East to West: Part 1

East to West:
Part 1

Islamic Architecture values Aesthetic

Islamic Architecture values Aesthetic

 

In Australia, my country of residence, a less-than-popular Television channel called ABC broadcasts constructive documentaries, foreign films and educational series, particularly during prime-time. Recently – that is to say last week – ABC began broadcasting a Television series called East to West. The documentary series, which begins at 7.30pm every Wednesday, Details the Eastern cultures during Middle-ages and post-Ancient times and their influence on the Western world. Unfortunately, the general concencus of the Eastern world in Western culture is very uninformed. With the increasing negative stereotypes around Islam and Asian society (i.e. Al Qeada being associated with Muslims), the program could not have come at a more appropriate time. Hopefully, people will change their channels from The Big Bang Theory to ABC in the effort of watching East to West, as it serves as quite an informative, yet visually stimulating series.

The first broadcast of the documentary, presented last week, centered around the early Islamic movements and their influence on the Western culture of the Renaissance as well as post-modern times. The show turned out to be quite informative to me, as it kept me captivated with great facts of history which are rarely ever spoken about. As it turns out, the Muslims and Arabians were imperative for flaying our society into shape and the current stereotype of their culture is in blind sight of their influence. Important texts of the Ancient Greeks, such as the writings of Plato and Pre-Socratic philosophers, were translated into an almost Universal language by the Middle-Eastern Muslims. In fact, some of the precious gems supposedly destroyed from the Dark Ages were gracefully saved by the Eastern societies. If it were not for Islam’s great value of religious and historical texts, the Western world today would presumably be entirely different – with valuable texts like Republic lost to the wind.

I will be evaluating the upcoming episodes of East to West and supplying the Blog with the Eastern influences pronounced by the Documentary. The next episode will give an explanation of Buddhism and the struggle for leadership of Rome and China.

Memorable Fragments by Heraclitus

Heraclitus and the Fragments:

 

Statue Resembling Heraclitus

Statue Resembling Heraclitus

 

Heraclitus

Heraclitus is one of the most renowned Greek Philosophers during the Pre-Socratic times. Although not much is known about his upbringing and general biography, he was – and still is – considered a “pioneer of wisdom”, especially throughout his own era. In Plato’s Theaetetus, Chapter I. Heraclitus is mentioned and his famous quote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”, was employed by Socrates in an effort to understand the nature of knowledge. Yet, Heraclitus is also quite memorable for his fragments: brief sentiments about Philosophy and life in general which were written by him in Greek. The list of known fragments which Heraclitus wrote are listed below in English translations. The translated texts were extracted from classicpersuasion.org , and the site’s bibliography is referred respectively underneath the listed Fragments.

Painting of Heraclitus

Painting of Heraclitus

Fragments

 

Fragment from Heraclitus

Fragment from Heraclitus

 

Below are some memorable Fragments written by Heraclitus, translated from Greek to English by G.T.W Patrick.

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     “Into the same river you could not step twice,  for other waters are flowing.”

              – Heraclitus, Alleg. Hom. 24.

War is the father and king of all, and has produced some as gods and some as men, and has made some slaves and some free.

– Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 9.

Recognizing oneself and being of a sound mind are for all men.

              – Fragment B116

Although the Law of Reason is common, the majority of people live as though they had an understanding of their own.

– Sextus Emp. adv. Math. vii. 133.

It is hard to contend against passion, for whatever it craves it buys with its life.

– Iamblichus, Protrept. p. 140, Arcer.

Dogs, also, bark at what they do not know.”

– Plutarch, An seni sit ger. resp. vii. p. 787.

Of all whose words I have heard, no one attains to this, to know that wisdom is apart from all.

-Stobaeus Floril. iii. 81.

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References

From The Fragments of the Work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature, translated from the Greek text of Bywater by G.T.W. Patrick, Baltimore: N. Murray, 1889. This was originally Patrick’s doctoral thesis at Johns Hopkins University, 1888. A note states that this 1889 edition was reprinted from the American Journal of Psychology, 1888.

The Roots of Philosophy and their Importance

The Roots of Philosophy

The creation, and eventual expansion, of Christianity throughout Western culture was gradual as not only was it a radical, more dogmatic, change from Paganism and Pre-Socratic philosophy, but because it was considered as an insult to the identity of God.  Early Christianity spoke of the Trinity of God – in divine, in spirit, and in flesh. The latter, that is – God in flesh, is deeply offensive to the traditional Philosophies which were eventually usurped by Christianity itself; even in recent years, the Holy trinity, while not as radical today, poses as an insult to Islamists and other Religious people.

But what was the purpose of Christianity, or any philosophy for that matter? Its goal was that of science is today – to discover truth, knowledge and wisdom. Christianity served as no substitute for empirical devices of searching for truth, instead it served as the device for discovering truth in itself. With this, people developed the theory of Creationism; such a theory was partially produced from the classic story of Adam and Eve.

Although many would agree that, with the predisposed knowledge available today, the story of Adam and Eve is a metaphorical tale of redemption, origin and identity; however, the ancients had little knowledge at their disposal, and creationism not only seemed  plausible – but infallible. This is not to say that, despite its inherent popularity, Creationism is impossible; instead, Creationism, like any Philosophy which is not entirely dismissed, remains as a possibility of truth. But in comparison to Evolution, its prime competitor, Creationism would seem as an unlikely choice even to radical sceptics, as the former has exponentially more empirical evidence (such as the comparison between Apes and humans, and fossilised evidence), and subsequently it seems more rational to resume that Creationism is unlikely at the very least.

Creationism, like its fellow ancient philosophies, was founded on the structure of little predisposed knowledge – like a house with sticks for supports. However, evolution, a theory not only scientific but philosophical, was founded on the seemingly intuitive knowledge which science and  empiricism promoted. In this case, the structure of evolution was supported by sturdy pillars.

Creationism, in some sense, is a quintessential example of the philosophical journey which the ancients, and their descendants, traveled.

With little understanding of the Universe, and no structural system for discovering external or historical truths, our predecessors were left to build their society with their bare hands. While this details the shortcomings of our ascendants and their philosophies, such as Creationism, it also gives unseen value to their self-reliant ingenuity. Without these metaphysical, outworn creeds, Evolution would not have been, nor would science and post-modern philosophy be as developed as it is today. From the desolate boiling pot of uncertainty and speculation grows the tree of unforeseen knowledge – a blessing which grew from one seed, a tiny speck in the ground.
While most radical philosophy delivered by the ancients and enlightened, are considered  to be creeds outworn, the philosophies in question still have intrinsic value to it – more so than what we consider grateful. For a seed, however small and insignificant to the naked eye, is still the hallmark, the blueprints, for a greater being to come – and, in this case, evolution grew.