Becoming God (book review) Patrick Lee Miller

Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy


160617: another fascinating brief philosophy text, this summarizing the early greek philosophers who wanted to 'become god' through pure thought. i had thought this would be a quick read, but it is very dense, also may require some previous knowledge of pre-Socratic thinkers, some critical examination of accepted philosophy...


the text begins with examining the title and deciding exactly what was meant by 'becoming god', mostly this means immortality, which is by necessity divine. and the way to do this is by 'pure' thought. rather than following this god or that god, it is something that each person must achieve by thought alone and not rituals or faith. density of the text examines Heraclitus first, then his effect on Parmenides and Pythagoras, finally Plato... but here i will limit my review to what i understand of hc and the three Ps... in opposition to the primacy of being, the doctrine of non-contradiction, that will become the basic logic of all subsequent western philosophy, hc wrote in poetic form his arguments for change and contradictions and 'becoming' rather than 'being'...


example of 'contradiction': fire as an example of 'hunger' and 'satiety' at the same time, how fire is always grasping/eating more but in this is satisfied, as the flames of its 'becoming' cannot be seen as 'being' but only exists in time, each flame, each moment, expressing this contradiction that say Parmenides refuses as illusion and hc sees as true picture of reality...


there is much speculation that hc was influenced or 'channeling' more 'eastern' thought, from India by way of Persia, and how if not himself this was likely a force on Pythagoras, but lineage, genealogy, are not too important- it is in extant poetry that hc will create his ideas, particularly in refusing the idea of being and not being as impossible of any given being. basically this is the world of being. this is the world without 'time'. this will lead to the ideas of Pythagoras and Parmenides even in conflict, Parmenides with his mythic poetry of 'ontology' and 'logic' that explains our ideas of movement and time are essentially illusions... this prejudice still obvious in most modern physics... Pythagoras insisting even only as fragments others wrote later, that this world was an ordered 'cosmos', that there was 'harmony' in numbers and music that generated all becoming... not being...


this influence can be seen in how Numbers become 'forms' in Plato, though he goes further with this thought by insisting that these ideal Forms must be more real than with what we have in passing acquaintance in degenerate sensed reality... deleuze is helpful here for me... and Plato also argues that the soul is immortal and of one substance however multiply it expresses ideas of given world and pure reason or rather conflict in each being between 'divine light' of 'rationality' versus 'lower' desires of the 'appetite'...


i think this conflict on the 'ontology' of 'being' versus 'becoming', is the most fascinating of these pre-Socratic disputes, the way to which Nietzsche and then Heidegger will be drawn to this way of thinking rather than the common, eternal, non-contradictory, ideas of 'being'. though i must insist i have read little Ancient Greek philosophy let alone pre-Socratic thinkers... maybe now...


note: according to gr this is my 500th read of philosophy... well this only proves that there is so much more philosophy to read! this reading has all been without guidance but for whatever seems interesting, which now seems mostly Indian and feminist works- but then i thought of habermas... then i came across Pythagoras... so much philosophy, so little time...

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