Is Western philosophy destined for decline?

To understand the ultimate destination (what some German philosophers have called Bestimmtheit) of philosophy, before asking ourselves about its having or not having – not as a university discipline, but as an anthropological posture, as a way of being in the world – still a Destiny (Geschick), we must certainly first of all turn to its origin.

Philosophy, in fact, as the Italian philosopher Emanuele Severino wrote, “is born great”, that is, it contains in its rising and blossoming the whole horizon of the essential questions: what is the origin of things (Arché)? What is their common foundation (Hypo-keimenon)? What relationship exists between the shape (Eidos), the matter (Hyle) and their compound (Syn-olon)? Is the individual preceding the categorical (Kathólou) or vice versa? There is no difference between Being and to be, that is, the Non-being is not and can never necessarily become Being. Is therefore the multiplicity of things, which appears to us in a such a mysterious way, a form of sensorial deception (Parmenides)? Or, on the contrary, does the non-Being appear in some way, as a relationship of contradiction between entities (Plato)? If everything comes to be and then no longer to be, is the foundation (Ousia) of the oscillation (Epamphoterizein) between Being and Non-being of the entity uncreated and unborn, eternal and unlimited (A-peiron)?

This horizon of these essential questions does not arise with Greek philosophy, but appears with the appearance of humanity itself, so much so that man, being there (Dasein) can be defined as that being, in whose essence, questions one’s own being (Heidegger), that being which represents the questioning of its own ontic foundation, that is, which has this questioning of the origin of the self, of the provenance and therefore already, and immediately, of its own destination, as its essence.

Dying, in fact, characterizes the essence of man, and determines his way of being as an anticipation, his position as a horizon of expectation.

Knowing, in every instant of his life, that he is destined for extreme nothingness, man questions himself about the meaning of his own existence, already asking himself about the genesis of the self, of the self and therefore of all things.

This essential questioning, that is, this questioning of the essence, finds a first answer in mythical thought: cosmogonies have, in fact, precisely this purpose, to explain the world, the origin of things and everything, the position of man in the cosmos, reassuring us that everything has a purpose, a sense.

But, if the horizon of the essential questioning arises with the human, and if the myth already confers every answer to the essential restlessness of this questioning of the essence of oneself and of the Whole, what does philosophy entail with it – again?

The answer is: the Truth, or the possibility of “driving away pain and death with truth” (Aeschylus), that is, the certainty that the explanation of the world is necessary and not contingent, non-contradictory and non-fideistic.

Philosophy, therefore, is a method, a form of knowledge that bases its affirmations in the impossibility of logical contradiction, or in that “original and anapodictic structure of knowledge” (Severino) for which every contradiction of the Truth appears as an immediate self-contradiction (l’élenchos of Aristotle’s law of noncontradiction).

Philosophical knowledge is therefore science, Epi-steme, that is, what is and cannot be moved by the opinions of gods and men. It is the truth from the heart that does not tremble (Parmenides), the prow of the boat (Stama) which is above (epi-) the undulating fluctuation of the doxa.

But even this knowledge is destined for declined, when man, by coming to self-awareness of being in the Faustian world, discovers that the impossibility of contradiction to which he has hold on and in which he has bound his Truth, proves to be a master which binds and enslaves freedom and will: “if Gods existed, what would I have left to create?” (Nietzsche). If the eternal is, this dimension pre-entifies that nothing without which the new, the created, cannot come into being, “but I believe, therefore the Gods do not exist”.

Here is that the essence of things and above all of man (Sein) becomes the task (Sollen) of destroying every eternal Being (Sein), every foundation, every direction, purpose, meaning. “Nihilism means: the purpose is missing, the why is missing, the foundation is missing” (Nietzsche).

Therefore, philosophy, as a discipline and above all as a way of questioning the truth of things, appears destined for decline within the destiny of decline that envelops the episteme, that is, the Truth as non-contradictory, and this destination shares the same destiny of the Era of the eternal – for us the Second Era – brought to completion by the fulfilment of the Faustian era. This destination at the decline of European philosophy is the same destination at the decline of all European civilization, and this is already the destination towards decline of the West, which will fall precisely in its triumph, or in becoming the world.

In fact, what is replacing the Truth as episteme? It is modern scientific knowledge, probabilistic and hypothetical, applied to the efficiency of doing. Here man no longer relies on myth (God), but not even on Truth and Necessity, devoting himself rather to Technique as a demon capable of solving any problem with a greater force the more man is able to free himself. from the bonds of tradition, of truth, of the eternal, of the absolute, of verticality, absolutizing oneself as the only ruler of things and of the whole. All contemporary philosophy is destruction (Nietzsche), weakening and horizontality (Deleuze), deconstruction (Derrida), falsification (Popper), disease (Freud: if with transcendental idealism the world of the unconscious is subjected to the lordship, Herrschaft, of the Subject – since the not-I is the external World to the ego as much as the irrationality or instinctuality of man -, with the event of psychoanalysis the personality is discovered constitutively thrown into the structural insanity of an unprecedented and always shipwreckable balance of antagonist forces), etc…

Thinking, by now, is nothing but the resultant of electrical impulses and it is to the brain as digestion to the stomach (neuroscience).

Can philosophy go back to being that knowledge capable of authentically corresponding to man’s essential and original questioning? No, and this by necessity and precisely because it is necessary for Man himself to fall.

Alberto Iannelli

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