Aristotle and contemporary European thought are at odds. They square off because of the great gap, that like the river Hades, separates the Western Tradition into a two-headed monster: Before and after the Dark Ages, a before and after the Scholastic period that we shall examine here in Scholastic Park.
Aristotle was a primer mover during the Dark Ages and most of his writings, lost and then re-translated from Arab scholars, were taken as-is. Such was the pervasive depth of his arguments, that it took until the renaissance when he was finally questioned, tortured and taken down. Today, he is still held in the very captivity that European thought continues to square off against.
It is no secret that I ran out of underpants and therefore ended up in the middle of Scholastic Park, quite by accident. Isolated and disconnected from the European Before and After, I spend 30 years chasing dragons in America, but ended up almost dead. Having seen death, I can now think again with my pants on. So, bottoms up, I get right to it.
Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek continue Aristotle’s captivity through efforts of a Hegelian “Aufhebung”. But you can not “heben” anything if it does not have any weight to it. “Aufheben” is usually translated into sublation, overcoming or to suspend something, part of the magic of dialectic transfiguration that both great thinkers tackle. Why is so much weight given to their effort?
The weight is there, because of Aristotle.
Western thought will continue to fail to take a load off its shoulders until we admit that we do not stand on the shoulders of giants, but that a giant stands on our shoulders. As we still can not look up to the starry firmament above, I say: Here I stand, Badiou and Zizek, take your underpants off. I want the naked truth.
But can you handle the truth?
“All men naturally desire knowledge. An indication of this is our esteem for the senses; for apart from their use we esteem them for their own sake, and most of all the sense of sight.” writes Aristotle and puts us in the center of Scholastic Park. We desire and we see, first and foremost. Yes, we feel and hear and such, but seeing is believing.
Sight is not separated from thought, where we think the world of sense perception in its dialectical movement to the heights of the new European Subject, but thought is chained to sight. Aristotle would make another astonishing claim, that the center of thought is in the heart. Quite literally.
Anyone that has opened both their heads and hearts knows – mea culpa – the person that opens your head and heart knows, that the brain and the heart do not contain sight or thought. We think of both as functions of the underlying organs, but not as substances “an und für sich”, as I overheard Hegel say. In and by themselves, sight and thought have falsified Aristotle’s claim about them in the 21st Century. Badiou and Zizek tell the truth.
Yet, coming out of captivity as this argument may be, sight and thought are substances and they are tied together by desire. Right here at the very origin of Western Thought, Aristotle cast the long shadow, a suspicion about man that Nietzsche would pick up, but today we don’t let that man near anything.