Mythos and logos relationship poems

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mythos and logos relationship poems

3 By the time of the composition of the Homeric poems—a time that most in- The idea of a “Western road from mythos to logos” is still widespread. Vernant, there is a strong connection between the birth of philosophy and the emergence of. In relation to the latter's definition o f logos I will also discuss a chapter o f J in his b o o k The Creation of Mythology, muthos was a s y n o n y m for logos in. important ways to modern 'myth' and Greek logos, with which it is contrasted, stands denial of any essential relationship between the ancient idea of mythos and .. quotes populousness of ancient nati. Thucydides is, in my opinion, t history.

Remember here that at the time science and philosophy went hand in hand. Whether he deserves to be blamed or praised for doing this is irrelevant here: In that respect, one can hardly disagree with Ernst Cassirer when he claims that Machiavelli did to politics what Galileo almost a century later would do to natural sciences. But notice here that Cassirer does not comment on the fact that politics paved the way to natural science.

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As he put it: Machiavelli would have been perfectly entitled to speak of his book in the same way. This brings me to a second series of questions: Can it be possible that nobody else had done so before him and somewhere else? And why do we always forget to say that Thales, like all the first supposed Greek philosophers, actually lived in Miletus, a former Greek colony that is currently located in Turkey?

Should we not rather called him the first Turkish philosopher? Why does the language of the colonizer trump the geography of the physical location? Again, I will not give an answer to these questions, but I would invite you to go around tonight to the various talks and take note of the how many countries are represented in this pretty peculiar business of philosophy.

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What were the inhabitants of Eastern Europe doing at the time? Is it possible that none of them endeavoured to do any philosophy? Why are we not speaking about them? Is it because they were still in the Middle Ages? But in the middle of what? I cannot here enter into the details of such a narrative.

The method he uses to find out the rules of how to acquire and maintain political power do not differ much from those of Galileo: But there is one significant exception. This is a concept that has given rise to the most contrasting and puzzling interpretations, being for some just mere chance and for others a mythical residue from the past in an otherwise purely modern and rational enterprise.

After providing some provisional but also ultimately ineffective advice, he concludes that in order to contain fortune one would have to be able to adapt to constantly changing circumstances.

mythos and logos relationship poems

But this is impossible because, as he openly states: One does not find men who are so prudent that they are capable of being sufficiently flexible: The Italian original sounds quite different: Now what does it mean that fortune is a woman? To begin with, it is mainly in these writings that women appear.

There is indeed a significant disciplinary division at stake: The realm of the political philosophers is mainly the former, whereas the latter are mostly left to literary theorists.

  • From Mythos to Logos and Back?

This brings me to a third set of questions: Why are philosophers reluctant to take literary writings seriously? Why do philosophers, beginning with Plato, feel the need to ban the poets, whereas literary theorists do not feel that need? But has philosophy ever liberated itself from myth? In both cases, mythos is placed on a heterogeneous level with respect to logos—standing either above or below it.

In both interpretations, mythos and logos are considered as counterpoised, whereas, as we have seen, by the time of Plato, myth was most probably seen as a means to express a content that could also be developed through rational argumentation. Otherwise, one cannot understand why, after such a condemnation, Plato himself could possibly make such extensive use of traditional myths in the same book.

mythos and logos relationship poems

Not only does Plato recognize the importance of mythical narratives for the transmission of moral models, as is shown by the fact that he recommends myths to the rulers as a helpful means to promote social cohesion,63 but he also uses myths as an important medium for discussing crucial philosophical issues. Whereas up to that time, a sophos like Parmenides could still start his philosophical poem with an invocation to the Muses, with Ar- istotle philosophy seems to have acquired a distinguished epistemological status: Whereas Plato could still intermingle dialectical argumentations and mythical narratives, Aristotle, by starting his theorising with the statement of the formal conditions of discourse, and by thereby identifying a type of reasoning—the syllogism—meant to guarantee the correctness of discourses, provided philosophy with a method organon which set it definitely apart from the stories told by myths.

All the same, not even in Aristotle is there a definitive association of myths with untrue tales. The problem then becomes to establish what precisely distinguishes philosophy from myth in his view, i.

Let us return for a moment to the passage of Metaphysics where he presents his view of the presocratics: In this passage, Aristotle observes that, in saying that water is the principle arche of everything, Thales was stating something that was already contained in many myths of the origins.

Why, then, should we consider such a statement as the onset of the specific discipline that is philosophy? Aristotle does not provide any explicit answer to this question, but, in the pas- sage quoted above, he continues by saying that Thales derived his theory from the observation that the nourishment of everything is wet and that even the heat comes from the humid and lives in it. Therefore, as already in Plato, mythos and logos were considered to differ only from the point of view of their form and not of their true or false content.

However, Aristotle seems to go further. Not only does he not simply present myth as false, he also seems to recognize its link with philosophy. In fact, in the Metaphysics, a few passages before those quoted above, we read that both myth and philosophy stem from wonder to thaumazein.

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Indeed—so continues the passage—the person who doubts and wonders shows thereby that he or she does not know, and this is the reason why we can say that a person who loves the myth o philomythos is also a philosopher o philosophos. We have seen to what extent myth and philosophy differ for him. How could he say that the philomythos is also a philosopher precisely where he states that philosophy concerns the knowledge of principles and causes? This is a point that is hard for a modern mind to catch—used as it is to conceiving causes in terms of an abstract relationship between events.

However, such a view of causality only began with modern science, whereas antiquity understood it according to what I would call the model of production. Aitia means therefore responsibility in the first place.

Aristotle does not develop the concept of cause in terms of abstract relationships between events, but rather through the descrip- tion of artistic production. In the creation of a sculpture, the formal cause is the idea of the statue, the material cause is the marble itself, whereas the efficient cause is the artist himself and the final cause is the ultimate result of the artistic creation.

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Indeed, inasmuch as they tell us where things come from or who has made them, they also aim to identify causes in the sense of the Greek aitiai. This does not mean that there are no differences between myth and philosophy for Aristotle. It only means that he recognizes that, stem- ming both from wonder, they aim to provide some kind of explanation of why things are in a certain way and not in another. Once we have recognized that myths, too, are a form of knowledge, the next question is to establish what kind of knowledge we are dealing with.

In the very first paragraph of the Poetics, we read that the aim of the book is to examine the poetic technique technei.

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Therefore, from the very first sentence, we know that mythoi—understood as tales and plots without any further qualifica- tion—are the constitutive elements of poetry. Indeed, for Aristotle, given that the historian has to deal with the particular, that is, with unrelated and dispersed facts, he is further from the truth than the poets.

Thus, one might object that, however important, the role of myth is still limited to the ambit of the poiesis. This, however, does not necessarily imply that the ambit of mythos is that of arbitrariness, and, as such, that it must be counterpoised to that of the logos—as we often tend to assume when talking about poetic creation. Let us return to the passages in question. In contrast, the arche of the poiesis is found in the person who produces and not in the things produced.

In particular, the universality with which poetry deals is the universality that resides in knowledge about different human characters; and, in this sense, it is, therefore, a plural universality. However, as Auerbach has shown in his analysis of the Western evolution of the concept of mimesis, it is precisely this plurality that got lost in the passage from Mythos and Logos: A Genealogical Approach 15 antiquity to modernity. Whereas both Plato and Aristotle conceived of different levels of mimesis of reality, this plurality went through a process of reductio ad unum, the result of which is modern realism.

This was conceived of not as the opposite of non-correspondence, but as the opposite of forgetfulness: On this basis, Hesiod can claim to be a vehicle of aletheia. These latter still conceived of aletheia as the result of a process, but the road to it was no longer opened by the Muses, as it was for Hesiod, and still could be for Parmenides.

Thus, if they conceive of truth as correspondence to reality, how did they conceive of reality? The things that fall under the umbrella of ta onta include the things that reveal themselves for what they are: In this sense, ta onta are more true and more real than ta pragmata.

When we make an assertion about a certain state of affairs, we only look at certain relationships that the things entertain with each other. Through our language, we point to only few aspects of its position within the sphere of being, because there are potentially endless divisions and communications between things, and our language can only express parts of it each time.

Inasmuch as they present the being in its clearest form, ideas are being that truly is. The latter, far from being purely mental Mythos and Logos: A Genealogical Approach 17 contents as we, from the time of Descartes, have started to understand them, were at the same time thought and reality.

mythos and logos relationship poems

The idea of a hiatus between the knowing subject and the known object seems to be alien to antiquity. As a consequence, knowledge cannot be conceived as the discovery on the part of a thinking subject of a given physical reality. Knowledge, until Aristotle, was rather conceived as a passive process because it is being that manifests itself in physis.

Aristotle also states that aletheia and falsity pertain to the ambit of unification and separation. He even states an explicit correspondence between the degrees of reality and the degrees of truth. According to what we read in his Metaphysics: Now every thing through which a common quality is communicated to other things is itself of all those things in the highest degree possessed of that quality e.

Therefore, in every case, the first principles of things must necessarily be true above everything else—since they are not merely sometimes true, nor is anything the cause of their existence, but they are the cause of the existence of other things,—and so as each thing is in respect of existence, so it is in respect of truth.

Aristotle, unlike Plato, conceived of being as a synolon of matter ule and ideas-forms eidos-morpheand he conceived of becoming as the actualization entelecheia of a being which possesses it in potency dynamis. Now, given that what is in potency can pass into act only under the effect of something which is already in act, this made it neces- sary for Aristotle to postulate the existence of a being that is already in act and, following the chain of dynamis and entelecheia, we thus arrive at the postulation of a being that is always in act, i.

As Veyne maintained, a plurality of programs of truth existed for the Ancient Greeks: Indeed, when stating this principle, Aristotle added an extremely important qualification to it: Let me conclude here with a story.

They see no contradiction between the two beliefs, that the leopards fast on those days, and that they might attack their livestock in those days. In one case, it is the truth of their tradition that is at stake; in the other, it is what they have learnt through experience. Clearly, for them, it is a different truth that is at stake each time. Chantraine, Dictionnaire Etymologique de la langue Grecque.

Histoire des Mots Paris: Pars I Odissea [Hildesheim: Pars II Ilias [Hildesheim: Clarendon Press, According to some interpreters, mythos in Homer would designate a specific kind of speech, i. Martin, The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad [Ithaca, N.

Cornell University Press, ]. Iliad, XV,and Odyssey, I, Chantraine, Dictionnaire Etymologique de la langue Grecque, See Preface of F. Nietzsche, Zur Genealogie der Moral. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers [Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press, ].

Freeman, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers: Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos: Nestle, Vom Mythos zum Logos; and J.

Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy London: Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy. Penguin, Etudes de psychologie Historique Paris: Cambridge University Press, Abbagnano, Dizionario di Filosofia Torino: Utet, Meier,Bd. On this point, see, for instance, F. Adorno, La filosofia antica. Feltrinelli, ; and G.

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Colli, La nascita della filosofia Milano: Adelphi, ; La sapienza greca I: Adelphi, ; La sapienza greca II: For a general reconstruction of this debate, see H. Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker Zurich: Weidmannsche Verlags- buchhandlung,Fragm.

Paradoxically, it is Aristotle himself who transmitted to us this fragment.