Beatrice guides Dante in his ascent to contemplation

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Comet 12P Between Rosette and Cone Nebulas

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Sandro Botticelli, Dante and Beatrice, n.d., The University of Texas, Austin

Light I beheld which as a river flowed,

Fulgid with splendour; and on either shore

The colours of a wondrous springtime showed.

And from the stream arose a glittering store

Of living sparks which, winging mid the blooms,

To rubies set in gold resemblance bore.

Dante, The Divine Comedy, Paradise, Canto XXX

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Astronomy, formal and dialectical reason

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Formal reason:

‘Since fire is the rapid acquisition of oxygen, and since oxygen is a key indicator of life, fire on any planet would be an indicator of life on that planet.’

Dialectical reason:

To consider this statement dialectically, one would think creatively – of the relationship between destruction and creation. Hegel did this from the idealist perspective –

‘Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite. We have before this (§80) identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of his power. All things, we say – that is, the finite world as such – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of Dialectic as the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself.’

G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, Remark to §81, 118

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I know which view of the Empyrean I think more spiritual

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Gustave Doré’s 1855 illustration for The Divine Comedy: ‘Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean’.

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Neutrino associated with distant blazar jet

There is nothing in the world but matter in motion, and matter in motion cannot move otherwise than in space and time. Human conceptions of space and time are relative, but these relative conceptions go to compound absolute truth. These relative conceptions, in their development, move towards absolute truth and approach nearer and nearer to it. The mutability of human conceptions of space and time no more refutes the objective reality of space and time than the mutability of scientific knowledge of the structure and forms of matter in motion refutes the objective reality of the external world.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 158

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As nature, so knowledge

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The Extraordinary Spiral in LL Pegasi

‘Human knowledge is not (or does not follow) a straight line, but a curve, which endlessly approximates a series of circles, a spiral. Any fragment, segment, section of this curve can be transformed (transformed one-sidedly) into an independent, complete, straight line, which then (if one does not see the wood for the trees) leads into the quagmire, into clerical obscurantism (where it is anchored by the class interests of the ruling classes).’ 

Lenin, ‘On the Question of Dialectics’, 1915, Collected Works, Vol., 38 (Philosophical Notebooks), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972, 355-363, 363

‘Spiral in Development: a figurative description of the process of development employed by Engels and Lenin in elucidating the law of the negation of the negation. Development produces in phenomena an apparent return to the old in the course of change: some features of a lower level are repeated at a higher level. This may be depicted graphically as a spiral in which each new coil repeats the preceding one, but at a higher level. Development in a spiral forms a contrast to the typically metaphysical idea of development as being motion along a closed circle without any new elements.’

Dictionary of Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1984, 398-99

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The aesthetic relation of art to reality – design in the Sistine Chapel and in the storms of Jupiter

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Jupiter’s zones and belts dominant near its equator decay into a complex pattern of continent-sized storm swirls

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Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel ceiling, 1508-1512, Vatican City

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NASA and a disk, science and art

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Seven Dusty Sisters – the Pleiades star cluster.

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A colour-composite image of the Pleiades from the Digitised Sky Survey

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The Nebra sky disk, dated circa 1600 BC. The cluster of dots in the upper right portion of the disk is believed to be the Pleiades. Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

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‘Massive stars form and explode, and brown filaments of dust are strewn about.’

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Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

‘Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite. We have before this (§80) identified Understanding with what is implied in the popular idea of the goodness of God; we may now remark of Dialectic, in the same objective signification, that its principle answers to the idea of his power. All things, we say – that is, the finite world as such – are doomed; and in saying so, we have a vision of Dialectic as the universal and irresistible power before which nothing can stay, however secure and stable it may deem itself.’ G.W.F.Hegel, Hegel’s Logic, Trans., William Wallace, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, Remark to §81, 118.

The hostility towards Neoplatonism and dialectical materialism by the learned servants of the bourgeoisie and their inability to embrace them are for the same reasons – both the prime importance to this current of what they have assigned to ‘the feminine’ – the ephemeral, the creative, that which resists control and particularly, its recognition of the engine of contradiction with its resultant flux. Everything but change itself will pass.

The ideological silence for so long in academia with regard to the pervasive impact of mysticism on Western culture, particularly its primary Western form Neoplatonism and the distortions and fluff written and spoken in the attempt to explain that influence away can be compared with the erasure of a two thousand year history of materialism from Indian philosophy. The only place where this ‘survives’ is in the writing of those who hated it. Some of those in the West who built their careers on never using the word ‘mysticism’ other than disparagingly or on explaining it away are now teaching it as though it has been ever thus. They make a mockery of philosophy and excellently exemplify the early stages of a major adjustment in capitalist ideology – from ‘modernism’ to ‘postmodernism’ to…? What will the new ‘ism’ be that denies or instils doubt regarding the primacy of objective reality? 

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The difference between what is best in U.S. culture and the culture of the U.S.’s fearful, servile client state

As with their post (twice) on Hypatia the mystic and Neoplatonist, it is again to NASA’s credit that they put the above video on their website (also for a second time). I recommend the text below the video on that page, particularly the link ‘no one can know the future’ which leads to the abstract for the article ‘Searching the Internet for evidence of time travellers’.

No science website of the Australian government would dare to display, discuss and encourage such expressions of eagerness for intellectual creativity and the future. In Australia we march forward facing backwards, gagging on our ‘laid-back’, authoritarian, consumerist ‘decency’.

I post this on the day there has been yet another round of navel-gazing and spin in the media about why education in Australia continues to fall behind that in other developed nations.

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What is primary for truth and art?

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Painting with Jupiter

Materialist dialectics, a philosophical method for investigating nature and society, holds practical activity to be the basis of our relations with the world and therefore of cognition. Praxis is thus a criterion of knowledge. Only when practical activity confirms the coincidence of ideas and hypotheses with reality can it be said that they are true. Since practical activity is relative to the level of technological development, truth can never be that absolute ardently sought and equally trembled before by the idealists, rather, it is a deepening relative in relation to an absolute which can only ever be theoretical. Lenin wrote:

’From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality. Kant disparages knowledge in order to make way for faith: Hegel exalts knowledge, asserting that knowledge is knowledge of God. The materialist exalts the knowledge of matter, of nature’, V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Vol., 38 (Philosophical Notebooks), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, 171.

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The moon, my shadow, and I

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Alone and Drinking Under the Moon

by Li Bai (Li Po) 701-762

Amongst the flowers I

am alone with my pot of wine

drinking by myself; then lifting

my cup I asked the moon

to drink with me, its reflection

and mine in the wine cup, just

the three of us; then I sigh

for the moon cannot drink,

and my shadow goes emptily along

with me never saying a word;

with no other friends here, I can

but use these two for company;

in the time of happiness, I

too must be happy with all

around me; I sit and sing

and it is as if the moon

accompanies me; then if I

dance, it is my shadow that

dances along with me; while

still not drunk, I am glad

to make the moon and my shadow

into friends, but then when

I have drunk too much, we

all part; yet these are

friends I can always count on

these who have no emotion

whatsoever; I hope that one day

we three will meet again,

deep in the Milky Way.

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