“Synthesis in general… is the mere result of the power of imagination, a blind but indispensable function of the soul, without which we should have no knowledge whatsoever, but of which we are scarcely ever conscious.” – Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason.
In the last 10 posts we have reviewed ultimate reality as conceived by the 10 most prominent thinkers from a key two-century epoch of the ancient Greek world. We are left now with the task to synthesize their varying thoughts into a coherent whole. Given we only have second-hand fragments of the lifetimes of the thinking of these immortals, I ask to be excused if I use a bit of imagination in this endeavor.
Our obvious starting point is their consistent belief that there is, in fact, a fundamental principle or group of principles underpinning reality. Reality, for the ancient Greek philosophers, is not at its foundation chaotic and opaque, but intelligible and scrutable – and specifically intelligible to human beings. This intelligibility emanates from a logos, reason, or thought, perhaps even a “mind.” The logos in turn manifests as universal order.
Reality is also solitary – a unit – instantiated in the real world, which is to say in corollary there are not multiple worlds. The great unifying quality is existence or being which conjoins the material with thought or soul. Ultimately the unit as unit is uncreated and indestructible. Whereas the material is constructed of fundamental elements such as atoms or four basic physical states that amalgamate into the unit, the non-material governs or pervades the unit and to some extent its elements.
Reality also expresses a prismatic force or energy at times manifest as attraction and repulsion, at others as mixing and unmixing, and still others as creation and destruction. Within this stew is a fundamental principle of balanced opposites – the limited and the limitless, Love and Strife, the perceivable and the imperceptible, the pure and the impure, the spatial and the non-spatial.
So in summary, the ancient Greek concept of ultimate reality can be restated thusly: there is one true, existential, intelligible world, governed by logos and consisting of matter and thought or soul, infused with energy, and pervaded by opposites. Nothing in modern science disproves or even challenges this cosmic view in spite of its formulation through reason alone by these science-naïve ancient sages.