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Heraclitus essays on optimism - …

A theoretical materialist, who looks on the natural world as on a soil that he has risen from and feeds on, may perhaps feel a certain piety towards those obscure abysses of nature that have given him birth; but his delight will be rather in the clear things of the imagination, in the humanities, by which the rude forces of nature are at once expressed and eluded. Not so the transcendentalist. Regarding his mind as the source of everything, he is moved to solemn silence and piety only before himself: on the other hand, what bewitches him, what he loves to fondle, is his progeny, the material environment, the facts, the laws, the blood, and the iron in which he conceives (quite truly, perhaps) that his spirit perfectly and freely expresses itself. To despise the world and withdraw into the realm of mind, as into a subtler and more congenial sphere, is quite contrary to his idealism. Such a retreat might bring him peace, and he wants war. His idealism teaches him that strife and contradiction, as Heraclitus said, are the parents of all things; and if he stopped striving, if he grew sick of ambition and material goods, he thinks he would be forsaking life, for he hates as he would death what another kind of idealists have called salvation.

In reality I have never been either [an atheist or a pessimist]. Early Christians were called atheists and Buddhists are called pessimists: that only means that they reject the kind of God or the kind of happiness that the critic is accustomed to conceive. But I believe in the reality of Truth, the denial of which by Nietzsche, James, Dewey and a lot of Evangelicals and Idealists is, according to Lutoslawski, genuine atheism. And I believe in the possibility of happiness, if one cultivates intuition and outlives the grosser passions, including optimism. But this play of dialectic with concepts may seem to you forced. God and happiness seem to you proper names for distinct facts. God either exists or He doesn't exist. A man is either happy or unhappy. But can you seriously maintain that? The idea of God has infinite shades: even in the Hebrew tradition it is most ambiguous as an idea. It is only as a verbal idol, as a formula in a ritual, that the object is distinct. Would the God of Aristotle be God? Would the God of Royce be God, although avowedly not a power? And how about Brahma, or the God of Spinoza? These things are not so simple, if you stop to think a little.

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Heraclitus believed in an on-going process of perpetual change, ..

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Heracitus Essays In Optimism - N.P. Lanitis


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