On Logos

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sciborg2

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« on: January 25, 2020, 05:06:19 am »
On Logos

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The extraordinary character of the sense-making animal may be highlighted by contrasting a wild animal looking for the origin of a threatening signal with a team of scientists listening into space to test a hypothesis about the Big Bang, having secured a large grant to do so.

This suggests another way of coming upon the miracle of our sense-making capacity. Consider the relative volumes of our heads (4 litres) and of the universe (4 x 1023 cubic light years). In our less-than-pin-pricks bonces, the universe comes to know itself as ‘the universe’ and some of its most general properties are understood. That this knowledge is incomplete does not diminish the achievement. Indeed, the intuition that our knowledge is bounded by ignorance, that things (causes, laws, mechanisms, distant places) may be concealed from us, that there are hidden truths, realities, modes of being, has been the necessary motor of our shared cognitive advance. Man, as the American philosopher Willard Quine said, is the creature who invented doubt – as well as measurement, provisional generalisation, and modes of active inquiry.

It takes two to tango. The fact that the world is intelligible clearly cannot be just down to us, otherwise our stories about how things hang together would be somewhere between myths and an evolving consensual hallucination. The balance between the contributions of what is out there and what is in us, between the extent to which the mind conforms to the universe and the universe has mind-compatible properties, is an issue that has had a long history, shared between theology and philosophy.

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We cannot be sure when something equivalent to Logos first made its appearance in our conversation with ourselves. Some scholars trace it back to the Pyramid Texts of Heliopolis, nearly 2,500 years before St John wrote his gospel. From the primal waters the god Atum arose: he was the light of the rising sun and the embodiment of the conscious Word or Logos, the essence of life.

The Egyptian Logos does not map clearly on to what Logos subsequently became. The term was in common use when the Pre-Socratic philosophers – those “tyrants of the spirit who wanted to reach the core of all being with one leap” as Nietzsche characterised them in Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks – employed it, partly to pat themselves on the back for their own reason-based approach to questions about the nature of the cosmos. Although Logos referred to the way human rationality was reflected or expressed in discourse, it also captured the philosophers’ trust in their own arguments and explanations, and the sense of their awakening from the sleep of Mythos. The boundaries between Mythos – stories told as religious myths or in works of art – and Logos – a reasoned account – will always be contested, and their respective claims to truth likewise. After all, myths, too, are reasoned accounts of a kind: they make sense of making sense, and they use words. What’s more, reason itself operates on a given experience of the world, established long before reason does its work. Hence the endless returns of Mythos.

Logos was central to Heraclitus’s philosophy. According to F.M. Cornford in From Religion to Philosophy (1912), Heraclitus developed – “in flashes of mental lightning” – the notion of Logos as being both the rational structure of the world and the source of that structure. Reason was present in all things. This was asserted against the materialism of the Ionian philosophers, for whom the world was just what was visible. By contrast, Logos was an invisible, immanent reason – the general plan ensuring that the world was an ordered Cosmos rather than a disordered Chaos. It was the hidden harmony behind the discords and antagonisms of existence; behind the eternal war between the elements that kept Being in motion, leaving nothing immune from change. This rational order of things did not itself make the world conscious or thoughtful. Rather, the world became conscious and thoughtful in the human Logos, whose most developed representative was the philosopher himself, in whom the human Logos was united with the Logos of the Cosmos. Making sense of the world was the result of a marriage between microcosmic human Logos and the macrocosmic Logos of the universe itself. Logos provided the link between rational discourse and the world’s rational structure.

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These ideas inspired the Stoics, for whom the Logos was a supreme directive principle, the source of all the activity and rationality of an ordered world that was both intelligible and intelligent. It was the ‘seminal reason’ or underlying principle of the world, manifest in all the phenomena of nature. It acted as a kind of force, conferring inner unity on bodies and on the world as a whole, and at the same time guaranteed the intelligibility of the world to humans, since the human soul participated in the cosmic Logos. It is also because the one Logos is present in many human souls that we are able to communicate with each other: we all partake of ‘common sense’. The Stoics’ message was that humans were truly happy only when they were living in a state of harmony in which the Logos of their own soul resonated with the universal Logos, the harmony of nature.

For Philo of Alexandria, a first century Jewish philosopher steeped in Greek thought, the Logos was the model according to which the universe was created. It encompassed the creative principle, divine wisdom, the image of God, and man, the word of the eternal God. At the same time, it was the archetype of human reason, that through which the supreme God made contact with His creation. Logos is the intermediary between God and the world, the creator and His creation.

Which brings us back to the Christian notion of Jesus Christ as Logos. The Logos was the means by which God let Himself into a privileged part of His own creation – humanity. Philo’s connecting the ‘divine thought’ with ‘the image’ and ‘the first-born son of God’, ‘the archpriest’ and ‘the intercessor’, paved the way for the Christian conception of the incarnate ‘word become flesh’, and so of the Trinity. The Word by which He made the world, His law, and indeed Himself, known to man, was now identified with Christ. In the New Testament, the Logos is the Word, the wisdom of God, the reason in all things, and God Himself.

Francis Buck

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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2020, 05:45:23 am »
Great read, interesting points. This actually helped me better understand and recontextualize the way I'd previously been applying to the science-fantasy metaphysics of my mythos. I especially like Heraclitus' proprosed view on it, which I was not overtly familiar, even though I already dig me some Heraclitus and have found him a major source of inspiration in the past.

It is interesting the range of utilities and general age of this term, but it really just explodes with new perspectives after Jesus.

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TSA side-note:

Heraclitus and the Stoic view of Logos seem to me the most like what RSB is getting at with what the Logos really is (versus what the Dunyain believed it to be). I can't help but make connections to the Ark as a kind of demiurgic world-egg that is the creative-destroyer of 'worlds' (ages) -- it is the point between which God (is this the Meta-God?) contacts creation. Shauriatas and Seswatha are also highly reminscient of two opposing manifestations of Logos. Each have 'Cheated Death', Seswatha replicating himself almost like a computer virus -- or like white blood cells. Meanwhile Shauriatas is seemingly able to simply bounce across proxies (or Dunyain) and is perhaps reminiscient of a centralized A.I. which either is the manifestation of the will of the Ark, or simply is that Will.


mostly.harmless

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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2020, 08:14:54 am »
Great read, interesting points. This actually helped me better understand and recontextualize the way I'd previously been applying to the science-fantasy metaphysics of my mythos. I especially like Heraclitus' proprosed view on it, which I was not overtly familiar, even though I already dig me some Heraclitus and have found him a major source of inspiration in the past.

It is interesting the range of utilities and general age of this term, but it really just explodes with new perspectives after Jesus.

--------
TSA side-note:

Heraclitus and the Stoic view of Logos seem to me the most like what RSB is getting at with what the Logos really is (versus what the Dunyain believed it to be). I can't help but make connections to the Ark as a kind of demiurgic world-egg that is the creative-destroyer of 'worlds' (ages) -- it is the point between which God (is this the Meta-God?) contacts creation. Shauriatas and Seswatha are also highly reminscient of two opposing manifestations of Logos. Each have 'Cheated Death', Seswatha replicating himself almost like a computer virus -- or like white blood cells. Meanwhile Shauriatas is seemingly able to simply bounce across proxies (or Dunyain) and is perhaps reminiscient of a centralized A.I. which either is the manifestation of the will of the Ark, or simply is that Will.
Still processing both posts but it definitely feels like a good possibility there's some truth to the core of what you're saying, and perhaps something to uncover.
But maybe that's just my wishful thinking and my brain lighting up and 'feasible' connections.
I don't know of any other book that goes so many ways, and at the same time so deep (for me at least)

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