italy, and, as philosophy, measured by ancient standards, it flourished for seven centuries. It perished with the annihilation of its matrix, of Graeco-Roman civilisation. It perished in the same way as it had taught universal evolution, involution and transvolution for centuries.
INVOLUTION AND AFTERMATH
According to Epicureanism, Death was the internal, intensive "negation" of human life, that is, of the individual human atomic soul, which was the highest blossom of átomos-to-kenón on Earth, a gift of cosmic accident, namely of absolute universal necessity. In the same way, as Epicureanism had lived on historico-socially in Lucretianism, it continued to blossom in Arab-Jewish materialist philosophy, and it again flowered in Renaissance philosophy, nurtured by „Left“ Aristotelianism. Concerning Epicurus personally, as an act of introducing the following section, we could state in materialist dialectical terns, that as a human individual, he met his inevitable Hegelian „doom“, his Faustian „Vergehen“, that is, his body and soul atoms disintegrated, he lost the capacity of sensation, and lacking this, he became nothing to himself.
However, Epicurus as a particular material process, within the context of universal processes, as part of the concrete evolution of sophía and philosophía, in the sense of Horace’s non omnis moriar (Od. III, xxx, 6.), did not wholly die. At least, in the doctoral dissertation of the „young“ Marx, he had a youthful, philosophic, materialist discussion. In fact, Marx "fell" wholly in love with him, especially with his arbitrium liberum. As such the living material process, Epicurus, lives on in the eviternal present of transhistoricity. As such, all true praxico-theoretical philosophy is facing present history and historic presence, and this transhistoric "Not-Yet" (Bloch) commences as paulo-post-future, void of any St. Paulian theology and transcendence.
THE ACT OF DYING AND DEATH: Non Omnis Confundar!
As we could have noticed already, Epicurus had made a significant contribution to the solution of the ubiquitous problem of anxietas of mors, of the fear of Death. However, let us first introduce this problem in its general human outlines. The Act of Dying, the „this-sided“ process of passing away, the making of the patrian, dialectical, qualitative jump into Eternity, and the phenomenon, Death, as "negation" of Patrian Human Life on Earth or in our Solar System, the "other-sided" process which supposedly will commence on the „after-life" side, are two different and distinct realities.
Furthermore, it is a question which concerns Tom, Dick and Harry, all babies and Methusalem (who is supposed to have lived 969 years - Gen., v, 27.), morons and idiots, but also Epicurus, Marx and Bloch. The problem posed in simple terms, is as follows: to fear the coming day, when it will be the last day, when the sword of Damocles will strike us, whether in sleep or on the battlefield, is one thing - this is biological fear, which even animals experience. To have anxiety, even fear, over something, which lies beyond the last heart-beat, beyond the last registration of sensation, is something completely different -- this is a specific human problem, human fear. The German concepts for these two processes very aptly denote the differences Sterben and Tod, respectively. Hence, in the following exposition we will utilize these terms for the sake of scientific precision.
Concerning the above, it is of great interest to refer to a discussion which took place between Ernst Bloch and Siegfried Unseld, the Manager of the Suhrkamp Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main, on August 6, 1969, and which was continued years later, in the early hours of the New Year 1974. These reflections concerning final and homofinal things certainly throw some light on our Epicurean theme. (For further details, see: Karola Bloch & Adelbert Reif (Ed.), Denken heißt überschreiten. In memoriam Ernst Bloch (1885 - 1977), Frankfurt am Main/Berlin/Wien: Ullstein Materialien, 1982, pp. 273 - 274; also, Bloch, Gesamtausgabe, Ergänzungsband, op. cit., pp. 308 - 336.)
However, what follows is neither an interpretation of Bloch’s views about Death, Immortality and Continuance, nor an immediate review of Epicurus’ views about similar things but rather our general introduction to the implications and complications of such homofinal materialist thought on the subject.
"HIGH SPIRITS" IN TURBULENT TIMES LIKE TODAY
In patrian life on Earth, that which keeps the "spirit" high in turbulent times, what makes it indestructible in trying moments, and what makes it invincible in revolutionary hours, when we face thánatos without any phobos (fear) for ourselves personally, the Stoics had called the hegemonikon. On various occasions, Trotsky had illustrated this feeling of growing stronger than oneself, this individual transcendence into social immanence; in fact, in the hours of his death, Trotsky had demonstrated with excellence what he meant concretely by this revolutionary-emancipatory spirit. Another famous example is the Che Guevarian spirit, which lives on in the "Not-Yet" of future globalized, patrian revolutionaries, some who are not even born as yet.
For the ancient Greek philosophers, this non omnis confundar was the leading, directing part of the psyché, its lógos, its nous (reason). This same life spirit , this vis vitalis, we will encounter later in materialist Renaissance philosophy. Like Wilhelm Reich, (much later) already Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelsus of Hohenheim (1493 - 1541 A.D.), the famous materialist physician, had made use of this archaíos (life-spirit), of this orgone, in his medical treatment of patients, especially those who were suffering from hypochondria and similar psychosomatic diseases.
However, it was the medieval alchemist, Basilus Valentinus (15th Century), who at first had used the word „archaíos“ in his works, in order to signify the living principle in all organisms. This archeus, which is etymologically related to the ancient Greek hylozoistic arché, to the mater of all things, can be detected throughout the history of philosophy. For example, in the final analysis, it is the aura vitalis (van Helmont), which activates the chremata of Anaxagoras it is the Heracleitean lógos, which inspires and inspirits the Epicurean-Democritean soul-atoms. It is this „spiritual“ element which enters the corporeal human body at birth and becomes its intelligence-substance, its Anaxagorean-Aristotelian nous.
This subjective stuff, coming from the stars, this poli-versal, panpsychic, pan-vitalistic stardust, was identified by many philosophers as a cosmic-natural force which forms and perpetuates the essence a n d existence of individuals, for example as idea operatrix or as idea informatrix. This aura vitalis penetrates into various organisms and multiplies itself as archei in siti. Some occultist theosophists and anthroposophists even argued that every human being has a general archeus influus - a type of Socratic daímon or a Catholic „guardian angel“ --, located in the spleen, which is connected to a universal, spiritual network, to a world-wide cyber-internet, endowed with telegenic and teléverité powers.
Leaving the realm of Patrian Philosophic "Science Fiction"
However, let us return to reality, hence, we are now leaving the realm of patrian philosophic „science fiction“. Very soberly, Engels had called this Hegelian Weltgeist in Man, „the finest blossom of matter“. As we will note later, Aristotle had postulated that in hýle, in Substance, a living power, a morphé, a Form, is active. This morphé, within hýle, is trying to self create and self-realize itself. This first entelechy, that is, that which has its aim or end in itself, is the anima (soul) or nous (intellect or reason), and it strives to self-fulfil itself in matter. (Aristotle, de. an. II, 1, 412a.)
Hence, the anima, as primordial entelechy of organic living bodies, as denoted above, within the history of patrian philosophy, again appears in the teleology of Thomas of Aquinas, but also in the materialism of Leibniz (Nouveaux essais, II, 21). The Leibnizian doctrine of monads will influence Goethe, who will use this Aristotelian life principle to proove the existence of human immortality (See; Goethe’s discussions with Eckermann, WERKE, 11, III, 1828, and 1, IX, 1829.) He concluded that „every entelechy is a part of eternity“. We would recall that Epicurus had negated all forms of entelechy, that he had postulated that nothing, neither the Cosmos nor Man, has a télos, a skópos, a finis ultimus (Kant), in itself.
Thus, in our opinion, concerning Dying, Death and Immortality, what did Epicurus emphasize? As we have noted, he tried to take away the human fear of both Sterben and Tod. Mutatis mutandis, he laid emphasis on the human chthonic drive, on the pursuit of real, concrete hedoné, on transhistoric pleasure. In fact, in this respect we can discover an approximation of Epicurus and Aristotle. As far as a strong human hegemonikon or archaíos has the teleological-entelechial capacity or potency, as far as it has the arbitrium liberum to self- realize or self-materialise itself, to create and to be creative, to act socially and historically, to bring out its true human form, to exform itself, it has the possibility to achieve real, concrete eleuthería and hedoné.
Thus, in this way, the human vis vitalis can become a flowing, living historico-social reality, and we, as social individuals, and as a species, would lose the fear of thánatos, of Death. Consequently, even in the face of individual annihilation, defying ruling class, imperialist veni, vidi, vici, excelling current global, fascist terrorism, this Che Guevarian revolutionary hegemonikon can launch triumphantly its Horacian historical battle-cry: Non omnis confundar! (Also see: Ernst Bloch, „Mechanik und Entropie: non omnis confundar“, in: Gesamtausgabe, Ergänzungsband, op. sit., pp. 300 - 307.)
But, what has this all to do with human continuance, with Not-Dying wholly? Why the interest of social man not to pass away completely? Why this drive and strive to surpass trialogically? To tackle such immense problems, we have to leave the universal realms of the metaphysical method, of formal logic, of dialectics, of individual private property, of one’s own body and soul, of egoistic individualism and particular interests, and excel to "higher", that is, deeper, sublime domains of logical, poliversal thinking and action.
In fact, we need the transhistoric, transvolutionary, emancipatory hegemonikon to approximate the answers to such questioning, questionable questions, and to formulate the questions of such answering, answerable answers. Hence, to attempt to understand Epicurus’ answering questions, we have to study our very own scientific, philosophic questioning answers a n d answering questions.
Consequently, in spite of the fear of Sterben and of Tod, which have tortured transhistoric man for millennia, nowhere, nowhen anything is really decided as yet, similarly, although nothing is lost as yet, equally, historic emancipation still is not gained as yet. Thus, for us, as "Hope", because we still exist and are alive, because the process of History still exists, in spite of its profound patrian contradictions and international crises, the archaic battle-cry against Sterben and Tod, non omnis confundar, continues, reaching the very most-intensive and most-extensive spherical horizons of the Aurora of Nothing.
Finally, if we take ancient Greek hylozoistic materialist philosophy seriously, if we understand the tradition of Epicurus, which means to surpass him, then we know, already by simply applying patrian formal logic, that the only „threat“ which faces us is natural evolution, social involution, cosmic synkrisis, ontic diakrisis, praxical systole, theoretical diastole, scientific genesis, philosophic palingénesis, in nuce, emancipatory apokatastasis of true, beautiful, loving multi-realities.
For Epicurus, the „post-individual“, „post-life“ problems, as inorganic things already experience them, were not human, social or historical problems. As mentioned before, he very clearly stated that that what is without sensation is nothing to him; it cannot „know“, hence, it knows nothing about him. That he wants to know such things, is a historical, existential question. In simple terms, what concerned Epicurus, is a statement like: "I am dying", but, statements like: „I am dead“, did not concern him at all.
After all, who ever had the privilege to state the last one? As we have noted, Epicurus had even voiced the great pleasure in the act of dying, which he was awaiting most impatiently; similarly, Bloch was anticipating his voyage of philosophic discovery in the realm of Sterben, in the dialectical qualitative motion between das Leben and der Tod.
Man returning to ashes is an age-old fact, it is not an American "anti-terrorist" discovery of the Third Millennium, it is not a novelty of the globalized ABCDE holocaust. In fact, there is no essential fiery difference between a total nuclear catastrophe, the Heracleitean ekpyrosis and the eternal inquisitorial „weeping and gnashing of teeth“ in Hell Fire. The only scientific difference is how we explain these processes in relation to current, patrian, universal reality.
What Man had taught his millions of "cannon-fodder" for millennia, and what he is still teaching them today, as "love" for the patria, for the fatherland, is not so much to fear Sterben, but to fear the fears of Death: for example, for 85% of the world population, the sufferings in purgatory and the eternal „weeping and gnashing of teeth“ in Hell, in other words, to fear the second Death more than the first Death. And, of course, the keys to Heaven, St. Peter and his successors have firmly in their human hands. It was precisely against these terrestrial supervisors of the Second Death that Epicurus and Lucretius had declared agon, it was against this angustia inculcated into the very archaíos of the „wretched of the earth“ (Fanon), that they took up arms.
In the historical continuum of ancient atomistic materialism, Feuerbach, Marx and Engels were launching their philosophical attacks against this „heart of a heartless world“, „this sigh of the oppressed creature“, and, within this context, Bishop Charles Kingsley’s „opium of the people“ should be placed.
CONCERNING PLATONIC, NEO-PLATONIST RELIGIOUS TENDENCIES
Moreover, still within the context of our topic, it should be noted that Heracleitus’ ekpyrosis (cosmic conflagration), his Promethean-Luciferian pýr, does not only fall in the particular realm of quantitative nuclear physics, but mainly in the domain of qualitative physics. It was Plato who for the first time had introduced the question of athanasía, of immortalitas, into „Western Philosophy“. On the basis of the idealist-religious doctrines of anámnesis and metempsychosis, he had postulated the immortality of the human soul As we have noted, Plato had numerous magical-superstitious, mythological-religious antecedents.
In fact, the ancient European „soul-bird“, which had served as tombstone for the feudalist-capitalist haut monde for centuries, is a continuance of this metempsychotic tradition. Obviously, this soul-creature had very little in common with the Arabian Phoenix, the Egyptian Sphinx or Minerva’s Owl. The former indicated the tradition of incipience, the latter paved the road towards pansophy. Consequently, Plato’s doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul is more closely related to the human shadows in Hades, to the Hebrew „resurrection of souls“, to the salvation of Jehovah’s „elected people“ from bondage around 500 B.C. Furthermore, it nurtured itself in the mystery cults, which Heracleitus so decisively had attacked, and which the Pythagoreans had synthesised into the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. Later the Biblical Jesus Christ would affirm this Pythagorean-Platonic mythology, when he stated: „I am the Resurrection and Life“, and more precisely: „We are immortal, because our life is of God ....“ (John, 12, 50.)
Epicurus had demonstrated no specific interest in the hedoné of „everlasting life“ or „everlasting hell fire“. As the Renaissance philosopher Pomponatius had argued, where Epicurus was, Thanatos was not, and where Death was, Epicurus was not. The two could not meet each other. An Epicurus „who, lacks sensation“, in any case, cannot perceive Tod.
Two thousand years after Socrates’ death, in the act of Sterben, faced by Inquisitorial ekpyrosis, Giordano Bruno, while burning on the stake had negated the Catholic-Platonic cross of immortality, by stating; „You sentence me to death with a greater fear than I receive it.” By implication, we could say that Bruno had stressed that the angor, the fear and anger of all ruling classes, and the phobos of all their religious henchmen, have a real, concrete material base, that is, the fear to lose their social privileges, their private property, slaves, serfs and wage slaves. This fear, converted into religious and ideological „opium“, is then systematically inculcated into the very archaíos of their oppressed creatures; only as such the „lords“ of the Earth and Heaven could say their paternoster in peace at night, and escalate the "anti-terrorist" threat by day.
Thus, in a transhistoric, emancipatory sense, we can say that Epicurus’ „Crusade“ against the Fear of Death, and of gods, was a declaration of total war against enslavement of the human mind, including all its concomitant forms of class oppression, repression, suppression and depression. Within this philosophic context, Death is not equivalent to Nihil, which, according to Epicurus, cannot even occur as Cosmic Tyché.
LUCRETIUS: ON THE NATURE OF THINGS
The struggle of Epicureanism against the fear of the wrath of gods and of thánatos was historically continued by the philosopher-poet, Titanus Lucretius Carus (98 - 54 B. C.). Meanwhile, since the death of Epicurus, the Hellenic social panorama had changed. In the 4th Century B. C., Macedonia had invaded Greece, and, two centuries later, Rome was conquering Greece systematically. But, parallel to this military invasion, ideologically a fierce struggle waged between the four major philosophical schools: Platonism, Aristotelianism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. Especially in the field of social ethics, the social contradictions and class struggles had their philosophic reflections and reproductions.
However, the Roman invaders did not introduce an independent philosophic current, on the contrary, Epicureanism and Stoicism rivalled to become the accepted world philosophy in the Graeco-Roman empire. Stoicism converted itself into a state religion, into ruling class ideology, but Epicureanism won the day, penetrating even in Roman high society. Lucretius, who had lived during the last days of the Roman Republic, was a contemporary of Gaius Julius Caesar and of Marcus Tullius Cicero. He spent his life in an epoch of severe class struggles and general social upheaval and turmoil. The political struggles between patricians and plebeians for the control of state power, developed into bloody civil war, and eventually culminated in Caesar’s military dictatorship. Lucretius was a patrician, who had lived in a social environment, in the Roman haut monde, where Epicureanism was celebrated as an exquisite cosmovision.
A special feature of that transitional epoch, which had ushered in the Augustinian world empire, but also the slave uprisings, led by Spartacus (73 B.C.), was the practice of divination. Like Voltaire later, and in anticipation of Kingsley, Weitling, Feuerbach, Marx and Engels, in the advent of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Lucretius had declared religion, especially its Stoic version, as the main enemy of the public. In those days, no decisive step could be taken in any State matter, without first consulting the official Cassandras. Around 50 B.C., Lucretius wrote his famous materialist poem, De Rerum Natura, but he never completed it.
At a relatively young age, in reminiscence of Empedocles’ salto mortale into the volcano of Etna, Lucretius had decided to overcome even thanatophobia, and thus committed suicide. Probably after having done some editing of the above work, Cicero later published Epicurus’ main work. Because of the materialist attack on State religion, systematically copies of De Rerum Natura landed on the burning stake of the Inquisition, of course, accompanied by those who had supported its anti-religious teachings. During the Middle Ages, a single copy survived this „anti-materialist“ campaign. This classic, which had inspired many rebels during the „Dark Ages“, later inspired Renaissance materialist philosophers, and even the great German poet and philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Below, we will be concerned mainly with this work, which had expounded and enriched Epicureanism, but it did not add any significant fundamental novelty to ancient Graeco-Roman atomic materialism. However, its scientific merit lies in the fact that it was against all forms of theology, idealist entelechy and religious teleology.
DE RERUM NATURA
Introducing his poetic exposition of Epicureanism, typical for his age, and in line with concrete reality, Lucretius first appealed to Venus (that is, to Aphrodite, Athens and Minerva) for sapient guidance. Thus, he referred back to the origins of atomic materialism, to Milesian panvitalism and hylozoism, in the tradition of the „Age of the Seven Wise Men“ and of Minerva’s Owl. In other words, he related Epicureanism to sophía and to philosophía.
Attacking the Roman Catholic priests who were practising divination, he stated that deisidaimonía, which encompasses divine pistis (trust) and fides (loyalty), and religio are themselves the mater of vicious, inhuman and inhumane deeds. As exempli gratia, he gave the mythological sacrifice of Iphigenia in Aulis by her own father’s hand, by Agamemnon: tantum religio potuit suadore malorum (Lucretius, I, 101).
However, he did not only use Venus as blazing the Thalian-Heracleitean trail, but also symbolically as the Avicennaen-Averroean natura naturans, as the mater of Everything, as the creative and creating power in Nature. Later, Giordano Bruno, inspired by Lucretius, would continue to enliven this philosophic motif.
According to Lucretius, the science of nature, natural science, that is, epistéme, is the most effective intellectual weapon against agnosis, against patrian cretinism, magic superstition, religion and theology. He wrote:
„As children in blank darkness tremble and startle at everything, so we in broad daylight are oppressed at times by fears as baseless as those horrors which children imagine coming upon them in the dark. This dread and darkness of the mind cannot be dispelled by the sunbeams, the shining shafts of day, but only by an understanding of the outwards and inner workings of nature.“ (Quoted from: Novack, The Origins ..., pp. 267 - 268.)
Of course, Lucretius had distinguished very carefully between „dread“ and „fear“. In German, the words Angst (dread, of the unknown) and Furcht (fear, of something known) demonstrate this specific difference. Hence, it would be more precise to speak about „dread“ of the gods, Death and Hell; and to refer to „fear“ of Dying (Sterben) of popes and snakes. In a strict scientific sense, to fear the gods, and to dread snakes, would be "bad" philosophic language.
However, until now we had no alternative but „to let sleeping dogs lie“, because official imperialist language itself, including all its ideas, concepts, methods, categories and laws, has to be emancipated from its religious, idealist and metaphysical demons. Even „I believe....“ has to be replaced by „I think ...“, in an Epicurean-Lucretian sense of gnosis and epistéme.
In the first two books of his poem, Lucretius expounded his cosmology qua Epicurean materialism. Specifically, in Book II, he elucidated the Epicurean theory of the human psyché, with which we had dealt extensively earlier. Once more, he emphasized the mortality of all human souls. Precisely, to eliminate the „dread“ of Death and of Gods, he especially stressed this aspect of atomic materialism.
In Book III, he elaborated Epicurus’ doctrine that „the senses are the heralds of truth“, and explained how Nature operates „through the agency of invisible bodies“. In Book IV, we encounter brilliant examples of scientific induction and deduction, for example, 2000 years ago, he already stated basic facts about a current problem, which is not completely solved as yet, about rain-formation:
„We must reckon also with the fact that nature causes a constant stream of particles to rise up from the whole ocean, as shown when clothes are hung up on the shore receive an accession of moisture. This suggests that the clouds may also be swollen, in no small measure, by an exhalation from the ocean’s briny surge; for its moisture is of a kindred quality.“ (Quoted from; Novack, Origins ..., p. 270,)
Concerning geography, and his conceptions about historical organic and social evolution, Book V is most instructive. Of course, to us, his reflections may seem very childlike, but they are elements of aurorean scientific observation and natural speculation. The final book, which is incomplete, mainly dealt with questions which were related to the plague during the Peloponnesian War, with problems of geology, meteorology and medicine. His geological reflections reveal his Epicurean cosmological approach. Ge was formed by the conglomeration and agglomeration of atoms, active in to kenón; the gods had absolutely nothing to do with the genesis and palingenesis of Chthón. The Earth first „flung up herbs and shrubs“, then „various breeds of mortal creatures“ were engendered; eventually, Mother Earth grew old and sterile, thus living organic beings themselves began to procreate and reproduce themselves.
When Man discovered the arché element of Heracleitus, he became „civilised“. The human tongue was not originally designed for speech, but essentially to assist in nourishment. Animals and birds have not developed human speech, hence language is a social product, is just a secondary product of tongues. This ancient „Marxist“ even explained the „origin of the family and private property“, and even of „class divisions“:
„.... Later came the invention of property and the discovery of gold which speedily robbed the strong and the handsome of their pre-eminence.“ (ibid., p. 272.)
It was from Mother Nature, which as a mother, not only acts as creator, but also as teacher, that Man had gained his knowledge about fire, about the melting of gold and silver, of agriculture, etc. Man had studied the processes of Nature very carefully, copied them, and even improved or reproduced them. It was this natural education, the interaction of Man and Nature, which had enabled Man to produce and to reproduce himself physically and intellectually. Thus, Lucretius concluded:
„Ships and tillage, walls, laws, arms, roads, dress and all such like things, all the prizes, all the elegancies too of life without exception, poems, pictures, and the chiselling of fine-wrought statues, all these things practiced together with the acquired knowledge of the untiring mind taught men by slow degrees as they advanced on the way step by step. Thus time by degrees brings several things forth before men’s eyes and reason raises it up into the light of day; for things must be brought to light one after another and in due order in the different arts, until these have reached their highest point of development.“ (ibid., pp. 273 – 274)
What a beautiful piece of dialectical and dialogical reasoning and emancipatory materialist poetry! However, Lucretius was sure that the Heracleitean ekpyrosis was already setting in, that Chthón was facing its inevitable Hegelian „doom“. Towards the end of his life, he became very pessimistic, but not because he became a follower of Cynicism, Scepticism and Stoicism, but because the very end of ancient materialism itself was nearing. Not the world was coming to an end, ancient materialism itself was following its involutionary path. With the suicide of Lucretius, across Lucian, Epicureanism faded into the oblivion of the „Dark Ages“.
Lucian of Samosata (120-180 A.D. -- "Dialogues of the Dead"
Lucian (Lycinus), who was born around 120 A.D., and who died around 180 A.D. by birth, was a cosmopolitan Syrian. Although he was born of poor parentage in Samosata, in Comagene, he did succeed to study philosophy and rhetorics. In his youth he travelled extensively, and even saw the Atlantic Ocean; eventually, he settled down in Athens, and became a famous writer. Due to a successful career, he was employed in the Egyptian State administration, but he still found time to write extensively. Among his eminent satirical novels and literary parodies are; „True History“, „Dialogues of the Dead“, „Dialogues of the Gods“, „Neleyomanteia“, „Zeus as Tragic Hero“ and the „Assembly of the Gods“. Most of them were written around 160 A. D.
Because he ridiculed the gods so effectively in his satiric dialogues, Engels had considered him to be the „Voltaire of Antiquity“. But not only because of this praxico-theoretical enlightening act, he was praised by the fathers of scientific socialism; they equally registered his sympathy and partiality with the impoverished Graeco-Roman plebs. The mocking of the traditional gods reached unprecedented heights in the „Dialogues of the Dead“:
„O, Goddess! Who hatest the Poor, and are the sole subduer of wealth, who knowest how to live ‘well’ at all times, thou delightest to be supported on strange feet, and knowest how to wear shoes of felt, and ointments are a care to thee. Thee, too, garlands delight, and the liquor of the Ausonian Bacchus. But these things never exist, at any time, for the Poor.“ (ibid., p. 278.)
In a similar way, Lucian had transformed the divine Olympus, the divine "Ware-House", into a luxurious Whore-House, in which Hera, boiling over with jealousy, was brawling like a Xanthippe with Zeus, who, in turn, was flirting with the younger female divinities and even made sexual approaches to the young divine boys. (See: Dialogues of the Gods, but also, Assembly of the Gods.)
In this materialistic assault on the gods, on religion and the „dread“ of Thanatos, and their earthly representatives, Lucian clearly showed a strong affinity to Epicureanism. With him, we witness the final glorious fireworks of ancient materialism, just before the Promethean-Heracleitean flame was eclipsed by Neo-Platonic-Plotinian Original Light, which ushered in the intellectual, philosophic obscurantism of the „Dark Ages“.
The Crocodile Dilemma
We will say farewell to ancient, subjective materialism, and to Lucian, by inscribing his famous Crocodile Dilemma on the concrete chthonic tombstone of Graeco-Roman Atomism:
„A crocodile had robbed a mother of her child, and had promised to return it, if she would tell him the truth about the future fate of her child. Thereupon the mother stated: „You will not return my child!“ Gleefully the crocodile reacted: „Now, in any case, you will never get your child again.“ Continuing his argumentation, he stated: „Because, if you are telling the truth, then you will not get your child, in accordance with that true statement.“ Furthermore: „If you are telling a lie, then you will not get your child, as a result of my promise.“ „O, No!“ replied the mother, „in any case, I will get my child, because, if I am saying the truth, then I get it, in accordance with your promise. If I am telling a lie, you still have to give it to me, because, otherwise I would have been telling the truth, and, in accordance with your promise, you would have given the child to me.“ (See; Lucian, Vitarum auctio, 22; in: Quintilian, instit. Orat. - 1, 10, 5.)
Epilogue -- Quoad Hoc
As we will note in the following book, after having discovered the arché, the universal principle, the ancient Greek philosophers turned towards social relations, towards human ethical and moral problems, to tá ethiká. In other words, they focused on the patrian ruling class version of social praxis and theory within an alienating, perverse,labouring society, which had the unilateral tendency to achieve for the slave and wage-slave masters a „good life“, later, noble, clerical and bourgeois ataraxia. It was not a matter of only knowing the labour-capital principle, to interpret it philosophically in different ways, but to underline its changing and improving, its progressive, accumulative, enriching, rational and rationalizing qualities.
To achieve this superstructural, ideological objective, patrian philosophy itself had to progress; its "class struggle", its essential internal contradiction, materialism versus idealism, had to develop further. And, as we will see later, it was ancient Greek objective idealism, which had developed the Socratic horos and dialektiké and the Aristotelian kategoría (universal) and dynámei on. In this sense, patrian objective idealism is the opposite of subjective materialism, but, within the world system in repose, not necessarily its negation, its nothing.
Finally, at the dawn of capitalism, still covered with the fresh morning-dew, the fertile, feminine birthmarks of nyx, enhanced with the fiery, flaming splendour of historic mythology, the ancient Greeks had demonstrated that patrian wisdom, philosophy, science and praxis-theory could be a renaissance, could concern the crimson-gold aurora of a myriad of spheres, could throw a blue emancipatory shadow into the godly heavens, but, alas, rapidly universal, formal-logical, metaphysical, idealist elements -- that is, the birth of the accumulation of capital, profits, power and wealth -- doomed earthly life to an inexorable failure, to a miscarriage, to the tragic eclipse of reason, to patrian, military apocalypse.
All the ancient Greek scientists and philosophers were located at the bellicose horizon of the coming belligerent fatherland, of the burning stake, of the thousand years' wars, of the guillotine, of the absolutist ancien regime, of the bourgeois reign of terror, of violent revolution, of the nazi third reich, of the global, fascist third millennium. Nonetheless, learning from the ancient Greeks, in spite of our critical critique, of our infinitesimal existential possibilities of patrian survival, we still have a grandiloquous, cosmic responsibility, a gigantic task to perfom, that is, real, true, historic, social praxis a n d theory.
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