Archive for July, 2011

Quora answer: What can an adult do to understand Homer’s Odyssey better?

Jul 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The Iliad should be read with its lesser sister epic about the rest of the Trojan War called the PostHomerica by Quintus of Smyrna ( which attempts to give a summary of the rest of the Epic cycle ( Otherwise you only get half of the story begun by the Iliad and you do not get the background set up information for the Odyssey.

That said what we need to concentrate on in the Odyssey is completely different from the subject matter we talked about in the Iliad. However, because of the constant reference back to the Iliad by the Odyssey, it is necessary to understand the Iliad very well in order to get this references to the earlier epic. Of course, the whole of the Epic cycle is the true context but we do not have all of that to refer to. But it is enough for us that we have the Iliad and the Odyssey which because of their antiquity in comparison with the Mahabharata really gives us some fundamental insights into what the proto-epic cycle must have been like.

The narrative of the Odyssey is quite complex and more sophisticated than that of the more archaic Iliad. Therefore we are even more reliant on commentaries in the reading of this epic due to its complexity of reference and its own internal structure that has a kind of sublime quality to it that is hard to imagine a human being writing. The greatest question that we can pursue the answer to in this respect is how did Homer do it? How did he come up with a narrative and his scenes and characters interacting in those scenes to give such archetypal primal images of our worldview that are so succinct and perfectly formed that almost everyone who reads this text is entranced by it. It has a perfection that no other text I know of can boast. And we can see that in the wealth of commentaries and all the subtle points about this book that they point out and that we continue to discover with each new generation of scholars. We are so lucky to have this book as the foundation of our culture. And we know that the Greeks themselves appreciated it, and its precursor because they had reading contests where it was recited, and they never tired of hearing it spoken.

But what is so fascinating about this text is that it addresses a very fundamental question, which is about the structure of the Western worldview. It exists as a users manual to the worldview in which we live. And if we did not have this text we could hardly understand our own worldview, and to the extent that this text is no longer read and central to our education, we lose out because we do not have other sources of this kind of knowledge about the constitution of the Indo-European worldview in general and the Western worldview in specifics. So the Odyssey is a marvel. It is deeply philosophical while at the same time being an entertaining story, and it builds up the tradition because it is always referring back to the Iliad as its primal ground, which it is reflexive about, more or less as the second half of Cervantes novel is, because in the mean time a fake version of the second half was published which he could make fun of along the way. The Odyssey has this kind of reflexiveness where it is kind of a joke concerning its relation to the Iliad. As the bard told it he was playing on the knowledge of his audience of the earlier epic, and with a sly wit indeed. We don’t really get this kind of Humor again until Plato. Like in Plato, everything is ironic to some degree.

The story starts as I have said at the point where Athena ( is no longer angry at Odysseus, as he sits on an island in the middle of the Sea, stuck as a sex slave of a goddess who does not want to let him go. He wants to return to his family and gives up immortality in order to go home. Everyone says that it is to see Penelope but this is far from the truth. Who he longs to see is really his Father. Everything about the Iliad and Odyssey is about Fathers and Sons. The Odyssey is about his wanting to go home to see his Father, and his Son. This is because that is how the patriarchal line is maintained. So we have already noted that Odysseus was the scape goat for the sacrileges that were performed by the achaeans in the Sacking of Troy. Odysseus was the one by his Metis that came up with the ruse that allowed the Achaeans to take the city by trickery when they could not take it by arms. And this showed that ultimately they were not the great warriors that they pretended to be, because they were all dishonored by this ruse, but worse than that the gods had been afforded by their hubris in taking the city during the rape and pillage they violated temples where the women sought refuge, and also a icon of Athena was treated as if it were merry another prize to be stolen, so Athena became angry and due to her wrath the Achaeans had two responses. Menalaus fled with his ships and Agamemnon stayed on the beach making sacrifices. Notice how interesting this is that Agamemnon had to make a sacrifice of his daughter to get favorable winds to come to Troy, and at the end of the war he stands on the shore and makes sacrifice in order to get his men home safely. But although his men return safely, death at the hands of his own wife awaits him. He gets home first and is killed while Menelaus gets home last but gets eternal life with his faithless wife. Only Odysseus has a good homecoming, but much delayed by the anger of Athena toward him. Just as Artemis and her brother drove the story of the Iliad, so here it is Athena and Dionysus. And just like in the Iliad where Ares plays a major role, here it is Athena playing that major role helping Odysseus get home. And it seems that the reason she wants him to get home is for the sake of his Son, Telemachus, who she immediately goes to help while Hermes bears the message to Calypso that she must set Odysseus free. So the question is where is Dionysus who is in occultation within the story. And the answer is as has been said previously that Dionysus is there in the form of the Suitors, who in vying for Penelope protect her from each other, they are doing so as they party and get drunk and do all the things that the adherents to Dionysus do. Now the best commentary by far is called Archery in the Dark of the Moon. And that commentary revolves around the revenge of Odysseus against the suitors. But if you ask yourself where Dionysus is while Athena is looking out for Odysseus, he is with Telemachus and Penelope in spirit protecting Penelope and making Telemachus angry enough with his guests that he begins to assert himself as a man.

Telmachus and Penelope

There is no way that I can do justice to the Odyssey in the shadow of this book. there are many good commentaries but this one actually does the text it is commenting on justice. So I suggest you stop reading this post and go read this book.

Artemis, Apollo, Leda

For those of you still around, after that aside, we can talk just between ourselves about precisely what is happening between the beginning and manifest with Athena and the end and unmanifest with Dionysus. These are the primary embodiments of the nihilistic opposites in Greek Society. Nietzsche talks about Apollo (to whom we have to add the mention of Artemis). What is forgotten when talking about Apollo is that he is a wolf God of initiations of Boys just as Artemis is a goddess of the initiation of girls usually as bears. Nietzsche does not seem to be aware that we must balance out the opposites of Apollo and Dionysus with their female counterparts. Apollo and Atriums are fraternal twins of Leda, but Dionysus and Athena are born directly out of the body of Zeus, the two faced god, one face dark and the other light.

Zeus before birth of Athena

Athena from the head of Zeus three versions

Athena with Aegis
Zeus (Baal) is the god who embodies the nihilism of the Western Worldview and what comes out of his body are embodiments of those artificial nihilistic extreme opposites, ie. Dionysus and Athena. These are the products of Zeus while Hera produces either monsters like the Typhoon or Hephaestus who is lame, and who she throws out of Olympus because she cannot bear to look at him, mainly because he is the maker of all things artificial, his miraculous devices for example, for instance the Box of Pandora and the Shield of Achilles, as well as the things he made that Odysseus encounters in Scheria. Dionysus comes out of the Thigh of Zeus while Athena comes out of his head, fully formed in her armor. Dionysus is the son of Semele ( who asked to see Zeus in all his wonder and was smitten. So Zeus placed Dionysus in his thigh to gestate.

Zeus and Semele by Sebastiano Ricci

Birth of Dionysus from the Thigh of Zeus


Dionysus is the only god to experience death because as a child he was torn apart by the Titans, and then like Osiris was reassembled, only to continue to exist and bring trouble where ever he went, as he drove everyone mad that came in touch with him, for instance Nietzsche who made the mistake of identifying with the god. In some of Nietzsche’s last cogent letters he signed the name Dionysus. We should say that Dionysus is Shiva, and Apollo is Brahma in Hindu mythology. So this allows us to call upon Hindu mythic sources to try to understand this pair that Nietzsche claimed were the fundamental dual perspectives of the Greek worldview. We make this duality seen by Nietzsche a bit more complex, but also more comprehensible by adding to this mix Athena and Artemis. The myth that draws all of these gods together is that if Ariadne and the journey to destroy the Minotaur. Ariadne is abandoned by her Apollonian hero, Theseus who unlike Oedipus passed through initiation without failure, on an island by her self. She marries Dionysus and is killed in the end by Artemis. ( Theseus uses Ariadne’s Thread to defeat the minotaur with the Labyrinth, and then flees with Ariadne only to abandon her.

Dionysus & Ariadne
The fact that the epics are organized in a way in which the Iliad emphasizes Apollo and Artemis and the Odyssey emphasizes Athena and Dionysus, where the former gods in each pair are manifest and the second god in each pair is hidden is very significant because it helps us see how the Epics are organized around Nihilistic opposites. These opposites are what are inside of Zeus who has a dark and light face as a storm god with lightening too light and the clouds with thunder too dark, which also makes a differentiation between seeing and hearing in our relation to the gods. It is as if Athena and Dionysus are the nihilistic opposites that are inside of Zeus that when they appear out of the upper and lower parts of Zeus’s body are embodied. We said earlier in another answer that we have nihilistic opposites which collapse into each other and when they do that that it produces the two limits of paradox A yet B and B yet A. These paradoxes collapse into the same absurdity, and are composed of twin contradictions. Athena is a woman who acts masculine and Dionysus is a man who acts effeminate. This is part of their being limiting cases. Metis is the mother of Athena who Zeus consumes as Cronos does all his children, and Semele is the mother of Dionysus who asks to see his actual form and is obliterated. Metis is the type of cunning and practical wisdom that Odysseus exemplifies. Semele on the other hand is the one who wants to experience direct reality not the illusions of Zeus’ appearances. We can see how if we run the process of differentiation of Contradiction, Paradox and Absurdity backward, then we can see how Zeus can be seen as a synthesis of the embodied nihilistic opposites of his offspring but mediated by their mothers who represent cognition and intuition, in the Kantian sense. On the other hand it is clear that the Absurdity splits into nihilistic opposites which themselves embody contradictions. There is a space created by these nihilistic opposites but that space is held apart by the contradictions and paradoxes that we see in these four gods. Artemis is the initiator for girls into Bears which is the process seen in the lifecycle of Artemis. Apollo is the initiator for boys into Wolves and this process is seen in the initiation ceremonies of the boys where they learn how to be men who will protect their cities and be able to distinguish friend from foe. The girls are identified with nature in the initiation process even though they live in the cities and their houses like prisoners. The boys are identified with the city and its protection although their initiation takes place in the wild lands between the cities. Thus we see how the humans are cast in the role of the nihilistic opposites that tear them apart many times with cruel fates, but the gods are the contradictions, paradoxes and absurdities that appear when the nihilistic opposites collapse together as the double binds breakdown and destroy the humans that embody those double binds.




Further fine exmaples of Absurdity
These photos appear in the book The Architect’s Brother, republished last year by Twin Palms Publishers

We are trying to develop this idea further within the context of the Odyssey. It is fascinating to think that the relation between humans and the gods (jinn) is one where humans are bound by constraints between nihilistic alternatives that place them into catastrophic double-binds. When these humans who are caught in the double binds realize their nihilistic nature the duals become appearances only one we see through them to the reality underneath. This insight leads to anomie as it did with Achilles when one sees through the nihilistic illusory appearances to the reality beyond them (The Achaeans are the same as the Trojans, therefore this war has not intrinsic meaning because what we objected to in them we do ourselves). But when this anagogic swerve or insight occurs that allows us to see through the nihilistic situation, then in effect the nihilistic opposites collapse together and we see the absurdity of the situation. But this in turn produces an equal and opposite reaction in which the paradoxical limits arise and those limits are seen as the gods. In the case of the Iliad and Odyssey we go from one paradoxical limit being emphasized to the other, we go from Artemis and Apollo being at the root of the difficulty, Achilles took a devotee of Artemis prisoner in a raid and gave her to Agamemnon and then took Briseis for himself. But when Agamemnon had to give up his war prise because Apollo demanded it for the sake of Artemis, then he took the war prize of Achilles, and this in a kind of domino effect showed that the Achaean King and leader of the expedition was just like Paris who had taken Helen. So why are we spending 9 years in siege and battling over a principle that we do not keep ourselves? Now Artemis and Apollo are born from Leda, and their actions are in reaction to the thoughtless and transgressive action of Achilles himself. So these actions of the gods have a karmic aspect to them. Achilles grabbed the wrong girl who was worshiping Artemis and was the daughter of the priest of Apollo. Thus Achilles crime was against the pair of them and for that Achilles had to suffer the shame of having is own prize taken by the king to make up for what the king lost. Due to this Achilles realized the nihilistic reality of the War itself because Agamemnon is no better than Paris but what is not realized is that it was Achilles himself who took Agamemnon’s war prize in the first place as booty in a raid on outlying areas around Troy, so when we look deeper we see that Achilles is actually no better than Agamemnon and Paris. The gods in this case are the limits from which the karmic action bounces back, because they take action to protect their own, their worshipers and priests. These limits are encountered when the paradoxes of the double-binds collapse into absurdity, and then the limits are produced within which the action occurs in the space opened by the paradoxical limits that in turn produce the contradictory limits. And in the space of these limits the mortals experience the intensification of nihilism as we move to the next deeper set of double binds.

Now the same principle is at work in the Odyssey, but with a fundamental difference. First of all Odysseus has no realization of nihilism, he really thinks only of survival and his stomach and other passions. He is completely who he is unselfconsciously. But who he is IS an absurd combination of the Hero King and Pharmakon like Oedipus. On the one hand he is very clever, but on the other hand he is only thinking of his own survival and justifying why he did not return with his crew, that it was not his fault, they brought their fate upon themselves, because he was conveniently asleep when all the transgressions occurred. The Odyssey opens with the counter to this charge, and the whole tale is meant to justify Odysseus returning alone.


Géraldine Javier
The Absurdity of Being (2007)

Now we need to go on to another subject which is the whole question of who is the Pharmakon and who is the King. It has been discovered that some primate populations are for the most part bi-modal. One mode has an alpha male with his harem of females (which is the matriarchal scene). The Beta males who are probably his own offspring try to take the territory he has marked and the harem of females that represent the reproductive resource pool away from the Alpha male. But hour side the power structure there are also another mode of the population which is made up of independent Males and independent females who are outcasts and live in the margins of the power structures of various boundary marking Alpha Males. Since when the beta-males take over the harem they will kill the offspring of the deposed Alpha male. So these females have liaisons with free and independent outcast males so that they have somewhere to go with their offspring in case a coup occurs. So there is a build in escape mechanism where females have liaisons with outcast males, and this is no different from the fact that the Beta and Alpha males will have relations with the outcast females, so illicit affairs are built in from the beginning. Elicit affairs keeps the genome mixed up which is a necessary condition of avoiding the problems that come with inbreeding. Now in this mammalian scenario the pharmakon is the outcast from the outcasts, he is the one that even the outcasts cast out, beyond the pale and beyond the borders of interaction. But if the pharmakon can take some of the outcast females with him then he can set himself up as an alpha male in a new territory. Thus the pharmakon is pushed out into new territories, but this just leads to the expansion of the cells of territories within which there are alpha males. So the pharmakon can easily become a king, and vice versa as we see with Oedipus the king can become a pharmakon. And interestingly it is Oedipus who becomes the one who initiates the sons of Theseus.


Lyubomir Sergeev

So in the Odyssey we are seeing this dynamic of the Kingly Hero who becomes pharmakon and then becomes King again. In many ways the whole purpose of the Odyssey is to how how this circulation occurs. Odysseus is pushing out to new territories beyond his worldview in his travels but eventually he comes back home to become King again through a series of recognition steps. But in this case, just like the four limits of Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus, Athena define the limits of human experience in a nihilistic landscape and as such show us what is inside of Zeus in terms of his self-production and his other production of offspring. Zeus himself holds the nihilistic light and dark faces together but when they are embodied outside himself they become these four limits. So to the places projected as being outside the Greek Worldview turn out to be an unfolding of the inward structure of the Western worldview. Thus if we pay close attention we can read off or see through to the underlying structure of the Western worldview through the panoply of structural opposites we are presented in the narrative, all seemingly unrelated but producing a field, which implies a certain structure to the worldview itself.

So if someone embedded in the Western wordview wanted to understand the world itself, made up of Heaven/Earth & Mortals/Immortals as Socrates said then we would use the Odyssey along with the Iliad and their mutual reflections as our guide. Many of these points have already been made in my electronic book The Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void which is at That is a story of the primal scene of the Indo-European worldview and how that scene permutes and moves into Greek Philosophy and eventually into Plato and the interesting relation of Aristophanes with Plato where in we discover the Negative Fourfold and its relation to the positive fourfold. The world appears between Heaven and Earth and between Mortals and Immortals. but within that world is the continuous production of nihilistic extreme opposites which collapse together occasionally and produce absurdity that in turn produces the limits of human experience that the Gods represent and embody.


Ok. We cannot do a whole commentary here to prove the point, but we need an example that is clear. Now as an example we have already shown how the Iliad embodies the negative metaphysical fourfold, and its reversal as well as the positive metaphysical fourfold. So where are these elements in the Odyssey? We will look at Chapter 1 of Part 2 Here all of the aspects of the Negative Fourfold converge on Odysseus, in his passage from the Island of Calipso to Scheria. There Poseidon finds Odysseus in his own medium the Sea unprotected so he sends a raging storm against Odysseus in attempt to drown him. So the storms sent against Odysseus are the Chaos. The Abyss is the depths of the sea itself which Odysseus would enter if he drowned. The covering comes from a nymph Ino who takes pity on Odysseus and gives him a veil of hers to wear which like a life jacket will prevent him from drowning. And the point is that this nymph comes out of the sea to give him a Veil, a very unlikely Deus ex Machina event. And a great point is made that Odysseus has to swim night and day to get to the shore. When he gets to Scheria there are rocks, and he has to entrust himself to the river to whom he prays for help. He makes it to shore, and finds refuge beside to olive trees entwined wild and tame. These olive trees of course stand for Athena which combines male and female traits, and thus the wildness of each and the tameness of each. So all the parts of the Negative Fourfold appear in this journey from Calipso’s isle to Scheria, even a veil comes out of nowhere to complete the picture of the negative fourfold. And according to Aristophanes what is born from the negative fourfold is Eros, and thus young girls are discovered doing their laundry adjacent to where Odysseus slept the night naked under the branches of the dual olive trees that mark the structural distinction between wild and tame, between the wilds that Odysseus have crossed and the tameness of the ultra-civilization of Scheria (a proto-Atlantis). You will notice that Calypso’s Isle is right at the center of the ocean. When he departs from that he goes into an imaginary high technology world of the Scherians, a sort of Utopia of those who live close to the Gods. But they are also descendants of Poseidon, Odysseus’ enemy among the gods. But between the entrapment in the center of the ocean as a sex slave to Calypso, the ultimate degradation for a hero, it is when he leaves this island that he encounters Poseidon’s wrath and the negative fourfold gets thrown at him. But on the other side of Calypso’s island is Carbides, which is a gigantic whirlpool, so it is a chaotic vortex, it is an abyss that the wanter is pouring into. Odysseus when his ship and men were lost clung to the mast and keel lashed together, and the mast has sails on it which are coverings that catch the wind. And Odysseus floated all night towards Charybdis. And when Charybdis swallowed his raft Odysseus hung on a branch of a tree above the whirlpool, for a long time because the influx and outflux from the whirlpool occured three times a day. So he waited hanging in the air with his feet above the whirlpool for some time before he regained his raft and then nine days later was able to make it to the Island of Calypso. Charybdis has covered up the raft for the time that Odysseus is hanging from the fig tree in a groundless state. (

So let us notice that there are versions of the negative fourfold before and after his entrapment on the island of Calypso. On the one had we have groundlessness where Odysseus is hanging over an abyss. His raft is covered up by being engorged by the whirlpool. Night has no special significance other than being the prelude to meeting Charybdis at sunrise. Chaos appears as the storm in which the ship goes down with all his men which also is a prelude, and it appears as the whrilpool and the engorging of the water three times a day. But it seems the real emphasis here is on groundlessness.

On the other hand with respect to the attempt of Poseidon to kill him with a storm the emphasis is on the miracle of a sea nymph helping Odysseus survive by her giving him a veil, or scarf of hers, which is one of the highly enigmatic events in the story. It is a or covering that allows him to survive because it acts as a lifejacket and prevents him from drowning when he has lost his raft.

In both encounters with the Negative Fourfold Odysseus loses his raft, but in one case he is saved by a well placed fig tree, from which he hangs groundless, and in the other case he uses a veil to survive being drowned in the depths where he would be covered over by the sea. So going into Calypso’s island there is groundlessness, between attaining and regaining his raft. Coming out of Calypso’s island the emphasis is on the Veil given deus ex machina that saved him from Poseidon’s wrath through a veil given to him by a nymph.


Calypso’s realm is a timeless place, and if Odysseus stayed there he would gain immortality with Calypso. But the entry and exit into this timeless realm is through the negative fourfold. Going in there is the experience of groundlessness hanging over a whirlpool. Going out there is the experience of veiling or covering.

In both cases there are storms, one which destroys the ship and his men, and the other directed at him by poseidon. In both cases there is night as the period just before the encounter with Charybdis, and as an interlude in his swimming as well as the time of rest once he reaches land where he is close to the twin olive trees. Interestingly there is a saving quality to a tree in each of the scenes related to the negative fourfold. These are of course manifestations of the WorldTree which is part of the primal Indo-European scene of the Well and the Tree (cf Paul C. Bauschatz).


Calypso’s isle is central and there Odysseus is making love to the goddess, which is a manifestation of Eros. In the account of Aristophanes Eros is born out of the Negative Fourfold first. So here Eros and timelessness (immortality) is bracketed with the two encounters with the Negative Fourfold. But Odysseus is not happy on the island and with the prospects of immortality, because he wants to see his father, his son and by the way his wife.

In the Iliad within the war falling into the Abyss of Death and Chaos of the Battlefield were background elements while the Night Raid and the Veiling of Paris by Aphrodite were specific incidents. So the emphasis in the Iliad is on Night and Veiling with Abyss and Chaos being background elements.

In the Odessey, Abyss (Groundlessness) and Veiling are called out specifically and Night and Chaos are in the background.

So there is an asymmetry here. Veiling is important to both sagas of the aspects of negative fourfold that are embodied in them. Then Iliad emphasizes Night, while Odyssey emphasizes Abyss and Chaos is deemphasized as a background condition in both. So unexpectedly the two epics introduce an order into the Negative Fourfold which becomes a lattice where veiling is emphasized by both, Abyss and Night are emphasized in each, and Chaos is a precondition in each but is not emphasized.

So now we have some structurally significant information about the negative fourfold within the Western worldview that we did not have previously. The fact that Veiling is the most significant for both aligns with the emphasis placed on it by Heidegger in relation to Alethia, the uncovering truth which is also emphasized in the Oedipus myth. But the fact that Night characterizes the Iliad and Groundlessness characterizes the Odyssey is very interesting, and that Chaos is pushed to the background in both is also of interest. Night is of course reversed to become Light and Light is associated with Glory which is the crux of the Iliad. Glory is obtained by acts of valor in the chaos of War. It is the too light nihilistic dual on the background of the too dark element of chaos. On the other hand within the Odyssey there is an emphasis on covering, the veil which is shared by the two. In one case it is the covering of Paris with a mist so he can escape the battle field to see Helen. On other hand it is Odysseus being given the saving veil by the sea nymph that acts as flotation device. But what the Odessey itself emphasizes is groundlessnes, the opposite of which is finding a ground. Odysseus finds a ground, which is the island in the center of the sea where Calypso lives. that ground gives Odysseus the promise of immortality. But Odysseus instead weeps because he cannot return to his finite family and retain his own finitude. So after the experience of Groundlessness, Odysseus obtains groundedness, i.e. a foundation at the center of the ocean, but he forsakes it for finitude, and thus has to encounter the four fold again where instead of groundlessness he is saved by being veiled. And what follows on from this is a series of recognition scenes though which he gains his old position as King of Ithica he had before he left for the war and thus ceases to become an outcast. So this means that as Pharmakon Odysseus must experience his groundlessenss, and then find a ground where immortality is possible, but then must come back out of that grounding to embrace the veil in order to be recognized as King again step by step as he is recognized by the various people he meets as who he really is.

So the Odyssey at very least is giving us information on how one is transformed from a Pharmakon into a King (alpha male) and that is through a twice encounter with the negative fourfold and then an encounter with eros on the island at the center of the sea which has the possibility of immortality which is then rejected in favor of finitude.

All of this tells us in no uncertain terms about the nature of the Western Worldview in which the Negative Fourfold gives us more insight into the worldview than the Positive Fourfold of Heaven/Earth//Mortals/Immortals. Note that at the central island where Odysseus is a captive he is in a direct erotic relation with a goddess. And the only he can be freed of this is by the intervention of Zeus via Hermes. But what does this tell us. Odysseus wants to go home. But why. And one thing we might say is that he somehow as recognized the nihilism of the possibility of eternal life with the gods, i.e. something that Menelaus has attained which was denied to his brother Agamemnon. In other words both the relationship where the Patriarch is killed by his wife, probably because Agamemnon killed her prior husband and their daughter, is just as nihilistic as the relationship that goes on forever, but is never completely satisfying. Odysseus has a full relationship with his wife in which they are both clever in their own ways, and they take a stand together against their enemies and they take a stand together with their friends. This middle course between the failed marriage because of patriarchal violence, or due to the fact that the wife is not faithful, so that Menelaus has to live with that unfaithfulness forever, is defined as a non-nihilistic distinction between the two nihilistic alternatives. This weeping of Odysseus for his family and his wanting to return even though it will mean his eventual death is as close as we come in the Odyssey to self-consciousness and the realization of the nihilism of the other alternatives. But the self-conscious recognition of Nihilism is not as pronounced and directly portrayed as it is with Achilles. But this orientation toward finitude and its positive features in relation to the alternatives as embodied in a good marriage is something we would not have expected to find at the center of the Odyssey.

Menelaus and Helen

Agamemnon sacrificing Iphigenia with Clytemnestra looking on.


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Quora answer: Is there any actual historical basis to the Trojan Horse, or is it pure mythology?

Jul 27 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


The Trojan Horse is pure Mythology, but that is something deep and not superficial, but there are many examples of War machines in the history of ancient and modern warfare. But the idea that the Trojan Horse could exist as a means of tricking a city into the loss of a war as is portrayed in the Epics is ludicrous. Can you imagine bringing something like that in which had forty men inside (the traditional number). Just the weight of the thing in disproportion to its building materials, presumably wood is enough to bring suspicion. And Helen actually spoke to each man in the voice of his wife in order to trick them into revealing themselves, so she had a woman’s intuition of what was inside. First thing that would have happened is that the thing would be dismantled, before it is brought inside the city. So the whole idea that people would bring it inside willingly without checking it our, without posting a guard on it, even if there was a man who had given lie to what caused the horse to be built and given to the Trojans by the, it does not make sense that they were that gullible. But of course people do some very stupid things and so who is to tell. But personally I think it was clearly meant as a joke by the Poet. And it was a joke of a very peculiar kind because it pointed to something much deeper.

In Aristophanes comedies there is a Parabasis which are interludes where the author speaks directly to the audience, mostly to ask them to vote for his play over the others at the competition. Aristophanes is in Plato’s symposium and delivers an important speech about how lovers were glued together at one time being of one body. Plato has an interesting relation with Aristophanes because it was he who wrote the Clouds which was some of the propaganda that was antecedent to Socrates’ execution by his fellow citizens. Aristophanes portrayed Socrates as a natural philosopher, which he was in his youth. So on the one hand Aristophanes can be partially blamed for Socrates death, and on the other hand he is given an important speech in the Symposium. But more importantly many of Plato’s wilder ideas were also portrayed in Aristophanes plays and so they shared many ideas some put forward as if they were serious proposals and the other mean to only be jokes. Thus by adopting the ideas of Aristophanes is warning us not to take the substance of the ideas that are proposed too seriously, because after all they were plagiarizer from comedies. But on the other hand Aristophanes makes the claim in his Parabasis that he is giving the city wisdom. I started reading the plays carefully looking for some hint of wisdom hidden by the bawdy jokes and finally found some in the Birds where Aristophanes offers a alternative theogony to that of Hesiod. In that theogony there is not just one primordial entity, i.e. Gaia but four. And these four are Abyss, Covering, Night, and Chaos. These are all associated with the feminine just as the positive fourfold enunciated by Socrates, and taken up by Heidegger which is Heaven/Earth and Mortal/Immortal. This fourfold is the outward fourfold that describes the world. But the negative fourfold of Aristophanes describes the worlds sources in four female primeval deities. When we reverse these female deities then we get their male equivalents which is much more revealing than the fourfold of Socrates which are Light, Grounding, Uncovering (Alethia) and Order. Once we know about this other positive fourfold which is the reversal of the negative fourfold ascribed to women then we can more deeply appreciate the structure of our worldview. And so this is part of the Wisdom that Aristophanes gives us in his play the Birds. Out of this fourfold arises Eros, and then the Birds, and then the Gods, thus the Birds (according to the Birds) come before the creation of the Gods.

Now once we have this piece of information we can look for this pattern in other parts of Greek myth, and it turns out to be in the Iliad. Night is the Night Raid of Odysseus where he retrieves his grandfathers armor, but also where he breaks the rules of war. Covering is when Aphrodite covers Paris so he can return to Helen rather than having to face his enemies on the battle field. Abyss is the death that each pair of warriors face when they confront each other, and recite their genealogies and then one falls into the abyss of death. The Iliad is full of these vignettes. Chaos is obviously the battle field itself. But interestingly in order to fight you need to muster your troops into ranks and ordering them for war. In the Battle there is the uncovering of Glory where some men gain it and others lose it or are lost in oblivion of death. War is to be fought by Daylight, and it is the realm of light where glory is to be seized on the battlefield for all to see. Grounding is the reasoning that calls for the pursuit of war, that makes the loss of life palatable because the significance of what is at stake in the conflict is great. Unfortunately Achilles is disillusioned with this because of the actions of Agamemnon and thus at one point he withdraws from the battle. The battle rages between Heaven and Earth, and is participated in by both mortals and immortals as seen in the Epic. The war is a conflagration that resounds in the heavens and in the earth, and mirrors the war between the different generations of the gods, Titans and Olympians. The Titans were like the Trojans and the Olympians were like the Achaeans in the battle for the heavens. Men who battle for earth, or earthly things reflect the dissensions of the gods and goddesses. In this case the dissension is between the goddesses who were spurned by Paris in the Beauty contest at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus who gave rise to Achilles, but it was also born of a patriarchal agreement between the brothers Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus who split up the realms of the earth not to engage in sex with Thetis because it was rumored that her son would be greater than his father, and the patriarchal gods did not want an upstart taking the kingdom from them as they had taken it from their parents. So they decided to marry Thetis to Peleus against her will which was the way of most marriages in those days where the patriarchs determine the fate of women. So there is agreement among the males and dissension among the females resulting from a decision as to who to give the golden apple to that Eris had placed among the wedding goers for spite since she as strife was not invited. She turned up anyway and sewed the seed of the Trojan war by that apple which said on it for the most beautiful. It was decided to pick a random shepherd which was Paris. Each goddess tried to bribe him, and he settled for the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen despite the inconvenience that she was already married to Menelaus. Such were the seeds of the Trojan war in the agreements and disagreements of the gods which then implicated humans in that strife caused by the desire for a golden apple. Golden apples were extremely rare, and we only know about one place where they come from which is at the entrance to the underworld in the West where Hercules found them guarded by a dragon.


The Apple said “for the most beautiful” and Paris chose for himself the goddess Aphrodite who offered the most beautiful. In other words there is a reflexive relationship around that phrase between the quandary set for Paris, which goddess was the most beautiful, and the outcome which was his choice of Helen. That apple which shines with reflexiveness due to its golden nature, as nontarnishable, like human glory itself, is a bit of quintessence. Quintessence here is very apropos because Quintessence means five sides and the structure inside an apple is fivefold where the seeds lie. Quintessence is when the Aspects of Being which are Presence, Truth, Reality and Identity and their opposites are all true of something. That something would later be called the Philosophers Stone, or Prime Matter. This is the opposite of Existence which is that which is neither Truth or Fiction, Reality or Illusion, Presence or Absence, Identity or Difference. Existence if seen as Empty or Void is interpreted to be under the sign of the non-existence of the aspects. The aspects are shared by Being and Existence, but because Existence is non-Being by Parmenides reckoning it must be the non-existence of the aspects or their opposites that is the primary characteristic of nondual existence.

Now in another post I have likened the Trojan Horse to an emergent event. And I have shown that it has all the meta-levels of Being inscribed within it so that it is a face of the world to the Trojans who did not recognize its danger. They let it inside the city, and in effect they let the war within their city which had been held out for so long. The Trojan Horse is a sign for all Emergent Events within our worldview. And it corresponds to the scene in the Mahabharata of the Dice game where Draupadi was disrobed, but a miracle occurred and she could not be disrobed completely but the cloth merely kept on coming off of her until they gave up attempting to disrobe her after she was lost in the dice game, after her husband had already lost his brothers (her other husbands) and himself. So she opined that he could not have lost her if he had already lost himself. A paradox in private property when it is applied to human beings as well. In the Mahabharata there is a black swan event, i.e. a miracle that saved Draupadi. Emergent events are black swan events, they are so rare we do not expect to see them in our lifetimes, but then they seem to happen more often than they should and that is because our risk calculations overlap each other and the completely orthogonal risk categories are not kept separate. Draupadi is married to five husbands, and it is rumored that Helen has had five lovers all heroes involved in the war to rescue her. Helen is almost a goddess herself, and is a sign of fertility. The most beautiful is the most average as we see if we take photos of women and overlay them, eventually they reach an archetypal level where they become beautiful to us. Thus the fact that Helen could call to each of the men in the Trojan horse with the voice of their wives shows that she was an embodiment of the archetype of beauty made from the overlay of the features of many women, in fact all who were involved in the war to take her back from Troy.

The inscribed golden apple (For the most beautiful … is Helen) was a sign pointing to Helen and the rivalry over her as a fertility goddess, and a sign of the fertility of the land and the people. She was an archetype of beauty among human women and thus the object of desire. For Lacan this means that jouissance enters the picture which is overweening desire. Just like “Repetition” for Deleuze is that which does not repeat, so to “jouissance” is “the desire that cannot be fulfilled”, which is romantic love, love for the one you cannot have, and that is precisely the kind of Love that exists between Paris and Helen (urged on by Aphrodite). And this ideal of “Repetition” and jouissance is represented by the sign of quintessence which is the golden apple which refers to Helen, and Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Symbol of desire, the written on apple is the sign, and Helen is the object of desire. This is what Peirce would later call the structure of the sign, which is three fold, and is represented in the triangles of the Patriarchs who agreed about Thetis, and the female Goddesses who coveted the prize for being the most beautiful and thus elicited the choice from Paris. Paris saw the object of desire (Helen) through the Symbol of desire based on the agreement between them in the sign of desire.

The quintessence of the Golden inscribed Apple is the key to the whole conflict because it is the first emergent, that precedes the Trojan Horse as the emergent event for the Trojans, that through which they let Chaos into their city. The primal scene of the Golden Apples occurs in the Labors of Hercules where he goes to the furthest western land and there finds a tree of golden apples guarded by a dragon. Hercules defeats the dragon and takes the golden apples. Presumably Eris came into possession of one of those apples, or took one previously. The place where the apples are kept by the dragon are at the gates of Hades. Hercules defeats the dog with many heads (Cerberus) that guards that entrance and enters Hades and lives to tell the tale. Every thing is set up in the myth of the beginning of the war so we can understand what the precursor of the emergent event is and its relation to nihilism. But here there are only nuances, because things are still small and the conflict is only between guests playing a beauty agent game at a marriage festival spurred on by Eris the only goddess not invited, the sister of Ares, the God of War.


War is the great leveler of men sending many to their deaths to dwell as shades in Hades. But also in War is glory. And there are many reports from Antiquity where warriors saw Athena out in front of them leading them on into battle. Of course, these men fought for their wives and lovers at home who were like Hera and Aphrodite. But it was the man like Athena, a women like Joan of Arc who wore armor that led them into battle. So the great pain and suffering and death of war also called out the best in men defending their loved ones back in their city, as Hector did, was thus balanced by the possibilities of performing feats that would make ones name live on indefinitely, or as long as there was a scop that would tell the tale of one’s exploits. So war is nihilistic leading to the black holes of falling into oblivion and death, and the miracles of glorious deeds against all odds. But sometimes war or a feud or a local temporary conflict starts due to something someone says at a dinner party. And this is the case here. What is a trifle for the gods who say that they are immortal, is a determination of fate for men who find themselves in the midst of great strife for almost no reason that they themselves can think of as being something that would cause them to fight. Odysseus pretended to be mad when they came to get him to participate in the war. He was a rock strewn field sowing it with salt instead of grain, until they threw Telemachus down before his horses, who he avoided thus showing that he was sane.


It is significant that the Apple the primordial emergent, let us call it the “novum”, is a sign of the type posited by Peirce. The apple is rolled into the circle of guests by Eris (strife), just as the Trojan horse enters the city of men as a deception. The apple is golden and there fore it does not perish and thus it has Pure Being (present-at-hand) but it rolls into the circle of the Mortals and Immortals, thus having a dynamic character which comes from its ready-to-hand characteristic of being signifying equipment thus reminding us of Process Being. And then the reference on the Apple is ambiguous, and slippery, because we do not know whether its reference is to the Symbol of Desire which is Aphrodite, or the object of Desire which is Helen that it has reference to. Paris picks the one which will deliver the most beautiful one to him, thus taking beauty himself from the one he calls beautiful, the symbol of desire, Aphrodite.

Out of the Four primordial female principles that Aristophanes tells us about in his alternative theogony, is Eros. Eros is the male counterpart to Aphrodite, later called cupid. It is Eros that is born as male from the four primordial female deities that make up the negative fourfold.

What ever is presented in the circle of the Gods has been given pure presence, because the gods themselves are pure presences, always absent to humans who work for them and worship them from afar hoping to avoid their wrath. The Golden Apple which is inscribed enters that circle of pure presence before the gods, by rolling as a process, and presents an enigmatic sign that calls for interpretation, by a mere human like Paris, a shepherd on a hill outside Troy. What enters the circle of pure presence to all the gods is the quintessence which is both present and absent, true and fictitious, real and illusory, identical yet different. And the gods are fascinated by it because its nontarnishability reflects their own imperishable essence. But golden apples are guarded by dragons, and they never lose that shadow of the dragon lurking near. Dragons like Phython and Typhoon (destroyed by Apollo and Zeus) are monsters beyond the pale of experience. The Python existed at Delphi. Delphi is a meteor site where Heaven and Earth met. It became an oracle site and housed the rock which was the core of the world: the Omphalos ( Plato in the Laws refers to a rock from which all the boundary stones were measured but which as not on a boundary. The sculpture that stood in for the Omphalous is covered in knots within a net like. It is interesting that the net of knots covers the surface of the Omphalos because that net is like the boundary lines between the boundary stones. But the “navel” of the world is not on any boundary. The grounding of the net needs to be off the grid so to speak. We talked about grounding as being significant in the Worldview, as the opposite of the abyss of groundlessness. Philosophy after Godel is in the process of accepting its inherent groundlessness. But for the ancients the point of grounding was the meteor site where heaven meets earth. In other words it is a place decided by fate as the origin of what ever grids or nets we project onto the landscape in order to align our maps with that landscape. And those grids and nets are represented on the Omphalos itself that was unearthed at Delphi, where Apollo killed the Python and set up the oracle.

We could identify the Omphalos with the Golden Apple in as much as the golden apples are also guarded by a dragon. In as much as there is a vent with fumes at Delphi that comes out of the ground, and is thus an opening to the underworld. In as much as the golden apples are at the extreme western point in the world, and the golden fleece is at the extreme eastern part of the world. Hercules went to the extreme West to fetch the Golden apples, and Jason and his crew went to the extreme east of the world to fetch his the fleece. At the center point of the world is Delphi. These are the places where new things come into our world. Something can either come from the extremity or the center. An emergent event can either be a new hither to unknown phenomena or it can be something that arrives from far away through the furthest boundary of our world. Emergence can either occur from the inside or outside. So as the Fleece is at the extreme east, and the apples are at the center so to the Omphalos is at the center. And those things that appear from the earth are oracles, saying picked up by the Pythoness priestess or sayer, that are interpreted to men but never made perfectly clear. The saying that Thetis will have a son greater than her father, or that Achilles will have a choice between a long uneventful life and a short glorious one are all oracle statements from Delphi.

Herakles & Hesperides:

Once we understand how the golden apple was brought from the border of the world in the West to the marriage by Eris then we know that it is an emergent event that comes from the West, which is different from those that come from the east and the rising sun. The golden apple is a quintessence that represents the last of things rather than the first of things. It is not a source but a sink. So the earlier Epic of Jason had to do with the source of things, while these epics of the Iliad and Odyssey have to do with the end of things. The sign of the end appears at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis as a beginning of covetousness among the goddesses and the decision to preserve the order of the power structure by avoiding a god marrying Thetis. Covetousness is the nature of Baal, the Ugritic Zeus.

Because the apple comes from the west near the opening to Hades we know that it is Hades that is preeminent, and that is why the war will claim so many men for such a petty goal as recovering one woman. But if we realize that this woman represents fertility, then it is understandable why such a prolonged war should be justified. Without fertility there would be no sons to carry on the name of the fathers and thus sustain the patriarchy. Hades and Aphrodite are prominent, i.e. Love and Death.

Hesperides: See also

Into the circle of the gods and goddesses at the wedding Eris the excluded on rolls the golden apple and thus produces strive in a scene where for once all the major patriarchal gods are in agreement. Discord occurs among the female gods over a superficial thing like Beauty, and so a human is asked to judge. That human Paris makes a fateful decision by choosing Aphrodite. Over Wisdom and Wealth/Power he chooses what is most Beautiful. Plato says that the Beautiful is the most accessible way to approach the source forms. So in Plato Beauty and the Eros that it inspires plays a key role in human motivation.

When the fateful choice is made, then things begin to unfold in unexpected ways, Paris travels to the home of Menelaus and Helen prompted by Aphrodite runs off with him, and the Achaeans pursue them and the Trojan war itself follows. But all this strife and conflict has its origins in the seemingly simple act of rolling the golden apple into the circle of the sun with its special sign. The ambiguity of that sign pointing to X (which every goddess thinks is herself) reminds us of the ambiguity of the oracles of Delphi. But out of the ambiguity and its being made clear by the choice of Paris, then things take their own course and it ends in War that lasts ten years and ends with the destruction of a city, Troy. Key in the fall of troy was the trick of the Trojan Horse. But the precursor to the entry of the movable horse sculpture into the city, was the entry of the quintessential signifying apple into the circle of the gods from the excluded one, Eris, strife.

Jason returns with the golden Fleece on an Apulian red-figure calyx krater, ca. 340–330 BC

So the mythology is telling us that there is a complete parallel here between the golden apple entering the circle of gods and the Trojan horse entering the city. The Omphalos is hollow, the Golden Fleece is just a skin, the apples have a core which is hollow. The Trojan horse is hollow and contains men who will do the city harm once they are unleashed. The apple has seeds from which future trees will spring in the next iteration of the day and night cycle. The golden fleece preserves a remnant of the Golden ram who miraculously appeared to save the children of Nephele, the simulacrum of Hera.

This suggests that there is an emergent meta-system at work here. At the west there are the gates of hell, and the golden apples produces the seeds that will go into the abyss at the end of the world. In the dark of the underworld there is a creative object, a golden child who assures the arising of beings again. When those things appear at the dawn with Eos where there appears the skin of the flying ram that saved Nephele’s children. Zeus made Nephele to trick someone who wanted to make love to Hera, she was a simulacrum, but once her role as decoy was over it was inconvenient to have a duplicate of Hera around, so Hera married her off to human who later fell for another woman and they attempted to kill her children who just managed to escape by the appearance of a winged ram who could speak with a golden fleece. They preserved that fleece at the furthest east point on the eastern shore of the black sea. The fleece preserves only the outward aspect of things, which is what you see on the horizon when the emergent event appears, this is analogous to the mutual action of monads in the Emergent Meta-system. Their creation from sources are mysterious, but when they appear we are interested in their outward appearance and mutual action. However as they move toward the moment of the viewpoint in the Emergent Meta-system cycle we want to find the right perspective on this new phenomena via an anagogic swerve. And that view point has to be comprehensive and a priori. So this global viewpoint occurs at the Omphalos. It is the point which is off the map boundaries from which the map boundaries are measured. It is represented by a hollow globe with a knotted net showing its comprehensive nature as a filter for reality. On this basis of the ground in the omphalos at the point were heaven, earth and underworld meet there can be a schematization of the new phenomena and its quintessence recognized producing the final stage where we return to the golden apple at the end of the world, beside the dragon, and near the entrance to Hades. There are dragons associated with each step on this journey of the Sun. This puts into perspective why we found the golden boy Pluto in the underworld as the son of Persephone and Dionysus. He is called in Hindu Mythology the Hiranyagarbha ( which is the basis for ideas of the Alayavijana and the tatagata gharba. In other word it is what holds the quasi-causal (Deleuze) seeds of Karmic causality which operates regardless of having no substance to depend upon. This can occur because karmic action has no beginning nor end but is in constant circulation as the emergent meta-system.

But what we see here is that these myths are very precisely structured and contain deep thoughts, like the idea that the Emergent Event for the Human Community has a precursor among the Gods. For the Gods it is quintessence that is golden. And there is a cycle from the Golden Boy who is rumored to be born from Dionysus and Persephone, to the Golden Fleece, i.e. manifest in the outward as pure presence, to the Omphalus which gives a global picture or viewpoint on phenomena, to the Golden apple that provides the seeds to be planted in the abyss of Hades and then spawns the Golden Boy. This set of objects relate to the Abyss in that the abyss of death in Hades is the fate of all men and its entrance is in the West because that is where the sun sets. The Golden Boy is in this in the eternal night of Hades. The Golden Fleece is a covering taken from a miraculous Ram which had wings. The Omphaos is the point that heaven and earth meet in the meteor crash site which produces chaos, and a wild point which is an origin from which all other boundary stones are measured. The knotted net on the Omphalos is like the grid of the boundary stones and boundary lines cast across the landscape but also across the surface of the Omphalos, where the map and the territory are different. Who is to say that these four manifestations of Quintessence do not produce the emergent event and form a quadralectic such as was found to be the basis of Design.

Thus the Trojan Horse in being mythic is no less real than anything else in the Western worldview. Being Mythic means that the four dimensional time moment is still in tact and has not gone though the symmetry breaking of the transition from mythopoietic to metaphysical yet. These mythical representations are strong and deep and tell us things we never would have guessed on our own if we take them seriously. To the extent we have not gotten the message of the Epics and do not understand the worldview we are doomed to inhabit as we dree our wyrd then we are comparable to the shades of the underworld ourselves, caught in an illusion we do not understand. The Trojan horse is the embodiment of the Emergent Event in the Iliad, but that emergent event points to a deeper event that took place among the Gods at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis before the birth of Achilles.

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Quora answer: What can an adult do to understand Homer’s Iliad better?

Jul 25 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Homer’s Odyssey: What can an adult do to understand Homer’s Odyssey better?

In other questions we have been a talking about Achilles and how his life is a study in the various ways that we confront nihilism within the Western worldview. But this worldview also mixes nihilism with its nihilistic opposite which is emergence. And the example of emergence in the Iliad is the Trojan Horse, whose appearance is an emergent event for the Trojans, and which is the ruse which is a product of the guile and Metis of the trickster Odysseus. So the Nihilism of the situation as experienced by Achilles is balanced by the Emergence produced by Odysseus with his clever subterfuge.

The Trojan Horse is a war machine, something the Indo-Europeans have been particularly good at devising. Archimedes was famous for his war machines as was Leonardo, and other geniuses with our tradition. But what is interesting about this war machine is that it has all the different kinds of Being within it, and thus gives us a map of the emergent event itself, which is always a face of the world containing all the various kinds of Being in a singular concrescence. So the Trojan Horse is a static sculpture of a horse, but it was possible to move it and it probably was on wheels. So the Pure Being static Parmedian aspect is its sculptural for which is that of a horse. The dynamic part of it which is Heraclitian is that it can move from  the outside to the inside of the city easily and this shows its connection with Process Being. The Hyper Being aspect is brought our by Helen when she talks to Telemachus, Far War, and describes her imitation of the wives of the those hiding inside the horse. She imitates the voice the different wives as if she knew who was inside the horse. And the men inside the horse almost reveal themselves but do not. This slipping from voice to voice of the wives of those inside the hiding inside the horse is a representation of Hyper Being, what Plato calls the Third kind of Being. Helen’s trickery is almost as good as that of Odysseus, and she was suspicious of the Greeks leaving gifts. Wild Being is the breaking out of the men within the horse at night from which chaos follows within the surprised city. Ultra Being is the Acheaens going too far and taking women from the sanctuary of Athena, and the defacement of the image of Athena in the city. Because of the hubris of the Acheaens when they took the city, breaking the sacred bounds in their looting and pillage and rape of the cities women when they took refuge in the temple of Athena they brought down the wrath of Athena on themselves. In reaction to the anger of the Goddess Agamemnon decided to do sacrifices on the beach, but Menelaus decided to flee. Odysseus first went with Menelaus but then turned back only to miss the sacrifice on the beach by Agamemnon. Odysseus who was blamed the most by Athena because it was his trick that allowed the city to be taken, became lost between the reactions of Menelaus and his brother and took the longest to get home, but on the other hand only he had a wife that was true to him. It is precisely at the point where Athena’s anger against Odysseus begins to soften that the Odyssey begins much later. Now a good source to look at to understand the violations by the Acheaens is Oedipus, Philosopher by Gaux.

He explains that Oedipus has failed the hero’s initiation which includes three parts, sexual, intellectual, and sacred. The intellectual part for Odysseus was the trick, the sexual part was the taking of the women from the sanctuary, and the sacred violation was the taking of the image of Athena from the alter. By this we get an insight into Odysseus, he is a combination of Oedipus, the failed initiate and the Hero, the successful initiate. He passed through his own initiation with his grandfather as the scar on his thigh shows, but he failed at the pinnacle of the battle by winning though an underhanded means that led to the violation of the sacred limits though the hubris of the the Acheaens. It is because he is a synthesis of the pharmakon,  like Oedipus, and a kingly hero that Oedipus has such an interesting personality in the Odyssey. The weakness of Odysseus is his stomach or his tendency to fall asleep at odd times. Odysseus is the hero as Pharmakon who wanders due to the wrath of Athena, and then is saved due to the softening of Athena’s anger toward him. He passed the initiation, but failed to reign in his cleverness in battle and resorted to trickery to take what could not be taken valiantly, and because of his invention of the primordial war machine he became an outcast who was doomed to roam the seas of the Worldview and ultimately come home last. Oedipus supplies the answer to the Sphinx which is his intellectual accomplishment.

His sexual accomplishment is to marry his mother, rather than another woman. His hubris was to kill his father at the crossroads when he demanded that Oedipus give way to him which broke his connection with his fathers genealogy. And that is why he started his own genealogy with his mother again. The family tree was pared then grafted. Odysseus created the archetypal war machine as a deception. Odysseus was responsible for the sacking of Troy and the hubris that violated the temples and the images of the Gods of Troy. For that Odysseus was punished by being made a sex slave to a goddess Calypso much the way Hercules had to serve as the slave of a woman. The proof he was a slave was that he could not leave at will, without the help of Hermes. He had to suffer the hubris of his men which occurred every time he went to sleep. Hercules had to carry out his various challenges because of his hubris and had to serve a master he despised and do his bidding, and who tried to get rid of him by giving Hercules impossible tasks. And this hubris of his men prevented him from returning easily and for bringing his men home with him alive. He had to suffer the wrath of Poseidon alone and naked in the sea. He had to suffer the indignity of not being recognized when he returned home, and he had to play the role of a beggar. Where he created the deception of the Trojan Horse in which his men hid to take the city of Troy by deceit, he was foolhardy enough to enter the cave of the Cyclopes from which he almost did not escape, and then he was foolish enough to reveal his name after escaping so that the Cyclopes could call on Poseidon for revenge  on Odysseus. In other words we see how many of the adventures of Odysseus were punishments aligned to his crimes.

However, for all this punishment by the Gods in which the nihilistic extremes are revealed, and also the nondual within the Western worldview is manifest, there is an unfolding of an emergent event and by that the structure of the Western worldview itself. The Emergent Event is unfolded by the lost journey home of Odysseus. And that emergent event has the structure of the meta-levels of Being which all emergent events have intrinsically. So we get the entire structure of the Western worldview in two Epics. Achilles sets the problematic of the recognition of nihilism, and Odysseus gives the answer to that nihilism in the form of the Emergent event of the advent of the archetypal war machine which from that time on made us wary of Indo-Europeans bearing gifts.
Edo Period:
Seclusion of Japan:

A trader from Holland told the Shogun of Japan that first the foreigners send priests then they send their army. The Shogun banned Christianity and closed Japan to all foreigners for a long enough time to avoid the fate of China at the hands of the Europeans. For that bit of advice the merchants from Holland were able to come and trade in Tokyo bay once a year. But no other foreigners were allowed on the islands. Eventually the Americans sailed in to Japan with gun boats because they missed the party in China, for instance the part where the English enforced the sale of Opium which led to the Opium war which the Chinese lost.

From the first conquests based on the power of horses in prehistory, first by chariot and when the horses became large enough on horseback, the Indo-Europeans have been bringing dubious gifts to the rest of the world for a long time. Gifts like Colonialization and Globalization, which all have the Western worldview’s structure inscribed in them. This worldview that is dominant the world  over need to be understood. And our best chance for understanding it better ourselves is to look at these manuals that we were given by the ancients which explained the structure of the worldview called the Epics. Fortunately we have both the Ramayana/Mahabharata and the Iliad/Odyssey which look at the same primal scene from two different directions. If we can decode that primal scene then perhaps we can have better self-understanding, and be better understood by the rest of humanity to whom we bear our suspicious gifts like Technology, leading with the technology of War which makes us unrivaled on the world stage. But we have to realize that the world stage is environmentally fragile, and it is a general economy in which no restricted economy can dominate. We have to understand how the nihilistic opposites of emergence and nihilism arise within the global general economy as miracles and blackholes and how their dynamic creates singularities as well as the black swan events that we have become familiar with lately. As adults we need to understand ourselves more deeply following the maxims of Apollo: Know thyself and Nothing to excess. We need to understand ourselves better so that we can explain our worldview better to our children who inherit it unknowingly, and live within its constraints their whole lives without once having the realization of the nihilism of the worldview that Achilles had when Agamemnon took his war prize Briseis him. The key is Chryseis who Apollo forced Agamemnon to give up. Her real name was Astynome:


  1. The daughter of Chryses (whence she is also called Chryseis), a priest of Apollo. She was taken prisoner by Achilles in the Hypoplacian Thebe or in Lyrnessus, whither she had been sent by her father for protection, or, according to others, to attend the celebration of a festival of Artemis. In the distribution of the booty she was given to Agamemnon, who, however, was obliged to restore her to her father, to soothe the anger of Apollo. (Hom. Il. i. 378; Eustath. ad Hom. pp. 77, 118; Dictys Cret. ii. 17.)”

If Astynome was at a festival of Artemis, then Achilles violated sacred limits when he took her prisoner. And it just so happened that her father was a priest of Apollo the brother of Artemis. Apollo and Artemis are opposites born of the same mother to Zeus as fraternal twins.
Apollo & Artimis:

These are the duals of Dionysus and Athena which were born from Zeus’s body directly. Thus Apollo/Artemis//Dionysus/Athena are a fourfold. Nietzsche famously wrote about the dualism in Greek culture represented by Apollo and Dionysus. Nietzsche identified with Dionysus, which was probably a mistake because Dionysus tends to drive everyone mad, and in fact Nietzsche went mad, (or so they say). Achilles then violated someone who was in devotion to Artemis, and so that was the original mistake. He was killed by an arrow from Paris which Apollo allowed to hit his weak spot on the heel.

“As predicted by Hector with his dying breath, Achilles was thereafter killed by Paris with an arrow (to the heel according to Statius). In some versions, the god Apollo guided Paris’ arrow. Some retellings also state that Achilles was scaling the gates of Troy and was hit with a poisoned arrow.”

“When the Greeks left for the Trojan War, they accidentally stopped in Mysia, ruled by King Telephus. In the resulting battle, Achilles gave Telephus a wound that would not heal; Telephus consulted an oracle, who stated that “he that wounded shall heal”. Guided by the oracle, he arrived at Argos, where Achilles healed him in order that he became their guide for the voyage to Troy.”

“According to other reports in Euripides’ lost play about Telephus, he went to Aulis pretending to be a beggar and asked Achilles to heal his wound. Achilles refused, claiming to have no medical knowledge. Alternatively, Telephus held Orestes for ransom, the ransom being Achilles’ aid in healing the wound. Odysseus reasoned that the spear had inflicted the wound; therefore, the spear must be able to heal it. Pieces of the spear were scraped off onto the wound and Telephus was healed.”

So Achilles gave Telephus a wound that would not heal. And the oracle gave him the word that Achilles who made the wound must heal it. Achilles on the other hand had his weakness where his mother held him either in a fire or in the river Styx by which she tried to make him immortal. A similar interrupted scene appears in the story of Demeter which is significant. It is by that weak place in his Heel that Apollo causes him to be killed by Paris a coward with a poisoned arrow, i.e. from a distance.

So wounding and wounded are opposites that play a role here in the story of Achilles who was almost immortal except for a small place where he was vulnerable where by the luck of the gods could be struck by a lesser man from a distance. And that man happened to be the one who stole Helen and caused the war in the first place. So Achilles was killed by his nihilistic opposite, one who stole a woman to cause the war to occur who was a coward and who struck from afar by a poisoned arrow. But Paris could not have done that without the help of Apollo who guided that arrow. It was Apollo who caused Agamemnon’s female war prize to be taken away so he as a side effect would seize the female war prize of Achilles.

Apollo is a wolf god, who is the god of initiation. And during initiation the young boy is given a wound which you see in the would of Odysseus during his initiation given to him by a wild boar. Achilles is wounds others such that their wounds do not heal and is wounded himself by a poisoned arrow in his vulnerable spot. He must heal the wound he makes, which is the first sign of his reflexivity. Apollo is on the both sides of Achilles downfall because he forces Agamemnon to give up A so that he will take B and thus produce the realization of nihilism in Achilles that leads to Achilles nihilistic reactions. And he is there guiding the arrow of paris the nihilistic opposite of Achilles home and making the revenge of his sister Artemis complete.
Apollo & Artimis:

Thus Artimis and Apollo play a key role in the Iliad while the key roles in the Odyssey are played by Dionysus and Athena. Artimis is hidden and Apollo is manifest in the Iliad, and Dionysus is hidden and Athena is manifest in the Odyssey. Dionysus is hidden in the Hydra of the suitors who protect Penelope from each other by their vying to marry her when Odysseus is too late home. So in one case the hidden cause of the action is female and the other the hidden cause of the action is male and vice versa with the apparent cause of the action. Thus the nihilistic opposites of Apollo and Artemis, the initiators of males and females who cause them to appear through initiation as adults in society and the opposites of Dionysus and Athena who are themselves the self-productions of the nihilistic two faced storm god Zeus (Baal in Ugritic mythology) whose faces were too light and too dark.

Dionysus is a male that acts like a feminine and Athena is a female who acts like a masculine. Apollo and Artemis are the natural best representatives of Masculine and Feminine primordial virtues and thus are the gods of the boys (wolves) and girls (bears).


All these complex dualities that play themselves out in Greek myth that are expressed in the epics cannot be accidental. They are all precisely worked out so that we can understand the duality of our worldview.


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Quora answer: What is Achilles’s greatest accomplishment?

Jul 24 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Achilles’ greatest accomplishment was to realize the nihilism of his situation within the Western worldview and to embody that nihilism so we can understand our situation within the same worldview. What is key is that the Western worldview has not changed its structure in all this time so the situation that Achilles finds himself in is analogous to the situation we are all in within this strange, unique and onefold worldview.

The Iliad starts and focuses in on a conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon over Bresius a female slave who was considered a war prize. When Agamemnon had to give up his war prize female slave he took the one given to Achilles to make restitution. At this point Achilles realizes something fundamental, that there was no difference that made a difference between the Acheaens and the Trojans. Both of them stole women and besmirched the honor of Greek men by that means. At the point of that realization Achilles withdrew from the Battle. The Acheaens began to lose without him. Then Patroclus had the idea of appearing in the armor of Achilles to rally the troops. But he was cut down when he did that, and it sent Achilles into a berzerker rage, which only ended when the father of Hector came to get his body from Achilles. This scene of too much passivity followed by too much activity was a nihilistic response to a nihilistic situation. Nihilism as Stanley Rosen tells us is when there are two extreme artificial opposites in conflict which eventually are seen as the same, and when they are seen as the same then we lose meaning in our worldview because we no longer believe in the cause to which we were dedicated when we participated in the illusory conflict. A perfect example of this is the Democrats and Republicans who seem to be in conflict, even more these days. But it is really incumbents from either party who rule because they can pass laws that do not apply to themselves. Any two parties to a conflict become more and more like each other as they carry on the conflict in order to be able to succeed against the other. So it is only natural that in an anagogic swerve it is possible to change points of view and see that they are actually essentially the same despite superficial differences. Achilles realized that the whole war which was in the nineteenth year was really for naught because Agamemnon acted just like their enemy in this way what was analogous to the reason that they were fighting the war, which was to return the honor to Menelaus who lost his wife to Paris.

Once we realize that the whole of the focus of the Iliad is on this personal conflict and Achilles response to the action of Agamemnon because it involves a realization of the baselessness of the conflict on the part of Achilles. Why is it Achilles that realizes this, who has a bit of self-consciousness about the interminable war. It is because Achilles is already caught in the net of Nihilism. He was given the choice between living long without glory, or having a short glorious life. So already his life was fated to be caught in the web of nihilistic opposites, which can also be seen in his two responses which was withdraw and passivity in the midst of conflict, and then bezerker rage when his male lover was killed, i.e. being over active within the conflict, becoming like a natural force rather than being a human. Every thing about the myth indicates that Achilles life was one of entrapment by nihilism, up to including the fact that he was invulnerable everywhere on his body but on his heel where he was vulnerable.

It is important to remember that his mother was Thetis who was married to Peleus, in one of the few marriages that all the Gods attended. But it was at this marriage that Eris (strive) was not invited to that, she made appear the golden Apple, and it was Paris who was asked to choose which was the most beautiful of the Goddesses who should get the Apple. Paris chose Aphrodite, and for that she rewarded him with the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen who was already married to Menelaus. So strife entered into the Marriage of Thetis the nymph who was forced to marry a human because it was said that her son would be greater than his father, so Poseidon, Hades and Zeus decided that she should marry a human against her will so that the realms of the Gods and their balance of power should not be disturbed. Achilles was taught be Charon the Centaur like his father. And Achilles grew up to be a very great Hero, due to the oracle about him being greater than his father, who was great enough to wrestle a goddess into submission through her transformations. There are two parallels in myth that we have to be aware of. First of all only Thetis and Demeter wore the black cloaks of Grief, one for a son and the other for a daughter, and so the stories of Achilles and Persephone are in some way parallel. And also Menelaus wrestled with the Old Man in the sea to get word of Agamemnon who he had to hold on to as the old man transformed though various emanations before he was subdued and was forced to give his news to Menelaus. Both of these parallels are important. Achilles is fated to die like his father rather than becoming an immortal. The grief of Thetis has to do with the fact that her son is not immortal as she is and though him she tastes something of the devastation of time which takes all the humans to the grave eventually. Menelaus on the other hand becomes an immortal with his unfaithful wife Helen, but at least he was not killed on his homecoming as Agamemnon was by his unfaithful wife. Demeter also feels grief because her daughter is kidnapped by Hades and although she is immortal she must live in the underworld half the year, i.e. during the winter. Kore the innocent daughter becomes Persephone the terrible goddess married to Hades. Because the door to the underworld was seen as the hearth within the home there was a since in which all Greek women were married to Hades. But the secret of the mysteries appears to be that Persephone had an affair with Dionysus who was the only God to experience Death, and they had a child who was Pluto, the golden child. A child which like Gold could not tarnish, i.e. could not be effected by Death. In some sense this child is parallel to the Son of Achilles who comes to replace Achilles after the father is slain. Although the father dies the son carries on, and this is the only taste of immortality that humans have other than their names living on because of their acts of glory. So in a sense Achilles represents the fate of humans to only have access to immortality either through their names being preserved by the poems of poets that tell of their glorious deeds, or by passing on those names to sons who live up to their fathers names as Achilles son did. So Achilles represents the highest reward of humans by the Gods who confer on them glory in their offspring or in their deeds and the preservation of their names in poetry and in genealogy.

The mystery of Eleusis was the best kept secret of the ancient world. We really do not know what the vision was that was shown to the initiates. But it was rumored to be of a golden child, i.e. of Pluto, i.e. the child who was glorious and whose glory never faded because he was born in the underworld, perhaps with the Dionysus rather than Hades as his father. All we have are hints so this is a speculation. But if we compare the golden child born in Hades to Achilles son then we see that there is a parallel, in as much that the son of Achilles, lives up to his fathers name, bears his name, and both father and son do deeds of heroism to be remembered by the poets in the epics. This son of Achilles is above the earth, but there is a counterpart below the earth, which is born of Persephone and Dionysus, the only gods to taste Hades as Humans do. Persephone does not die but she enters and leaves the underworld. Dionysus was dismembered by the Titans and had to be reconstituted. Dionysus is the dual of Athena. Athena is born out of the Head of Zeus and Dionysus is born out of this thigh. These are nihilistic opposites, which is apropos because Zeus is the God who is a Storm God, like Baal of Ugritic myth, who has a dark and light face, i.e. the too much darkness of the thundercloud and the too bright of the lightening. So Zeus embodies nihilism, and the offspring that come from him directly are Athena and Dionysus each of whom play a role in the Odyssey. Athena is a key figure in the Odyssey, as Aphrodite is a key figure in the Iliad. Athena and Hera the losers in the beauty contest, are on the side of the Acheaens while Aphrodite is on the side of the Trojans because Paris picked her over the other Goddesses.

Who will taste death and slavery in Troy, Hector and his Wife, but also their young son who will not live on to carry the name of his Father, nor do glorious deeds. This son who is the son of the good wife, and the glorious hero against insurmountable odds trying to protect his family and city and especially his son, is the opposite of the golden child from the underworld. Both are fated to be only children.

But why would this untarnishable child be such a great consolation to the Greeks within the mysteries. Plato almost gives the secret away when he talks of the men of earth who only know what they can hold in their hands, and those initiated into the lesser mysteries like Heraclitus who think the invisible realm is flux (Dynamic Becoming, or Process Being), and those initiated into the greater mysteries like Parmenides who think that the invisible realm is stasis (Frozen Pure Being). But then Plato has the sophist go on and say that what we really want is Change and Changelessness at the same time. Plato calls this in the Timaeus the WorldSoul, i.e. a moving image of Eternity in time. The golden child is the one who will be ever young, and who will not taste the ravages of time, but is fated to remain like hidden gold under the earth. This is very much like a comment I made in another answer where I talked about how entropy only effects complex things beyond the atoms, because the atoms, are eternal. And thus as we look around at things, we can see them as eternal, even ourselves even though we are perishable at the macroscale, at the atomic scale everything we are made of does not experience entropy and only can be destroyed or transmuted by falling into a star or a black hole. Thus in our life and death we are all golden in some sense, because at the atomic level we cannot be tarnished by entropy. Thus there are really two forms of Glory, one is that which comes from the eternality of our substance, and the other comes from deeds and our names being passed down through time after we are gone. It is rumored that this golden child is not related to Hades but to Dionysus, who is the god of perpetual new emergent beginnings and he gives rise to Pluto through the one Goddess who is constantly cycling between the realm of Hades and the world of light above. So it is the god and goddess that taste death who can give rise to deathlessness of the Golden child, and in a sense we are all that Golden child despite the fact that we will die, and the child of Hector and his wife who are fated to lose their child, is also golden in this sense, because he has lived, in some sense at the most basic level he cannot be tarnished by entropy despite the fact that he will be killed. So in the glimpse we are given of the child of Hector and his wife before the battle in which Hector is killed that child lives on because of that mention by the poet, as does the deeds of his father even though ultimately the father was killed and the Trojans lost the war though their own gullibility.

Hector in some ways gave his life for naught. But in the scene we see when Hector is with his family there is deep meaning, because it refers to the normality of life, more than anything else in the rest of the epic. It is really the only family scene. But the lives of families together are dependent on the defense of cities, and the cooperation of those who live within the cities and take on their defense.

I hope you are getting a sense of the depth of this story that we can see through the mythic interconnections we can find. Achilles makes a choice to have a short life but to die in glory. This shows us that glory is the most significant thing to the Greeks. And even the losers if they fight valiantly receive their share of glory and honor as Hector did when Achilles gave Hector’s father the body of Hector. This exchange made Achilles human again because it reminded him that he would never see his father again, unlike Odysseus who would see his own father again after many trails when he returned home. The father is the source of honor when he buries his son and and the source of humanity when the son realizes that his own relation with his father will ultimately be like that of Hector. Both will die as heros outlived by their fathers, and thus they won’t be carrying on the names of their fathers, even though they did deeds of Glory. In some deep sense Achilles realizes that he and Hector is the same. Achilles realizes that just as he dragged the body of Hector around the city, so he is being dragged by fate around and around until he will be just as dead, and will experience the underworld. When Odysseus sees him in the underworld Achilles says he would rather be a slave than dead. Achilles actions make it possible for the Acheaens to enslave the Trojans, but Achilles is saying he would just as soon as lost and been enslaved rather than become a shade within hades, like the other shades that Odysseus meets. Thus Achilles says he should have made the choice for long obscure death with no glory rather than the choice he made, now that he knows the truth of death. But either way Achilles would have died, and so it is ultimately a false choice. Everywhere we turn when it comes to Achilles we confront some aspect of his existence which is nihilistic. In truth, he was meant to be a golden child because he was fated to be greater than his father, so because of that the Gods agreed not to make love to Thetis, and they arranged the marriage to Peleus instead. He could have been a God, if one of the Great Gods had mated with his mother, but their agreement to each leave her alone, and to give her to a human, fated Achilles to die and thus stole immortality from him. It is the Gods who are golden. They do not tarnish, but the ones of them to experience death in spite of their immortality were the ones to give rise to the golden child below the earth.

One of the differences between the Iliad and Odyssey is the account of what happen to Helen’s brothers, and why they did not participate in her rescue. One says that they are dead above ground and the other says they are alive underground. This is a very interesting statement because it alludes to the difference between the son of Achilles and the Golden Child. If you are above ground you will taste death, but if you stay below ground you will continue to live. In stead of her brothers Helen is rescued by her husband and his brother, this shows the difference between Matriarchy and Patriarchy in action. Matriarchy is represented by Demeter and Persephone, while Patriarchy is represented by the agreement as to who Thetis should marry by the Patriarchs. On the other hand strife who was not invited to the wedding sows discord by throwing into the gathering a golden apple into the gathering which had inscribed on it “To the most beautiful”. Paris is chosen to make the choice between the goddesses, and he chooses Aphrodite’s bribe over the bribes of the other goddesses. And this choice between the three sets off the events that lead to the War. So a human is given this choice of the most beautiful, and he accepts the bribe that gives him the most beautiful, who is Helen. Paris makes a fateful choice which sets the stage for the fateful choice of Achilles who chose short life with glory as did Hector. Helen and Thetis had no choice as how their fates were allotted to them, one by the patriarchs agreeing about who she should marry, and the other by the Goddess who won the Beauty contest who gave her as a bribe and thus took her away from her husband.

There is in Greek myth almost an infinite horizon that we can explore in this way giving ever deeper meaning to the great deed of Achilles of embodying nihilism but realizing it within his companions when it was manifest in their action, and although his response was nihilistic, this little glimpse of self-consciousness concerning the nihilistic situation he was in within the Western worldview, shows against Hegel that Achilles did not have to become a slave to realize the essential nature of his existence and the worldview that he was within which is suffused with nihilism though and through and thus the fate of Achilles is the same as our own who are the inheritors of this strange, unique and onefold worldview that is the gift to us of the Indo-Europeans who all had Neanderthal DNA unlike the people who did not leave africa. And so those who did not leave Africa who are the brunt of racism, are in fact the only true humans and the rest of us, like the Indo-Europeans are hybrids of humans and Neanderthal humanoid species. Could the battle of the devas and asuras, or olympians and titans be a remnant of the battle between the new humans and the Neanderthal at the threshold of the Garden of Eden, i.e. Africa. The humans wandered out of Africa and were met by the Neanderthal already living in the Middle East in in Europe. Humans may have been enslaved at this threshold by the Neanderthal and eventually broke free and established themselves all over the globe taking the neanderthal and human distinction with them as they set up various new homelands. So interesting that Aryans believe that they are the superior race when they along with all of us outside of Africa are really the bastard children of Neanderthals and Humans mixed. Only the Africans are not half-breeds even though they have been the brunt of racism since the beginning of time. This irony is so deep it is almost difficult to maintain ones dignity in the face of it. We have greatly wronged the most human amongst us throughout the ages. Such is the nature of the hybrid creatures we are . . . Perhaps Nietzsche’s ubermen who are closer to the earth are merely the African Humans who we have never recognized for their intrinsic truth of being intrinsically and essentially more human than ourselves, i.e. those from outside of Africa. The distinctions between kinds of human may have resulted in the theory seen in myth that there are different gods for the different species. At one time there were at least five species of humanoids on the planet together. And it just so happens that there are five meta-levels of the negation of existence (as with the meta-levels of Being). In other words there are five different kinds of Being, that are essentially different, and these are the obverse of five different kinds of non-Existence.

Let us think for a while about these civilizations on the threshold of Africa in the Middle East. The sumerians were unique with respect to their whole language as there is none other like it that we know. Egyptians were what was left of the people who migrated from north africa when the Sahara became a desert, so they are the remnant of the Berbers that also still exist in Morocco, a truly lost race buried for the most part under the sand except for those who made it to Egypt. Then there are the semites who were unique in worshiping one God and making contracts with that God. And finally there is the Indo-Europeans who have the uniqueness of Being within their language. All these groups in this area have something unique about them. And it is out of the interaction of these various worlds that the Western worldview was forged in the Middle East. These four worldviews with their unique characteristics combined into the Meta-worldview which has become the Western meta-worldview that has become dominant. And interestingly it is precisely at this point that humans encountered already indigenous Neanderthals and mixed with them somehow. It is interesting that the world dominant worldview has come out of precisely this area. And something that these various worldviews shared in different ways was the idea of generations of Gods, but it is the Indo-Europeans who had the idea that these various generations actually warred on each other so that sons displaced fathers. It is also interesting that the Gods have sex with humans to produce half-breed heros. I will not continue along these lines but I am sure you get the idea that perhaps the human-neanderthal mixture had wider repercussions than we had imagined previously.

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Quora answer: Who is the greater hero, Achilles or Odysseus?

Jul 23 2011 Published by under Uncategorized



Hector is the true hero of the Iliad, which is part of its irony. It is not a matter of two people writing these two epics assigned to Homer, but that they were part of an Epic tradition of which we only have two original epics out of the set:

  • Titanomachy — does not exist
  • Jason and the Argonauts — later version exists
  • Gathering of the Heros — Inviting the Achaeans to the venture against Troy — no longer exists
  • Iliad — original
  • After the Iliad — the rest of the Trojan war, late version exists
  • Odyssey — original
  • Odysseus’ land journey — does not exist

So you can see we are lucky to have the parts we do have, and the late versions that were reconstructed of two of them. We only have 4% of the Greek corpus.

Now in my opinion the only way to get a handle on what is going on in these Epics we do have is to read as many commentaries as possible which I have tried to pursue. And when you do that you see that these are really extraordinary books about the nature of the Western worldview. And they are about the key feature of the Western worldview pointed out by Nietzsche and Heidegger which is the production of nihilism in our worldview. And these epics address this question of nihilism in very interesting ways.

It is not a matter of liking Achilles, Odysseus, Hector, Paris, or Ajax, etc but a matter of appreciating what they represent as the range of human responses to living in a world where sieges were the norm. Greeks were continually fighting and taking each other’s cities and enslaving the inhabitants of other cities, or being enslaved themselves. It was a Greek city devour Greek city world. And the Iliad shows an example of this primal struggle between city states. Within that context men who were in battle sought Glory. And the various characters in the Iliad show us the various approaches to Glory, or Infamy that could be taken.

Achilles is the focus of the epic because he is the one who realizes the nihilism of the situation of continual war. One has to remember that Helen was really almost a goddess and thus a prize that was worth fighting over. Helen it is said had five lovers. And this is because she is the same person as Draupadi in the Mahabharata. Once we realize that the story of the Iliad and Odyssey is the same as the story of the Mahabharata then we begin to see that it is an echo of an ancient Indo-European tale. What is interesting is that it appears that the Iliad and Odyssey are more archaic than the Mahabharata. It was one of Dumazil’s students that realized that the Mahabharata was the projection on the human plane of the war between the Devas and Asuras, i.e. the missing myth behind the songs of praise in the Vedas. And this is equivalent to the Titomachia which unfortunately we lost in Greek world as well. The war between Troy and the Achaeans is an echo of that first war of the gods on the Human plane as is the Mahabharata. Once we realize this, then we can appeal to both Epics to reinforce each of them. Interestingly the Pandavas are the those we are meant to identify with in the Mahabharata, and they are fighting the 100 brothers born from a stone. When we look into it we see that these men of earth who are evil in the Mahabharata are the Achaeans of the Iliad. And so fortunately the two Epics are from two different points of view, and this really helps us in our trying to understand the more primordial epic which is the source of both of them. I have written about this in my book Fragmentation of Being and the Path Beyond the Void (

Another key point is that the War at the end of the Mahabharata is equivalent to the killing of the Suitors in the Odyssey, and thus the wars are different. The Iliad war was told in India as the Ramayana their other major epic which basically has the same story as the Iliad but is much more idealized, so much so that it does not give us much of a hint what the original story was about as much as the Iliad does. Basically there are two wars, one at the beginning of time and one at the end of time. The one at the end of time is preserved in the Norse mythology, and the one at the beginning of time was the one between the Gods, these two wars get ramified and echoed in human conflict as we see in the Ramayana/Mahabharata and Iliad/Odyssey. Another landmark is the Trojan horse is the same as the dice game which is lost and in which Draupadi was disrobed, but that become impossible. Once you know these markers you can figure out the parallels between the epics pretty much on your own. In both cases the heroes are the sons of the Gods. It is interesting that the Achaeans are not the Pandavas because they had all these myths of being born from the earth just as the cousins of the Pandavas were born from a stone. Basically these are what Plato called men of Earth. This also shows why the Achaeans are portrayed in such a bad light, even though they are the group from whose point of view the war is told, and it also indicates why Hector is the real hero of the epic.

Both Achilles and Odysseus in their respective Epics confront nihilism. Achilles shows us the problem of nihilism and Odysseus offers us a solution even though he is such a tricky and unsavory character driven by his stomach as the story says over and over. Odysseus is descended from Prometheus who was also a trickster. So there is good reason for his being portrayed in this less than perfect light. But for all his shortcomings he is a hero and one favored by the gods and he is the one who goes deepest into the core of the Western worldview on his sea journey attempting to solve the problem of Nihilism discovered so poignantly by Achilles. Achilles represents the one who is ensnared by Nihilism as was Odysseus where Hector is the Glorious Hero who defends his city to the death as all the Greeks were suppose to do. If even foreigners act like Hector then the Greeks should act even more glorious and noble a manner in battle. Also since Troy was on Asia Minor the Trojans were seen as non-Greek, and so the epic in a way can also be read in terms of the struggles between the Greeks and Persians that came later even though that is anachronistic, because the Greeks did show themselves as glorious in their wars against the Persians when they were invaded instead of being the invaders.

We should not so much go on how we feel about the characters as seeing them as part of the spectrum of human experience in the face of War and Nihilism which were both endemic to the Western worldview, and still are.


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Quora answer: How can the idea put forward by Gregory Bateson be explained in simple terms, that if mind be supposed immanent in the body, then it must be transcendent, and if transcendent, it must be immanent?

Jul 23 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson in the chapter “The Cybernetics of ‘Self’: A Theory of Alcoholism”.

Here are the relevant passages from the essay . . .

“Thus, in no system which shows mental characteristics can any part have unilateral control over the whole. In other words, the mental characteristics of the system are immanent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole.”

“Similarly, we may say that “mind” is immanent in those circuits of the brain which are complete within the brain. Or that mind is immanent in circuits which are complete within the system, brain plus body. Or, finally, that mind is immanent in the larger system—man plus environment.”

“The total self-corrective unit which processes information, or, as I say, “thinks” and “acts” and “decides,” is a system whose boundaries do not at all coincide with the boundaries either of the body or of what is popularly called the “self” or “consciousness”; and it is important to notice that there are multiple differences between the thinking system and the “self” as popularly conceived:

(1) The system is not a transcendent entity as the “self” is commonly supposed to be.
(2) The ideas are immanent in a network of causal pathways along which transforms of difference are conducted. The “ideas” of the system are in all cases at least binary in structure. They are not “impulses” but “information.”
(3) This network of pathways is not bounded with consciousness but extends to include the pathways of all unconscious mentation—both autonomic and repressed,neural and hormonal.
(4) The network is not bounded by the skin but includes all external pathways along which information can travel. It also includes those effective differences which are immanent in the “objects” of such information. It includes the path ways of sound and light along which travel transforms of differences originally immanent in things and other people—and especially in our own actions.”
“The so-called “Body-Mind” problem is wrongly posed in terms which force the argument toward paradox: if mind be supposed immanent in the body, then it must be transcendent. If transcendent, it must be immanent. And so on.”

The idea of Bateson is that the Self is more than just the body but a cybernetic circuit that reaches beyond the body into the environment. Because of that the mind/body duality is a misconception that produces the transcendent/immanent duality, and that what is really going on is an interchange in a cybernetic circuit that reaches beyond us and is neither immanent or transcendent.

Basically he is saying that the mind/body duality which takes the body’s boundary as the limit of our self creates a double bind which does not allow us to actually assign transcendent nor immanent without them cycling between each other in an oscillation. G. Spencer Brown makes a similar point with regard to circuits in electronics from which he derives his boundary logic. N. Hellerstein in Delta and Diamond logics. Hellerstien shows that there are two limiting paradoxes in the G. Spencer-Brown logic, and in DELTA he reduces these to one. But knowing that paradoxes come naturally in pairs in DIAMOND logic helps, because we can see that two contradictions give us a paradox and two paradoxes give us an absurdity. So let us say we see the body as the locus of Mind rather than a circuit of information feedback with the environment. Then according to Bateson we are trapping the mind within this locus without giving it any possibility of explanation. The mind suddenly is the dual of the body and must be transcendental because we cannot find it anywhere. On the other hand if we see the mind as Immanent in the body, then it is unclear how it can be just in the brain because our mind indwells in our whole body. So either the mind is a transcendental as Descartes thought which is outside extension as the Cogito, or it is within the body in which it is locatable only in the brain and thus it does not explain our experience as beings in the world as Heidegger would say. But if we see the self as going beyond the body out into the environment or the ego being an interconnection with the whole body and not just a mind trapped in a brain, then this larger conception of information flow breaks the paradox of dualism that results in Brain/Mind, or Body/Mind dualisms that generate paradoxes within our tradition, because there is no grounding for these dualisms and they collapse together when taken to be absolute.

So for instance in Kant there are three transcendentals, Ego, God, Object. God keeps in sync the subject’s experiences and the noumena. Ego and Object as transcendentals are the extremes of the subject/object dichotomy. And the only way we can think that they are kept in sync is by the activity of God as deus ex machina. When the transcendentals are separated from each other in this way radically then it is impossible to see how to get them together again. This problem appears in Husserl as his idea of Bracketing. And it was only later that he realized that one could take the world as the ultimate horizon and solve the problem of solipsism and the noumena in one fell swoop and which Heidegger took advantage of in Being and Time with the idea of Dasein as pre-objective and pre-subjective projector of apriori synthesis as being-in-the-world embedded always already in the Mitsein (They).

Why do dualisms generate paradoxes? This is because dualisms are extreme artificial differences, that are not really differences, which are nihilistic. The extremes collapse together making a mixture that cannot be separated out again. This is why the limit for thought in our tradition is contradiction, paradox or absurdity. This is the limit of the Divided line on the side of Doxa. What we forget is that there is the other limit on the side of Ratio which is the Supra-Rational. The Supra-Rational is when two things are not mixed but occur at the same time without mixing. The Supra-Rational is made up of non-nihilistic distinctions, like the distinctions that Plato makes between the source-forms. Dualism is when there are two artificial extreme opposites that tend to collapse together and mix and there is nothing that keeps them apart in a grounded fashion, nothing that is like Plato says that allows us to cut through the joint rather than the bone. In dualism there is a struggle between these artificial extreme opposites that are nihilistic where one tries to become dominate over the other and destroy it utterly.

A good example of this is the ideologies that fought it out in the last century. Capitalism won this battle with the two extremes of Fascism and Communism. But Capitalism was transformed in the process. And so now we have globalization because these other ideologies are no longer a threat to world stability. Fascism and Communism were both totalitarian systems based on mass movements, and this is why western intellectuals are so suspicious of the masses, and mass movements (cf Cannetti, Crowds and Power). Totalitarian Mass movements are a danger to the individualization of Capitalism. In capitalism the mass is a market. Both Fascism and Communism attempted to produce a society based on either the proletariat, the mass of workers who should own them means of production, or the Volk which is a nationalist image of the folk of a country to produce a kind of socialism where the wealth is shared by he people based on their race and their connection to the fatherland. One source of the mass is the production capability of the workers and the other is the language and culture and history of a people. Capitalism attempts to atomize individuals with private property laws, and then treat them as a mass as they interact with the commodity market. Baudrillard in his book Mirror of Production shows that communism and capitalism share the same assumption that people are made to be productive, and life without productivity is seen as empty and worthless. Fascism bases socialism on the genetic roots of the people and attempts to get rid of anyone who is not of those same genetic roots.

“Nazism promoted an economic Third Position; a managed economy that was neither capitalist nor communist. The Nazis accused communism and capitalism of being associated with Jewish influences and interests.”

From the point of view of the Nazis it was capitalism and communism that were the nihilistic opposites because the real basis of judgement for them was race.

From the point of view of the Communists both the Nazis and the Capitalists believed in private property and exploitation of the working class.

From the point of view of the Capitalists Nazism and Communism were ideological extremes and Capitalism saw itself as Non-Ideological and supporting Freedom and Liberty from Totalitarianism.

Each of the three ideologies, which in Orwell’s 1984 were portrayed as continually at war with each other continually changing sides saw itself as the middle between the other two. As the winners of this century long conquest we can now portray the fascists and communists as the nihilistic opposites but it was not always this clear when the world was still up for grabs. But what Fasicsm and Communism shared was Totalitarianism in which everyone was in thrall to a supreme leader (Hitler, Stalin) and there was no rule of law, and in fact it was a Napoleonic type of regime of secular sovereignty where the oligarchic party rules, like in China today.

Now we are in a situation where our economy is being shaped by our interaction with China as it has been shaped by our interaction with the Middle East dictatorships. This is seen in the relation of China to Walmart. China is pure capitalism unchecked. In communism the owner of production is the state. China is keeping up its GNP by constructing cities that stand empty after construction. This is maintained by a kind of petrol-dollar arrangement where we borrow money to buy Chinese goods and then they buy US bonds with it and thus finance our debt. But the Chinese cannot go on building cities that no one lives in, and we cannot go on creating greater and greater debt. Eventually something catastrophic will happen in the global markets probably far worse than the Financial crisis based on packaging and reselling sub-prime loans. But this situation that now exists with our major global competitor which is rapidly becoming a technological and economic power house is of course nihilistic. And what Bateson is suggesting is that it is in the Petrol-Dollars and the Walmart Dollars and this virtuous circulation that in both cases undermines our economy, that the self lies, not in the individuals partaking in the exchange, but in the exchange circuit itself. So there is no transcendental ideology associated with any of regimes as they claimed in the last century, nor is there the immanence of the romantic genetic source of the folk, but rather there is the global economic circulation that defines all the players in the game from Bateson’s point of view.

The nihilistic opposites collapse into each other but then produce paradoxical limits when they mix with each other. These dual paradoxes then are the basis for the generation of a new set of artificial extreme opposites that separate themselves from the paradoxes so that the paradoxes collapse back into absurdity. This is the real dialectic of history within the Western Worldview that works out as Hegel’s absolute reason in history.

So fascism came out of the economic plight of Germany after WWI, where reparations were too onerous. Germany was a hot bed of both Communist and Fascist activity because it was one of the most industrialized countries, Communism was a reaction to Robber Baron capitalism, and Fascism was a reaction to the disgrace of the German people after WWI and the romantic appeal to their common roots as Indo-Europeans based on Aryan racism and the Philology that studied Indo-European origins. But because both were mass movements tending toward totalitarianism they immediately faced off against each other especially after the Fascists took over Germany and the Communists took over Russia. The street battles between Fascists and Communists in Germany were now played out on a continental stage. Germany took Poland to get living room as a buffer between itself and Russia. The fascists around the world formed an Axis to prevent the spread of Communism and moved to take over Europe in a bid to prevent any of its countries from becoming communist and in an attempt to create a block that could withstand an attack from Russia with its vast resources. So although Fascism and Communism had different roots, but they were the same in terms of being totalitarian mass movements of a Napoleonic character, i.e. with secular sovereignty. So these are nihilistic opposites because they are really the same in terms of being mass ideological movements. Capitalism saw instead individualism as the ideal with private rather than state owned or directed enterprise and represented the mass as markets.

Now what happened was that the Russians became our Allies of necessity against the Fascists Axis powers. And instead of the Russians and Germans destroying one another, the Allies won which allowed Spain as a fascist state (because it remained neutral) and Russia as a communist state (because it was a necessary ally) to survive. So then after WWI the new stand off was between the Nato Allies and the Soviets. So the nihilistic opposites did not cancel as we might have expected, but instead an asymmetry was produced where the capitalists had to stand up against the Communists across the globe, after the fascists were defeated. Now since an asymmetry occurred historically the two nihilistic opposites did not cancel each other out by mutual destruction or by Monistic dominance of one over the other. So the paradoxically was also lopsided. One aspect of that was that we were allies with the Communist resistance in France, and so after the war, communism was strong in France, and in effect all the intellectuals were communist. This meant that there were communist intellectuals not under Soviet control, who could think freely since they were part of a republic recreated by the British and Americans. This prevalence of Communism within the Republic of France after the war led to a great deal of creative intellectual activity. And we have them to thank for preserving and developing further continental philosophy. But Ironically all this development took place based on the work of Heidegger who was a Nazi, who after the war was prevented from speaking and talking in public for years. Heidegger was even denounced by Jaspers who saw him as a danger even after the war. So Heidegger went on with his philosophizing in private and continued to publish enigmatic essays. So it is fascinating to me that Heidegger’s survival of the War and the Communist resistance in France combined to produce an astounding intellectual legacy. This is one of the paradoxes that communism and fascism combined to give us Continental Philosophy with its penchant for revolution as fostered by Sartre. But what we saw in Cambodia was also very telling which as a mass genocide undertaken by French trained intellectuals back in their homeland after training in France. Pol Pot was the quintessential product of the French Philosophy, just as the French Revolution was for Hegel the result of Kantian philosophy.

Bernard-Henri Lévy has an interesting take on this, he says that after Pol Pot some of the French intellectuals realized that Revolution always entailed genocide, and so the whole idea of the advocacy of revolution such as that of Sartre needs to be rethought. This is because ideologies tend to want to eliminate everyone who does not fit the stereotype that they advocate. So the French intellectuals in promoting revolution around the world and communism, even if it was not Soviet brand communism, were implicated in genocide, similar to the terror that occurred after the French Revolution. This extreme drive to purity that leads to genocide paradoxically unfolds intellectual ideas and the ideologies that are created by these nihilistic opposites into terror and death. This is more or less the inverse of the Mind/Body problem. Here the mind is producing the nihilism that leads to the suffering and death of the masses and their bodies form mass graves in the aftermath of the revolution. The interesting sign is the fact that if you had glasses you were seen as an intellectual and put to death in Cambodia even though it was intellectuals trying to produce a pure paradise who were behind the genocide which was carried out for ideological reasons. Thus the miracle of the intellectual creativity, and island of Communist activity in a capitalist sea, was directly linked to revolution and genocide in the third world, attempting to regain their sovereignty after the breakup of colonialism which is a black hole which is the extreme opposite of the miracle of intellectual ferment happening in Paris.

Now Continental Philosophy squares off against Analytical Philosophy to form another nihilistic pair, one fascinating and the other stiflingly boring, one engaged in the world and offering cultural critique like Zizek does, and the other stranded in dying philosophy departments throughout the US while English majors embrace Continental Philosophy because it helps them interpret the literature that they must write essays about. This schism is the product of the Cold War where Western intellectuals if they were to flourish had to avoid Communism and Politics in general, and had to become specialists rather than remaining generalists as philosophers should do. The Continentals took on Psychoanalysis, Global Politics, and Literature as well as many other subjects making these topics central to their critiques and studies. Analytic Philosophers stuck to boring arguments amongst themselves disconnected from culture and the lifeworld of our times and continued to play their language games. Analytic Philosophy is the result of McCarthyism and blacklists, while Continental Philosophy was the result of Marxist intellectual ferment freed from Soviet Dogma by a historical accident. But these are nihilistic opposites, just as are the philosophies of Heidegger and Wittgenstein as Stanley Rosen demonstrates.

Personally I do not like politics, and I am definitely not a historian, but Political History comes up all the time because it is such a perfect example of nihilistic opposites working themselves out in history. Even if you do not like my summary of these historical movements in the last century you can easily think up your own examples. We saw how Fascism had different roots from Communism but because they shared the quality of being Mass Totalitarian movements of the Napoleonic style they immediately faced off with each other and drew all the other nations into their conflict. But due to historical accidents they did not annihilate each other but in fact Fascism was defeated, and Soviet Russia lived on to become a new enemy of Capitalism during the Cold War where the ultimate nihilism occurred which is called Mutually Assured Destruction. But it turned out that we did not destroy each other and the Soviet empire imploded probably due to the Internet. So now we stand in symbiotic relations to China and India, and the Middle East through our policies of Globalization, which is a form of economic self-destruction due to our increasing lack of the means of production, and the continuing trends toward a purely service economy.

The basic idea of Bateson is that it is the flows of transcendentals that are immanent within the cybernetic system, and it is not body boundaries that are linked to transcendentals, but the exchange tokens and the information flows. So for instance BitCoin is a good example. This is a currency based on computation alone. It derives its value from the fact that there are only so many BitCoins in existence, but it needs no central control by financial institutions to flourish. This imaginary money is worth about $13 today. It is the ultimate computational currency where it is actually computational cycles that are the commodity that it is based upon. The Bitcoins are only given reality by their flow, and they carry the history of their transactions with them. Their value is purely transcendental to their flow of exchange, and the immanence of the computations that support that logging of the flow. Each bitcoin is a cryptographic sign, and its significance is diacritical within the plenum of all the existing bitcoins still in circulation. Bitcoins are almost better than stocks as a way to transfer value in the black and drug markets worldwide and for money laundering, because they do not depend on central banks and financial authorities for their generation or maintenance. Thus they are perhaps the first purely virtual exchange which only has value in its exchange with other currencies, which are equally fictitious but already established. Bitcoins is the perfect currency of the General Economy as defined by Bataille in Accursed Share. Restricted Economies have not realized the threat of the General Economy yet, but in actuality a Global Economy by definition has to be a General Economy. That is an economy where the currency is reified contradictions, paradoxes and absurdities of the restricted economies.

Thus we posit that the dialectic that amounts to Hegel’s Absolute Reason in history is one in which dialectical extreme artificial duals do not synthesize but fall together losing their meaning and mixing, and that this spawns dual paradoxes that fall together into Absurdity which in turn produces different Dualisms that are nihilistic which in turn again fall together and produce side effects of dual paradoxes again which again produces absurdity. The contradictions that Hegel sees overcome by Aufhebung is a lower resolution look at this dialectic which reverses it, like a film going backward as the nihilistic duals fall backward into the synthesis of the absurdity rather than arising from it. We can see the absurdity giving rise to the nihilistic opposites, and then as those mix then the twin limiting paradoxes are produced as unintended side-effect, which in turn collapse into absurdity for the cycle to start over again. Running forward we see that at first there are four contradictions that arise as a minimal system from the background of absurdity. The Greimas Square uses the logic of contraries and contradictories to maintain the difference between All, None, Some, Some not. This square has two contradictories crossing in the middle.
So that means that when the two nihilistic opposites arise from absurdity, they exist as two Greimas or Logical Squares. These are in the position of two universals that negate each other. Each dual wants to say that Every S is P or Q. And it wants to say to the other that No S is Q or P. But ultimately these contraries to each other admit the sub-alterns that Some S is P or Q, and Some S is not Q or P. This particularization that falls away from the All or universal statement and admits mixture is the means by which the two nihilistic duals mix and lose their identity in relation to each other, because they are artificial distinctions with no grounding in nature either human or otherwise. In this process the dual contraries become mixed and produce paradox when they collapse together, and then the two squares collapse together to produce the absurdity as a mass of mixture that they differentiate out of again with another conventional or normative distinction without roots that would make it non-nihilistic. And so it goes the dynamic of
Absolute Reason in Western History following the pattern of the Greimas Square derived from the Logical Square. All we have to do is add Existence, And, and Or that holds between the two opposites and we have logic as we know it.

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Quora answer: What is nirvana? Can it be obtained by a human being and if so, how?

Jul 22 2011 Published by under Uncategorized  Nirvana is a key concept in Buddhism but it causes a fundamental and deep problem in Buddhism with which it has struggled throughout its history. To understand how Buddhism got into this situation with a fundamental contradiction at its heart can only be understood if we take into account the evolution of the Buddhist heresy out of the Indo-European worldview in the form of Hinduism. The problem is that Buddhism is derived from the Indo-European worldview which is unique in having Being as a fundamental linguistic concept. Buddhism is a attempt to get away from Being and back to Existence. But the unfortunate problem is that once you have Being, if you try to return to existence, it does not mean you can return to the pristine state prior to the advent of Being. This is fundamental problem that once you are sullied with the illusory nature of Being you cannot return directly to a pristine state directly. This is part of the insidious nature of Maya. In some way, it is this contradiction that has made Buddhism so deep. if it did not have this contradiction that comes from its source in Hinduism then it would not nearly be as interesting philosophically. Because Buddhism has struggled with this fundamental contradiction at its core that it takes from Hinduism its depth is much greater. The basic problem is that Buddhism says that things are empty, especially the self, that they do not have Being (Sat). Yet the Buddha also accepted Karma which is a metaphysical kind of causality across lives through reincarnation and offers the escape from this wheel of Samsara (Birth and Death) as Nirvana (cessation). The basic contradiction is how can there be causation when everything is empty? There is no substantive basis to carry the causation, yet the struggle for freedom from Karma is the central drive that pushes Buddhists toward the realization of Nirvana. To understand this we need to go back to Hinduism. In Hinduism the Self has Being which gives it eternal continuity as Atman. Thus reincarnation is cycles of being for all living things and where you are in the great chain of Being is dependent on what you did in past lives. The reason that this exists in Hinduism is because it prevents the Gods from being blamed for ones fate in ones life. In other words it turns the responsibility for ones fate back on oneself. This argument that deflects responsibility from the gods has the and puts it in the individuals own past history, which they cannot control, means that fate becomes something one has manufactured oneself, and therefore there is no reason to pity someone who has brought their fate back on themselves from their own activity across infinite lives. Ironically this is what Nietzsche called Eternal Return. Eternal Return for Nietzsche was a measure for the worthwhileness of life that was not dependent on any transcendental like God. Notice that if the Gods are not responsible for Fate then really they are not needed anymore. Nietzsche said that we should live our lives such that if we do things in our life in such a way that if we were to live our lives over eternally we would not regret or get bored with what we have done. This is sort a kind of Golden Rule for oneself that does not involve our relation to others. It is a basis on which to judge our lives that depends on no transcendental entity, but merely timelessness over multiple reincarnations. Karma is the other way around because it says that we will be in different kinds of lives with different fates in those lives depending on what we did in other lives, and the reason that can happen is that there is the Substance of Being that guarantees the continuity of the Soul. Nietzsche converts this into a speculative pure repetition that does not need Karma but instead sees existence as a kind of repetition compulsion. Zizek says that the great discoveries of Freud and Kierkegaard was their views of the centrality of repetition. And so we can see that Nietzsche also has a part to play in the comprehension that repetition has some interesting repercussions as we see in Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. Now we can see that in Hinduism the Gods have really become irrelevant in someway because they have given up their control of the fates of men, but also we can see that in Hinduism there is an infinite weight of Being that each self carries with their own determination of their own fate across many lives. It is this infinite weight of Karma on individual human beings that Buddhism attempts to solve, by saying that the Continuity of Being (Sat) does not exist and the self is empty, and the realization of that brings about Nirvana or the cessation of the wheel of birth and death. Buddhism could not solve the problem for Hindus of the infinite pressure on them for their fate if they denied Karma any reality, if the solution of Nirvana (escape) is to be real, the problem (Karma) has to be real. And so this reality of Karma as a problem that gives rise to the reality of Nirvana as a solution go hand in hand. But because the solution is based on the realization of the emptiness of the cycle itself, but also because it is clear that life goes on after reaching Nirvana until ones death (Pari-nirvana) then the very basis for Karma is negated and yet it is accepted as real because otherwise Nirvana its cessation could not be real. Solving this enigma have kept Buddhist philosophers busy for centuries. And we can learn a lot about our own worldview, which is there worldview by studying their answers to this problem. It is basically a problem that only comes up in the Indo-European worldview with Being, and so the fact that Buddhism is an offshoot from the Hindu worldview means that Buddhism by providing an answer to a problem within the Indo-European worldview takes some of the Indo-European worldview into itself even though it is trying to leave Being behind. Saying that Being does not exist still calls attention to it, and thus does not escape its traces completely. What happens is that despite the rejection of Being, Buddhism remains with traces of Nihilism within its core despite its focus on non-duality. Once Being arises you cannot just immediately return to existence without carrying some of the infection of maya, dunya, dukkah with you back into existence. In this sense there is no direct way our of Being once you have become ensnared in its illusions. Because if this there is great doubt that many Western practitioners of Buddhism ever actually get out of this maze, but in most cases they remain in some sort of rarefied self-delusion. But on the other hand because Buddhism arises directly from the Indo-European worldview of Hinduism it is also perfectly applicable to the Western worldview and thus it is a genuine path toward non duality for Westerners who want to escape the duality of existence emphasized by Western culture throughout its history. However, because this way comes from the Indo-European worldview it is particularly suited for us as Westerners but also it does itself not escape completely the problematic of the Western worldview either particularly its nihilism. Buddhism remains fundamentally nihilistic in spite of its seeking nonduality as a state of existence. And in fact as I say in another answer it in fact uses nihilism of the worldview against itself to provide the leap to Nirvana. So Buddhism is essentially selling us our own snake oil back in different bottles believing that two wrongs do make a right, but unfortunately this is not exactly true and the slight asymmetry causes us not to actually be able to return to existence unsullied by Being. Now that we have some inkling of the problem that Buddhism attempts to solve, we need to understand the solution. Buddhists themselves realized fairly quickly that the Buddhist goal of Nirvana had the flaw of Selfishness, in other words I sought to become an Arhat and leave Samsara and do not mind if others continue to be ensnared. So it was realized fairly soon that another ideal, that of the Bhodhisattva was actually higher because it did not carry the taint of selfishness that could be posited of the Buddha’s positing Nirvana for oneself alone as the goal. The rise of this higher goal of the Mahayana, by being someone who swears to leave the circle of birth and death last after helping all others escape, appears lower on the scale from Buddhahood. Mahayana is the greater vehicle because it takes everyone to Cessation (not just one empty self at a time), and the holiest are those that wait the longest to enter the state of cessation. Another problem in early Buddhism that Mahayana solved was the fact that early Buddhists and probably the Buddha said only the Self was empty but there were about a hundred other dharmas (tattvas) had real Being. Eventually it was realized that for Buddhism to be self -consistent all dharmas had to be empty. As time went by Buddhism step by step erased the various inconsistencies in early Buddhism and in the process Buddhism became a very sophisticated philosophical approach to existence as nondual. But this nonduality was approached on the basis of a fundamental duality in the nature of truth. There are two truths, one is that of the mundane world, and the other is the world of enlightenment where nirvana is realized by the individual who then comes back into the world and lives as an enlightened being. The fact that there are these two truths, mundane and super-mundane is a fundamental belief of Buddhism. But it is no wonder that eventually a higher kind of Buddhism would come along which would challenge the two truths. And in fact there were several of these, the most interesting of which is DzogChen of Manjushrimitra and Mipham. Manjushrimitra turns Nagarjuna’s logic back against Buddhism producing a second order heresy that denies the two truths, and point out its dualism and nihilism. DzogChen is considered the highest form of Buddhism by the Tibetans. It is a kind of Buddhism that leaves Buddhism behind and is practiced by the Bon (in Tibet like the Taoist, Shinto) as well as the Buddhists. In DzogChen we come full circle finally and return to a pristine state, after carrying the infection of Being over into the Nondual on the way our of it. And this is a fundamental lesson. Getting out of Maya, Dunya, Dukkha is not so easy as just taking a nondual stance toward existence, one must get rid of the traces of nihilism that are left over from being in existence as well. So there is actually four different states:

  • Taoism – Void existence prior to the introduction of Being.
  • Duality within a World suffused by Being created by Indo-Europeans uniquely
  • Non-Dual Emptiness that is still nihilistic even without Being in Buddhism
  • The extraction of nihilism from nondual emptiness in DzogChen’s manifestation.

The key point is that all these are different states and the fact that DzogChen negates the nihilism still endemic to Buddhism despite its claims to nonduality of emptiness does not mean that the primordial void has been returned to in the pristine way in which we departed from it when we created Being. However the sate that DzogChen proposes appears very similar to the state of Void in Taoism. One way to talk about this is to realize that Taoist Void and Buddhist Emptiness are different from each other and that they are in fact dual-nonduals. What DzogChen gets at is a deeper nonduality of manifestation prior to the distinction between emptiness and void created by the institution of Being. I think the Shakyamuni Buddha and the history of Buddhism producing enlightened Beings as we can see from their works that are left to us and perhaps direct perception upon meeting them, is existential evidence that Nirvana can be obtained by Human beings. However, Nirvana itself is not the goal for Mahayana Buddhism but instead the saving of all Human Beings from Samsara. So the escape from the world goal has been replaced by an indirect goal of helping others to escape from the wheel of Samsara and then escaping last, using one’s incarnations to work toward the salvation of everyone from Dukkah. Those who settle for the lesser and more selfish goal of Nirvana are called Arhats, and they are seen as a necessary step toward the Bodhisattva ideal, but their perfection is limited by their desire to leave the world before others. It is the difference between the Crew and the Captain of a sinking ship. The crew escape as they can but the Captain is suppose to make sure everyone else is off the ship before they abandon ship. The Buddha and his pari-nirvana was necessary for the gaol of complete enlightenment to be manifest in the world, but soon after that it was realized that a higher goal for those who claimed self-lessness (an-atman) was to vow to be last of the sinking ship of this world. As for how to attain Nirvana take your pick of the many ways to enlightenment that appear in Buddhism. In Buddhism one always says that a particular path is just a little more right than the others, in other words they are all right, but some are more right than others in the view of their adherents. But as I have said in other posts, Enlightenment in Buddhism has all the trappings of a sophistry, because it is a way of tricking oneself into giving up the self, by becoming completely committed to the goal of achieving enlightenment and then realizing that this goal and the self that pursues it are both empty. So basically enlightenment as being as you are, before you set out to become enlightened. However, the journey is everything, and the two states are not actually in practice the same although they are theoretically the same. There is an asymmetry between the state prior to the seeking of enlightenment and the state after achieving it, even though the two ideally are exactly the same. Going back to our analogy of the sinking ship, it is as if you invested all of your self in the goal of achieving enlightenment and when you realize that both the self and the goal are empty, then the self, as it were goes down with the ship because there is no escape once one has fully committed to the project of becoming enlightened. One merely realizes one day that ordinary consciousness is in fact enlightenment. This is like the realization that although everything at a macro scale is ruled by entropy, the actual atoms out of which things are made are eternal and suffer no entropy. These are two views of things that are very different. From the point of view of Entropy everything is suffering the dukkaha of disorganization over time which causes pain and suffering and eventually death in living things. But from the point of view of non-entropy, what everything is made up of at the atomic level is eternal, and suffers no entropy. And thus if you consider yourself as an aggregate and in continual flux there is in fact only perfection that lives on eternally everywhere, and when your cells turn over in your body, or you die actually nothing happens, the same atoms migrate within the universe and get caught up in other beings in an endless cycle because the constituent atoms are eternal, unless they happen to fall into a supernova or blackhole or some other physical process that causes their elemental nature to change. So the ship goes down, and the sailors and captain become part of the sea, but the sea goes on indefinitely. Now my point in this answer has been that the realization of emptiness of self and all things, is only a small part of a larger story which includes the fact that although Buddhism gets rid of Being, it does not get rid of the Nihilism inscribed in Being completely. This is not to say that Buddhism is Nihilistic because no nondual way is nihilistic as long as it shows us how to make non-nihilistic distinctions, i.e. is genuinely nondual. But structurally there is still a dualism affirmed by Buddism in spite of its affirmation of nonduality and that is the two truths. What Manjushrimitra does is critique Buddhsim in the way that Nagarjuna critiqued Dualism previously. It turns out that Buddhism is susceptible to that critique, and in fact the state of emptiness is not the whole picture because it has a dual which is the Void which is prior to the arising of Being, such as we see in Taoism and presumably Shinto, and Bon too originally, where nature is seen as the measure of all things even humans and their consciousness and their society. The nondual version of this is called Wu Wei. Since there is no Being in Taoism as expressed in Chinese there is no emptiness. At first the Chinese thought that emptiness and void were the same thing. But eventually they learned that they were different as they got to know Buddhism better. And then after that they attempted to synthesize the two. An excellent example of this is the poetry of Stonehouse translated by Red Pine (, where there are empty lines interspersed with void lines in the poetry which is a really amazing thing to read and try to understand the difference between void and emptiness as defined by the hermit poet who was zen master and taoist both. The fact that there is a difference between emptiness and void can be understood in terms of Domain Walls in Physics in which there are differences between different regions of empty space when it is considered to act like a Bose-Einstein Condensate. We can also understand it mathematically as the difference between the line prior to the one from which a Pascal Triangle arises, and the space between the ones which is empty within the triangle. Undifferentiated space outside is different from differentiated space inside, and especially when the inward space is seen as the substrate of consciousness in itself. So once we realize that emptiness and void are different then we can see how the DzogChen move of Manjushrimitra does not necessarily take us back to the primordial void, but rather takes us down to another deeper level of nonduality in which the difference between emptiness and void, inward and outward is lost, or better has not been established yet. So Manjushrimitra hints at the fact that there is a deeper nonduality beyond the dual non-duals of emptiness/void which are straited and unstraited. This question of the deeper nonduality is also raised in Tien Tai and Huan Yen Buddhism in different ways. It is also raised when we consider the difference between the heresies of Buddhism and Jainism. It is my theory that Mahayana buddhism arose out of the combination of the views of nonduality of these two heresies. That is probably wrong but it is an interesting thought. This begs the question how many layers of these higher logical types of nonduality are there? This is of course an open question. Where we see this addressed is not so much in DzogChen which seems to have lost its way until Mipham but in Islam, the nondual heresy of the Western worldview which develops within Sufism a way of looking at these deeper levels of nonduality calling them Sifat and Dhat. But once we understand that reference we can read it back into other Buddhist paths and see that there are probably many of these paths that are misunderstood because they are actually refering to a different meta-level of nonduality than they were originally thought to refer to in a theoretical world in which there is only one kind of nonduality, i.e. emptiness, or there are two as in later chinese buddhism where Taoism and Buddhist ways are distinguished and synthesized. To obtain these deeper states of nonduality you must first understand that they exist from a theoretical point of view, and this negates the idea that emptiness is no-mind because we need our rational faculties as well as our sensory faculties to understand nonduality. Non-duality is defined by the tetralemma which is a logical structure, it is what is other than the four logical positions of the tetralemma. Here we can use some ideas of Kant to make the distinction between conceptual understanding and pure intuition. Synthetic Aprioris like space and time are pure intuitions in Kant. So we can think of prajna as a pure intuition as well. While Kant is talking about physical space, which is identical to the void, Buddhism is taking about the emptiness of consciousness and considers physical space an illusion. From a Buddhist perspective there is also a synthetic apriori that is inward that is received from the whole of consciousness experienced as white light without any interference from substance (i.e. the illusory perduring of Being). It is like the difference between ether and what we think of as empty etherless space of modern physics. When we go beyond logic the only place to go is a singular particular which is spacetime outwardly and consciousness inwardly. Formally the point of view of Buddhism and Taoism these two are completely different. But DzogChen has the mantra Mind is like Space. In other words they are pointing out that space and emptiness of consicoiusness are really the same thing in some sense, and thus inward and outward nonduality are really the same manifestation. Void is prior to the arising of the One (what Badiou calls the Ultra One that arises to close off the Multiple), and emptiness is after the repackaging of the Multiple as the Manifold in Experience. But in terms of manifestation they belong together as the Same (to use a term of Heidegger from Identity and Difference. This difference that makes a difference (Bateson) between the two kinds of nonduality, striated and unstriated, becomes more interesting when we realize that this difference is marked by Ultra Being, the singularity of the externality of Being at the fifth meta-level of Being. This is where we realize that Being and Existence with its two interpretations (empty and void) are interleaved and inseparable. The Indo-Europeans have merely substativized attempting to render it (Maya, Dunya, and Dukkah) perdurant by creating the artificial Being/Having concepts within their language. It is only knowledge that has this kind of perdurence in experience. The Indo-Europeans tried to give the objects of knowledge the same kind of persistence as knowledge itself with the idea of Being, the first and deepest ideology. When we realize that there are different higher logical types of Nonduality, then we can think that nonduality is infinitely deep as Heidegger feared when he uncovered the meta-levels of Being. But just as with Being the finitude of this series is also true of non-existence. However, just as the meta-levels of Being are harder and harder to think (Parmenides said Being and thinking are the same), so to the different levels of Non-existence are also qualitatively different from each other and harder to explain in language, and harder to point to once achieved. But essentially from a theoretical point of view one must delve into the various higher logical types of existence via negation or non-existence, because existence itself is unstriated in relation to Being which is striated by its meta-levels. So it is only via the striations of negation that the higher logical types of nondual existence can be explored.

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Quora answer: What next after nihilism?

Jul 21 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


Nihilism is a very important concept. Both Heidegger and Nietzsche spend quite a bit of time on the question of nihilism because they see it as central to our worldview. It is particularly important given the disasters of the twentieth century like World War I, II and the Cold War. It was an extremely ideological century with nihilistic opposites fighting it out on a global scale. All of this just to show that Nietzsche was on to something when he focused on nihilism as the core phenomena within our worldview.

Given all this emphasis on the Question of the nature of nihilism and its integral relation to our worldview, then to ask what is next after nihilism assumes that there is something, after nihilism, which is probably not the case within the dominant western worldview. There are many reasons why nihilism is not going away, and one of them is that nihilism and emergence are duals of each other, and what seems to happen in our worldview is the intensification of emergence and the intensification of Nihilism. These go hand in hand. So one answer to this question is that what is next after nihilism is an emergent event and then a deeper form of nihilism. Nihilism is the lost of meaning, anomie, and so it is the opposite of the production of meaning. The best account of nihilism is that of Stanley Rosen. He explains that Nihilism is when you are caught up in a struggle between two sides (democrats and republicans) and then you realize they are both the same (i.e. it is really incumbents that rule, regardless of party). It is the realization that what we were involved in and cared about so much was really worthless and meaningless. To misquote Bateson nihilism is when there is a difference that makes no difference. If you cannot draw a non-nihilistic distinction then there is no way to produce meaning because all meaning would merely evaporate if there were no well grounded distinctions to base them on. Nihilism ends when there is an Emergent Event, that clears the nihilistic background that is necessary to recognize an emergent event. But after that clearing in Being, then nihilistic noise starts to accrete again and strangely even though we thought things couldn’t get any worse the nihilism intensifies and things get even worse the next time around as we wait for an emergent novum to save us from the darkness of meaninglessness.

The first book on Nihilism was the 1862 novel Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (pictured above; see in which there is a young man who is interested in science and thus has given up the traditional ways. He is called a nihilist, but in that book he was really a modernist. But the focus here was the erasure of traditional distinctions by modernity. And since the Middle Ages lasted until 1850 or so in some parts of Europe and especially in Russia, the genesis of Nihilism as a concept has to do with the Enlightenment and the destruction of Feudalism by the Modern State. But a similar thing already happened in Greece in the much greater transition from the Mythopoietic to the Metaphysical eras (See L. J. Hatab Myth and Philosophy).

We are still in the Metaphysical Era and various philosophers want to call it over, but it lingers on as does modernity in the Post-Modern. Heidegger thought he put an end to it by assigning the title of the last metaphysical philosopher to Nietzsche and developing his distinction between Being and Beyng, and the difference between the First Beginning and the Other Beginning and the discovery of Ereignis (happening, appropriation) as a fundamental relation of Dasein to Seyn (Beyng). So another answer to the question as to what comes after Nihilism (and Emergence) is the Emergence of a new Era after the Metaphysical which may have already started. It is hard to tell. I am sure that the Greeks did not know that the Metaphysical Era started with Thales it was something we found out only later when we compared the Greek immersion in a world of mythos and then the arising of natural philosophy and the questioning of the Gods. Heidegger calls the Metaphysical the era of the fleeing of the gods, and he says it will be over then the last god has fled.

This is quite interesting, because in all probability the last god will also be the first god and that first God prior to Uranus was lost in Oblivion until some Hittite documents were found and translated which speak of a god prior to Uranus, who is Alalu. Thus there is a primordial Indo-european God among the Hittites that was lost in oblivion prior to Uranus, Kronos, Zeus who we have recently rediscovered. Putting this with the fact that from a genetic point of view Hittite is the oldest Indo-European language, then it becomes clear that the last god to pass away is probably the first god who was lost in oblivion prior to the Greeks. ( and Poseidon is the only Indo-European god that the Greeks retained. Most of their gods were formed on a Mesopotamian pattern. Some Hittite gods were also like Mesopotamian gods but they retained more of their Indo-European character, which revolves around a primal battle with a Snake-like monster as with Zeus/Apollo vs. Typhoon/Python. This conflict with between the storm god (like Baal) and the monster snake is the primal scene of the triumph of Being over Existence that we see in St. George and the Dragon.

The primal Hittite God is Alalu whose cup bearer who was also his son, Anu, served him for nine years and betrayed him, and this happened over and over in the Hittite creation lineage of the Gods.

The repetition of the cup bearer who is son overturning the Father and god for successive generations has a profound meaning for our worldview, that is lost in the stories of Uranus being displaced by Kronos, or Kronos by Zeus. It is a primordial example of the Master/Slave dialectic discussed by Hegel. By Master and Slave Hegel means the Roman’s enslavement of the clever Greeks. For Hegel Greek Philosophy starts with the enslaved Greek philosophers and the reflection in philosophy of their slavery which leads to self-consciousness, whereas Hegel says that the Masters can have no self-consciousness because they are lost in Hedonism or their drunken-ness with the assertion of their Power. Nietzsche tries to develop a self-consciousness of the Noble in contrast reversing Hegel. When we know about the way that the Greeks within their slavery conquered their masters though their wit then we see how the Master/Slave dialectic as we see it in Pozo and Lucky in Waiting for Godot plays out in the real world.

The repetition in the dethroning of each successive father by their cup bearer son is like the oscillation between the role of Master and Slave we see in Waiting for Godot.

In Waiting for Godot there is negation of hierarchy and negation of equal relations which is reduced to merely waiting together for one knows not what, i.e. Godot.

For Hegel the history of self-consciousness starts with the enslavement of the Greeks and their interaction with their Masters in which the Greek culture becomes dominant even among the Romans, and that is why so much of Greek culture has survived down to the present, a full 4% of the original corpus. For most of us we think of Greek Philosophy starting with Thales and reaching a pinnacle with Plato and Aristotle and then going back down hill until Modern times starting after Descartes in the modern era. And we can see in Waiting for Godot the quintessential post-modern paradox, which is that we are just waiting for we know not what to come, the next emergent event, the end of the Metaphysical Era, Whatever . . .

Unfortunately what comes after Nihilism . . . is just more Nihilism broken up by an Emergent Event now and again. When the next Era comes for the Western worldview it will in fact be just more of the same, just a bit worse this time. In other words there is Eternal Recurrence of the Same as Nietzsche pointed out. Or repetition that as Zizek says the understanding of which was the contribution of both Kierkegaard and Freud. And ultimately that leads to Difference of Derrida, and the Difference and Repetition of Deleuze. Tomorrow we will still be waiting for Godot and we will encounter the same phenomena as we did yesterday . . .

Amar Ali: It raises a few interesting questions….

  • What kind of emergent event are you referring to? Would this be an intellectual event or a political event of some kind?

I mean emergent event as defined by G.H. Mead in Philosophy of the Present, they are discontinuities in history which can either come from finding a new way of approaching and external phenomena or by the arising of new phenomena that we have to come to terms with. Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics that arose early last century are the classic examples of each kind of emergent event. Emergent Events can occur at different scopes like Facticities, Theories, Paradigms (Kuhn), Epistemes (Foucault), Ontos (Heidegger), Existences, or Absolutes. Our tradition is shot through with them. They cause us to rewrite history, reveal new unthought of possibilities, give us new affordances in the present, and demand a new mythos. Also as Dreyfus says that normally something marginal becomes central and something central becomes marginal in these changes so there is not a complete break with the past, but only a quasi-break. It could be in any realm of experience or realm of thought, but I am particularly focused on philosophical or scientific or technological revolutions in my own research.

– If we assume we’re locked into a downward spiral of nihilism (and anomie) in the West – what are the implications for social cohesion?

There is intensification of nihilism and intensification of emergence at a particular  scope until a wider scope emergent event occurs to wipe the slate clean at a given level or scope. See also H. Lawson’s Closure (

  • Could some form of secular, psychologized Buddhism offer any way out of this oscillation between nihilism and the occasional emergent event

Good Catch, Buddhism because it is nondual and offers a way to make non-nihilistic distinctions is an answer. In fact, any nondual path which is also not monistic offers an escape from this samsara of intensification of nihilism and emergence. See my other posts on Buddhism and existence. Basically Buddhist Emptiness is the dual of Taoist Void and prior to that distinction is a deeper nondual called Manifestation which is a standing beyond existence. See M. Henry The Essence of Manifestation who relies on Meister Eckhart to distinguish manifestation from the Essence of Manifestation, i.e. Sifat from Dhat seen in Sufism. When ever Meister Eckhart wants to ground a point he appeals to X and the heathans by which he means the Sufis in Islam. There are indications of such deeper nonduals also in DzogChen, Huan Yen, and Tien Tai Buddhism


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Quora answer: What is the most misused word in conversational English?

Jul 16 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

BEING is the most misused word in the English Language.

This is because it is the one word, often used, but never understood.

What are we saying when we use the word BEING in any of its very fragmented forms ARE, IS, AM, WAS, WERE, BE, BEEN, BECOMING

No one knows. Everyone has their own idea. It is at once the highest concept, higher than God (the supreme being) yet as Heidegger says the most empty.

Some people (E’) try their best not to use the word:

This word is the most contradictory, paradoxical and absurd in the language.

It is contradictory, because it contradicts  our experience which is full of Change, but Parmenides said there was  only one suitable path, which is the Path of Being and that we must resist the paths of appearance (DOXA), and Non-Being (existence). Zeno followed him by pointing out the paradoxes of change. But we must say that the paradox of thinking things are changeless when they are changing is pretty strange. It is a paradox because it is a doubled contradiction. Flowing of experience in change is an ILLUSION and also that the reality is that things are unchanging. This is contradictory to our experience. It produces transcendentals that are invisible conditions that cannot be shown to exist. Thus there is an existential proof of the falsehood of BEING as some sort of unchanging state. Heraclitus countered by pointing out that things are always changing. But we basically took the way of Being as suggested by Parmenides and thus we erected an edifice of illusion which is central to our worldview, and keeps us deeply entangled in illusion.

Being not only makes us think that things are always identical to themselves over time in their essence, but causes us to ignore difference and its significance. Prime example is Metaphor. But, for instance we live in a muti-racial society but racism is still a black/white divide. Dark skinned emigrants are not stigmatized like American Blacks are, even Black Africans are not stigmatized in the same way. So we cling to a special kind of racism which is “white” verses “black”, and “black” verses “white”, only. For instance we have to distinguish between Hispanic Whites and White Whites on forms for employment, however Arabs are considered white no matter how swarthy they are. This is signified in our culture by the odd sign that there is only white salt and black pepper placed on the table. This is a sign of the either/or kind of dualism at the core of our society that cannot recognize other people from other countries as “colored”. In other words we have our own untouchables, and the touchables of other cultures who come here do not fit our biases and so they are not considered as part of the picture of Black/White racism. This is part of the fantasy of Being which sets up what are suppose to be permanent distinctions which are in fact only socially constructed, individually projected, and socially enforced and merely distort what exists so that we can only see it as black and white like we say about newspaper print. The black minority used to exist on a white background, like on this page, but now the background is multicolored and the sharp artificial nihilistic distinction no longer holds in the same way it did up to the 60s, but our ingrained racist attitudes have not changed See (Ralph Ellison The Invisible Man

So we can think of Racism as the perfect example of what was projected as a permanent distinction at the core of American society which in the face of change, like the civil rights movement, has not changed except superficially because it is a fundamental part of our identity as Americans both black and white. Even taking a stand against Racism, or ignoring it, still makes it into a monument to our cruelty to each other that is unforgettable, and underlies everything we do, making even the changes that we have made in our society, is still part of the lingering of racism through reverse discrimination, etc. This is what shocked Malcolm X when he went on Hajj. He saw all the colors of humanity with no racism, and he realized that racism in America was an illusion particular to our nation and its history which we cling to even as we swear we are getting rid of it.

Interestingly, Black dialects of English use the Being differently than standard English ( It might be interesting to look at the way that Being has been shaped in the creole english dialects as a way of understanding the deflection away from Standard English as a statement about the nature of Being as apprehended by the minority against which racism has been directed so long based on its roots in slavery.

It is interesting in this regard that Being has always been caught up in the caste structures of Indo-European societies. The fragmentation of the Gods in Indo-European societies reflects the distinctions between castes, with different gods for each caste. And interestingly the kinds of Being can be seen in the Vedas as the differences between these Gods. Thus the kinds of Being is something that has been part of the Indo-European worldview for a long time. In fact it is an unchanging aspect of the worldview. And another one is the fragmentation of the roots of Being (and having) in Indo-European languages. Being is literally a manufactured and artificial concept made up over many Indo-European roots. So this fragmentation is very specific signature which is isomorphic with the castes and the roots of Being itself as a word. By looking at these various roots then we get a deeper picture of the meaning of Being, and it turns out that Heidegger’s distinction between Sein and Seyn (Being and Beyng) is rather superficial among the distinctions between the roots of Being. (See Primal Ontology and Archaic Existentiality by by the author at

Being is contradictory, because it is counter to our own experience of the world. All movement is contradictory as Zeno shows, and Hegel embraces this contradiction at the heart of movement as the very thing that the dialectic sublimates.

Being is paradoxical, i.e It is both empty and full at the same time. It contains everything, but has no meaning itself.

It is a mixture of fragments of Caste and IE roots into a single encompassing structure that signifies continuity only so that difference can be emphasized. For instance we claim to be one people under God, but we support racism by excluding some from citizenship until we were forced to live up to the ideals of freedom and equality that we said we stood for from the first.

Being is absurd, i.e. It is an artificial concept that we made, but we project it as a priori transcendental which should be unified and total, but Being in terms of word roots and castes is inherently fragmented. It is absurd that the Unity and Totality that is suppose to hold the world together within our worldview, is itself completely uncertain, ambiguous, and to be avoided in good writing.

Thus when we say Being or Becoming, we have no idea what we are talking about mainly because the fragmented roots have lost their meaning. We have truly squandered the roots of Being itself, because we have lost them in a set of discontinuities that we no longer notice nor give any credence to.

Even Heideggers distinction between Sein and Seyn is the most superficial of the distinctions between the roots of Being. What is interesting is that Old English roots make more sense than the High German roots. And even more interesting is that there are myths that align with these distinctions between the roots that we can interpret in ontomythology, i.e. when we read the myths as an ontological manuals for the kinds of Being within our worldview.

So although Being is the highest and most empty word. It is the most contradictory, the most paradoxical, and the most absurd of any of the words. Some think it is better not to use it. But they are getting no traction because we unconsciously use the word Being.

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Answer to the Question: What is Quora?

Jul 10 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The Wonderful World Of Quora


The Wonderful World Of Quora 

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