Wisdom, Science: The Eternal Saw

Philosophy, the love of wisdom. But what is wisdom? A little research on the origin of the word is enlightening: in all languages it turns out that the concept of wisdom has to do with knowledge. The Proto Indo-European (PIE) root is “WEID” which means to know, to see (hence the “Veda” , I know, in Sanskrit “Videre” in Latin, hence French “Voir”, “Vision”, the German “Wissen” to know, etc.)

(Weirdly, “Sophia”, one of the two Greek versions of divinized wisdom, is an outlier, of unknown origin.)

I will show here that wisdom, and science, have a war-like behavior at their heart. The ability of sawing and cutting. Thus real wisdom and science is all about a mood not conventionally associated with them.

Real Wisdom Is Certain, Certain Wisdom Is Real

Real Wisdom Is Certain, Certain Wisdom Is Real

Lao Zi (previously known as Lao-Tzu, the Old Master), 26 centuries ago, the famous contemporary of Confucius, insisted that the knowledge of the self was superior, while knowing too many things could be inferior. Also not knowing that one did not know was a “defect”.

(Yes, Lao Zi’s wisdom is quite similar to some of the wisdom coming from various Greek sources at the same time; the difference with China, is that Greece, or, at least some city-states such as Ἀθῆναι, Athēnai, were able to enact superior wisdom into superior political systems. The Greek political enactment of superior wisdom in turn inspired many others, as superior Greek democracies were established from Anatolia (Phrygia, Phocea, Miletus, etc.) to “Great Greece” (South Italy) to a small empire in Southern France and beyond (based in Marseilles, Nice, and Athenopolis, aka Saint Tropez).

One should think of systems of thoughts, and moods, in one word, mentalities, as axiomatic systems, highly hierarchized, yet, entangled, as causal webs.

These are actually neurological structures… And that make them very stable.

Superior mentalities discard and throw away axiomatic bits that are inferior. Superior wisdom has to do with amputating. This is why the very concept of science is all about cutting.

The Latin scire, to know, is thus originally from the Latin scindere, to cut, divide; interestingly the French scier, to saw, is thus at the root of science:

Je Sais, Donc Je Scie.

This is not a play on words; it is serious. However, it’s untranslatable in English (‘I science, thus I saw?’)

An example I gave on my essay on the “Flat Universe”, or in “100 Billion Years Old Universe” is my proposal to cut-off (decide, see below), the hypothesis of Big Noise Inflation (“Cosmological Inflation) as we already have another inflation, all too real, Dark Energy.

Gunther Grass died today, he wrote down a piece of imagination, about a boy who was a drummer under the Nazis. Grass helped teach the Germans how Nazism worked. Literature has to be made appealing. Philosophy, though, is not literature, it does not have to sneak in some truths with bed time stories for children. It focuses on reality: somebody has to do it.

Science does not have to be nice, it cannot be nice: after all, it is about sawing off some parts of other people’s neurologies. This is why the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, is also a warrior goddess. Not that the concept was just Greek. It may have originated where a lot of Greek ideas and theories originated, Egypt. The most ancient Egyptians, in the Predynastic period, more than 5,200 years ago, worshipped a goddess whose Egyptian name was Neith. Neith was identified, by both Greeks and Egyptians, 25 centuries ago, with Athena (Herodotus, Histories 2:170–175). Neith was the war goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians. (Neith was also identified with weaving, the high tech of the times.)

To find the truth, one has to decide what the truth is. From the Latin de-caedere, what comes from caedere, from “cut”, literally: cut-off.

Science is about sawing. Science can get over-enthusiastic, and amputate parts of knowledge (wisdom) that, after all, were true.

The Ancient Greeks, or more exactly the Hellenistic dictatorships which followed the independent city-democracies of Greece at its peak, were rife with massive, ill-advised amputations of knowledge.

Non-Euclidean geometry got amputated, Greek algebra and numeration (a proto-modern system) was also amputated, and then emigrated for further development in India. Archimedes’ Infinitesimal Calculus got discarded. The Heliocentric system of Aristarchus, also. Even Mechanical Computers, although extensively developed, were then thrown away.

All these amputations happened because the philosophy at the helm, plutocracy, was antagonistic to creative thinking (And Aristotle has a lot to do with it; at least, so I think).

Philosophy acts as meta-controller on all mentalities, including science.

This is why modern science was launched by Middle Ages philosophers (Buridan, his student Oresme, etc.), who then found that they had to make their discourse more precise, inventing inertia, momentum, stating Newton’s First Law, inventing coordinates, graphs, etc.

A deep strategy of Buridan was to refuse to study theology. Still he was elected rector of the world’s greatest university, Paris. I have in my hand the brand new book of Steven Weinberg (Nobel discoverer of the Electro-Weak theory). “To Explain The World”, 2015. Weinberg gives the greatest place to Buridan ever found in an English speaking book written by a physicist. (Weinberg still makes a hash of Buridan’ throwing out Aristotle’s vertical arrow experiment, as Weinberg conflates the refutation by Buridan from Buridan’s exposition of Aristotle error! This an error traditionally made in secondary American literature. Not everybody reads Medieval Latin!)

Why is it important to give Buridan, and other Middle Age French philosophers and scientists their correct place? Because it is giving reason its correct place.

It is not just about showing that the real Renaissance was in the Middle Ages, or that how exactly Europe pulled ahead of the rest of the world in technology.

To understand how wisdom proceeds, one has to look how it proceeded before.

And to understand well that the mastermind of all important progress in understanding is philosophy. Science without philosophy is like a chicken with a freshly chopped head: spectacular and vigorous, but not for long.

Patrice Ayme’

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14 Responses to “Wisdom, Science: The Eternal Saw”

  1. johsh Says:

    “not just about showing that the real Renaissance was in the Middle Ages, or that how exactly Europe pulled ahead of the rest of the world in technology”

    that Wisdom ? bah…its the wars/immigration/wealth/economy/capitalism (roughly in that order). Mostly necessity based.

    It was not planned all along, or engineered, by some pre-calculating wisdom people.

    • gmax Says:

      Josh: I think Patrice said in the past that by a thousand year ago, Europe had the greatest energy usage per person. Patrice is not advocating a conspiracy theory of “wisdom” that I know of.

      Although wise states are always conspiring to survive, I guess

    • gmax Says:

      BTW the fathers of the church wanted to be these calculating wisdom people, and so was Clovis the way Patrice presented him. So it seems history goes against you.

      The point Patrice makes about Aristotle is that his wisdom was poisonous. Bad, false wisdom. When Franks outlaw slavery they are wisfom prople smarter than Romans, Chinese or Muslims

      • johsh Says:

        What goes against…Needs determine the outcome, and at any later point, who ever survives, may try to project that as some sort of plan (“wisdom”) all along.

        who are these “franks”…until just few centuries ago(recent) they were as equally eager as anyone to slaughter and enslave. Great wisdom that is.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Franks OUTLAWED SLAVERY in the Seventh Century. After they invaded England in 1066, it was outlawed there too, right away, as the invasion progressed.
          Not knowing history and denying civilization does not make them any less so.

          • johsh Says:

            boo.hoo one frank king outlawed supposed slavery in 7th century. And franks since then have been respectful where ever they conquered/slaughtered right ?

            Its all need based, even that 7th century king outlawing slavery. And all the slavery outlawwing that was done ever since…even the recent ones. All need based, or forced by society, practical calculations…not some kind of “wisdom”. Looking back, as always, we can point at something and rejoice as if it was planned all along, and somehow it was the most wisdom thing in the world.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Necessity, or wisdom?
              The wisdom of necessity?
              The necessity of wisdom?
              Semantics: Wisdom is what Homo does, even if it sounds crazy

              BTW, the slave trade within Europe was outlawed by the Merovingian government, under [English born] Queen Bathilde. The Americans were required to pay their slaves when in France, eleven centuries later…

              Brutes may not realize it, but some people try to invent necessary wisdom, looking forward.

            • johsh Says:

              Brutes eh ? that was what WEST was , the last 1000 yrs. Brutally conquering all over the world, scorching earth.

              Brutally squashing and obliterating all kinds of wisdom cultures of mother earth – from south america to some east.

              Brutes won.

              Now, they are the wisdom people. Interesting how that works.

              funny joke by nature – A wisdom guy and a brute walk into a bar, the brute smacks on the head of the wisdom – totally randomly. The wisdom guy with his ultimate wisdom was not expecting such random brute event. The wisdom guy dies, the brute goes ahead and breeds/prospers – creating new worlds. Brute becomes the wisdom guy (hopefully), or claims to be. Or what ever he did in the past history is now claimed to be “wisdom” all along.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Brutishness in the service of higher wisdom can be most wise, bleating wisdom in the service of brutishness, a stupid contradiction.

              Top philosophy, looking, down from the pinnacle of history, to the 1789 Revolution, and its implementation (to a great extent) in the UN Charter, can only be satisfied. So far, wisdom is winning the war.

  2. gmax Says:

    I saw, therefore I think?
    🙂

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