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Re: [Pythagorean-L] BMCR 2005.10.26, Arnold Hermann, To Think Like God.

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  • drew hempel
    The lost technique of authentic experience is natural resonance -- the 12 nodes around the outside of the body practiced in china as the microcosmic orbit and
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 18, 2005
      The lost technique of authentic experience is natural resonance -- the 12 nodes around the outside of the body practiced in china as the microcosmic orbit and in India -- featured in Mircea Eliade's book on yoga.  The best source is "Taoist yoga:  Alchemy and immortality" and you can order the 12 points (cycle of 2:3:4 Tetrad resonance) from www.springforestqigong.com  Where I received energy transmissions. 

      Kepler rediscovered this meaning as did Ficino.  The Tetrad inscribing two circles is the 4:5 ratio of 3-d spacetime as Saturn-Jupiter resonance.  Actually the Tetrahedral is two Pythagoran 3:4:5 triangles.  Number is not line therefore the Pyramid-tetrahedron-full lotus creates an asymmetrical sinusoidal vortex connecting to "authentic experience" which is the fourth dimension of space -- the Klein Bottle -- as nonlocal consciousness or nonpersonal awareness.  drew hempel, M.A. (just google my name for more details).

      a_pythagorean <babradley@...> wrote:
      Arnold Hermann, To Think Like God. Pythagoras and Parmenides. The
      Origins of Philosophy.  Las Vegas, NV:  Parmenides Publishing, 2004.
      Pp. xxx, 374.  ISBN 1-930972-00-8.  $32.00.

      Reviewed by Christopher Barrett, University College London
      Word count:  2405 words
      To read a print-formatted version of this review, see

      The main burden of this book is to offer a non-standard
      interpretation of Parmenides that identifies him as the first true
      Rather than in a metaphysics, Parmenides' originality is said to lie
      in his argument for the possibility of a limited range of certain
      knowledge (in response to a sceptical challenge from Xenophanes) and
      in the use of formal logical techniques to reach that certainty. The
      book also offers an interpretation of Pythagoras and of the
      Pythagoreans that presents the founder almost purely as a cult
      leader and his cult followers mostly as unpopular political
      activists. Throughout the book Pythagoras is seen as a counterpoint
      to Parmenides, although any connexion between the two beyond this
      comparison is not made clear.

      Hermann (hereafter referred to as H.) claims that this book is aimed
      at scholars of the Presocratics, other classical scholars,
      philosophers, classics students, historians of law, and interested
      laymen (p.xiv).  It is my opinion that this book does not do certain
      things one expects from a scholarly work, such as providing proper
      discussion of rival views, and that it may be a little too abstruse
      for most laymen.

      After an interesting preface and some house-keeping sections, the
      introduction links the title to the main protagonists of the book.
      Gods were held by some of the earliest pioneers of philosophy (p.1)
      to have unfettered access to knowledge, mortals having to make do
      with something less. Xenophanes arrived and posed a problem which
      provoked a crisis: even if we are lucky enough to have the right
      idea, how do we know we have it? Parmenides answered Xenophanes'
      challenge, according to H., by introducing methods of falsification
      (in particular the principle of non-contradiction).

      Chapter one introduces the Pythagorean idea of the unit as a perfect
      premise (in other words "that whole and wholesome rationale with
      enough persuasive power to end all further questions" p.15), but is
      largely an investigation of the figure of Pythagoras. He is denied
      any reliable claim to the significant philosophical doctrines
      associated with his name, unless, H. says, "we consider the
      transmigration of the soul, immortality, musical harmony, magic,
      vegetarianism, purification rites, and initiations to be proper
      philosophical pursuits" (p.17). The first chapter also divides
      Pythagoreanism into early, middle, and late periods, during which H.
      sees varying degrees of cult, political association, and speculative

      Chapter two is the longest in the book and looks at the Pythagoreans
      in a social and politico-historical way. H. tries to find a
      consistent thread in the accounts of Pythagoras and his followers in
      order to describe their life and times, and this section will give an
      entertaining picture to the layman, describing, as H. tells us at one
      point, a Pythagorean "Go+tterda+mmerung" (p.41) in the anti-
      Pythagorean revolts in Croton, the burning of their meeting houses,
      and their death or expulsion from the city. He goes on to expound
      what the movement's political views might have looked like (p.60) in
      eight short bullet points.

      Chapter three considers the significance of number to the
      Pythagoreans.  H. sums up what numerical philosophy meant to the
      Pythagoreans, in terms of "the study of suitable proportion" and
      the "defense of the integrity of the unit" (p.106), and goes on to
      discuss the rather more superstitious aspects of numerical
      philosophy with a sceptical eye, starting off with the surprising
      statement that "[t]he notion that all things can be reduced to
      number is quite absurd" (p.107).

      Chapter four marks a bridge from the discussion of Pythagoras to the
      discussion of Parmenides by using what H. identifies as a parallel
      shift in Plato's philosophical approach. In Plato's Phaedo philosophy
      is a preparation for death, a purification for that state alone in
      which we will find true knowledge. For H., this position is parallel
      to acceding to Xenophanes' challenge and accepting that knowledge is
      impossible for mortals. By contrast, H. tells us, in Plato's
      Parmenides the emphasis is on training oneself in reasoning now, on
      pursuing truth in life. Plato here adopts the Parmenidean approach,
      we are told, and it is Parmenidean, H. says, because "to exercise
      reasoning, if only for reasoning's sake, was not conceivable before
      Parmenides had shown the way as inventor of dialectic" (p.124).

      Chapter five opens with an historical look at Parmenides, discussing
      the tradition of Parmenides as a lawmaker, and then treats Xenophanes
      the epistemologist. H.'s Xenophanes is painted as the traditional
      founder of Elea, but more importantly as the writer of fragment 34:
      that no man knows, and, even should a man happen to speak the truth,
      he would not know that he did. H. goes on to frame Parmenides' poem
      as a response to the challenge of Xenophanes, prefacing his later
      pages with the twofold statement that, while Parmenides saw the
      sensible world as inherently unreliable (p.141), he also saw that
      there was a realm in which the tool of contradiction in discourse
      enabled certainty.

      In chapter six, after a brief introduction to the poem, H. offers his
      own translation of Parmenides' poem. This runs quickly into chapter
      seven, which deals in greater depth with a series of points of
      detailed interpretation and lays the foundations of H.'s overall
      understanding of Parmenides.

      The signficance of this overall understanding turns on what the
      subject of Parmenides' poem is, and this is where H. situates his
      disagreement with most other scholars. He offers a number of
      formulations, ranging from the simple: "I believe that esti is
      intrinsic to thought. On its most basic level, it is simply the
      recognition of that which is." (p.185)

      "In Charles Kahn's words, it is the object of knowing, what is or
      can be known." (p.187)

      To the less simple:

      "[W]e can narrow esti down even further by defining it as the result
      of a deliberative process, that is to say, a determination of what
      is the case brought about by an act of critical judgment. To
      substantiate this conclusion we need merely to review the pivotal
      function esti has in Parmenides' system, which, only for the sake of
      his unusual demonstration, becomes a twofold one: while esti -- or
      that which IS -- is generally the criterion that an account must
      meet if it is to be reliable, in fragment 8, it itself becomes the
      object of judgment of said account, hence the outcome of an
      evidentiary method. It is this unprecedented approach by means of
      forensic argumentation that seizes upon the is or esti of a thing,
      the overriding factor that makes it rationally coherent by allowing
      the unity of its formula to be expressed." (p.188)

      It should be noted that this is the point at which the layman may
      start to get lost. The socio-political history and the retelling of
      traditional tales in a number of the previous chapters is apt to
      catch the eye and is written in a style the layman will find clear;
      moreover, the broader sweep of the large-scale epistemological
      points of other parts of the book will be easily accessible to
      scholars who are not specialists in Parmenides. However, the
      increase in the density of the arguments from the earlier chapters
      to this point is precipitous, and H.'s style sometimes lacks
      clarity, as indicated by the last quotation (see also the quotation
      from Proviso 10 in the next paragraph but one).

      If I may attempt to paraphrase the formulations of the subject of
      Parmenides' poem, I think I can best express H.'s view by borrowing
      terminology from Plato: for H., the subject of Parmenides' poem is
      the absolutely abstract notion of a Form or concept, the object of
      cognition solely considered as such. Furthermore, the characteristics
      of a truly viable Form or concept are those of logical coherence and
      consistency, etc.; and any failure in viability is revealed by
      forensic argumentation.

      Chapter eight sets out twelve guidelines which H. finds in the
      fragments of Parmenides and which he claims are necessary for a
      reliable account of a thing (or, as I tried to put it just now, for a
      truly viable object of cognition), ranging from Proviso 7 ("One
      cannot know What IS NOT, neither through thinking nor speaking"
      p.221), which will be very familiar to those who have read
      Parmenides, to the less familiar Proviso 10 ("The construction
      and/or examination of an Evidential Account is an exercise in
      separation of concepts or designations, i.e., landmarks, that
      prevent the integral unity of such Account. It follows the Principle
      of Like according to Like and avoids contradiction" p.223), which is
      deeply theory-laden with what has passed before in the book.

      Chapter nine looks in some detail at the Methods of Proof and
      Disproof used in the poem, ranging from the principle of like
      according to like to the principle of sufficient reason, the law of
      non-contradiction, and the avoidance of infinite regress.

      Chapter ten is an investigation of the effect of the discovery of
      irrational numbers on the Pythagorean doctrines: how the discovery of
      numbers which cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers undermined
      the use of the unit as what H. calls a perfect premise. H. says he
      approached this chapter and the next as the "pie\ce de re/sistance"
      (p.251) of the book. It is rather disappointing, then, to find that
      the section of chapter ten headed "The Indirect Proof of Odd Being
      Even", in which H. intends to show how the Pythagorean notion of the
      unit fails the Parmenidean test of consistency by embodying the
      opposing characteristics of being both odd and even, actually does
      not contain a complete proof. A proof would have helped to make
      clear why H. says that, in using the Indirect Proof to undermine the
      consistency of the unit, we can check whether the square root of two
      is odd or even; and that, if we determine it to be one or the other,
      then it is evident that we have probed a very long, but nonetheless
      finite, number. This is not an easy point and should not have been
      left unexplained.

      Chapter eleven serves as a summary of the significance of Parmenides,
      as outlined by H. through this book: the differentiation between two
      types of objects, those of truth versus those of opinion, equivalent
      to the intelligible on one side and the sensible on the other; and,
      most significant, the differentiation of the two ways of accounting
      for each, one certain, the other plausible/approximative.

      After the main part of the book, there is an appendix describing the
      results of H.'s attempt to classify the historical data concerning
      Pythagoras into categories ranging from certain to little more than
      hearsay. This section does not add much to the main arguments of the
      book, and I am not quite certain for what audience the appendix is

      Overall, and throughout this work, H. is a little too quick in
      dismissing the views of those with whom he disagrees. For example, in
      discussing the cosmological interpretation of Parmenides' poem, which
      understands its subject as being as a whole rather than concepts, H.
      tells us that "[i]t is hard to understand why so many commentators
      believe that Parmenides' object of discourse is the tangible
      world ... [t]he verses in question are simply too explicit" (p.191).
      And yet he does not address the arguments of his opponents in this
      However, H.'s contemporaries are not the only ones to be treated
      this way: this interpretation of Parmenides, H. tells us, goes as
      far back as Aristotle, "and is largely due to a few careless remarks
      on his part" (p.192). Unfortunately, these remarks are not
      investigated. Carrying on with this topic, H. explains that Zeno's
      arguments in defence of Parmenides show us only that "if we follow
      some of our assumptions to the end, we may be surprised at the
      absurdity of the result" (p.195); and that, even though the
      arguments have often been understood as arguments against motion, in
      fact "we cannot find any conclusive statements [in the fragments of
      Zeno] about the state of the world or of the things that form it"
      (p.195). However, the fact that Zeno chose to present reductiones ad
      absurdum against ideas of motion is at least interesting in light of
      the popularity of the cosmological interpretation of Parmenides, and
      this makes it all the more disappointing when the arguments of Zeno
      are not presented, and the various interpretations of these
      arguments are not weighed in the balance.

      The manner in which the cosmological interpretation is rejected moves
      me to my next concern. It is not obvious to me that the proponents of
      the cosmological interpretation deny that the subject of the poem is
      the object of thought. Where they and H. appear to disagree is
      concerning the metaphysical status of the object of thought and, as a
      consequence, the number and type of objects of thought. H. seems to
      want to disengage the object of thought from the world it represents,
      in a way which is practically Kantian; but a reading of the subject
      of Parmenides' poem which treats it as the object of thought, with
      restrictions upon that object of thought which make it necessarily
      fit for cognition, is not mutually exclusive with treating that
      object of thought as the external world in a pre-Kantian way. The
      objects of thought for Plato are separate (in some sense) from the
      world of experience but are nevertheless true external realities in a
      metaphysical sense.

      The other concern I have with this book is H.'s treatment of certain
      ancient authors. Most works that deal with the beginnings of
      philosophy these days have something to say about systematisation in
      Hesiod, for example, or deal with the early poets in some other way.
      But the first of a very small handful of references to Homer and
      Hesiod (treated together) says that "[t]he twofold distinction
      [between human and divine knowledge] was quite a novelty at the time
      [of the earliest pioneers of philosophy], a shift in thinking which
      challenged Homer's and Hesiod's depictions of the gods as flawed or
      depraved beings, obsessed only with their Machiavellian ploys and
      their insatiable sexual appetites" (p.1). This hardly seems an
      adequate treatment of such important authors.

      In summary, this is an interesting but in some ways frustrating work
      that tries, ambitiously, to be all things to all readers. Many of
      H.'s ideas are surely interesting to scholars, but he does not show
      how he has engaged with opposing interpretations of Parmenides; and
      he says much that will interest laymen, but not everything is clear
      or accessible.

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