The market economy – money, the catallaxy (trade), and technology for living
Practical Knowledge – money – catallaxy – technology for living
In the same essay referred to above, Nietzsche says that art “speaks the truth quite generally in the form of lies” (TL, 96). Nietzsche is here talking about truth as facts. Art does not need facts, it gives us everything as illusion. One can have art that is blatantly non-factual, yet still have wisdom-truth in this sense. So works of art and literature act as one of the primary sources of wisdom, as the source of truth in this sense. “The term sophos, which means ‘wise (man)’, originally referred to skill in any part, and particularly in the art of poetry” (Charles Kahn, 9). The artist is the wise man. But this wisdom may or may not even be connected to facts as such. Gabriel Garcia Marquez does not really believe someone can be so beautiful they can literally contradict the law of gravity and shoot up into the air. With magical realism we have “fact-statements” coming into conflict with “truth-statements.” One way of creating meaning is through repetition. Another way is to create an image so amazing one cannot forget it. This latter approach is the soul of magical realism and of such surrealist painters as Dali and Magritte. How can one forget the scene in One Hundred Years of Solitude where Remedios the Beauty she shot into the heavens because was so beautiful? Or when José Arcadio shot himself and
A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted. (129-130)
This blood is going places and doing things blood should not be able to do, but that does not matter here. What matters is the truth uncovered by this scene, and that, because it is so strange, we remember it. Meaning is tied to memory (and Memory, in Greek mythology, is the mother of the Muses). We remember things that are repeated (patterned repetition is doubly repetitious, and thus more meaningful to us), and we remember things that are as amazing as these images – the “shock of the new” the Modernists were so enamored with. It is evolutionarily important to be surprised at, shocked by, and thus remember new things, since new, unknown things could potentially be dangerous – and it is good to remember surprising things so we are not continually surprised at the new thing with each subsequent encounter with it. We give meaning to those things we remember. We see this connection too in the Greek word for truth, aletheia. Lethe is the river of forgetting, the river dead souls must drink from before rebirth. Letheia is thus forgetting. A-letheia is not- or un-forgetting. Thus truth, aletheia, is unforgetting, remembering. Art speaks the truth precisely because it, as Kundera says, uncovers aspects of existence we have forgotten. Great art speaks aletheia what we are continually letheia, even after we have experienced the work of art. Art does this through lies precisely because every uncovering of physis/logos is a covering, as “physis kryptesthai philei” (Heraclitus, K. X), “Nature loves to hide.” This is how we understand, if not on a completely logical, rational level of explanation, what Marquez means about a woman being that beautiful, or a murdered man’s blood returning home. We understand these a-rational truths, a-rational because they are true without being factual. Marquez manages to highlight and make beautiful this element, of the potential separation between truth and fact – a separation which is the soul of religious mythology.
Gyorgy Doczi says wisdom is seeing the world as one, unified. This is a legitimate definition of wisdom and of truth. The words truth and betrothed are related, through the Old English treowth, meaning “good faith,” which gives us the words “truth” and “troth.” To betroth is to marry, meaning truth can be seen as a betrothal of facts, the unifying or marrying of facts. “Men who love wisdom must be good inquirers into many things indeed” (Heraclitus, K. IX). Truth as wisdom is unifying.
Wisdom is a generalization tending towards the universal codified into a proverb. The process of cognition begins with noting, observing the particular and then working out what is general from the particular. From the general, a regulating principle, a law, emerges which can take the form of the universal. The universal, the law, and the general are then tested against the ground of particularity in practice. Practice is both the starting point and the testing ground of our conceptualization of the world. What is needed is not so much the recovery of practical philosophy as the recovery of the philosophy of practice. (Wa Thiong’o 26)
Since to practice is both to learn to do something, and to do something (as in to practice medicine), we can see that wisdom needs practice, or doing, for it to be valid. We have already seen that “fact” comes from “to do.” Wa Thiong’o is calling for a unification similar to what I am suggesting. One could see wisdom as understanding the scalar nature of the world, seeing the world as a fractal whole, and knowledge as seeing the world in its constituent parts. As we will see in more detail later, in discussing Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Will to Power, truth(s) would act as the strange attractors pulling the world-system together. By combining knowledge and wisdom, we get a more knowledgeable wisdom, or a wiser knowledge, that sees the world as scalar with emergent properties derived from its constituent parts. Since bringing together knowledge and wisdom creates variety in unity, it would show the world as beautiful. Knowledge alone is not enough; nor is wisdom alone. “Graspings: wholes and not wholes, convergent divergent, consonant dissonant, from all things one, and from one thing all” (Heraclitus, K. CXXIV). The unity of knowledge and wisdom is beauty. The interdisciplinarian is thus the scholar of beauty.