June 5th, 2012 • 1:45 PM
Philo Weighs In: A Lesson in Methodology

by Meghan Rouillard

In LaRouche’s recent report “A Lesson from Furtwängler: The World's Breakdown-Crisis Is Now” he continues the discussion of the “Furtwangler principle” which he has contrasted to a methodological fallacy which is pervasive in not only the domain of art, science, and economics as independent areas of study and practice, but which pervades the culture as a whole.

While there are more recent perpetrators and promoters of destructive “reductionist” thinking in the 20th century, such as the likes of Bertrand Russell or Alexander Oparin, this mental disease has been around for a long time, and has been combated for just as long. I recently had the chance to read Philo of Alexandria’s “On the Creation” which LaRouche had earlier cited in his “How Bertrand Russell Became an Evil Man.” LaRouche also references the views of Philo in his most recent report:

“That much said, we must emphasize included attention to highly relevant, other, earlier avenues of pathetic thinking, such as the mental illness represented by what is often identified, as by me and others, as the Aristotelean cult of Euclid, which continues to play a significantly destructive role in the mental life of what often seems, mistakenly, to pass for “science.” The pathological trend inhering in Euclid’s system, as that fraud was exposed, and condemned publicly by that friend of the Christian Apostle Peter, who was sometimes known as “Philo of Alexandria.”

To give a sense of Philo’s thinking, here is an excerpt where he discusses the fallacy of “absolute time,” using essentially the same argument as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz many years later. While Euclid’s geometry was developed without any consideration for actual physical reality, as discussed by Jason Ross is last week’s Weekly Report, Philo remarks that magnitudes such as “time” are meaningless without starting from a physical referent:

“Moses says also; "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth:" taking the beginning to be, not as some men think, that which is according to time; for before the world time had no existence, but was created either simultaneously with it, or after it; for since time is the interval of the motion of the heavens, there could not have been any such thing as motion before there was anything which could be moved; but it follows of necessity that it received existence subsequently or simultaneously. It therefore follows also of necessity, that time was created either at the same moment with the world, or later than it--and to venture to assert that it is older than the world is absolutely inconsistent with philosophy.”

Here is more from LaRouche’s report on Philo’s opposition to the idea that the Creator is essentially dead: that no pervasive creative principle exists, only a predictable unfolding of events :

“...According to Philo, the still-chronic, relevant thesis of Euclid worked to the effect of asserting that the existence of mankind could not have existed until the Creator of the universe were already dead: that same thesis of “God is dead,” is associated with the radically reductionist, modern figure of Friedrich Nietzsche and consistent fascists (as also worshipers of the “tradition” of the Olympian Zeus) generally. Those chronic errors are derivatives of the so-called “oligarchical principle.”
Life is, after all, as the referenced work of Wilhelm Furtwängler attests, the essence of creativity, and of true love of the universal passion of creativity as such!
The systemic fallacy permeating that reductionist’s fallacy which I have addressed in the preceding paragraphs, is the fruit of a reductionist fallacy rooted in elementary error, such as that of both Bertrand Russell and A. I. Oparin represented by the substitution of an ill-conceived notion of sense-perception per se, for the ontological “content” of what is to be presumed have been common expression of the “living” and the “dead” alike.”

Here we have Philo in his own words, on those who “as impiously as falsely have represented God as existing in a state of complete inactivity:”

“For some men, admiring the world itself rather than the Creator of the world, have represented it as existing without any maker, and eternal; and as impiously as falsely have represented God as existing in a state of complete inactivity, while it would have been right on the other hand to marvel at the might of God as the creator and father of all, and to admire the world in a degree not exceeding the bounds of moderation. But Moses, who had early reached the very summits of philosophy, this is in accordance with the description of him in the Bible, where he is represented as being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and who had learnt from the oracles of God the most numerous and important of the principles of nature, was well aware that it is indispensable that in all existing things there must be an active cause, and a passive subject; and that the active cause is the intellect of the universe, thoroughly unadulterated and thoroughly unmixed, superior to virtue and superior to science, superior even to abstract good or abstract beauty; while the passive subject is something inanimate and incapable of motion by any intrinsic power of its own, but having been set in motion, and fashioned, and endowed with life by the intellect, became transformed into that most perfect work, this world.”

As Philo points out, viewed properly, those things which we perceive with the senses should be treated as being primarily the expressions of the reason and creativity of the relevant composer, as Wilhelm Furtwangler would likely and correctly agree (and as Alexander Oparin would likely, wrongly, disagree!):

“And if anyone were to desire to use more undisguised terms, he would not call the world, which is perceptible only to the intellect, anything else but the reason of God, already occupied in the creation of the world; for neither is a city, while only perceptible to the intellect, anything else but the reason of the architect...”

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