I was greatly struck by the duality of it, by the way you get ripped out of ordinary reality and made plunge into a much darker one; one that, in the end, feels much more real than the one you see as true when you look about yourself.
Maybe it is the terrible mood I am right now, but it was very hard to read Jacques Maritain today. If I want to present a paper in the upcoming conference I need to find something to write about him. But, now that I just finished reading “Christian Humanism”, my impression is that I just listened to Catholic sermon.
Any “first time” after forty is something to be celebrated or lamented. There is no middle term. Today, it was the first time I have ever been humiliated. And, you know, it is impossible for someone to humiliate you unilaterally. I mean, to be humiliated is not under someone else’s control. The only thing others need to do is to catch you in some wrongdoing. The rest is up to you. All it takes then, is that you realize how wrong you are. And if you do so, all is left is lamentation.
I am committing a crime. Right now.
If there is any solace and forgiveness in confession, that is what I hope for while I write these words. But I know there isn’t; my conscience is relentless. My only resource is to do what everybody does, what man seems to have been carved to do since its conception as a species: evade. All I wish is that my brother won’t read this post.
As we saw in Porphyry’s quotation in Universalia, he abstained from the fight for the truth about universals. But by referring to the problem only with respect to genera and species, I think that he might have created another problem, a bias in the study of universals that crossed the whole of the Middle Ages and onwards up to our times to befuddle our ignorant minds on the topic — my ignorant mind, at least.
That is why he hates to leave home late. It is five o’clock in the morning and he has not even reached the Red Line yet. The flow of cars converging to his path means heavy traffic ahead. The red lanterns of the cars glow like the eyes of bats at night, a million of them in procession to reach their dark master. He could check the map app on his cell phone, but certain things are better not to know. He usually feels good about having unusual work hours. It helps him to pretend not to be a mere worker coming and going in his daily toil, like Sisyphus carrying his rock up and down the mountain. His schedule usually avoids traffic. But today — today — he will have time to stop feeling special and join the pack.
He hears many interesting things, but, fleeting, they go almost as fast as they come; only death remains. Not even the reasons for all those deaths, or the names of the wars, or the approximate dates stay. Nothing but the pure and grotesque fact of so many deaths. Now as he looks into the past from the comfort of the future, time compresses, reality loses importance, and absurdity seems little more than mere words, words that not even use ink and paper anymore.
“Honesty” is the refusal to fake reality, that is, to pretend the facts are different from what they really are. If rationality is commitment to reality, honesty is the rejection of unreality. The rational man recognizes that existence exists; the honest man, that only existence exists.
Beginning with Socrates and especially Plato, the “problem of universals” (called universalia by logicians of the Middle Ages) has plagued the history of thought to this day. But what was — or rather, what is — exactly this problem? Is there really a problem? I put this idea in my head that I need to devote myself to this problem, but the truth is that I still do not fully understand its importance. What I would like to be able to do is to convince a complete layman in philosophy that he should be interested in this problem. At the moment, I find that completely impossible. Below, I reproduce some definitions of the problem I found online just to start thinking about it. The road ahead will be arduous, so I’ll start slowly.