Tuesday, December 07, 2010


This is something I have been harping on for a long time and I have half a mind to write a new book to drive it home — but not before I have finished the translation into Arabic of my fifth book. I have no plan yet for translation of my most recent, the sixth: Plato’s Memoirs. Here we go:
For a time mathematicians seriously tried to square the circle. But eventually they were wise enough to realize that these are two original kinds of formal structure that intrinsically resist reduction in terms of each other. For more than four centuries now scientists (and philosophers who have been under the spell of science) have been trying to objectify the subjective. They have not yet shown themselves wise enough to see that these are two original kinds of thought that cannot be reduced to, or interpreted in, terms of each other. Socrates saw it clearly more than twenty-four centuries ago. More than two centuries ago Kant saw it, though not with completely unclouded eyes. Unless we go back to the insight of Socrates and see it as clearly as he did, scientists will futilely continue to try to answer questions – the ultimate origin of things, the meaning of life, the purpose of humanity, the origin and nature of mind – that can only be treated philosophically, and philosophers will foolishly continue to give factual answers to the same questions. Scientists will always only be able to give description after description – observational-cum-imaginative – of states of affairs preceded by and followed by other states of affairs, without ever being able to tell WHAT or WHY. The What and the Why are preserves of the gods. But philosophers and poets steal into the domain of the gods and come away with images of the What and the Why. They give us visions and dream-worlds which enrich our lives, shed meaning and value on life, but which have no right to claim objective validity. The creations of philosophers and poets are real for us, are the only reality we have and the only reality we know, but when they foolishly parade as facts, scientists will readily and rightly show them to be impostors. I can’t understand why philosophers can’t be satisfied with being dream-makers. Let’s look at it from another angle. Poets lie and theologians lie. But while a poet knows that s/he is, like an innocent child, making beautiful lies, and lives in a world made worthwhile, a theologian thinks that s/he is telling the truth and lives in a world of delusion. Now philosophers have to make a choice: they have either to stand with the poets and confess themselves makers of dreams or persist in posing as scientists and then they share the damnation of theologians. Scientists on the other hand, if they persist in posing as philosophers, will have a lesser punishment: they will be condemned to the endless toil of Sisyphus. They will continue to plod on vainly hoping to reach an ever-receding horizon.

D. R. Khashaba
December 7, 2010