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Greek & Western-Civilizations

Mushtaq Bhat

Greek & European Civilizations

It maybe however be added, that for many of these pioneers, logos was also a way to spirituality, despite the tribute that Plato paid to Mathematics. PlatoIt did not necessarily lead to any vulgar materialism or self-arrogance, as it did later in north Europe after Newton, in certain fields of human endeavor, that has lead unfortunately to a kind of hybris, unknown to Greeks. The kind of hybris, that made a physician, believe in the all pervasive power of pure inorganic chemistry over the biological sciences, made the social and biological sciences ape the mechanistic physics and chemistry, instead of propounding more organic complex and holistic views, that paradoxically Physics today is more willing to accept than these at-the-time aping sciences. In order to achieve the respectability of the physics, the biological sciences took over the reductionistic methodologies, and the social sciences the Darwinism ad hoc, too willing to ignore the evidence pointing to far greater complexity of the organic, the social and the psychological worlds and the inadequacy of the linear casual thinking to explain all the phenomena of nature; evidence crying to be heard in the data they were collecting.

They inevitably took recourse to the straight line as the shortest distance between any two points, i.e. the Euclidean concepts of our the world and became alarmingly reductionist.Julius Caesar The indiscriminate use of fertilizers, insecticides and drugs were all the result of this reductionist, orthodox, absolutist and to some extent an arrogant methodological approach or to say it bluntly an arrogant attitude to nature ("Make her your slave!"), prevalent even a decade after Heisenberg, Max Planck and Einstein and the one a Greek would have shied away from. Charlemagne
The lament Nietzsche´s for the lost Dionysian world, which I too personally lament, along with the loss of the sense of wonder at nature (Entzauberung der Welt), is no doubt justified, but his vociferous accusations directed at Socrates (actually directed at his own self, according to his own views as he later claimed, because of his awareness of possessing a congenial frame of mind!) is in my view unjustified , since Socrates had no ultimate solutions for mankind nor did he propound any particular methodology as the penultimate way to expose the secrets of nature nor classify any form of thinking as primitive prelogical, animistic etc. etc. and therefore worthy of contempt or laughter, if you please and others as more advanced. Nor was he a crusader against the murky world of superstitions and bizarre beliefs prevalent in all societies at any given time. There was nothing that he, a true philosopher, would disapprove. There were no hegemonies here, ready to draw swords against the windmills of archaic spirits. He merely brought to our attention the dichotomies between beliefs and facts, which rarely synchronize, even less in our century!
Socrates was a man of great empathy, to judge from Plato´s certainly-idealized descriptions, but even the discriminating and sharp critic of Aristophanes, appears to be due to Socrates representing a danger for conservative beliefs of the day (for which he was "crucified") and certainly not because of any hybris or new orthodoxies (like scientific materialism!) that Socrates was propounding.

GutenbergThe Greeks were not obsessed with the idea of looking for the holy grail, the ultimate solutions or the cure for all ills and consequently less prone to bring out conceptual, social and political orthodoxies, that have somehow brought misery to people through the ages, nor did they experience nature as an antagonistic force, the way the Europeans did after the Reformation and age of Enlightenment till the second world-war and the subsequent rebirth of the Muses, manifest to no small extent in bands like Beatles, who voiced the newly emerging feelings of less hegemonic nature (actually a vibrant protest against hegemonies!) and may have accelerated Europe´s way to a softer non-puritanical anti-patriarchal attitude to creation and more holistic thinking and a reverence for things of nature, the female Principle and a new kind of spirituality amongst the younger generation. But the hybris was not Greek nor any legacy of Socrates. In fact Socrates was probably one of the least orthodox philosophers of all ages and like Gandhi founded no school and never claimed to have found the essence or meaninglessness of anything. Neither in Plato's works or in the retold sayings of Socrates is there any indication of religion (or nature) and science as two antagonistic totally incompatible and under-no-circumstances-to-be-reconciled fields of human endeavor or forces of nature. Martin LutherMoreover logos was for many Greeks also a gift of the Muses. Urania was the Muse of Astronomy and Geometry. The overemphasis of the European (after Descartes & Newton) on the achievements of the Geist and logos and the new belief in the efficacy of science to replace God and Satan, your soul and body and all the past and the and the mechanistic thinking, that is no doubt favorable to materialism and 100% Certainties (Heisenberg withstanding!) was a problem of their own creation not a Greek heritage! Maybe a result of the dichotomy between the Augustinian & Cartesian attitudes to faith and knowledge, and to no less extent also the influence of the Arab "alchemistic" methodology, which was less a science of the Greek denomination than an obsessive search for the philosophers stone, elixir of life and for methods to turn base metals to gold. Newton was no less preoccupied with such "hobbies" than many of his contemporaries!! He spent a great part of his energies in pursuit of something akin to the philosophers stone, which he did find, albeit without realizing it! . The Greeks were in that way the least materialistic oriented "Europeans". It is only now that quantum physics has gradually transformed the strict materialistic thinking in Europe, that dominated for almost three centuries, many of her influential thinkers.

With Love From Her Majesty
And with a Licence To Think & Hyde-Park-Speak Free!

Three Anglo-Saxons

Who knows? May be some day the future historians may even talk about an Anglo-Saxon Civilization.
Some kind of special mix of Magna Charta, green-hooded Robin Hood, mercantile Keynes, great Utilitarians, empire builders, fighters against slavery, Pink-Floyd-Music-Producers, BBC-Owners, football-hooligans and above all (begging apologies Messrs. Alice Cooper & Pink Floyd!) unsurpassed TEACHERS!

If any Scotsman or woman has an objection, of my having put Maxwell here, please let me know.

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