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2.23 A philosophical story
I created this summary of the philosophy in the form of a story, from the beginnings to Nietzsche, to break up a little the monotonous seriousness of the speech and help to have a synthesis.
The beginnings: abstract reflection
Once upon a time there were some philosophers who started arguing. First a certain Parmenides spoke:
– Guys, this philosophy is a great thing: with one word you can understand everything; and do you know which word? “Being”: we can just say “being” and everything has been said.
But another group of these friends, nicknamed “sophists”, and a certain Zenon as well, disagreed. They told Parmenides:
– Parmenides, you’re really naive; you don’t realize that when you talk you are playing with words; and words are of no use: they are toys that you use as you like, but that don’t guarantee you any truth.
At this point, another who was called Heraclitus could no longer restrain himself and he also wanted to say his idea:
– Don’t be offended if I tell you that you have understood nothing. The word “being” says nothing; and moreover it is useless getting lost in wordplays: this way you don’t go anywhere. Instead look at the world. What do you see? Don’t you realize that everything moves, everything flows? The world is movement. Here is the key to understand everything.
However, Plato felt himself more intelligent and educated than Heraclitus and told him:
– And the words, the words, where do you put them? And ideas? What is the use of saying that the world is a mixture that moves? It serves no purpose. I tell you instead what you have to think: you have to distinguish that there is the visible world and then there is another world that cannot be seen, but it is the most important one. It’s the world where ideas are.
Aristotle thought: “At last an intelligent person spoke. But not as much as me, of course. I know better what’s what”. And he said:
– Forget the fantasies of the world of ideas. Look at the world with your eyes. What do you see? Think about it for a moment: the world is made of objects; and all objects are simply made up of two things: matter and form.
Anselm of Aosta approved this speech and said:
– Finally one who speaks seriously and with some wisdom. Well done, Aristotle. You are a capable mind. And I will tell you more: to all this we must add a clarification on God. You will say: but who tells us that God exists? And I say to you: it’s simple: God must necessarily exist, otherwise we would not explain who made the world.
Thomas Aquinas was delighted:
– Friends, Aristotle, Anselmo, you really are geniuses. What happiness, to see how the knowledge of the world brings us to the knowledge of God, all in full harmony.
William of Ockham, faced with this enthusiasm, couldn’t restrain himself anymore:
– What stupid harmony? You invent a lot of fantasies and say it’s harmony. Be serious! Philosophy is not done by fantasies. If we want to know the world, we must look at concrete objects, one by one, not matter and form: we must not build castles in the air and say that these castles are the world and they are harmony.
– What Ockham said is true: what matters is concrete things. And tell me what is more concrete than politics! And I also tell you what politics is: it means being without scruples, without fear; when it’s needed it’s needed; when wickedness is needed we must also use wickedness. This is life!
– Machiavelli, you really understood how the world goes. And do you know who the worst and most unscrupulous ones are in this dirty policy? I tell you. It is the Pope, who collects money from morning to night by selling tickets for places in paradise.
Descartes felt the need to put some peace:
– Stop! We are close to going to war. Calm down! Don’t you see that if you let yourself be taken by practical things, then you don’t understand anything about the bigger ones? Who we are, where we come from, if we exist; Luther, are you sure you exist? And who tells you that? You see? I can tell you instead: you exist, as I exist; you exist because you think; I exist because I think; here is the basis of what we are.
Hobbes turned red and punched Descartes in the face:
– Don’t be ridiculous! I think! What do you think? This we are rather: we are punches in the face, we are all wolves, ready to tear each other to pieces; this is reality.
Pascal, seeing Hobbes’ punch, was moved and said in his tears:
– How can one be so rude? You don’t realize that you behave like barbarians, without any finesse, without spirit, without the love of Jesus Christ! You are like the boys of discos and stadium, who leave to have fun and then end up giving themselves punches and blows.
Berkeley patted Pascal on the shoulder and said:
– Thank you, friend Pascal! Luckily you intervened, otherwise it was really bad here. Let’s try to be humble, modest. Don’t you see that the only thing we know is not the world, but only our own mind? We don’t even know the world out there; on the contrary, I tell you: it is not at all there, it is God who makes us dream about it. This life of ours is a daydream.
Hume smiled with satisfaction at these words:
– Berkeley has figured out what we should think about: if we want to understand things, we have to think of ourselves, of the I, of our imaginations; this way only we can understand the world.
Kant as well, happy, wanted to express his solidarity:
– Friend Hume, you took the words out of my mouth. I was just about to say this: let’s be careful about ourselves, our brains. Don’t you see that we are the ones who make our own ideas, who adapt everything basing on how we think, basing on our mentality?
Fichte had held himself timidly aside and did not want to talk, but after this speech he took courage:
– This is what I wanted to say too. It is we who make everything: we make our ideas, we make thoughts about the world, we make the world; the world is inside our head, not outside.
Schelling’s eyes shone:
– I will tell you even more. The world is neither outside nor inside our heads: I am the world, you are the world; I am everything, you are everything.
There was an amused laugh from a corner: it was Hegel:
– My dear Schelling, don’t take it badly if I tell you it, but your philosophy is all silliness: if you say that everything is me, it’s like darkness, like night, in which all the cows are black. Yes, the I is fine, but the I is not an equal dough: the I is life, it is development, it is struggle, it is history: the I is society, it is the State, it is politics. Long live the State! Long live the Emperor!
Marx trembled with emotion and finally gave vent to his nervousness:
– Friend Hegel, notice that things are exactly the opposite: it is not the I or the State that makes history, but it is history that makes people: it made these ones poor, those others rich; for this reason we must move and act in history, if we want to change people: we must destroy power, we must make equality against the exploiters and against the Church, which puts people to sleep; workers all over the world: you must unite! Come on, let’s fight!
Nietzsche was sad; they asked him:
– What’s wrong with you?
– You confused me; you’re driving me crazy; I don’t understand anything here anymore; don’t you see that we aren’t able to understand anything? Just nothing. We are in freefall, and we don’t even know where we are falling towards. We fly. Moreover, I tell you more: we must fly. This is being men: beyond being men; beyond, over, towards the infinite, towards life and towards death, towards art and towards poetry, towards all, towards nothing!