The Star of Sophia: Part II
How can we know what to believe in? How do you know something is true or not? What is true wisdom and how do you become wise? Solomon was considered the wisest of men yet in his old age he lost God’s favor. Once wise, did he become un-wise? Wisdom is seen in this example to not be mere knowledge alone that, once achieved, entitles you to the privileges of sagedom from henceforth. And despite the vast quantities of knowledge produced by the ‘information age’ there are still no definitive, indisputable, verifiable scientific answers to the primary questions: How did we get here?, and most importantly, Why are we here? By reason of which we ultimately have no choice but to seek the answer to these truths and their possible validation for our existence through intuition and finally, faith. (For an insightful philosophical examination of this quandary see Kierkegaard). Wisdom thereby becomes the proper synthesis of one’s knowledge and intuition/faith, resulting in one being capable of making the right decisions and the proper responses to the moment by moment demands and stimuli of living. In this way wisdom can be seen to be the dynamic expression of what’s been called the ‘living truth’, where “the Word”, the will, reason and intuition come together to create a certain awareness or ‘presence of mind’ in which an fluid indefinable balance of the influences cited above allows ‘right decisions’ and ‘right actions’ to flow naturally from individuals whom achieve this temporal ‘space’. To this end I have dedicated my life.
As a tool to enhance our attempts to gain entrance to this hidden 'Garden of Eden' * I designed the ‘Star of Sophia’. Originally the Star of Sophia was designed as a two dimensional diagram of the relationship between the concepts that are employed in the Aristotelian denigration of Sophia by which I sought to demonstrate the error of ‘logic’ as the foundation of this view of Sophism. I have since revised my views somewhat and recognize that Protagorean Sophism as opposed to Socratic/Platonic Sophism does deserve a measure of disrepute due to its amorality (one and the same amorality as modern existential nihilism). The secret deception by which Sophism in general became disreputable is that the same amorality lies at the heartless center of their esteemed ‘logic’. In this perverted ideology reason takes the place of wisdom as man’s highest aspiration despite the fact that the ‘heart’ of wisdom is man’s greatest treasure, from which he is enabled to discover, and perpetuate his connection to the center and eternal source of existence, and from which springs true fulfillment and peace.
The design of my original Star of Sophia consists of two equal squares drawn one over the other, the first with the corners aligned with the cardinal points N,S,E,W; the second with the corners aligned with NE, NW, SE, SW, to form an eight point star. Each point, like the cardinal directions of ancient lore, is associated with a particular idea. All the ideas so associated are in some important way interrelated but the given points/ideas on each individual square are more so. Each set of ideas arranged geometrically in this way demonstrates the ‘closed loop’ by which logic ‘determines’ ‘validity’. This is to say ‘logic’ is only logical, something is deemed to be logical, purely by preconceived consensus or mere personal precepts – the rational does not necessarily have any real connection to truth. Validation and valuation based upon consensus or ideological precept may or may not have any actual correlation to what is, to the way things really are, which is what we call Truth. In this way the original design Star of Sophia illuminates the inadequacies of Aristotelian logic as a philosophical foundation, producing, as it does a ‘physics’ without a ‘metaphysics’. This ‘Aristotelian error’ has been propagated down by the ‘Church of Reason’ into the 'Church of Science'.
Now as referred to earlier in this essay there is the need to differentiate the two actually opposing types of Sophism: the absolute relativism of Protagoras versus the 'Absolute Relativity' of Socrates; the former deserving the reputation of ‘bad Sophism’, the latter not deserving such. We must not ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’, which is what has happened with ‘wisdom’ = ‘Sophism’. I have since redesigned the original Star of Sophia to reflect this distinction by adding a symbol to the center, which I designed to represent ‘Absolute Relativity’, and each 'point' of the redesign now reflects an aspect of 'Wisdom'. For more on this distinction and ‘Absolute Relativity’ refer to the links below.
Cold, bloodless logic is the foundation of scientific empiricism, which, along with Darwinianism, has sown more evil into the world than all the admitted misdeeds of the church for the last two thousand years. The knowledge and technology produced by ‘scientific’ logic, without wisdom to guide it, has given us two world wars, global warming, polluted air and water, and the continuing threat of nuclear destruction. It has also enabled the accumulation of wealth and power as never before, making truer than ever, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”. Without wisdom, the moral decay so evident in the young of these current and past few generations will only worsen. If you care that, if we do not change the course we now take, the world we leave for our children’s children will be barren of natural ecosystems, unhealthy, unhappy, hopelessly in the grip of a few who hold all power, little or no freedom, or worse, a moral chaos, then you, and I, and each of us who care must relearn the meaning of wisdom, and make ourselves wise, and teach our children more than sports and capitalist business administration, more than the pursuit of wealth and fame. We must teach our children the thing they need most…how to become wise. For you cannot make a person wise. You may only strive to instill within them a good heart and by your example show them to choose right over wrong, and how to choose good over evil. That is all you can do. They must make their own choices and face their own consequences, as do we all. But we must remember, on this tiny little planet, the Eco-sins of the fathers will fall heavily on the children. Wisdom starts at home. The Earth is our home. Anyway, that’s why I write.
How do you teach wisdom? As I said, you can’t, parse. The Sophists were known for teaching virtue and rhetoric. Nevertheless, they could not teach one to be virtuous; but through techniques such as the use of rhetoric they attempted to bring the students minds to an experience of the truth, of the value of virtue, that they might then take it to heart and of their own volition, of their own understanding and love of truth and goodness, be virtuous.
Aristotle denigrated rhetoric as a base appeal to the emotions instead of reason. But the ‘rhetoric’ of the Sophists was much more than that. Rhetoric was one of many techniques used by the ancients to open minds to new experiences and ideas which are often actually prevented by reason due to the ‘closed loop’ demonstrated by the Star of Sophia. The closed loop is there and will not go away. It’s how the mind, all minds, work. In Philosophy this self-contained closed picture of the world is referred to by the German word ‘Weltanschauung’. The ‘trick’ of the Sophists is to find a way to open the loop, momentarily allowing it to expand a little at a time, then ‘reheal’ till its ready for another ‘lesson’ or ‘break’ (too much expansion too fast and the loop cannot close or ‘reheal’ and you have problems), till the adept has expanded his awareness to the point referred to as ‘enlightenment’. Another thing about the loop is that it can harden and even shrink, becoming impenetrable, incapable of change, flexibility, or tolerance. If the lessons of the heart are shut out of the loop as the ‘Church of Reason’ would have us do then there is little hope for the loop to expand, as it should. This is why we must, in the words of Christ, “Believe as little children if ye would enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. Not by self-idolizing bigoted fundamentalist dumb-downed dogma but by a heart and mind like a child’s, that is open to all truth, with a natural wonder, and awe, and love for all creation without bias or prejudice. It is love that best makes the loop to grow. Logic alone will not suffice.
So there you have it. If you have ‘eyes to see and ears to hear” – the eyes and ears of a child like wonder and joy, then you ‘already knew’ what I here describe. The original design Star of Sophia exposes the error of a mind that shuts out the ‘Sophistics’ of the heart and equally as important shuts out the immeasurable, ineffable, extranatural noumenality of existence, the source behind all phenomena, as symbolized in my Absolute Relativity design. The revised Star of Sophia places the AR at its center, back where it belongs as the 'heart’ of the universe. Such a person hears and heeds the inner voice of the heart of God within them, and bathed by the emanations of love and light which radiate from the source within, they are continually ‘reborn’ with each expansion of their loop, reorganizing their persona, their ‘Gestalt’ to higher and higher forms of ‘perfection’ (“Be ye therefore perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect” – Matthew 5:48). Simply put, the Star of Sophia is awareness, the mind, be it wise, or not. May you choose wisely.
*Metaphor for an temporal state of Awareness in which one intuitively knows Wisdom and the AR.
©2007 Thomas Theodore Welborn