The Axes of Western Philosophy

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The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby Jiva » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:06 pm

Now that I have more free time available, I’ve been re-reading some books and re-visiting some ideas. One of these books is Michel Foucault’s The Courage of Truth, and I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with one of his points – namely, he posits two axes of Western Philosophy, both of which developed from Socrates.

The first is a vertical axis. At the top is the “true world”, an other perfect world; at the bottom is the apparent material world.

The second is a horizontal axis. On one side is an ordinary life; on the other is an other life, one that seeks to reveal truths hidden by ordinary life by challenging accepted conventions and assumptions.

Of course, these axes are not separate. Therefore, for example, a Christian could live an other life as an ascetic in order to gain admittance into an other world, i.e. heaven.

As I said, I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with this idea and have found myself considering how various philosophical and religious beliefs – including my own – are charted according to these axes. I don't have a grand point, just thought I’d post this to see if anyone else had thoughts…
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Re: The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby Wyrmfang » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:26 pm

This chart is something even quite trivial, but still something I haven't ever explicitly formulated or come across anywhere around. In other words, a very useful and clear chart indeed. On the vertical level I would place myself quite close to the "appearances" side, as I have a distaste for strong dualism and have been thoroughly inspired by the Boehme-Baader-Schelling tradition in which God becomes more perfect in the so called appearances. On the horizontal level I find myself somewhere in the middle; I feel certain foreingness to "ordinary people" and see it extraordinary if someone can develop spiritually simply be living like anyone else, but, on the other hand, in going too far from society and social conventions there is a great risk of wrong elitism, spiritual isolation etc. which go completely against the ideal of unity. It seems to me that this latter axis is predominantly a personal question while the first is more an objective philosophical question.
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Re: The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby obnoxion » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:22 pm

I find it next to impossible to situate my philosophy on these two axes, unless I could make some specific comparisons. Perhaps the most accurate way to situate it to this model would be by mirroring. I would shift the true world at the lower axe, making it into a spiritual immanence, and the ordinary life would became the highest spiritual practice.
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Re: The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby Cerastes » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:58 am

I’m struggling with the term „ordinary life“. Almost everyone is seeking for hidden truths, that’s just state of the art. “Ordinary” has almost become offensive in some way since this hypocrite individuality set place. A “flat earth”-guy is also convinced to know the truth. One’s self-assessment might not be very accurate here. In fact I have absolutely no idea where to place myself. As a teenager I was standing on the outer end of the ordinary materialistic worldview. Still I would have named myself a rebel if you asked me back then. Now at least I know that I don’t know. That’s something I guess.
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Re: The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby Nefastos » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:17 pm

I have used similar axes in my own texts. In the article Proud as the Sky's Vault, Humble as Bone I used the cross as the symbol of joining together heaven/pride and earth/humbleness (vertical axis) and the self and the other (as the horizontal axis of the Two Paths of the hands). Thus, the spiritual man – the inner Christ – is bound equally to and by all of these four, and cannot escape any of them while in incarnation ("crucified").

In the books The Left Hand Path and Adept I used the picture (below) where the vertical axis descends from the highest spirit above (nirvâna) to the densest matter below (avici), and the horizontal axis goes from the emphasis on individuality (left) to the emphasis on collective (right). Across this plan is drawn the X cross of the two thus intersecting paths, the basic "Right" and "Left" hand path. Both of these do fork both above and below, depending how the individual making his journey answers to the ethical challenges on the path, thus making eight paths total, two wholly ascending, two wholly descending, and four going sideways.

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Re: The Axes of Western Philosophy

Postby Kenazis » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:59 am

Jiva, are you familiar with the Four Quadrants? Might give some ideas.
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