14. Aristotle: Objective-Real Substratum of Práxis-Theory; Substance and Form: hýle and morphé
Also Light changes Colours-In-Possibility-Being
into Real Ones.
Substance is Possibility (Potentiality), but the Form
is Reality (Potency, Actuality).
Thus, Motion is nothing else than Reality of Potential-Being
insofar as it is mutable.
Form is the fiery Truth of Matter.
Universal Matter and Universal Form are the
Constituents of the World Spirit.
This type of Matter is at best called the Substratum.
Although Plato and the Truth are dear to me, sacred
duty tells me, to give Truth preference.
Praktiké - Theoretiké
Pánta rhei - this universal, patrian principle applies to Human Praxis as well as to Social Theory. More suo, práxis and theoría, as intra-historical, patrian realities, are dialectical, even dialogical, are objective-real and subjective-real Potential-Beings whose concrete material reality is Motion in perpetuum.
At the time of Pythagorean-Periclean victory and glory, episteme and gnosis (scientific knowledge) -- which were principally very intimately linked with sophía and philosophia -- had landed under the Platonic ideological guillotine, and science was sliced into "theoretical", practical and poetical (artistic) segments, which thereafter formed the Divine Triangle of Absolute Knowledge. (See: Diogenes Laertius, III, 84.)
Aristotle insisted in taking this Holy Trinity as his scientific-philosophic point of departure, and he specifically stressed its geometrical, architectural and political sides. (See: Aristotle, Metaphysics, VI, I, 1025 b 25.) Ever since, in a most friendly manner, the éros for sophía, philosophy, progressively diverged into two separate branches of scientific knowledge, into praktiké and theoretiké, later also called Natural Science and Social Science. However, Plato and Aristotle did not completely sever their dialectical umbilical cord; Plotinus, the Neo-Platonists and St. Augustine would later accomplish this subjective birth of metaphysical, theological idealism, more precisely, of "Catholic Philosophy", of Roman Catholicism.
Post hoc, especially in the Platonic Academy, to lead a bíos theoretikós, a simple good life, essentially meant to dedicate all scientific endeavour to contemplative, speculative thinking about Thinking and Thought, about Idealist Being, and about illusory phenomena (appearances). This is what the post-Platonic „Platonists“ and „Neo-Platonists“ understood by diánoia theoretiké.
This ideal Neo-Platonic transcendental meditator, contrary to the praxico-theoretical Plato in Sicily, had certain affinities to our contemporary Oriental yogin, who, by means of ascetism, seclusion and contemplation, painstakingly attenuated himself in the divine enterprise of liberating his precious pneuma from earthly, sensuous and sensual chains and thus tried to avoid any further troublesome soul transmigrations. Teleologically, the true Platonic subjective idealist, the meditator-contemplator par excellence, had directed his mind towards entelecheía, into the divine path towards a pure, perfect, harmonious, Bacchic-Pythagorean unio mystica with the Highest Good.
We would recall that this is what Plato in the Politeia had imagined his golden philosopher king to be. This divine „Hitler“, this ignipotent "Bush", was contemplated to meditate and mediate arete, knowledge and truth to his global, globalized subjects. This ancient, aristocratic „armchair" philosopher, in reality, had nothing else to do than to emanate in a Plotinian fashion, royal divine forms, universal essences and true „visions of truth“, in other words, ideology and lies.
Thus, this Behemoth, this Divine Monster successfully severed the umbilical cord between práxis and theoría, between Nature and Society, thus reflecting Labour, the perverse, patrian, universal non-relation. In this way, Man, Ruling Class Man, separated himself from his own hýstera, from his own substantial matrix, hence, establishing his eternal, infinite patrix, his patria.
However, in transition to Aristotle, and in reverence of Platonic divine dedication, digressing transhistorically, we should stress that the coming Neo-Platonic, Christian-Catholic, feudalist monk did not have the faintest resemblance with the contemporary oil mongrel, with the corporate capitalist. Nonetheless, as we know, the medieval, absolutist clergy tenaciously was selling „transcendence“ to the „wretched of the earth“, to the „meek and humble“, and, thereafter, especially towards the 18th century, in ataraxic earthly glory, these "Servants of the Lord" on the material basis of this spolia opima erected gorgeous palatial shrines of worship within the very golden heart of emerging capitalism. Thanks to the Almighty, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made of „sterner stuff“, and their scientific ambitions were still oriented towards true, slavocratic, ethical realities.
Contradiction Within Ancient Idealism: Plato - Aristotle
The philosophic struggle between the Academy and the Lyceum generated praktiké; this social class struggle gave Form and Energy to Ancient Human Dynamics. As already mentioned earlier, during the Platonic-Aristotelian epoch, diánoia praktiké, Theory, the "Vision of Truth", began to relate itself again to human, social and public affairs, to practical and useful matters, but not to transhistoric Emancipatory Práxis. Of course, this epoch was only a fleeting, momentary endeavour, a reflection of the transition of the polis, to the metropolis, into a cosmopolis, into the Alexandrian Empire.
Certainly, this also brought about a necessary qualitative motion within Ancient Greek philosophy, within the social dynamics of materialism-idealism itself. Now, the real business of the practical good life became the earthly occupation and preoccupation, not of the "speaking-tools", but of zoon politikon himself. Bíos praktikós was related and oriented towards extracting logical, political, economic, ethical and artistic Forms from the Cosmic Substratum of Being, from the Hýle.
Historical, that is, patrian development became this extraction of Forms from Matter. In fact, within Labour, the Labour Process, Production, the systematic, physical exploitation of Labour Forces, of Natural sources and resources was ushered in; in other words, primitive accumulation of capital began, the extraction of commodity forms, of use- and exchange-values, from raw, natural, cosmic material.
Motion, Work, itself became eductio formarum ex hýle, out of the ancient Indian prakrti, out of archaic Matter. Nevertheless, Human Practice was still Not-Yet Praxis; praktiké was not yet truly scientific qua philosophic, it was not yet firmly based in its practical, empirical substratum; it was not yet manufactorial, not yet bourgeoisified.
The philosophic tension within ancient idealism, as expressed in Aristotle, in spite of formal logics, had to lead to a negation, to the dialectical negation of the Academy, towards a new synthesis, towards the foundation of a new philosophic school, of the Lyceum. And, judged by historic facts, Aristotle’s departure from Platonic, academic, objective idealism was truly celebrated with a sapient, Lycean philosophic son et lumiére. His dynamic Heracleitean fireworks threw new Plotinian „original light“ on the natural, Luciferean forms and features of the Platonic „World of Ideas“. He gave the ideas, the abstractions of the Leucippian-Democritean atomoi, again their objective reality, their universal, intrasystemic, friendly, beautiful, colourful Forms, their Potencies, Potentialities and Possibilities.
"Although Plato and the Truth are dear to me, sacred duty tells me, to give Truth preference."
In the Lyceum, situated next to Apollo’s temple, in the shadow of gnothi seautón, Aristotle accomplished this scientific, philosophic transcendence, but without transcending completely into pure idealism. Along the peripatos of the Lyceum, strolling in its natural groves perceiving the heart-beat of Mother Nature, the encyclopaedic „wolf-slayer“, Aristotle, already contradicted homo homini lupus. He began to teach his pupils about the categorical relation between práxis and theoría, about the category of possibility, about the principle hýle and about its potency, about morphé.
In a certain sense, this was an anticipation of the Blochian Principle of Hope. Certainly, there is a definite difference between our conceptions of Práxis and Theory and the Aristotelian connotations, but there are also some emancipatory nuances of similarity, some delicate degrees of accordance. Thus, still inspired by Pythia, next to the nest of Python -- the wise Luciferian mascot -- Aristotle taught the Peripatetics, his inside group of dedicated students, that Observation plus Contemplation formed the scientific, praxical substratum of theoretiké.
By understanding Plato, his teacher, and thus, by surpassing him, in a Heracleitean sense, Aristotle preferred to listen to Mother Nature, to tell the Truth. Ever since, with compass-like precision, Aristotle taught that in addition to traditional metaphysics and mathematics and to his new creation, theology, the vita contemplativa necessarily must also encompass astronomy, meteorology, biology and botany.
This simply meant that the pagan philosopher, Aristotle, praxico-theoretically focused science on the relations of different men within class society, related them to political economy and ethics, and further inter-related them within the patrian Universe, within a specific Historic Sphere, in which the Supreme Form, the Anaxagorean Nous, regulated internal, eternal Heracleitean Cosmic Justice and Pythagorean Harmony-Order.
This is why Lenin identified Aristotelianism with a wise objective idealism, which had generated a wise materialism-in-possibilty-being, the Not-Yet of Historical Dialectical-Materialism. We could add, generating the non-spatial, non-temporal Not-Yet of Potential, Transhistoric Práxis-Theory, of Possible, Historic Revolution-Emancipation.
Nevertheless, as indicated already, in spite of this revolutionary step ahead, the mythological, cosmogonic shadows of Apollo’s temple were still casting theological forms in Aristotle’s theoretiké. Notwithstanding, Thinking about Thought, contemplative Observation, and observative Speculation, gave diánoia theoretiké a new scientific impetus, gave it praxico-theoretical energeía and thus enabled it to penetrate and to interpenetrate material dýnamis. Thus, new astronomic meteorologic, organic-inorganic dimensions and vistas of absolute-relative Truth were opened up. Surely, perhaps unintentionally, Aristotle was paving the emancipatory road for us, towards philosophic dia- and trialogics.
However, in Greek slavocratic society, praktiké -- although not yet truly scientific-philosophic, definitely negating real, true práxis (in our sense of the word) -- became useful and practical as the following: as ta politiká (politics), rhetoriké (rhetorics), ta ethiká (ethics) and poietiké (poetics). And, as we have observed before, it was influently-affluently spotlighted on ruling class man, on zoon politikon, on human zootheism, social zoopathology and historical zoomorphism.
In other words, it became oriented towards possible structural changes in the mode of production, in the forms of Labour. In this sense, Aristotle revolutionized the lethargic, static Platonic Triangle of Knowledge, by giving it a virulent-volatile energy, synergy, dynamics, contradiction, potency and potentiality - all of them, various modest dimensions and velocities of Motion, Movement and Becoming-Being.
Concerning the historico-social material base of the above scientific-philosophic development, that is, concerning the metabolé and kinesis of Panhellenism, there occurred profound multiplex and multiveloce movements between (and in) the various post-Periclean Greek poleis, as a result of the Peleponnesian War.
After the fading away of Athenian hegemony, fierce class struggles ensued, and the age of Macedonian cosmopolitan supremacy and Alexandrian „super-imperialism“ was ushered in. And, as we will see later, the latter occurred under the philosophic tutelage of nobody less than Aristotle himself. However, at the same time, within this historico-philosophic panorama, already the Roman metagenetic „mene tekel“ signs appeared on the faraway Greek horizon. Aristotle, like all great philosophers -- for example, Kant, Hegel and Bloch -- within his praxico-theoretical cosmovision, was reflecting and reproducing the quintessential contradictions, movements and spirits of his time.
Nonetheless, applying our even, uneven, combined and neither-nor principles of transhistoric development, this did not signify that Hellenic reality was approximating progressively Aristotelian thought, or, e converso, that Aristotelian less-developed, total praxis-theory was moving continuously, continuatively towards ancient Greek Becoming-Being. E contrario, Aristotle, as ideologue of the Macedonian slave-owning ruling classes, had opposed reactionary slave aristocracy as well as progressive slave democracy. The Stagirite, not affected by any "Help The Poor" or "Charity" Syndrome, affirming the ruling master-slave production relations, had no special friendly feelings for the poor, and he lost all love for the "irrational mob", for the slave „speaking tools“.
In this respect, as Affirmation within Aristotelianism, as expression of its emerging „Right“, as the road towards the Spanish Inquisition, there was little Promethean-Spartacist, revolutionary „fiery Truth“ in the so-called practical life of Aristotle. Certainly, what is relevant for us, and what could shake the very universality of the labour system, in the totality of his idealist-materialist philosophy, an insidious, surreptitious Spartan-Spartacist contradiction continued to evolve, and, as we will see, in his apeironic dynámei on, sparking, sparkling flashes of Epicurean hedonistic arbitrium liberum as dynamic Not-Yet, were already directed towards friendship, brotherhood and liberty, surely, not towards comradeship, sisterhood and emancipation.
Aristotle - „most universal brain“, „greatest Ancient Thinker“
Aristotle (384 - 322 B.C.) was born at Stageira in the domain of King Amyntas II of Macedon. His father, a renowned physician, had attended the royal family. Around the age of 17 Aristotle went to Athens and entered Plato’s Academy, where, inter alia, he studied philosophy, ethics, politics and mathematics. He remained in Athens for the next two decades and during that time he accumulated the encyclopaedic knowledge which Marx and Engels had praised so highly. Marx considered the Stagirite to be the „greatest thinker of Antiquity“, and Engels hailed him as „the most universal brain“ among ancient Greek philosophers. During this period, Aristotle had written the „Platonic Dialogues“, to whom Plutarch had made reference. However, none of them are extant, and we know barely anything about their philosophic contents.
In 347 B.C., Plato died; but, to Aristotle's greatest disappointment, he did not become his successor. The new head of the Academy became Plato's sister's son, Speusippus, who had led the Platonic School until 339 B.C. His successors were Xenocrates and Crates (268 B.C.), respectively. Probably deeply humiliated, Aristotle decided to leave Athens. But it was high time for this decisive step, to gain intellectual distance from a Platonism which was progressively degenerating towards Stoicism and Neo-Platonism. He crossed the Aegean Sea into Asia Minor, and eventually settled down at Assos in the Troad. There he continued his universal studies, and he paid special attention to marine biology. Perhaps since then dated his conception of "man" as a socio-political animal, as a zoon politikon.
Meanwhile, in Macedon, Philip II, the youngest son of Amyntas III occupied the royal throne, and he ruled from 359 - 336 B.C., that is, until his son, the famous Alexander the Great, would assume power. An important event within the consolidation of Hellas, was the Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.). Not only did Alexander the Great gain military fame in this political confrontation, but, of greater significance was the fact that the combined Thebian-Spartan army was defeated, and this enabled Philip to group most of the Greek poleis into a federation, under Macedonian hegemony. This immense Hellenic process formed the basis for the evolution of the Lyceum and of Aristotelianism in general.
Furthermore, within the evolution of the European Patria, this philosophic negation of Platonism had its dialectical roots in a specific Macedonian contradiction. The social and political conflicts progressively began to epitomize themselves in pro- and anti-Macedonian feelings across Hellas. A famous anti-Macedonian political figure was Demosthenes of Athens (384 - 322-B.C.), a famous orator and statesman. At Assos, Aristotle was following the political developments with keen philosophic interest, and he was planning his return to Athens. Meanwhile, he got married to his first wife, a Macedonian. About his second marriage we know very little. But, historically, Aristotle’s return to Athens would deviate across Macedonia.
In 343 B. C., he was invited by Philip II to become the tutor of his son, Alexander. This job he carried out for the next three years. Back in Macedon, he introduced the young Alexander to a classic Greek paideía. At the age of 18, the future Alexander III enjoyed reading Homer, and Achilles became his prototypical idol. How much he had learned from his eminent teacher, Alexander later demonstrated at the Battle of Chaeronea. Two years later, in 336 B.C., Philip was assassinated, and Alexander the Great ascended the throne.
Concerning Alexander, to make a long story short, Achilles' heels carried him to the banks of the Indus River. He crossed this „Rubicon”, entered the Punjab, and defeated the mighty Poros. Eventually, all this Macedonian cosmopolitan-imperialistic fever, this Promethean-Aristotelian Fire, relinquished at the material base of the eternal Egyptian Triangle, next to the Pharaonic graves. In 323 B.C., Alexander died in Egypt as the result of a fatal fever, which prevented him to celebrate his political victories at home.
Meanwhile, Aristotle had left for Athens, and, in 335 B. C., he successfully founded the Lykeion (Lyceum). The name of his philosophic school was an epithet of Apollo, meaning Lycian or the „wolf-slayer“. The Lyceum was also called the Peripatetic School, and its students, the Peripatetics. The reason for the above, was simply because Aristotle used to teach his disciples in the grove of the Lyceum, strolling along the Peripatos (walk). Hence, his pupils became known as pedestrian-philosophers, strolling Peripatetics. For about 12 years, Aristotle directed the Lyceum and organized a scholarly philosophic staff of lecturers.
A brilliant example of the praxico-theoretical products of this school was Theophrastus (372 - 287 B. C;), Aristotle’s most famous pupil, and his successor; like his teacher, Theophrastus developed an encyclopaedic mind, and he conducted philosophic discussions with various protagonists, even with Epicurean antagonists, for example, with the Epicurean Leontion, the most distinguished hetaira of his epoch. It was Theophrastus who had written the first history of philosophy, a physikon doxai (Opinions of Physicists), which Hermann Diels later attempted to reconstruct.
He was also the author of the much praised Characters. Later, we will elaborate the philosophic contribution of Theophrastus to the Aristotelian „Left“, to the concept of Matter, and to the Principle of Praxis-Theory. All these had their matrix in Aristotle’s philosophy itself.
A very strange element could be detected within the works of Aristotle. Although the imperial successes of Alexander the Great corresponded with the productive period of Aristotle, he mentioned only sporadically this tremendous Panhellenic socio-historic process of transformation. Furthermore, the direct philosophic influence on Alexander the Great was obviously negligible. Also, Aristotle did not deify his eminent pupil; he barely mentioned him or his political victories. Perhaps, the "Imperialism" of Alexander directly contradicted his philosophic conceptions of a politeía or ta politiká. A careful study of the latter very clearly reveal this obvious fact.
What had bothered him most, was that in Athens as a metoikós - a resident alien - he could not participate directly in Athenian politeía. However, he very soon had cultivated influential political friends, who had helped him to found his philosophic school. Nonetheless, the Athenian anti-Macedonian parties and politicians were highly conscious about the revolutionary political dynamite in his philosophy, especially as reflected in his Politeia and the Nicomachean Ethics. Moreover, he had a good understanding of the relation between politics and economics, which did not favour ancient ruling class exploitation, domination and discrimination.
Lucky for the rulers of Hellas, his works were not well-read in Antiquity. Polybius and Cicero were acquainted with Plato’s Republic, and with the various works of the Peripatetics, for example, of Theophrastus and Dicaearahus, but they never mentioned Aristotle’s Politeía. Apart from the works already mentioned, other important writings of Aristotle are: Organon (logic), Poetics, Metaphysics, Historia animalium, and On the Soul (a biological treatise).
When the news of Alexander’s death in Egypt had reached Athens, Macedonian hatred reached new volatile dimensions. Very wisely, Aristotle left Athens and retreated to Euboea, where he died later, in 322 B. C., at the age of sixty-two. But both Aristotle and Alexander, in an eternal Horacian sense, did not „die wholly“. Today still, and for many centuries to come, students are „wrestling“ and will struggle intellectually to disentangle the philosophic-political jungle which they had left as human heritage. The latter had even received Biblical honour; in the First Book of the Maccabees of the Old Testament, we could read:
„And it happened, after that Alexander, son of Philip, the Macedonian,.., had smitten Darius,..., that he reigned in his stead.... And after these things he fell sick, and perceived that he should die. Wherefore he called his servants, such as were honourable, and had been brought up with him from his youth, and parted his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive. So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died.“
The above is an excellent example of „gospel truths“, of CNN reports, of infowar, of revelations and beliefs, which guide the lives of so many Christians and sincere human beings who truly want to lead an Aristotelian „good life“. Historically, Alexander never „parted his kingdom“, especially not among his „honourable servants“, and surely not „while he was yet alive“. After his death, his empire fell to three generals who had to battle fiercely for this spolia opima. Of course, there are various versions of this story, and, even the Mohammedans have their own religious version. Today still some Himalayan chieftains claim to be direct descendants of the most famous pupil of Aristotle.
Hýle and Nous
Formal-logically, Plato understood his teacher, Socrates, and he perfected his doctrines. Dialectically, Aristotle understood Plato, and he surpassed him magnificently. Thus, the first lesson which the Stagirite had taught us potential philosophers, was that to understand someone is to surpass the thinker. If we do not accomplish this in a praxico-theoretical sense, then we have by no means understood the essence of his life teachings.
Consequently, the overwhelming majority of the most brilliant minds of our epoch, in spite of all their Nobel prizes, have not yet achieved this significant historical step, to surpass Aristotle, not the author of syllogisms, but the father of dynámei on. Most of them have never read Aristotle, and, in fact, know very little about the revolutionary-emancipatory dynamite of In-Possibility-Being against an obsolete, involutionary capitalism.
Now, how did Aristotle contradict Plato, negate him, surpass him?
Aristotle began to contradict Plato in his very philosophic essence. He argued that Plato in his doctrine of ideas was only magnifying, only duplicating the basic ontological problem. Furthermore, he stressed the general wisdom: qui nimium probat, nihil probat. Plato not only cited Socrates verbatim, he also became more Socratic than Socrates himself.
The result had an affinity to African Frenchmen, like Leopold Senghor, who, in spite of the ideology of negritude, became more white, more French than the French in the heart of Paris. In this critical spirit, Aristotle argued that if ideas are explanations of things, then, logically, these ideas have also to be the aitía or arché, the primordial cause of phenomena, of things.
From the previous chapter, we could deduce that Plato categorically had denied the conceptual relation between ideas and to kenón, between Spirit and Matter, in spite of their common point of departure. Aristotle again resurrected the „pre-Socratic“ hylozoistic aporia of Motion and Movement, of Being-Becoming and Becoming-Being.
According to him, the Platonic ideas can impossibly explain génesis and phtora, the various forms of Motion in the world. He concluded that the Platonic conception -- that ideas are real archétypes, true prototypes, of irreal, corporeal things -- has no philosophic-scientific stringency. Realiter, such Platonic archétypes are only poetic metaphors, and Plato himself had condemned literature and poetry as being nonsensical reflections of the reflection.
With philosophic brilliance, Aristotle continued his anti-Platonic polemics, by stating, that a thing could have more than one archétype. For example, a straight line has an original image, an archétypon. But, what about Plato’s arché-triangle? Per definitionem, it presupposes at least three archétypical straight lines. Thus, Aristotle concluded that there can be more ideas about a singular phainómenon. In this way, Aristotle criticized the scientific barrenness of the Platonic ideas a priori, that is, already in their origin, as Pythagorean numbers.
Now, even the arithmós, which Plato had robbed of its substantial essence, could not explain natural phenomena anymore. Of course, taking into account Plato’s conception of indetermined matter, the Aristotelian critique was mainly a criticism a posteriori, a polemic against the still coming Neo-Platonic Not-Yet of the ideas.
After having criticized the idealist latency in Platonic philosophy, Aristotle developed his own doctrines about Reality and Becoming-Reality. Linking himself up with hylozoistic „pre-Socratic’’ philosophy, he again accepted the objective existence of the material Cosmos. Once more, Mother Nature, the Magna Mater, became the Totality of all things, she was a material substratum, a permanent flowing and changing hýle -- Aristotle’s new concept for the traditional arché. What he understood by the category „Matter“ can be read in he following works: Physics, On the Cosmos, Historia animalium, Meteorology, On Parts of Animals and Coming-Into-Existence and Passing-Away.
Aristotle specifically assimilated Anaxagoreanism; he resurrected the five hýle-elements: fire, air, water, earth and nous (the quintessence). However, he modified the Anaxagorean nous, the synthesis of the Empedoclean-Heracleitean Eros-Agon, and changed this quinta essentia into a kind of Anaximenean-Diogenean divine aether, into a „fifth being“. Within the framework of his philosophy-chemistry he regarded the nous as the ousía (the essence) of all things, because it was the „finest“ element and that was penetrating and interpenetrating everything.
Of major importance, for our praxico-theoretical investigation, is that divine nous was being transformed into intellectus, into the human ability to perceive reality mentally. Furthermore, because alchemistic, alcoholic elements had entered ancient Greek philosophy, this fifth essence was active, had germinating and brewing potencies. In continuance of the doctrines of his teacher, Aristotle elevated nous to the most noble of the three parts of the soul; it was the immortal element of the psyché. (See: Aristotle, De Anima, III, 4, 429a 23; De gen. Anim., II, 3, 736b 27.)
Hence, he changed nous from a power-substance into a spiritual element. Still, in a true Platonic spirit, not only Ánthropos, but also Cosmos received a soul. The world itself had a telluric mens, genius or anima. As we would recollect, this anima orbis Aristotle had inherited directly from the Pythagorean „Right“. (See: Timaeus, 34b, for its Platonic evolution.) Later, the religious Stoics, like Marc Aurelius, Seneca and Epitectus, would elevate this anima mundi to a divinity.
In accordance with ancient Greek class society, but also having Plato’s negative utopian State in mind, and, in accordance with the principles of the Divine Trinity, Aristotle classified his hýle-elements in hierarchical order. This material-spiritual hierarchy was less oriented towards the hylozoistic arché; in reality, it became hieros (sacred) to rule (archein or krateein). Cosmogonically and cosmologically, spatially Aristotle again focused on the Above and the Below, and this cosmovision was reflected politically in his Politeia. At the base of the Aristotelian ontological pyramid we encounter earth and water (the „iron“ or „bronze“ elements); in the middle, fire and air (the „silver“ elements) and, at the apex the divine quinta essentia (the „golden“ summum bonum).
In this way, Aristotle had returned to classical Greek philosophy-chemistry, to the four elements and nous. Thus, he negated the atomistic discovery of to kenón as Non-Being, as the Void. Once more, nous filled the space of to kenón, and, obviously, Aristotle had to develop a new doctrine to explain Being-Becoming and Becoming-Being.
But, let us return to Aristotle's focusing on the Macro- and Microcosmos -- to his universal class reflection, which, at the same time, implied a Hýle-Nous contradiction, a limited Praxis-Theory relation. In a Democritean sense, he regarded the material world, nature, as the source of experience and sensations. Like Heracleitus, who had stated „What I see, hear and perceive, I give preference“, Aristotle anticipated the Epicurean „heralds of truth“, that is, that which was near and dear to him. (See: Hippolytus, Refutatio, IX, 9, 5 et 10, 1.)
Moreover, although the Cosmos retained its Parmenidean-Platonic, Empedoclean-Anaxagorean shape -- it was a sphairos -- he placed the earth in the centre of the universe. As we know, this Aristotelian-Ptolemaic geocentrism would remain unchallenged until the age of Copernicus.
However, we should also note that the middle Stoic philosopher, Aristarchus of Samoa (320 - 250 B.C.), forming part of the „Left“ Aristotelian current, had already anticipated the heliocentric system, the Copernican theory, and, in this way, he had contradicted the Aristotelian and Judean-Christian cosmological views. In order to understand what Aristotle had anticipated, let us briefly explain the scientific discovery of Ptolemaeus (2nd Century, A.D.).
This Greek astronomer and Alexandrian geographer had taught that the earth was the centre of the universe, and that the sun, planets and stars revolved around it. It was this natural scientific weltanschauung which Aristotle had anticipated centuries before. And, as we will see, because of his dynámei on perspectives, he had advanced numerous other „modern“ theories, even Marxian politico-economic theory.
Furthermore, it should be noted, that the dialectical relation between „base“ and „superstructure“ was not all that simplistic, as vulgar, ossified materialism sometimes has taught it. How could we explain these philosophic reflections of Aristotle, Democritus and Aristarchus from their very concrete, material, historic base, if we did not take into consideration the latency-tendency, potency-potentiality of the Aristotelian dynámei on?
Continuing our exposition of the Aristotelian hýle we ought to remember, that Plato had formulated indeterminate Matter, to kenón, negatively. Matter was the opposite of the Idea, was Non-Idea. For Plato, within his idealist philosophic conceptions, the maxim of Apollo and Cheilon, that is, nosce te ipsum, was essentially still a knowing of one’s inner ideal self. The Platonic to kenón had very little to do with physiology, zoology or hygiene. Plato had banished indeterminate matter, non-ens, to an in-between-existence, that is, to a region between Nothing, Not-Being, and his personal ideas.
Thus, for Plato, Matter had no Idea, it had not even the possibility of ever participating in any idea. No wonder that all ruling classes and their henchideologues all hated (and still hate) philosophic Matter, Materialism and Marxism. Thus, if we have to exaggerate, in other words, to become more Platonic than Plato himself, we could conclude that Plato’s Idea of Matter -- at least, he personally had such an idea -- a priori was not only opposing Matter itself, a posteriori it also negated the pre-Socratic arché and the Aristotelian hýle by reducing them to Not-Being, to Nothing.
Well, this is an excellent definition of our concept of Nothing, is an outstanding example of the operation of our Neither-Nor Method! However, as we have seen before, Plato never really achieved this absurdity, he left this job to Plotinus, the Neo-Platonists and the Scholastics. And, even they had severe philosophic and theological difficulties to accomplish this impossible possibility; original light permanently lit up their mental obscurantism.
Aristotle very carefully circumvented this philosophic fallacy, by developing his doctrine concerning Substance and Form. Thus, by mediating Hýle and Nous, Substance and Form, but also praktiké and theoretiké (Praxis and Theory), he elevated Matter from Non-Being or Nothing, to that which made forms possible, in other words, to Being-Becoming and Becoming-Being. In this way, although Matter was still indeterminate, it was not formulated "negatively", in a "non" fashion, it was "positively", that is, affirmatively possible. Hence, Aristotle not only discovered the philosophic category „Possibility“, he also introduced it into his materialistic-idealistic ontology.
Hýle and Morphé
In order to introduce the category „Possibility“ into his ontology, he had to resurrect the Heracleitean discovery, the conception of „Contradiction“, (in our Philosophy, we would call it a Diagory) in other words, he had to introduce Dialectics (in contradistinction, we would apply Dialogics) into his doctrine. Morphé, an Aristotelian transformation of Nous, the Form, was converted into the ousía (essence) of things, of Being.
Hýle, indeterminate Matter, now needed the Form (the transformed Platonic Idea) to materialize itself. A Relation was established between Form and Substance, however, it still gave Form active hegemony. By placing an "active Nous" ("A") into "passive" Matter itself ("Non-A"), Aristotle still condemned Matter to play second fiddle, but, being derived from Form, now Substance acquired dynamics, possibility, the potentiality to become, to develop itself. The essence of things was now located in themselves, and, no more separate in an abstract World of Ideas. The Form, Motion, became the Reality of Potential-Being.
Matter was thus no more empty, a void, it became amorphous, "positively" determined. Furthermore, Matter, Nature, became anthropomorphic, but it was still shapeless and basically passive. As seen before, it needed the active principle, to transform the myriad of things into that what they were. It necessitated morphé, a form which preceded all things, and, in a Platonic spirit, behind every Form there existed a „Form of Forms“ - Aristotle’s version of the „World of Ideas“, of the Idea of the Ideas.
Form became essence and telos, all in one; it could exist apart from Matter; in fact, it preceded hýle. Hence, seen from the angle of Aristotelian formal-logical idealism, mutatis mutandis, the implicit, dialectical unity-and-contradiction-of-opposites, which we have encountered in „pre-Socratic“ hylozoistic philosophy, was threatened of being destroyed. Also, Aristotle intended to relinquish Contradiction, it should not be, should not exist.
As we know, Democritus had explained that Átomoi, and their motion, are the aitía (cause) of appearances. But, also Plato had considered the ideas and their entelecheía as being the cause of any phainómenon (appearance). In other words, Being -- the ideas -- caused Non-Being, indeterminate Matter, to kenón. According to Plato, irreal things were just shadows of real ideas in the World of Ideas.
Now, according to Aristotle, Being, as ousía (essence) within its process of Being-Becoming, within its appearances, took on Form (morphé or eidos), that is, took on the character of to tí en eínai (essence, but one which was already within Matter, and which was self realizing itself, a type of ontological self-extracting exe). Thus, ousía preceded hýle and to tí en eínai, the latter, was already a transformed essence, an essence in the process of materialization.
Also here we could note how Aristotle, because of his social order, had refused to postulate Substance and Form as two separate, independent entities, realities. In the last analysis, he postulated one single principle, Form, and from it, he derived Non-Form, Substance. There is no logical reason why a philosopher should not postulate more than one principle, unless, of course, logic (or philosophy) itself is universal, is a Hen Kai Pan, is an Unomnia, is an "A".
In its origins, by only postulating Being, Aristotle essentially had separated cause-effect, essence-appearance, substance-form, etc., but, in the dialectical process of Morphé-Hýle, Form-Substance, a relation, a contradiction, necessarily had to be established. Similarly like in the case of Hegel’s Absolute Idea and the World Spirit (which is really a transformed Aristotelian „Form of Forms“ or a Platonic „Idea of the Ideas“), Formal Logics had preceded Dialectics.
In the Patria, at first, always the summum bonum, the Absolute Idea, the Form of Forms, God, and only then, derived from the above, follow relations, contradictions, things, phenomena and dialectics, could they see the original light, the "vision of truth".
The early bourgeois mechanical materialists and natural scientists, among them the father of empiricism, Francis Bacon, Boyle and Newton, like Anaxagoras, first postulated Divine Nous, God the Creator of Everything, and then, in Epicurean style, they very conveniently put him out of action, and sent him to ataraxic bliss in an in-between world, free from any Cosmic responsibilities.
However, praxico-theoretically, this philosophic process reflected accurately the true development of Formal Logic and Dialectics historically. Rosa Luxemburg had emphasized that Formal Logic was the mother, who had died when the baby, Dialectics, was born. Of course, the baby still contains the limitations of its mother, they form the intrinsic parts of the growing patrian child.
However, let us continue to explain the multiplex-complex Aristotelian doctrine about the Dialectics of Form and Substance, of Spirit and Matter. It follows that Motion, Becoming, Development and Process are nothing else than the prós tí (Relation), the contradictio, of Form and Matter. Matter or Substance was the corporeal substratum, the antikeimenon of Being, of the Aristotelian Form. Only when Form as ousía entered Matter, dialectics began, and within Matter ousía changed into to tí en eínai, and continued to exist as In-Possibility-Being, as dynámei on. This In-Possibility-Being, this dynámei on could transform itself into Reality, into Actuality, as actu or energeía.
Consequently, Becoming -- Being-Becoming or Motion -- was the universal process of development and transformation in which Essence passes from pure potency (possibility) through the Form into Substance (with potentiality) and further towards Realization, Actualization and Materialization. (More precisely, as it is Form which is being realized in this process, whe should even speak of "Formalization" here, because what stands at the end is exactly Form, and not Matter.) Being was thus that which realizes itself, materializes itself in Becoming, to become Being-Becoming or Becoming-Being. This auto-realization of ousía in appearances, Aristotle called entelechy. (For further information, see: Wilhelm Windelband and Heinz Heimsoeth, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tubingen, 15th Edition, 1957, pp. 119 - 131.)
Already now, it becomes very obvious that, if Society is the Subject of History, and, if its to tí en eínai (human essence) is related to ousía (universal essence) to the Cosmic Subject, then the potent, dynamic, social Human Nous (Idea, Form, Theoría) has the historic-universal entelechy to self-materialize itself within the potential, passive, natural, cosmic Hýle (To Kenón, Substance, Práxis). Of course, this was only valid for the polis man, for the chosen few; slaves and women had to look for their entelechy, for their self-destruction, elsewhere.
Realiter, Aristotle had transformed the Platonic postulate of teleology into entelechy, into a conceptual process of auto-realization, which has corporeal substance as its substratum. Surely, this process is Janus-faced, and could be utilized for emancipatory purposes, too. And this Aristotelian substratum, this principle, is at the same time part and parcel of the Principle of Práxis-Theory, of Emancipation, of historic Exodus. Aristotle not only gave Motion (we would say Bezug) itself various modes, various forms, levels, degrees and mensions (of essence, existence and transcendence), but Being-Becoming or Becoming-Being itself obtained four fundamental principles:
telos (End or Aim), and
It is apposite to note, however, that in its archaic, principal being, Form was Aim and Cause, all in one, a Parmenidean-Aristotelian hen kai pan. On the other hand, the appearance forms of Substance, which succeeded Form and in which Form self-realizes itself, Aristotle called categories, universals or predicaments (We call them Unigories, Diagories, Triagories, etc., for example, "Rest a n d Motion AND Bezug" is a Triagory.)
But let us first expound the six forms of Becoming, of Motions of Change. Aristotle laid stress on two major forms of universal Becoming: In a general sense, as metabolé, and, in a particular sense, as kínesis; concerning metabolé, Universal Becoming, he distinguished between génesis (generation, coming-into-existence) and phtora (the process of corruption, of passing-away). What concerns us historically and socially in the Labour process, in the Patria, is his conception of kínesis, of particular motion within universal change.
Kínesis has several dialectical variables: qualitative change, quantitative change and change of locality. Qualitative change -- within the patria -- which concerns us in the process of dialectics, and of dialogical Práxis-Theory, is the development of one state (modus) to another, of relating levels, degrees and mensions, and probably even spheres, is the change of poión or alloíosis. The opposite of qualitative change is quantitative change, and, according to Aristotle, it is again sub-divided into two forms of change: of posón, that is, expansion or extension, and, of contraction or diminishment. Finally, he still differentiates another type of Becoming: the change of place or locality, that is the change of phorá, of ubi.
For the first time, an ancient Greek philosopher had focused his attention scientifically-philosophically on the phenomenon of Motion itself, on the multiplex-polyplex forms of Becoming (of Bezug) itself. To this degree of precision, neither Heracleitus nor Democritus had differentiated the various forms of Motion and Change. Surely, these forms of Motion are still intensive, internal, limited to a single, universal principle. Aristotle was specifically interested in two major forms of Motion: perfect, divine metabolé and, imperfect earthly kínesis.
Categories, Universals, Predicaments
In Old Greek, the concept kategoreín denotes: to assert, to declare or to state something. Thus a kategoría, a category, is an assertion, a statement or declaration which can be made about a phenomenon, a thing or an object; in the final analysis, about Hýle, about Matter. Aristotle had commenced the philosophic process of categorization, by developing ten categories or universals to comprehend, to explain and to grasp objective-subjective reality in flux:
1. The Essence (ousía and to tí en eínai) and Substance (arché, hýle) of a phenomenon or thing; for example: it is a tree.
2. Its Quantity (posón); for example: the tree measures five feet.
3. Its Quality (poión); for example: it is made of wood.
4. Its Relation (prós tí); for example: it is three times smaller than the pole.
5. Its Place Or Space (phorá, pou, tópos, ubi or locus); for example: Plato is being sold on the slave market.
6. The Time in which it exists (poté); for example: the tree was there last year.
7. The Activity of something (poiein, actio, práxis), for example: the tree overshadows the grass.
8. Its Pathos or Suffering (páschein, pati or passio); for example: the tree is being cut-down.
9. Its Situation or Position (keisthai, situs); for example: the tree is standing.
10. Its Habit or Behaviour (échein, héxis, éthos, habitus); for example: the branches of the weeping willow tree are swaying; they shatter their leaves.
The relation and interrelation of the Aristotelian forms of Change and his categories to grasp fleeting reality are obvious. Although it is the first attempt to categorize Reality and to demonstrate its contradictory flowing Essence, nevertheless, this novelty in philosophy is most informative and educative. Later, other great philosophers, like Kant, Hegel and Bloch, would update these predicaments.
But even this Aurora had its antecedents in Socratic philosophy. We would recall that Socrates or the Platonic Socrates had attempted to sublimate the specific, the individual, under the general, the universal. The concept (horos, or even lógos or énnoia) was the common thing, derived from diverse opinions and perceptions.
However, the Platonic Plato had elevated this Socratic concept to the idea, in order to encompass individual reality. Plato never bothered to make a strict categorization, a classification of his ideas, that is, to order them logically under the Universal Idea. We would also remember, that he just arranged them teleologically, that is, according to their telos, in a cause-effect relation. Summa summarum, Plato’s ideas were not purely-logically developed; it was the Neo-Platonists who had brought logical harmony into the chaotic „visions of truth“.
It was Aristotle, who, for the first time, with his doctrine of categories had attempted to explain the „essential“ attributes of a thing, had stressed what must belong to a thing for it to be able to be, to exist, to be identified, to be differentiated. He demonstrated that certain attributes, conditions, must be existent for a thing to become possible, to be able to self-materialize itself. He proved that everything was not possible; that only things which have essential objective and existential subjective conditions to become are truly possible, can become realities.
The Aristotelian universals, due to their inner dynamism, strive towards essence. An individual thing, an Einzelding, has its own specific attributes; each thing, like the Platonic idea, differs from any other thing. This individual entity, in a logical sense, always remains an átomon (an indivisible). It is always a hypokeímenon, a Subject, and not a kategórema, a Predicate. This Aristotelian Subject, due to its auto-dynamism, to its internal dynámei on is striving towards its „predication“, to become its Predicate. Also here, we find the essence of Blochian philosophy: „S ist noch nicht P“ (S is not yet P). Dialogically, we could add: „P ist noch nicht T“ (Práxis is not yet Theory). However, we should note that there is a basic difference between „Subject is not yet Predicate“, and „Subject is not yet Object“, and vice versa.
Now what is a kategórema, a predicate? It is a statement about something or somebody. Hence, the Aristotelian universal yearns to state, to say something about itself. Its Subject is attempting to judge itself, because it is not yet the apóphasis of a proposition (prótasis).
In the patrian superstructure, also in the Labour process, logically, the Subject and Predicate are always dialectically interrelated. A Predicate was part of the evolutionary process of the Subject, of Ruling Class Man. Consequently, the génos (species) realized itself only within the context of its specific appearance, of its class relations. According to Aristotle, the ten categories, the predicaments predicate to the individual things, to the Universal Subject, the various forms of its real, essential substance, in nuce, it -- the universal subject -- predicates to itself its own ousía, its own universal essence. (See: Ernst Bloch, Das Materialismusproblem..., op. Cit., pp. 36 - 37.)
In spite of their philosophic significance, the Aristotelian categories were still less-developed wholes; they were still very modestly formulated, and very obviously suffered as a result of their grammatical and language limitations. Later, Kant, in the process of developing his own universals denigrated them by predicating that they were „empirically snatched up“.
Evidently, the logical and cosmological assertions of the Aristotelian predicaments were scientifically still very obscure and imprecise. However within the context of our philosophic investigation of Matter, and of the Emancipatory Principles of Práxis-Theory, it is important to note that Aristotle explained the Cosmos scientifically-philosophically, that is, by means of his universal archaí, of his original material principles. And, as we have noted, they were: hýle, active morphé, aitía and telos.
The Form is the self-active, the Immanent-Real in all things. When individual things, "subjects", allow themselves to be „formed“, that is, to appear, they become as real as the Universal Forms themselves. And, as we know, these Universal Forms realize themselves in individual things, in subjects, as entelechy. In reality, Aristotle had developed an eleventh category, Possibility, but he did not include it in his list of universals. In Experimentum Mundi, Bloch would stipulate with philosophic precision this Aristotelian universal category.
Hýle and Psyché
Now, firstly, what did Aristotle assert the "soul" to be? We would recollect that Plato had specific connotations for the psyché or anima, for the anima mundi and the summum bonum. For him, the soul was a divine force, part of the anima orbis, the world spirit, which moved itself, and everything else, including the individual souls. An individual soul was the arché, the principle of Motion, of arete and Knowledge. In the pre- and post-existence of this Platonic psyché, Aristotle saw the first entelechy of organic individual things. (See: Aristotle, De anima, III ip, 412b 4.) It follows that the human psyché was the Form, the entelechy, of the individual human body.
But, animals and plants also had souls. These souls were irrational, that is, they were essentially appetitive and vegetative, consequently they were mortal. The human pneuma also possessed this irrational part; however, in addition, and in contradistinction to animals and plants, it contained a rational, immortal, impersonal divine part. In suite for the pagan, for Aristotle, individual, personal immortality did not exist. The human soul was only a share-holder of the immortal anima orbis.
This directly and anticipatingly negated all kinds of monotheistic, religious, ruling class "Happy End" phantasies, false promises, lies and illusions about individual, immortal "Life after Death". According to Aristotle, individuality or personality, as earthly private property, was designated by the human mortal and irrational soul - however, it was in fact just an animal or vegetative attribute in man. It's main social function was to distinguish one human being from the other, rather the master from the slave.
Worse even, the anima mundi, the total entity of all plant, animal and human souls itself, only participated in pure contemplation, it only thought about Thinking per se, hence, about itself. It was not aware of the existence of chthonic human, animal and plant creatures, that is, including all their corporeal and spiritual imperfections. Like the Epicurean gods, it knew nothing about us, it did not intervene in human affairs, neither a priori, nor a posteriori, not even a potiori. It is strange that across the millennia, billions of earthly creatures did not realize, did not notice this obvious fact, this reality as yet. Religion, ideology, infowar and lies did a pretty good job.
Eo ipso, as we have emphasized several times, Aristotle did not sever the intimate, intrinsic, dialectical relations between psyché and phýsis, between Form and Substance, between Subject and Object. We should recall that Aristotelian Form was Essence, Cause and Goal, All in One. Furthermore, within this Divine Unomnia, there was a flowing difference in Essence as ousía, and Essence as to tí en eínai. Ergo; Cause also was not only aitía, it was also arché, the principle, and the causa finalis, the telos. Thus, it was Alpha-Omega at the same time.
De mal en pis, to strain our mental maelstrom further, even Form was causa formalis, causa materialis, causa motiva, etc. The above is an excellent parádeigma to demonstrate that one has to be a master dialectician like Aristotle himself, in order to understand and to surpass his ontological arguments and thinking; as a minimum, we necessitate dialectics; with Aristotelian Formal Logic, it is well-nigh impossible to comprehend his various forms of Being-Becoming, even less so, his predicaments.
However, let us return to that which has its telos in itself. Let us further analyse the entity, which has its beginning, its process, and its end in itself. Within the Aristotelian entelechy, it is Being which wants to become, which wants to become Becoming-Being, and which is pregnant to develop further, as Being-Becoming, to give birth to Everything, that is, to Itself. Within this tremendous universal endeavour of germination, Aristotle dialectically relates the Pythagorean-Platonic number-idea with the “pre-Socratic“ hylozoistic arché, and thus produces his doctrine of Form-Substance. Thus, the originality in Aristotle is itself the reflection of a specific Historic Process.
Now, what did Aristotle consider Matter to be? Let us first state en brevi the threefold determination which he had given to Indeterminate Matter:
Firstly, Matter as Can-Being or Could-Be-Being, as Accidental-Being, as ta symbebekóta; in this form of existence, Substance itself is still without Substance, is "prima materia". It is Being and Non-Being at the same time. Anything could happen, the ontological process could lead to Everything or to Nothing, to Anything for that matter. However, fundamentally, the road towards Everything is still blocked, limitless avenues for development are open, all the six forms of Aristotelian Motion are possible, and in any chaotic fashion.
Secondly, Matter as According-To-Possibility, Generally-Canalized-Being as kata to dynaton; in this more determined form of existence, as "materia signata", the chaotic development of the entelecheía, of the myriad of individual subjects, is concentrated on a specific path of universal ontological motion along the cosmic track of Becoming-Being, Being-Becoming.
Progressively, within the boundaries of Real Possibility, a universal telos enters the totality of cosmic processes. But, nothing is yet cock-sure, there are still not any fixed golden opportunities or divine fates. The Future is still totally open; Everything, Anything or Nothing are still equally possible.
Thirdly, Matter as In-Possibility-Being, as Anaximander’s apeiron, as Objective-Real-Possibility, as dynámei on; now, Matter is determined, it contains all the future, still indefinite, indeterminate, still formless „Not-Yet“ Possibilities in itself, that is, in the Cosmos. Furthermore, this indeterminate Determination of Matter has obtained Latency-Tendency, that is, it contains the dynamical probabilities and possibilities to self-realize, to self-materialize itself.
Hence, in the final analysis, Aristotle has surpassed the Platonic to kenón (Indeterminate Matter), that is, the material „take-off“ of the ideas in their divine Odyssean flight towards the „Idea of Ideas“ or towards the „Form of Forms“; and, thus he transgresses to Matter-In-Possibility-Being, into dynámei on, that is, right back into the self-creating, self-creative Hýstera, into the Generatrix of Everything. (See: Ernst Bloch, Gesamtausgabe, Erganzungsband, op. cit., pp. 409 - 413; also: Band 5, pp. 258 - 287; and, Band 7, pp. 479 - 546.)
Concerning the above, about Aristotelian Determination of Indeterminate Matter we could state, in general, that Indeterminate Matter in its pure, passive, potential form could not bloom, blossom or prosper at liberty. Moreover, Form, as Universal Ousía, needed Contradiction, necessitated its active entelecheía, its energeía, its theoría. Ex nunc; furthermore, categorically, we could postulate that, within the patrian dimensions and limitations of universal reality -- not in the mensions of poliversal spheres --, in this way, the Aristotelian Universal Substance-Form Relation became an Object-Subject Determination, that is, possible Social Praxis-Theory, revolutionary Dialectical Oscillation.
The intellectual, subjective, active, potent element of Universal Dialectics became dialectically dependent on the material, objective, passive, potential element, and vice versa. It also follows logically that in the patria itself, Theoría, as wise Promethean-Luciferian Fire, as enérgeia, became dependent on Platonic-Spartacist Práxis, as possible revolutionary-emancipatory dýnamis, and e converso. With all its belligerent destructive power, the Patria had to try to extinguish this fire, to eradicate all its labour dynamics and revolutionary potentiality.
At this degree of the praxico-theoretical, scientific-philosophic reflection, what should concern us most intimately is the Motion, the Bezug, between enérgeia and dýnamis, that is, the Dialectics qua Dialogics between Práxis and Theory, but Aristotle did not voice his opinions ipsissima verba, he left it to our own scientific phantasía kataleptiké (engaging phantasy) to discover the Heracleitean pánta rhei in his category Possibility. The decisive factor in Aristotelian Philosophy, however, is that Hýle brings Morphé out of itself, and Morphé materializes itself in Hýle.
Possibility and Práxis-Theory
In order to understand Aristotelian dynámei on operating within social and human affairs, it is necessary to trace its concrete application in the various doctrines on social ethics, economics and politics. But, let us first specify some important elements of his category „Possibility“. From the aforesaid we could gather that ontologically, the category „Possibility“ is the Affirmation within Reality; it is the Potentiality, the Dýnamis, to become Subjective- and Objective-Real, to become Something or Everything. From prima materia, that is from ta symbebekóta, Accidental-Being, with the aid of enérgeia (Form), Substance, or any subject, chrema or prágma (thing), it develops, across materia signata or kata to dynatón, to dynámei on, to Real Matter.
Now, let us recollect what Plato had to say about this matter. He had contrasted aesthetics and knowledge and in this process, he doomed arts to the reflection of the reflection of the idea of the idea. Thus, he made the world free of all experience and sensation. Aristotle rescued sense perception of reality, and elevated it to the Epicurean „herald of truth“; it now became the source of creative, productive phantasía, of arts, architecture, music, poetry, literature etc. (See: Aristotle, De Anima, III, 3, 427b 14.)
Hence, in accordance with the dialectical Category (or dialogical Diagory) „Possibility-Reality“, aesthetical Praxis-Theory became an artistic, creative exposition of dynámei on. For example, Aristotle gave the tragodía, the Dionysian „goat-song“, the highest aesthetic rank, precisely because of its social-practical role. (See: Poetics, 6.) In the tragedy, human beings underwent a kind of primitive theorico-practical katharsis, that is, they were being purified from all feelings of evilness and baseness. (ibid., 6, 1449 b 27.)
However, before very briefly analysing the application of the praxico-theoretical category, Possibility, in Aristotelian politics and ethics, let us make some isagogic remarks about its philosophic essence. In general, something presents itself in such a manner that it can be, that it could be, that it could be possible, be changed, and be transformed. Formally it is possible to think about anything, as long as we establish a relation, a contradiction, to another thing. Ta symbebekóta, Potential-Being, Accidental-Being, was partial determination, otherwise it can or could never be possible. Obviously, if all the factors and conditions, which are necessary for something to become, are existent, then the thing is no more possible, it is already existent, it is real.
It is the Aristotelian Can-Be and Could-Be which warn us permanently to be very careful about our absolute „truths“. However, continuing our argument, a thing or a process is partially determined by external and internal, by passive and active, by objective and subjective factors and conditions. For example, the political form of active, inert, subjective possibility, of a revolutionary class or of social groups, reveals itself as revolutionary potency.
Moreover, this political potency is useless when it is not intertwined and inter-related with the passive, outer, objective possibilities, with patrian, historic potentiality. Revolutionary-emancipatory potency and potentiality would mean nothing if they were just formally possible, if they were just objectively suspected and subjectively merely intended, and if they were determined just purely economistically and externally. Aristotle had postulated that in a real object or thing, in other words, also in a real subject, there existed a partial determinedness, which in itself expressed its real possibility. Man, irrespective of his class, really existing in Society and History, was the real possibility of what he had achieved, is achieving, and of what he still would achieve, provided that his future emancipatory endeavours will not be „nipped in the bud“ by internal social class factors and external natural conditions.
What we can conclude ex nunc, is that the real possible, that dynámei on, was located in the germination of the Not-Yet, in Becoming, in the patrian Future. It was developing towards higher levels of its own potentia-possibilitas. For us, in germinating human creativity, in History, the objective- and the subjective-real possible, inter-related, express themselves explicitly, as Exodus, as revolutionary-emancipatory Práxis-Theory.
Consequently, it was Aristotle, within the limitations and possibilities of his ethics and politics, as emancipatory traces, who had pointed out that Historic Man -- not Ruling Class Man, not the Master of the Universe -- was the active potency, the subjective factor, which activated external, passive potentiality. Marx would later add that Man is the root, the radix of himself, of History, of Human Being and Human-Becoming. But, let us briefly return to the works of Aristotle to illustrate the origin, the germination of this praxico-theoretical process.
According to a legend, some of Aristotle’s esoteric works, that is, those which were used internally in the Lyceum, and which were not meant for public education, were hidden in a cellar in Scepsis in the Troad. Only in the 7th or 8th centuries A.D., somebody discovered them, and they became known. This was perhaps the reason why Cicero and Plutarch were not acquainted with the Politeia. Whatever may be the reason, in Antiquity, Plato’s Republic certainly had overshadowed this work. In the 6th Century A.D., Boethius translated various Aristotelian works, from Arab editions, and thus they were read across Europe, but the Politeia and Ethics were not among them.
Furthermore, Aristotelianism had penetrated the Arab world via Arab and Syrian translations. In the 13th Century, members of the Dominican Order, the main order of the Inquisition -- among them, St. Thomas of Aquino, William of Moerbeke and Albert of Cologne -- had introduced these two major works to „Western Civilization“. This enabled Aristotelian political philosophy to influence decisively such great thinkers as Machiavelli, Jean Bodin and Richard Hooker. In the last analysis, in this way, Aristotelian politics entered the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes. (See: Aristotle, The Politics, translated and introduced by T. A. Sinclair, Penguin, 14th Edition, Harmondsworth, 1980, pp. 11 - 13.)
In the Politeia, Aristotle argued that masters and slaves were natural products, and, furthermore, that in their social unity, they expressed „common interests“. In ousía, as cosmic-natural products, men by „nature“ were either masters or slaves. De facto, slaves were only „speaking tools“; they were the private property of a zoon politikon, a naturally favoured member of society. Moreover, in spite of dynámei on, he postulated the perpetuation of slavery; in this context, he very elegantly evaded dynámei on, and applied his doctrine on the body and soul: the relation of the master to the slave was analogous to the soul-body relation. Of course, women and slaves did not possess any souls. (See: Aristotle, Politeia, I, 4, 125a 14ff.)
The polity, the State, originated from the family, whose constituent parts included men and women, fathers and children, masters and slaves. Thus, the slave-owning family was the arché of the politeía. From this original Form of Social-Being, the process of ta symbebekóta across kata to dynatón, towards dynamei on, set in: encompassing the political process from the village to the State. The State was the ideal ancient slave-owning State; and, once it had materialized itself in the process Possibility-Reality, it ended up to be the most perfect form of human communism. However, neither Poros nor Penia should administer kratos, should control political power. Only the slave owning middle class had this social privilege. (Politeia, IV, 11, 1295 b 1ff.)
At the same time, Aristotle continued to apply his doctrine of form to politics. Among the best „forms“ of rule were monarchy, aristocracy and polity; among the worst ones were tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. Of course, the political summum bonum was a „mixed“ form, which would express at best the social interests of the privileged slave-owning middle class, a perfect polity. This ancient economist was fully aware of the central role which private property was playing in the affairs of the State. Thus, he vehemently opposed the idea that the majority, the poor, should „divide the property of the rich among themselves“. (Politeia, III, 10, 1281 a, 14ff.) But, he also was against the theft of „common property“ by minorities, such as: the rich oligarchy.
Within this philosophic cosmorama, he developed his moral conceptions. Against Platonic ethics, he posed the morality of zoon politikon. And, within this field, Aristotle applied his category „Possibility“, but unilaterally, against the class interests of the slaves and the poor. Thus, he converted revolutionary materialist philosophy into reactionary idealist slave-owning ruling class ideology.
Slaves, by nature, did not have the entelecheía, the potency, to lead a virtuous, moral, good life. Only, the „chosen few“, an elite, did have the material conditions, have the intellectual abilities, have the dynámei on, to realize such a perfect Social-Being. These „free“ human beings he related to their private property of the means of production, to their earthly possessions, to the volume of goods which they owned. Private property was a necessity to live a superior good life.
Ergo, Social Justice became limited to distribution, equalization and compensation of goods among the middle class rulers themselves. This politan middle-class justitia communitiva et distributiva, Aristotle’s cardinal virtue, related to the State, was at the same time the gravitational force of the soul as well as of the polity itself. It was an intrinsic, constitutive element of Cosmic dikaiosýne (Justice). (See: Aristotle, Nico. Ethics, V; also, compare: Plato, Politeia, 433D.) Whither this middle class had led humanity, in more recent times, we could witness in Nazi Germany, in Fascist Italy, and also in "Third World" countries like South Africa and Venezuela.
It becomes obvious now, that Aristotle was relating ethical-philosophic questions to politico-economic realities, which was a very praxical „Marxian“ weltanschauung, but, at the same time, he related the former to ruling class interests and propagated the conservatism of private property, that is, of class rule. In spite of this reactionary aspect, Aristotle opposed ancient „capitalism“, that is, he attacked the Hellenic chrematistes, the money-getter, the „materialist“, who was just interested in accumulating money for the sake of personal wealth.
On the other hand, he made emphatic that a virtuous man should obey the nómos of the oikos, the law of the house. This zoon politikon should develop oikonomía, the art of acquiring that which is useful for the household, and, consequently, for the State. Economics thus became the material „base“ of the Politeia, and, of politics in general. In this way, theoretically, Aristotle attempted to convert the Platonic abstract Non-Utopia into an objective- and subjective-real possible social utopia.
Certainly, until today, his social utopia remained in the dimension of ta symbebekóta, but many bourgeois political economists had utilized many of his principles to reinforce contemporary capitalist Economic-Being. The following may serve as an example: South African, United States and German „racists“ certainly welcomed the „race superiority“ feelings of Alexander the Great, as portrayed by Aristotle, that is, that „Northern races“ are „spirited“, that Southern ones are „civilized“, and that the Greeks are both.
Nonetheless he made us aware of an important class contradiction of the relation between economics and chrematistics. Excellently he illustrated the contradiction between the Greek middle-class slave-owning economists and the oligarchic traders and usurers. He even anticipated Marxian political economy, especially questions which were related to „equivalent form of value“, to the „relation between abstract and concrete labour“ and the „money form of a commodity“. (See: Marx, Das Kapital, Band I, op. cit., pp. 64 - 65; also: Geschichte der Philosophie, Band I, op. cit., pp. 114 - 115.)
Within the context of Aristotelianism, ta ethiká was a matter of práxis, it concerned praktiké, that is, it was related to that which was possible. Hence, Ethics was a Family and State Science; it concerned human arbitrium liberum, social revolutionary potency and emancipatory historic práxis, the actio of a free man. However, what Aristotle was propagating was slave-owning middle-class morality. This was so near and dear to him, this reflected his conception of Truth so clearly, that it forced him to name his ethical opus after his beloved son, Nicomachus.
But, it was not only a family ethical matter: another ethical work he dedicated to his devoted pupil, Eudemus. It should be noted, however, that the Aristotelian Magna Moralia was an extract of these two works - the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics - which was compiled by his successors. Moreover, another famous ethical work was the treatise: On Virtues and Vices. All these works reflected his intellectual endeavours to convert ta ethiká into an art and a science, above all, into a praxical science. (See: Aristoteles, Gran Ethica, Trad. y prólogo de F. de P. Samaranch, Aguilar, Buenos Aires, 1975, pp. 9 - 24.)
Although the Aristotelian State in reality was intended to be a social utopia, yet Aristotle gave his Politeia the cardinal virtue of philia, of friendship; a mutual love and goodwill should be developed between politan beings, (Nic. Ethics, VIII, 1 - 11.) Of all the types of human friendships, only the one which served virtuous ends had any moral value. Later, Kant would resuscitate the Platonic éros and add it to the Aristotelian philia, and elevate ethics to human trust and sincerity.
Ipso facto, according to the eighth and ninth books of the Nicomachean Ethics, the zoon politikon could only become human through práxis related to mutual friendly esteem and assistance. From Plato, Aristotle had inherited this „friendship communism“ (Politeía, II, 5.), but he elevated philia above éros in order to avoid the dangerous vice, which was generally associated with Pluto and Mammon, to develop a love for money, for soulless things, for Wein, Weib und Gesang. Per se, the Aristotelian polity was held together by friendship, even though it obeyed the principle of inter amicos omnia communia. (Also see: Bloch, Prinzip Hoffnung, op. cit., pp. 1130 - 1131.)
In conclusions we could say that it was Heracleitus who had discovered contradictio in becoming res or ens, and it was he who had paved the road for Aristotle to discover possibilitas realiter in the Cosmos itself. (See: Aristotle, Metaphysics, VII, 7.) Furthermore, both Heracleitus and Aristotle had blazed the Promethean-Luciferian emancipatory-revolutionary trail for the pantheistic materialistic philosophers of the Middle Ages, Avicenna, Averroes and Avicebron, but also, Amalrich of Bena and David of Dinant, who had made hýle-pýr, Matter, the objective-real possible substratum of the world, of patrian history, and, therewith, of Social Praxis-Theory.
Substance became natura naturans and natura naturata, Potentiality and Immanent-Potency at the same time. Historically, and transhistorically, the Aristotelian dynamei on was flowing, ever-flowing, over-flowing towards and through Marxian historic dialectical materialism, and continued its course, in Latency-Tendency towards the „Realm of Freedom“, for us, that is, Emancipation, towards the real Objective-Subjective-Transjective of Human Práxis-Theory. Sapienti sat! For Práxico-Theoretical, Sapient, Historic Man!
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