Archivo de la etiqueta: Natura naturans

The logical ballerinas: “Religion”

In the photograph you can see the Hoggar mountain range (Algeria). Many years ago I went there on my motorcycle. And suddenly, one afternoon, while the sky was slowly being filled with silent white fires, I felt something extraordinary: everything around me (sky, mountains, rocks, desert, wind) was transformed into ‘someone’: ‘Someone’ with a superhuman and truly unbearable beauty -almost lethal- that was looking at me, and lets say loving me.  The whole cosmos became presence… I say ‘someone’ because I felt that ‘that’ was aware of himself. And aware of me too.

I felt something similar again two years later in Lyon (France), just walking, alone, prosaically, around the airport. Once again, suddenly, everything was ‘someone’. A presence exploded into my consciousness, an unbearable presence that, now, I can only qualify as sacred. Why sacred? Because it emanated omnipotence, feeling, closeness, attention, magic, sublimity… and love.

Now, almost thirty years later, and I do not know how many dozens of books read since then, I think I can say that those two phenomena were religious. And they were so because I felt a bond, a religation, with something great, infinitely bigger and more beautiful than me and than any imaginable thing.

By the way: That ‘thing’ told me nothing. It just was there, sublimating the whole reality, and my whole existence.

“Religion”. Another logical ballerina. Lets see how does she dance.

There are two etymological interpretations of the word “religion”. The first is based on the Latin verb religare: to tie, to bind, to link.

Link with what? Do those links really happen? Why? Can they be artificially propitiated? Can they be socially institutionalized, regulated, theorized?

The second etymological interpretation comes from the Latin word religiosus, synonymous with “religens”, which would be the opposite of “negligens”. José Ferrater Mora says in his beautiful  Dictionary of Philosophy that in this second interpretation “being religious is equivalent to being scrupulous, that is, scrupulous in the fulfillment of the duties that are imposed on the citizen in the cult of the gods of the State-City.”

I suggest the following readings in order to approach the logical ballerina “Religion”. Just three powerful books:

1.- Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling. Here we find the radical recommendation of jumping into the lethal, inhuman abyss of God. Religion as a lethal, annihilating link.

2.- William James [See here still in Spanish]: The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. This is a classic study on the radical human experience of God´s presence, of God´s sudden apparition. 

3.- Michel Hulin [See here still in Spanish]: La mystique sauvage, PUF, Paris 1993. This is a work that deserves to be read. It studies the non-civilizational, radically private and free religious experience. It should be translated into English. Any volunteer? 

And I share some philosophical reflections now, caused in my mind by the logical ballerina “Religion”:

1.- Considering a cosmos not as the totality of the existent things but as the totality of things (lets say values, relationships, structures, models of life and death and after death, possibilities) we have been told that are real (in summary, considering a cosmos as a story, as a legend we take as real and in which we believe we exist), I see too kinds of religious links: intra-cosmic and extra-cosmic: free thinking versus enslaved thinking, free love versus robotized, narrowed, civilizationally focused love.  The intra-cosmic religions might foster an auto-confinement in a dogma, in a logical/civilizational product: that link offers certainty and successfully harmonizes individual lives within human societies. It can also become a way of making money. This religiosity can be very useful, and even also healthy, but only if it is not assumed too seriously: it can easily degenerate into fanaticism (stupidity, hatred). It truly provides certainty and can even help to channel superavits of fear and envy and frustration, but it always presuppose blindness, and smallness. The extra-cosmic religious link, though, might connect us with the abyss, with the infinity, with something that expands our eyes and hearts, that pushes us to love more, to study more, to question more, to create more too. Surprisingly, we can also find this kind of open religiosity in the most powerful religions of our civilization. For instance, in Christianity we find a philosopher like Gianni Vattimo [See here still in Spanish], the creator of the “weak thought”, who affirms that to be a real Christian implies to be “a bad Cristian”. In Islam we find Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Averroes, Avicena… In Hinduism we have the Upanishads, which point out the absurdity of the sacred texts in which they are included (the Vedas) and also of any rite or ceremony. In Marxism we find Horkheimer [See here still in Spanish]. In Judaism we have the jewel of Levinas [See here still in Spanish]. Within the religion of Science we can find a man like Stephen Hawking [See here still in Spanish] thinking that, when we try to understand the origen of the universe, the ideas of Saint Augustine of Hippo have the same epistemological value as the ones of the Big Bang theory. We find this shocking ‘confession’ in his book The grand design (Bantam Books, New York 2010), written together with Leonard Modlinov:

“Model-dependent realism can provide a framework to discuss questions such as: If the world was created a finite time ago, what happened before that? An early Christian philosopher, St.Augustine (354–430), said that the answer was not that God was preparing hell for people who ask such questions, but that time was a property of the world that God created and that time did not exist before the creation, which he believed had occurred not that long ago. That is one possible model, which is favored by those who maintain that the account given in Genesis is literally true even though the world contains fossil and other evidence that makes it look much older. (Were they put there to fool us?) One can also have a different model, in which time continues back 13.7 billion years to the big bang. The model that explains the most about our present observations, including the historical and geological evidence, is the best representation we have of the past. The second model can explain the fossil and radioactive records and the fact that we receive light from galaxies millions of light-years from us, and so this model—the big bang theory—is more useful than the first. Still, neither model can be said to be more real than the other”.

2.- We could also speak of purely logical religious-links versus pure silent religious-links: religiosities derived from the spells of the goddess Vak. Here would be theism, atheism, etc. Just wars of names (or wars of Gods): “Nature”, “Life”, “Universe”, “Knowledge”, “Science”, “Human rights and dignity”, etc. All of them require the installation and updating of symbolic constructs: books, sermons, indoctrinations.

3.- The religious bond, if fully successful, triggers an irruption of energy: it is as if the ‘connected human being’, suddenly, received an energy that was not available to him until ‘the connection’. There are various energizing cosmos, various energizing religions essentially incompatible with each other in many cases. How is that possible? Perhaps it could be argued that certainty, and the end of doubts and fears, and also the feeling of being part of a closed and protected community, might give strength and peace, which altogether might trigger exceptional flows of energy inside human body and mind and whatever. Are energy and peace and certainty the ultimate goals of human existence? 

4.- Philosophy, when you try to practice it seriously, must be radically empiricist: we should not be tempted to eliminate facts or sensations even though they do not fit into some of the paradigms that struggle to be the home of the whole in the whole of our mind. The religious feeling is something very serious. Very big. Too big maybe. Philosophy can nor ignore it.

5.- We also should be able to accept the possibility of the existence of a very serious, very close and loving bond with some minor god, as Salvador Paniker seems to yearn in that refreshing work that is entitled Asimetrías (Debate, Barcelona 2008). I made a book review that can be read [here].

6.- If we, with Schopenhauer [See here in German], endure the thought -and the feeling- that we are the secret directors of the theatre play of our lives, it must be possible to affirm that the religious bond would be something like a communication, a vibrating cable, set between our creative self – natura naturans, the Great Wizard-  and our created self (natura naturata).

7.- We should consider the existence of  a prodigious dreamer who, conscious and omnipotent inside his dream, inside his created dream, could love an individual person, a concrete picture, dreamed-drawn by him. Dreamed-drawn so prodigiously that the picture could also love back its dreamer, its draftsman; even if that “picture”, that creation, could not see his creator, not even successfully think or speak about him. 

Inside the created world it might only be possible to feel him (I mean the Dreamer/Draftsman), and even to feel his feelings, occasionally, like I maybe did almost thirty years ago, in the mountains of Algeria.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Matter”


Another logical ballerina. Just a word. “Matter” is only -only?- a word.

And that word comes from the Greek hyle: a symbol that allows us to transmit a model of mind, a concept: something like the one we feel with the symbol “cut wood” or, also, “raw material with which to do anything”. In Latin the symbol is materia, and the concept associated with it would be something like “wood for any type of construction”.

And what is built with matter? The world? The whole reality? Can the matter itself be constructed with something even more esencial? Is the world a sum of material bodies (molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks…) that are enslaved to some eternal, never changing physical laws?

What is a dream made of? I mean, for example, a kiss on the lips of a beloved woman, a kiss wanted, desired, dreamt years ago. Is that kiss – and the hearts and fantasies in it intertwined – constituted by dead atoms subjected to physical laws as implacable and dead as numbers written with chalk on a blackboard?

Why do most models of reality feel dread towards freedom and creativity? Well, some of them do only consider possible the freedom and the creativity of human beings.

What is the matter of our dreams made of?

Some years ago I had this dream: I was walking down the staircase of the apartment building where  I lived until I was nine years old. On that staircase there was a window from which a garden could be seen. Suddenly I knew that I was actually dreaming, that I was inside my own artificial reality and that, therefore, I could build whatever I wanted within the unlimited matter of my mind.

I just wanted to fly. And, flying, I was able to reach the branches of one of the trees. Once there I spent a good while touching with my irreal fingers the dreamlike surface of that vegetable/dreamed entity that was being softly moved by a very real and mysterious  breeze.

The point is that I was able to touch the matter of dreams. It was one of the most extreme and sublime experiences I can remember from this level of consciousness. The matter of dreams/the matter of the real universe. Is there a difference? Shakespeare wrote what follows in the first scene of the fourth act of The Tempest:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

One may ask: Who -or What- sleeps in that sleep that envelops all lives? And, above all, is that dreamer a creator? Are dreams outcomes of a conscious creative effort?  Is it possible to freely configure matter or is it eternally subject to unconscious, but also omnipotent laws that determine all possible configurations of matter?

“Matter”. Before presenting my ideas / sensations, I would like to suggest the study of the following subjects:

1.- The Arche in ancient Greek Philosophy: What is everything made of? Hylozoism: Thales of Miletus (matter is alive; and all is full of gods).

2.- Matter in Aristotle: that out of which something is made.

3.- Neoplatonist philosophers (Plotinus, Proclus, Simplicius of Cilicia and Iamblichus): matter as pure receptacle without qualities or measure. I recommend once again the Philosophy Dictionary of José Ferrater Mora, now specifically his article “Materia”. It is written in Spanish, and, unfortunately,  not yet translated into English.

4.- Matter according to scientist thinking and to magical thinking (enslaved matter versus free matter).

5.- Dualists. Matter is Evil. Matter in Samkya metaphysics: suffering and slavery derive from identifying with the psychic-mental experience (prakriti or matter).The Charvakas of ancient India: matter is the only reality; and its great. Descartes´ dualism: body and mind as different realities.

6.- Matter in current Physics. The definition of Matter by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire): “All ordinary matter in today’s universe is made up of atoms. Each atom contains a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons (except hydrogen, which has no neutrons), surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made of quarks bound together by other particles called gluons. No quark has ever been observed in isolation: the quarks, as well as the gluons, seem to be bound permanently together and confined inside composite particles, such as protons and neutrons”. The quark-gluon plasma. A.L.I.C.E.

I proceed now to share some personal philosophical sketches caused by the dance in my mind of the logical ballerina “Matter”:

1 .- First of all I think it might be useful to differentiate between matter as formless “mass” with potential to adopt any form (something that for the Neoplatonists was a receptacle without measures or qualities) and matter as “what fills the space”, or “set of physical bodies” , or “density variations in a unified field”, etc. The first conception of “matter” suggests a kind of “nothing” able, and ready, to be anything. The second is a legalized, enslaved something. I see more life (more truth) in the first concept of matter.

2.- If matter is such in-formable mass, we could imagine a prodigious “mass” that might had, at the same time, infinite potentiality (infinite capacity to adopt forms, to be a natura naturata) and infinite creative power (natura naturans). That prodigious “mass” may be called “God” (the metalogical God: being essentially formless) because it might be able to build any world (any form) with and within  Himself.

3.- I believe that the terms Matter, Maya and Magic might share the same ontological meaning: they name the essence of the show that is presented before our consciousness. And in that show our thoughts and our own psychical and optical self (what appears on the mirrors, what we see in the photos, the parts of our body we can see from the position of our eyes…) should be included. I agree with Schopenhauer that we are the secret directors of the theatre plays of our lives.

4.- According to the above I consider myself a materialist. Why not? I love the matter. A lot. I love the texture -sometimes fierce, terrible- of this prodigious dream. My rejection of materialism, let’s say, dualist materialism (the one that distinguishes between matter and spirit) derives from its contempt for the worlds and, over, for its contempt for the real, “imperfect” human beings.

5.- In a meditative state we can experience something that I would like to call “pure matter”. In such state, the experienced “nothing” [See “Nothing” still in Spanish] seems to be able of configuring itself in any imagined world: any Creation might occur in such prodigious Nothingness.

I return now to that dream in which I could touch the branches of a, lets say metaphysical, tree. What did I really feel while caressing that dreamlike vegetable, while breathing the air and light of “my” own imagination?

I felt astounded and amazed: feelings that -very powerfully- trigger Philosophy.

David López

Las bailarinas lógicas: “Materia”

El próximo miércoles 20 de marzo a las 12.00 horas (hora de Madrid) impartiré una conferencia on-line basada en el presente artículo. [Más información]


Una palabra.  “Materia” solo -¿solo?- es una palabra.

Proviene del griego hyle. Este símbolo permitía transmitir y compartir tribalmente un modelo de mente, un concepto: algo así como el que nosotros sentimos con el símbolo “madera cortada” o, también, “materia prima con la que hacer cualquier cosa”. En latín el símbolo fue materia, y el concepto a él asociado sería algo así como “madera para cualquier tipo de construcción”.

¿Y qué se construye con la materia? ¿El mundo? ¿Es el mundo una suma de cuerpos materiales que bailan y mutan, esclavizados, al son de unas leyes que lo explican, o que podrían explicarlo, todo?

¿De qué está hecho un sueño por fin conseguido? Me refiero, por ejemplo, a un beso en los labios de una mujer amada.  ¿Está ese beso -y los corazones y las fantasías en él entrelazados- constituido por átomos muertos sometidos a leyes físicas tan implacables como muertas?

¿Por qué la mayoría de las metafísicas tienen pavor a la vida, a la libertad, a la creatividad?

¿De qué está hecha la materia de los sueños?

Hace algunos años tuve yo este sueño: bajaba por la escalera de la casa de pisos donde viví hasta los nueve años. En esa escalera había una ventana desde la que se divisaba un jardín. De pronto supe que estaba soñando y que, por lo tanto, podía construir en la materia de mi mente lo que yo quisiera.

Y quise volar. Y volando pude llegar a las ramas de uno de los árboles. Allí pasé un buen rato rozando con mis dedos la superficie onírica de ese ser vegetal que se movía con la brisa de mi mente.

Pude tocar la materia de los sueños. Fue una de las experiencias más extremas y sublimes que puedo recordar desde este nivel de conciencia. La materia de los sueños/la materia del universo real. Shakespeare escribió esto en la primera escena del cuarto acto de La tempestad:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Somos de la misma materia con la que están hechos los sueños, y nuestra pequeña vida está rodeada por un dormir.

Cabe preguntarse: ¿quién –o qué- duerme en ese dormir que envuelve todas las vidas? Y, sobre todo, ¿ese soñador es creador? ¿Cabe moldear la materia o está ya eternamente sometida a leyes inconscientes de sí mismas?

La materia. Antes de exponer mis propias ideas/sensaciones, recomiendo echar un vistazo a los siguientes temas:

[membership]1.- La pregunta por el Arjé en los presocráticos: ¿De qué está hecho todo? El hylozoísmo de Tales de Mileto: la materia está viva, tiene alma (espíritu). Y todo está lleno de dioses.

2.- La materia en Aristóteles: “aquello con lo que algo se hace”.

3.- Neoplatónicos (Plotino, Proclo, Simplicio y Jámblico): materia como puro receptáculo sin cualidades ni medida. Recomiendo una vez más el Diccionario de Filosofía de José Ferrater Mora, ahora en concreto su artículo “Materia”.

4.- La  materia en el pensamiento cientista y en el pensamiento mágico. Materia esclavizada versus materia libre.

5.- Dualistas. La materia en la metafísica Samkya: el sufrimiento y la esclavitud derivan de identificarse con la experiencia psíquico-mental (la prakriti o materia). Los Charvakas de la India antigua: La materia es la única realidad. El dualismo de Descartes: mente y cuerpo como realidades diferenciadas.

5.- La materia en las Física actual. La definición del CERN: “All ordinary matter in today’s universe is made up of atoms. Each atom contains a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons (except hydrogen, which has no neutrons), surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made of quarks bound together by other particles called gluons. No quark has ever been observed in isolation: the quarks, as well as the gluons, seem to be bound permanently together and confined inside composite particles, such as protons and neutrons”. Recomiendo entrar en este enlace: A.L.I.C.E.

Procedo ya a exponer algunos esbozos filosóficos personales:

1.- Creo oportuno diferenciar entre materia como “masa” informe con potencialidad para adoptar formas (lo que para los neoplatónicos era un receptáculo sin medidas ni cualidades) y materia como “lo que llena el espacio”, o “conjunto de cuerpos físicos”, o “variaciones de densidad en un campo unificado”, etc. La primera concepción de “materia” sugiere una especie de nada que podría ser cualquier cosa. La segunda es ya un algo legalizado. Veo más vida (más verdad) en el primer tipo de materia.

2.- Si la materia es esa masa in-formable, cabría imaginar una “masa” prodigiosa que tuviera, a la vez, infinita potencialidad (infinita capacidad para adoptar formas, para ser una natura naturata) e infinita potencia creativa (natura naturans). Esa “masa” prodigiosa sería Dios –el Dios metalógico-: siendo Nada puede fabricar consigo mismo cualquier mundo.

3.- Creo que los términos Materia, Maya y Magia significan lo mismo: nombran la esencia del espectáculo que se presenta ante nuestra conciencia. Y en ese espectáculo estarían incluidos nuestros pensamientos y nuestro propio yo tanto psíquico como óptico (lo que aparece ante los espejos, lo que vemos en las fotos, la parte de cuerpo visible desde donde están nuestros ojos…). Estoy de acuerdo con Schopenhauer en que somos los secretos directores de esas obras de teatro.

4.- Según lo anterior me considero materialista. Amo la materia. Amo la textura –a veces feroz- de este sueño prodigioso. Mi rechazo al materialismo, digamos, dualista (el que distingue entre materia y espíritu) se deriva de su desprecio hacia los mundos.

5.- En estado de meditación podemos experimentar algo que me gustaría denominar “la materia pura”.  Nuestra conciencia siente que esa nada que es experimentada en meditación  [Véase “Ser/Nada”] podría autoconfigurarse en cualquier mundo imaginado: cualquier Creación podría ocurrir en esa prodigiosa Nada.

Vuelvo ahora a aquel sueño en el que pude tocar las ramas de un árbol. ¿Qué sentí en realidad mientras acariciaba ese vegetal onírico, mientras respiraba el aire y la luz de “mi “propia imaginación?

Sentí estupor maravillado: dos sensaciones que desencadenan el impulso filosófico con enorme fuerza.

David López