Tag Archives: Scholasticism

Freedom and bound: to have or to be


The next morning Carla and Man meet on the Beursplein.

“Last night I was too outspoken about Calvin’s predestination. Maybe I had the excesses in mind – e.g. the slave trade, the precipitation of revolts in the Dutch colonies, and the pursuit of capital – and I had too little attention to its merits, such as keeping livable a large piece of land below sea level and a large tolerance often based on a good business attitude. I am often too outspoken, more mildness would suit me”, says Carla.

“I admire Holland for its pictorial art, its pragmatism, its relatively good housing for everyone. This too is the result of the business attitude and God’s stewardship that has also taken shape in a socialist manner in last century. You have aptly expressed a number of starting points for derailments that were partly caused by Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Any movement or sect that considers itself superior, has a strong tendency for derailment over time. There is Narrator”, says Man.

“Have you already been waiting a long time before this cathedral of capitalism? In many early Christian churches no regular church services take place anymore, because the believers have disappeared or have gone elsewhere. This capitalists’ cathedral is no longer in use, the followers of this religion have left for more profitable places like the South Axis in Amsterdam or the stock exchanges in London and New York”, says Narrator.
Berus van Berlage[1]

“That’s right, the capitalists pursuit maximization of profit [2], and hereby they are biting their own tails similar to players of a pyramid scheme. The sources of capital are enormous, but finite: once they will dry up.

Capitalism had already a long history before Calvinism had partially emerged from capitalism and gave further shape to it. Let me first tell you this long history in a nutshell.

Probably the meaning of capitalism is derived from the Roman word “caput” [3], which means head (of a person). This origin underlines the importance of private property within capitalism.
The onset of capitalism has probably been the use of devices by individual people to perform specific activities easier and/or faster. Among the hunter-gatherers such devices were stones to crack nuts, weapons to hunt animals and later devices combined with ingenuity to domesticate animals for food or for help during the hunt. In addition, hunter-gatherers needed a large environment as a means for their existence. When this environment or living conditions – also the possession of women and children – were threatened by other hunter-gatherers or groups of hunter-gatherers, these capital resources had to be defended.

Capitalism got a new dimension in nomadic societies of herdsmen; the capital of these nomadic herdsmen were their flocks and their pastures. The corresponding capital resources – such as animals for transport and for herding cattle – were used for tending and defending the herds of cattle, or men needed these devices – such as women and children – for survival. A religious expression within these societies of herdsmen was the cattle cycle [4]. In the Proto-Indo-European world, women represented the only possession of real value [5]; men needed the possession of livestock as a means of exchange to obtain women. In the Roman Catholic and Lutheran version of the Ten Commandments, we still see a relic hereof in the form of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s wife” prior to the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s house” [6].

Within the agrarian capitalism of arable farming, the disposal – and later the possession of – land and water was necessary capital needed for survival [7]. In the course of time, the agrarian capitalism of arable farming has driven nomadic societies of farmers to the remote areas of Western society by occupying fixed crop lands. The introduction of the three-field system in arable farming during the early Middle Ages – in combination with limited cattle breeding – eventually allowed more people a living on permanent farmland.

Within the societies of herdsmen and farmers, bartering was needed, because people within these societies were not completely independent in their existence and because the need for specialized tools or services increased over time. There was barter needed at local markets or during fairs. The barter proceeded initially in kind; later rare objects – first rare stones or metals, and later coins with an image of a leader as trustworthy “person in the middle” – were used as “objects in the middle”.

During and after the Crusades in Western society in the second half of the Middle Ages, the trade in special items and services took further shape. Hereby, and also by the decay of feudalism arose a new economic organization during the Renaissance in Western Europe, where trade supported by the (city-)state in the form of mercantilism [8] increased further in importance. With mercantilism, the importance of coins as a trustworthy “object in the middle” also increased. Possession of coins became more and more an independent worthwhile life purpose in itself, because with money, all life goals could be obtained even remission of sins for a good afterlife through indulgences [9] within the Catholic Church.
Mercantilisme[9]

By mercantilism, the attention within the lives of people moved more and more from “to be” to “to have”. In the earlier world of scholasticism, one was a human in a predefined order of life in which one ought to live virtuously. In the new world order, ownership of money became a great good in itself whereby a good place in life and in the hereafter could be obtained; owning and maintaining money rose in esteem, and gaining profits changed in the course of time from despicable act in a praiseworthy activity.

This form of mercantilism boomed in the Dutch Republic enormously, because of the unique position of Holland in a major river delta, because of the lack of arable farming land in Holland whereby cereals must be obtained by trade like the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BC, and because of a unique system of collective management of the polders. Additionally, the merchants and wealthy citizens in Holland – the Nouveau Riche of that time – initiated far-reaching adaptations and innovations of mercantilism.

One of the changes was the replacement of coins as “barter in the middle” by bonds [10]. Without a direct purchaser of the cargo – after examining – a shipload could be exchanged on the Dam in Amsterdam for securities. The traders in Holland did everything to perpetuate confidence in these securities

One important innovation was issuing of shares in corporations of merchants in order to make risky trading on a large scale to distant overseas colonies possible. Herewith the initiative of issuing of shares moved from nobility or (city-)state to initiatives by private individuals.
Waardepapier van de VOC uit 1662[11]

These modifications shifted the importance from coins – minted out of precious metals and imprinted with the image of a confident ruler – to securities issued by merchants and wealthy. This change shifted the economic initiative form the nobility and the (city-)state to merchants and wealthy individuals and corporations thereof.

For the “common people” of farmers, local traders and craftsmen in Holland , this new form of mercantilism meant a landslide; their whole economic existence could completely disappear in a short time by a cause from outside; others – often in modified form – may easily take over their livelihoods. They could not influence this change in any way.

Within this change of the environment of the “common people” – from a world modelled after the medieval scholasticism to a new world of mercantilism – Calvinism arose during the Reformation in relatively prosperous Geneva [12], and it found a fertile ground in the Netherlands of the 17th century AC.

By Calvinism in connection with mercantilism, the main focus of people’s lives changed from “to be” to “to have”. While in Calvinism – with its the doctrine of predestination – “being” in God’s grace was of supreme importance. But on one hand the gratitude and obligation for the elect to be God’s steward and on the other hand the constant desire for success as forecast for the election by God, meant that “to have” in earthly life is of immanent and immeasurable importance for “to be” in this life and especially in the afterlife.
In continuation of his work “Fear of freedom”, Erich Fromm states in his later work “To have or to be” [13]:

“We live in a society that is based on the three pillars of private property, profit and power. Acquiring, possessing and making profit is a sacred and inalienable right – and a duty as God’s steward according to Calvin’s predestination – of an individual human being in the new world order that has emerged from the mercantilism. Thereby it does not matter where the property comes from, nor whether there might be obligations attached to one’s property” [14].

Calvin’s predestination – embedded in mercantilism – considers “having” possessions as a predestination of God, and therefore an immutable right and duty for God’s stewards. Dorothee Sölle states in her work “Mysticism and Resistance – Thou silent screams” that Erich Fromm rightly makes a meaningful distinction between on one hand the functional properties of utensils to be used for our existence and on the other hand property for enhancing the social status of the ego, guaranteeing security in the future or just for the convenience of self-desire. About ownership of the latter kind of property, Dorothee Sölle says – I think rightly –, that it destroys the relationship with the neighbour, with nature and with the I [14]. And she states freely rendered: the forecast of a hereafter in God’s grace through the pursuit of earthly possessions soon degenerates into a prison on earth and a herald of hell. Francis of Assisi had only allowed money on the dunghill. [14]

In our modern times, paper money is exchanged for virtual bits in computer systems that offer – via monitors – access to terrestrial resources. These virtual bits had started an environment of its own, wherein mankind will be more and more a servant – or slave – to the many forms of bitcoins in these computer systems. Having access to this world of bits and monitors overshadows “being” in our daily life. Through a long detour, the emptiness of the virtual bits and monitors have confiscated the richness of our existence. This is in a nutshell my introduction to capitalism”, says Carla.

“So much in so few words in front of this cathedral of capitalism. Near this building and during your introduction, I am reminded of the haiku by Rӯokan after thieves had taken everything out from his hut:

From my little hut
Thieves took everything
The moon stayed behind [15]

The moon stands for the unshakable believe of Rӯokan”, says Narrator.

“To have or to be. After this truly somber picture of human existence. I would like to show you a different kind of emptiness: the emptiness of the Waddenzee. The next few days the weather will be good. May I invite you for the last sailing trip with my small sailboat; soon I will give the boat to a good friend who is much younger. On the sailboat we may prepare “emptiness” – the next part of our quest”, says Man.

“Shall we this afternoon look into what we still have to investigate on this part of our quest?”, asks Carla.
[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beurs_van_Berlage
[2] Another explanation about Capitalism is given at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism
[3] Source: Ayto, John, Word Origins – The hidden Histories of English Words from A to Z. London: A & C Black Publishers, 2008
[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Wie ben jij – een verkenning van ons bestaan – deel 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Uitgeverij, 2012 p. 33
[5] See: McGrath, Kevin, STRῙ Women in Epic Mahābhārata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009, p. 9 – 15
[6] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
[7] See also: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004
[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschiedenis_van_Europa
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence
[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism
[11] A bond of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie from 1622 AC. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waardepapier
[12] See also: Fromm, Erich, De angst voor vrijheid – de vlucht in autoritarisme, destructivisme, conformisme. Utrecht: Bijleveld, 1973 p. 67 (Fromm, Erich, Fear for Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941)
[13] Free rendering of paragraph from: Fromm, Erich, Haben oder Sein. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2011, p. 89 (Fromm, Erich, To have or to be?. New York: Harper and Row, 1976)
[14] Sölle, Dorothee, Mystiek en verzet – Gij stil geschreeuw. Baarn: Ten Have, 1998, p. 327 – 328
[15] Source: Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters, Ikkyū, Hakuin, Rӯokan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993, p. 131.

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Who are you, part 2 – facts and logic


Manuscript available

The second part of the quest for “Who are you” is about everyday life as we experience it. Five known realities – facts and logic, intensities and associations, emptiness, change and interconnectedness – will be visited. The manuscript of “facts and logic” is ready; it will soon be published in book form. This part of the Odyssey to “Who are you” is set during a holiday visit to Florence, where the three main characters look at the transition from the Scholasticism via the Renaissance to the Reformation during sightseeing. In between, they discuss the possibilities and limitations of facts and logic in science, in life and death and in the way people try to create and maintain their place in the Sun.

Manuscript is available via the following hyperlink:

www.omnia-amsterdam.com/site-page/manuscripts

2012-04-17-Voorkant-def

Five common realities – facts en logic 17


Carla, Man and the Narrator meet at seven o’clock in the evening on the Piazza della Repubblica..

“In this part of Florence we see exceptionally lush fashion in most beautiful shop windows. We have hardly discussed contemporary wealth and luxury. May I invite you for a luxurious dinner tonight? Narrator, do you know a good modern restaurant for the last supper on this part of our Odyssey?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Nearby – on a courtyard of a Palazzo – is a very good contemporary restaurant of a worldwide chain with a menu of relatively simple Italian dishes made with quality local ingredients. A few days ago I had lunch there with an Italian friend on his invitation; the dishes are exceptional”, says Narrator.

“May I invite you to go there”, says Man.

“It is a pleasure to accept your invitation. I come back on what we did not discuss and see during our stay in Florence. We have not seen how ordinary people live, work and think in this city; this is mainly because I only speak a few words Italian. We have visited the many sights in this city volatile – or not at all. In this city we might easily accomplish a seven-year Odyssey to “facts and logic” in our search for “Who are you”. On the other hand, within our limitations we have seen an awful lot. What do you think?”, says Carla.

“Through this gate we enter the courtyard of the Palazzo. Man, did you already read the “Six memos for the next Millennium” by Italo Calvino? Maybe we can use the titles of the six memos as a beginning for looking back on our visit to Florence; a visit that includes a large part of the history of mankind”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 17a[1]

“We are early for diner, where shall we sit, inside or outside?”, says Man.

“I like the cosiness of a real table”, says Carla.

“Then we will request a table inside”, says Man.

After ordering their dishes, they continue their discussion.

“Coming back on the titles of the six memos: I think we may agree that “Lightness” and “Quickness” are applicable on the way we have covered “Facts and logic” in Florence. What do you think of the third title “Exactitude”? Have we met this title?”, asks Carla.

“The third memo from Italo Calvino begins as follows:

For the ancient Egyptians exactitude was symbolised by a feather, that served as a weight on scales used for the weighing of the Soul. This light feather was called “Maat” [2] – Goddess of the scales.” [3]

Feiten en logica 17b.jpg[4]

Then Italo Calvino aims to define “Exactitude”:

“To my mind “Exactitude” means three things above all:

  1. A well-defined and well-calculated plan for the work in question;
  2. An evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual images (εικαστικοσ ín Greec) and
  3. A language as precise as possible both in choice of words and in expression of the subtleties of thought and imagination.

Within the limitations of “Lightness” and “Quickness” we have – in my opinion – satisfied these criteria during the discussions regarding “Facts and logic”. There is our starter. Enjoy your meal”, says Man.

feiten en logica 17c[5]

“Enjoy your meal”, says Narrator.

“Enjoy your meal. I agree with you that – in our opinion – these criteria are met, but others should determine within their framework and with their background whether – in their view – these criteria are met”, says Carla.

“That’s right. I am satisfied, but my father would have told a different story about “Facts and logic” as the manifestation of the “All-encompassing One”, that certainly would have perfectly met these three criteria. Within our framework and our background we have excellent met the titles of the fifth memo “Multiplicity” and the sixth – never written – memo “Consistency”; others should look for themselves whether our report does meet multiplicity and consistency. I’m not sure if we have done right to the title of the fourth memo “Visibility”. Of course we have had a very rich impression of sights in Florence and we have given these impressions a visible place within the framework of “Facts and logic”, but in the context of “Intensities and associations”, an additional completions is necessary to fully meet “Visibility”, zegt Narrator.

“Italo Calvino begins his memo “Visibility” with the verses:

Then rained down into

The high fiction of mind

of rising people[6].

These verses come from the part of the Wrathful and Rebellious in the Purgatory by Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy”; the last line I have added myself. Reading the Wrathful from this part of the purgatory I must think of two verses from Ephesians 4: 25-32 – a letter from Paul on unity and diversity – from the New Testament: “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still wrathful” and “Be kind, compassionate and forgiving on each other“.

According to Italo Cavino: ”Rains the “Visibility” – or images – down from heaven; that is, God sends them to the rising people”. As clarification of imagination, Italo Calvino quotes the following lines from the Purgatory by Dante:

You, imagination, that prevented us

Many times to perceive the world,

Although around may sound a thousand cymbals

 

What moved you, outside our sense?

A flash of light, created in heaven,

By itself, or by the will of God. [7]

Imagination includes science, the mind of the Warrior, mercy and compassion. Reading a flash of light and heaven, I had to thinking of the pearls game within Indra’s Net.

In Florence we have seen the world of Scholasticism changing into the imagination of reason and of the individual, with new possibilities and limitations. The mind of the warrior had adapted itself to the new conditions: the individual warrior fought no longer for overall glory of his society, but fought for glory of himself and his progeny.

In Amsterdam – during “Intensities and associations” on our Odyssey to “Who are you” – I expect to perceive the imagination during and after the Reformation – and the iconoclastic in response to Scholasticism and the excesses of the Renaissance – of the rebellious in Holland. “Then rained down into the high imagination of rising people”:

  • a direct relation with God within a compartmentalised society;
  • an unprecedented imagination in painting linked to an iconoclast within the religion;
  • a wealth, small-mindedness and embarrassment obtained by trade and exploitation;
  • a modified mind of the warrior focused on steward of God, and on efficiency and profit as outlook on the hereafter.

A first glimpse of this imagination of the rebellious, we have seen in the blue halls of the Uffizi Gallery with paintings by Dutch masters of the Golden Age. This is our last supper in our contemplation of the renaissance in Florence during our Odyssey to “Who are you”. Let us now enjoy our main course”, says Man.

Feiten en logica 17d[8]

“In overseeing the history of mankind within the appalling wealth of imagination of Indra’s net, and within the scope of our quest, we have – in my opinion – succeeded to keep “Maat” or measure at the weighing of the Soul during “Facts and logic”. We might have endless erred in the depths of hell,  wandered on the flanks of the purgatory, gone up in heaven – as tonight at this dinner. But we have completed this part of the Odyssey with hope and consolation. Let us continue the second part of “Visibility”–” The rain of imagination of rising people “– in Amsterdam during “Intensities and associations”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 17e.[9]

“At “Oneness and diversity” in the letter of Paul to the Ephesians and at “Imagination that prevented us many times to perceive the world“, I think at the same time that all of us in our urge to survive – in one form or another, for example as manifestation of the “All-encompassing One” – are connected to the “mind of the warrior” with its imagination that in a frash of light creates and transforms. We cannot avoid this mindset when we ask the questions how we will continue our life [10]; how we can acquire and maintain a place under the sun, stars and hereafter. We – living humans and Gods (?) – are rebellious when we rise for a new day with its new imaginations. Maybe we can avoid this mindset by directionless merging into the infinite “All-encompassing One”, but this completely surrender – that completely surpasses the conscious action of suicide – is not given to many of us. I think, we as living creatures, cannot escape the mind of the warrior; within this mindset we can only keep “Maat” or measure – with compassion and care – at the weighing of the Soul”, says Carla.

“You are right for this second part of our quest. Maybe “Emptiness” and the third part of our Odyssey will include surprises”, says Man.

“I’m curious. There is our dessert. Tomorrow morning Man and I will leave very early to the airport. How will you travel to Amsterdam?”, says Carla.

“I travel over land and I decide at the last minute which train or bus I will take. Although I had left the mirror world of secret services many years ago, I must keep in mind that these services still have interest in me; I try to avoid as much as possible access to my identity. About a week I expect to be with you in Amsterdam for the continuation of our Odyssey”, says Narrator.


[1] Source image: https://plus.google.com/photos/at/105332456211449523631?hl=nl

[2] Maat – as Goddess in ancient Egypt of the early pharaos – was the personification of truth stability, justice and cosmic order. Later Maat became the “Maatstaff” (or measure staff) for the mean role of the pharao. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat

[3] Source: Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the next Millennium. New York: Vintage Books, 1993, p. 55

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%C3%A4t

[5] Source image: http://obika.com/portal/IT/it/dove-siamo/ristorante-firenze/tornabuoni/

[6] Source first and second line: Dante “Purgatorio” XVII.25. The third line is added by Jan van Origo.

[7] Dante “Purgatorio” XVII.13-18; translation derived from: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri trans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University.

[8] Source image: http://obika.com/portal/IT/it/dove-siamo/ristorante-firenze/tornabuoni/

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maat

[10] See also: Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyfus. (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) (1942), first page of Chapter One.

Five common realities – facts and logic 2


“On my trip on foot from Rome to Amsterdam, I had stayed a few weeks with friends in Florence. One of my friends had taken me to Piazza del Carmine to show the Santa Maria del Carmine Church containing the Cappella Brancacci”, says Narrator.

“On the outside it looks like a weathered warehouse, although the main entrance suggests otherwise,” says Carla.

“Many churches in Italy look closed on the outside; the beauty is shown inside, “says Man.

“For the tourists the access to the Chapel is through the door on the right side in white stucco wall of the monastery, but first we look at the Church,” says Narrator.

Santa Maria del Carmine[1]

“It is true, the wealth is inside the Church. This abundance is too much for me “, says Carla.

Feiten en Logica 2[2]

“I brought you here to show the ceiling in combination with the walls. By the painting on the ceiling, it seems like the Church passes directly into the heaven. In this part of the church heaven and earth are joined together, with the transition of the walls to the ceiling as separation”, says Narrator.

“The ceiling is a half cylinder, but by the very cleaver “trompe d’oeil” [3] in the painting on the ceiling, the spectator seems to be drawn into heaven. The medieval scholasticism is shown in all its splendour on this ceiling”, says Man.

 “Artificially, but cleverly made”, says Carla.

Feiten en Logica 2a[4]

“The Cappella Brancacci [5] is on the right side of the altar; for our visit to the frescoes we must enter the chapel outside via the monastery’s entrance on the right side of the Church”, says Narrator.

“That is done to limit the visit of this Chapel and with the revenue the maintenance of the chapel can be paid”, says Man.

“I show you these frescoes in the chapel, because the two main painters of this Chapel personify the transition from the Medieval to the Renaissance. Masolino da Panicale painted the people to ideal images according to the Scholasticism in a medieval style, while Masaccio depicts the people as individuals in all their glory and wealth. On the upper part on the right wall of the chapel, both styles can be seen in one fresco”, says Narrator.

Feiten en Logica 2b[6]

“I prefer the ideal images of the people made by Masolino; Masaccio’s individuals are – in my opinion –  also ideal images, that wish to show their profane opulence and earthly well-being too obviously,” says Carla.

“I’m stupified by this transition of style, world view and display within a fresco”, says Man.

Feiten en Logica 2c[7]

“Now I will take you to the Uffizi Art museum on a 15-minutes walk from this Chapel. There I wish to show you a self-portrait by Albrecht Dürer. I already bought tickets, so we do not need to stand in the line”, says Narrator.

“May we visit the Basilica Santa Maria del Santo Spirito [8] designed by Brunelleschi? This early Renaissance Basilica has beautiful dimensions”, says Man.

Feiten en Logica 2d[9]

“Is there the Crucifix of Michelangelo?”, asks Carla.

Feiten en Logica 2e[10]

“That is correct, let us first have a drink on the square in front of the Basilica,” says Narrator.

After visiting the Basilica Carla, Man, and Narrator go to the Uffizi Museum [11]. First they look at the Renaissance paintings, including “The birth of Venus” by Botticelli.

feiten en logica 2f[12]

Then they arrive at the self-portrait of Albrecht Dürer.

feiten en logica 2g[13]

“I wish to show you this self-portrait of Albrecht Dürer, because with this painting Dürer ignores the Scholastic ideal image of a man at the end of the Middle Ages; he transcends in this self-portrait also the individual presentation of earthly wealth and profane splendour of the Renaissance. Here is a man that we can meet in the streets in Germany today. This self-portrait has the characteristics of a contemporary photo; It looks like a snapshot “, says Narrator.

“Marvellous, except his clothes, I might meet him today on the street in Germany. After many centuries with images of people like the painter and the spectators thought they looked like or thought they should look like, Dürer and his contemporaries noticed how people looked like in reality and they had the skills to depict it in a painting. When I see this painting – that actually is a picture or snapshot – I am reminded of the essay “On Photography” by Susan Sontag [14]. She states in this essay that people feel the reality so overwhelming, that they need the framing of a picture to be able to observe and process an image of reality. This self-portrait is quite familiar, but at the same time I still miss an awful lot. I would like to ask so many questions to this man; I really would like to meet him for a few days and to live with him together in his world. This self-portrait gives a glimpse of the man Albrecht Dürer and at the same time the portrait deprives my image of him. Susan Sontag in her essay did go one step further: she states that the reality is so inconceivable and overwhelming, that people need the use of a camera to shield themselves from the environment; only through a picture or photo, people can experience and digest the framing and stillness of the really; holidays are really experienced at home while viewing the photos”, says Man.

“I have the same mixed feelings: wonderful to see Albrecht Dürer and at the same time it is unreal. When you mentioned the essay by Susan Sontag, I was reminded of the “Theory of the look” by Jean Paul Sartre [15]: by my look at the self-portrait, I make a thing of Albrecht Dürer and thus I deny his person and memory a large part of his freedom. This portrait is for me a “pars pro toto” where the part – the self-portrait or picture of Albrecht Dürer – takes the place of the whole. My question upon seeing the self-portrait remains: “Who are you?”, says Carla.

“My American beloved had studied on the question “Who are we?” in Sweden and later in a monastery in America. Maybe he had found an answer to this question by solving Buddhist question [16] and maybe this “pars pro toto” – that people need in their observations – fits very well within the metaphor of “Indra’s Net” [17]”, says Narrator.

“Perhaps you are right with this metaphor; people look at a glass pearl within Indra’s Net and they experience in this – indirect – manner the entire interconnected Net of glass pearls that reflect in each other. Tonight at dinner, I would like to share with you my view on “facts and logic” of “Who are you?”. Today we have a wonderful start on this part of the search for “Who are you?” didn’t we?”, says Man Leben.

“Later I’d like to show you the world of ordered chaos, but now I’m tired. Narrator, thank you for this tour and both of you, thanks for your company. I need my afternoon siesta. See you tonight at dinner”, says Carla.

“I’m glad you appreciated my preparation. I’m going to visit a good friend this afternoon”, says Narrator.

“Then I will visit two book stores this afternoon”, says Man.


[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

[2] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_Santa_Maria_del_Carmine_(Firenze)

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trompe-l’%C5%93il

[4] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_Santa_Maria_del_Carmine_(Firenze)

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brancacci_Chapel; the frescoes in the chapel can be seen on this Web page.

[6] Fresco on the upper part on the right wall of the Chapel. Source image: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaplica_Brancaccich

[7] Detail of the Fresco on the upper part on the right wall of the Chapel. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappella_Brancacci

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Spirito,_Florence

[9] Floor plan of the Basilica. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Spirito_(Florenz)

[10] Crucifix made by Michelangelo. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_Santo_Spirito

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uffizi

[12] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uffizi

[13] Self-portrait of Albrecht Dürer. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer

[14] See also: Sontag, Susan, On Photography. New York: Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1978

[15] See also: Nārāyana, Narrator, “Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography”. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 34

[16] See also: Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 99 – 136

[17] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 65 – 67

Five common realities – facts and logic


On our contemporary Odyssey to “Who are you” we arrived for our fourth stage “facts and logic” in Florence.

Why do we start our stage “facts and logic” in Florence?

The emergence of the first facts and logic in people is shrouded in mystery [1]. How did mankind for the first time become consciously aware of a fact? When using a stone as a melee weapon or during love feelings for descendants? How did mankind for the first time consciously notice a logical link? When consciously eating plants with specific properties or on foreseeing pregnancy after sexual intercourse? We do not know.

200px-Venus_von_Willendorf_01[2]

At this fourth stage, we wish to avoid the world of religion [3] – or where people fall back upon when interpretation should be given to the unknown, because at other stages during our quest we will address religion adequately.

IMG_1408 (1)[4]

Due to time constraints, we also ignore the genesis and further development of philosophy in ancient times [5].

Our fourth stage “facts and logic” starts at the transition from the medieval Scholasticism [6] to the Renaissance. Both philosophies have attempted to consider the world as deterministic, that is: when the principles and the internal rules are known, then the past, the present and the future are determined. Both philosophical currents had made every effort to determine the order and the internal rules to get grip and insight into our world centred around God [7] within the Scholasticism, or around mankind and human reason within the ruling elite in the Renaissance [8].

From the beginning, Christianity has never stopped to debate the relationship between truth revealed from God in the Holy Scriptures and the continuous discovery of truth and facts by human reason – also seen as a gift of God within the Christian faith [9]; these debates reached their peak in expansion and complexity during the heyday of Scholasticism.

At the beginning of the Renaissance in and around Florence the origin for the discovery of the actual reality permanently shifted from the revelations by God in the Holy Scriptures to human reason centred around mankind. According to the Old Testament the earth – founded by God – will never move [10], but around 1600 AD Copernicus [11] and Kepler had conclusively shown that the earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei had defended this factual discovery in 1632 AD in his writing Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi di Galileo Galilei del Mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano (Dialogue from Galileo Galilei over the two main world systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican) in front of the Church Inquisition. The Christian Church had sentenced him in 1633 AD to house arrest and permanently banned the Dialogo. Over 100 years later – in 1737 AD – Galilei was reburied from a humble graveyard to a tomb in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. In October 1992 AD the name of Galilei was finally purified by the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II [12].

graftombe galilei[13]

The continuum of the transition of Scholasticism into the Renaissance is perceived at our visit to the Santa Maria del Carmine [14] and in it the Cappella Brancacci located in Piazza del Carmine [15] in Florence.

Santa Maria del Carmine[16]

The following post will include the report of this visit.


[1] For interested readers: a small corner of the veil over the early emergence of facts and logic is lifted in: Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999; in: Lewis-Williams, David & Pearce, David, Inside the neolitic Mind. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; and in: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004

[2] Image of the Venus of Willendorf estimated to have been made more than 20,000 years BCE. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

[3] For the emergence and development of religious ideas, we refer to the studies: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982; Johnston, Sarah Iles (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World – a Guide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004;  Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

[4] Stone circles in the Middle of England. Source image: Marieke Grijpink

[5] There are several standard works on the history of philosophy.

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism

[7] For example: the Five arguments for the existence of God in de Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

[9] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010 p. 141

[10] See amongst others: Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 105:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:30

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaas_Copernicus

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[13] Tomb of Galileï in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brancacci_Chapel

[16] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence