As far as I know, Indian and Chinese philosophers and religious practitioners are as obsessed with their texts as we westerners tend to be with ours. How about the Bahagadvad Gita for a start? And the idea that texts alone without religious practice does not amount to much is not really eastern. Why would westerners otherwise have built monasteries where religion was supposedly practiced in minute detail? St Paul was adamant that texts without practice was useless. I just don't think there is that much difference here between "western" and "eastern" and as the "go-betweens" historically between east and west, perhaps a more radical Zoroastrian view would be that there is very little difference here between east and west, the balances between philosophy, poetry and practice being almost identical. What strikes me as a more radical difference is the roots in desert culture of western thought (with its focus on dualism) and the roots in early cosmopolitan culture of eastern thought (resulting in monism). The divide within Zoroastrianism is here clearly a divide between east and west.
Alexander/don't know if I would agree with Rorty either that Nietzsche failed as a poet, "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is hardly a failure...
2009/10/28 Special Kain
Nietzsche tried to use poetry, but he failed. Heidegger tried to use poetry, but he also failed. So, according to Rorty, only Derrida succeeded. But I'm not that much into Derrida, so I disagree with Rorty.
I guess that philosophy and poetry are kept separately in eastern philosophy or, at least, the same "disinterest" in language was also applied to poetry. Whether it's a philosophical essay or a beautiful poem doesn't really matter as long as the supreme reality behind the curtain is seen as something that can't be translated into words. It's a mystery that requires silence.
In western philosophy, you have two options: either representationalists or pragmatists (to make things as simple and stupid as possible). Representationalists probably believe that words will depict reality (the philosophical mirror) or create a second reality (poetical self-creation). And pragmatists believe that both philosophy and poetry can't be defined ontologically, but only as social practices with different social effects - and that words can't depict reality, but only create new possibilities of experience. That's why Rorty seemed to be much more interested in novels than philosophical books as our moral guides.
So there's still a difference between western and eastern philosophies when it comes to the value of language. And there's a difference between representationalists and pragmatists when it comes to the functions of language (either a mirror or a new tool).
--- Alexander Bard
Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] A few words about WORDS
Datum: Mittwoch, 28. Oktober 2009, 17:19
But where do you place Philosophy's great twin in all this, namely Poetry???
I believe it is meaningless to speak of Language as Philosophy only.
Poetry is at least as important.
Especially as most religious texts, like The Gathas, were always intended to be consumed as poetry far more than philosophy. And consequently should be read as such. Please compare with the great ancient texts of India and China if you like.
2009/10/28 Special Kain
The three ideals in Zoroastrian philosophy are good thoughts, good words and good deeds. Now let's have a closer look at the second ideal: speaking good words. It is interesting to note that LANGUAGE has always been of great importance in western philosophy and of less or no important at all in eastern philosophy, such as Chinese philosophy (Daoism and Confucianism) , Buddhism and Hinduism.
While many great western thinkers repeatedly stressed the importance of words as an instrument of socialization and a tool to constitute our socially shared reality, just think of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre (especially his book on Flaubert and the famous French writer's delayed linguistic development) , Wittgenstein, Rorty, postmodernists and what's known as The Linguistic Turn, Daoists and Buddhists don't think of language so highly: words only clouden the supreme reality, words can't touch its essence, they're merely distracting, so SILENCE is required in order to discover the truth of all things.
So Zarathushtra stressing words as equally important as thoughts and deeds, Zoroastrianism definitely shares the same fascination with language as western philosophy. Any comments, feedback, corrections?