An Art Form of Independent Philosophy



It is one’s duty to say the truth, not engage in garrulous discourse.

Democritus of Abdera – Diels’ Die Fragmente Der Vorsokratiker


            The form of writing known as aphoristic is one that requires a special consciousness of self and freedom of spirit on the part of the reader. Unlike extended prose, aphorisms do not entertain or support one upon a flowing current of language. They are not discursive, they are the linguistically dense expressions of the interior life of the writer. Philosophical aphorisms or sententiae should be conceived of as a form of artwork through which the philosopher encapsulates his life and thought in linguistic form. Brevity and depth are at the heart of sententiae. If the ultimate purpose of art is the awakening of consciousness, the significance of the sententia is to be found in its ability to perform this function – for the writer as well as for the reader.


            Heraclitus, the greatest aphoristic writer of the antique world, declared that the purveyor of wisdom does not explicate or conceal but gives a sign. He was regarded as a philosophical force second to none throughout a thousand years of classical culture; subsequently, his impact was lost on a public given over to the cult of Christianity. We now live in a society that looks to literature for diversion or instruction, but rarely for awakening. Those with a taste for the classics turn to the literary honey of Plato rather than the tough meat of Heraclitus. Yet it is as true now as in antique times that honeyed words have a limited effect on the spirit of a reader. Transport into the endless Disneylands of extended discourse is commonly a way of escape from self rather than its awakening. The judgment of Callimachus of Alexandria, a literary giant of his times (@ 250 B.C.), was “mega biblion, mega kakon” – much writing, much evil. 



Philosophy - The transmutation of vital experience into concepts is a special form of artistic expression. The ancient Greeks called it jilosojia.



Philosophy is not a matter of fact or falsehood but of forthrightly expressing one’s own perspectives about himself and the universe.



Philosophical refers to the existence of a human higher consciousness that first emerged among the ancient Greeks and Hindus. The self-contradictory term “scientific philosophy” exemplifies the corruption of language found everywhere in human affairs.



Sentience - In life forms, the energy of the universe is harnessed so as to further the propagation of the organism. Sentient creatures, however, find that their life drive has been mysteriously altered so that elevating consciousness becomes the principal focus of their existence.



Philosophers - The bourgeois want money and the Christians preach love but we independent philosophers seek only knowledge of the hidden forces of our existence.



Soul - It takes very little investigation to discover that an interior self or “soul” is the distinguishing mark of Homo sapiens. This may be just one of many perspectives on the nature of a human being but it is by far the most important and interesting one.



In the beginning was the word - En arch hg o logos (John 1:1) This was the evangelist’s way of admitting that the Heraclitean logos or “word” is the key to the primal energy underlying all things. Apart from some of the sayings of Jesus, this is the only line in the entire New Testament that I find worthy of serious consideration.



“What is a soul?” is a question better not asked of children, illiterates or scientists.



An intellectual conscience – Intellectual activity purifies the soul. Perhaps the most heinous of human sins of any age new or old is the foregoing of an intellectual conscience.



The brain - Important lesson in neurophysiology: the brain stands to the soul as did Chopin’s piano to Chopin.



Human thought - I have never quite understood how lovers of nature can forget that human thought is its absolutely highest product.



Developing the mind - It is astonishing how the distinction is still not made between developing the mind and acquiring knowledge. One would quickly be confined to a mental institution if he exhibited signs of starvation while hording great quantities of inedible foodstuffs.



Consciousness - Those who do not recognize a human consciousness attuned to the concealed elements of the universe are better left to their blind dependence upon animal spirits or religious dogmas.



An important distinction - The distinction between science and philosophy could not be more obvious. Science organizes and utilizes the phenomena of nature whereas philosophy miraculously adds to them.



Philosophy and Science - Philosophical literary artwork is assertive, metaphorical, hyperbolic and veiled. The reader is confronted with the intensely personal product of the artist’s mind working in concepts. Scientific discussion is exactly the opposite in style; it is balanced, explicit, objective and straightforward. For the philosopher, such a style has no value whatever and produces annoyance when paraded out as philosophy.



Branches of science - Philosophies that do not attend to the problem of human existence on the level of a higher consciousness are usually branches of science that have been misnamed.



Spiritual self - When the tension between ontological polar opposites slackens, all things fall apart. Thus the downfall of a human being whose exterior material powers is not balanced by an interior spiritual self.



“God” - My concept of a deity is that he is the great “see-er” who sees existence as a whole independently of the dimensions of time and space. Now whether he could be pleased with what he sees of human existence is a highly debatable question.



Religions are only significant because they embody a once powerful idea. But how long can we live on the capital of the past?



Monotheistic religion - There are no reliable accounts of the epoch-making events at Sinai, Jerusalem or Mecca, thus placing them in the category of myths. But the arrogant myth-makers of the great middle-eastern monotheisms converted their myths into dogmas. Thus we inheritors of the Semitic mindset are condemned to spiritual prisons. I say to religious readers who regard me as afflicted with blasphemous hubris; “honi soit qui mal y pense.”



 Old and new covenants - The old covenant of God with the Hebrews was replaced after some 1200 years by a new one of universal application. It is now 2000 years since the advent of the replacement. We are long overdue for another covenant. This one, however, will be even more restrictive than the original Mosaic document that applied only to the Hebrew people.



Jesus of Nazareth - The secret of the power of Jesus lay in his remarkable ability of oral expression. So powerful was its impact that his living memory lasted long enough to be captured in Gospels written many years later. Thereafter, the bizarre legends of Christianity unfolded with news of a virgin birth, an only begotten son of God, a resurrection after death and many other absurdities.



Stealing scriptures - The theft of the millennial-old Hebrew Scriptures by the early Christian fathers was a criminal act that has not yet been brought before the bar of justice.



Ignoring Jesus - tetelestai(It has been finished) said Jesus as he gave up his ghost on the stake (John 19:30) but unhappily his followers did not take him at his word and did not content themselves with their memories of the last great Jewish prophet.



Eastern cults - The cults of the East are surely no solution to the problems of western society. They proliferate for the same reason that technologies proliferate; the western mind has been weakened by two millennia of Christianity.



Technological monuments - It is necessary to realize that there is a finite amount of energy available to any individual. What he expends in one direction is not available for another. One may assume that the technological monuments of contemporary civilization are a sure sign of psychic impoverishment.



Higher consciousness - Before family, before country, and certainly before any god, there is the requirement of a higher consciousness. Nietzsche labeled the possessor of such a consciousness “Der Ubermensch”.



Duty to the self - A constant sense of duty toward the invisible interior self cannot be dispensed with if one is to aspire toward a higher consciousness.



Know yourself or Make use of yourself - Inherent in the notion of consciousness is its expression. Being buried alive is child’s play compared to an unexpressed consciousness. It has been said that over the portals of our time stands not the gnothi seauton of Apollo but the verwerte dich! of Max Stirner.



Homo sapiens - The transition from vegetative plant life to motile animal life was surely easier than the transition from homo faber to homo sapiens. It is possible, however, that this latter transition may prove not to be permanent.



Physics - Those who wish to be philosophers must first study physics in order to understand the illusory images produced in their brain by technology-enhanced perceptions.



The past - The “past” is a word that refers to events existing within the dimension of time – a dimension constructed by the human brain as demonstrated by Kant and amply proven by modern cosmology. The formation of events occurs in the virtual present, the mysterious “now,” but existent events as perceived by us can only be found in the past. The “future” is the unpredictable program operating in the universe for adding to existence.



Sublime thoughts - We should be elevated not intimidated by our perception of the enormities of time and distance. After all, we are their creators.



A dilemma – A satisfactory attitude to the mystery of time is the essential requirement for living the philosophic life.



The pointillist canvas of eternity - Speaking or writing one’s thoughts adds a vividness and coherence to them that is not present in pure introspection. They become worthy components of the great pointillist canvas of eternity that I have described in my essay   In Love With Eternity (2005).



Creative thought - It is gratifying to envision that creative thought – the highest product of the human condition – exists as an enduring part of eternity and not as an evanescent puff of smoke as materialists seem to think.



Sentient life - In our too old culture, we are saddled with the task of penetrating the encrusted layers of the centuries to arrive at the springs of sentient life. Sadly, the effort required is usually beyond the limits of strength of ordinary humans.



Vital thought - The near suffocative effect of garrulousness upon vital thought is exemplified by philosophers who emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century – one may mention Bergson, Berdyaev and Heidegger but there are many others. In our times, however, the vital thought has disappeared completely and we are left only with scholars and New Agers.



Wittgenstein - The exceptional virtue of the critical philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is that he realized the worthlessness of critical philosophy.



Universities - The secret of higher education is that there is no such thing; there is only higher understanding. And by now, it should be abundantly clear that this is not cultivated in the universities. I would turn them all into giant libraries.



Pointless explication - There is no real point to philosophical explication. This abnormal use of the mind demeans the expressive faculties and clutters up libraries. Perhaps Plato and Aristotle had some excuse for establishing the class of the philosophical literati but in the third millennium of a literary civilization, there is no longer any reason for continuing the practice.



University philosophers - Absent a metaphysical consciousness informing the mind, professors of philosophy tend to occupy themselves with theories of knowledge and analysis of the ideas of others – with university tenure as a consolation prize.



Academics - The difficulty of contemporary academic philosophy is that it produces no transcendental cognitions rendering it worthless for anyone seeking to ascertain the meaning of human existence.



Need for metaphysics - The failure to appreciate the metaphysical basis of philosophy has led to profound disturbances in society, culminating in dictatorial religious cults and/or gross materialism.



Poisonous concepts - Philosophical works that fail to attack poisonous concepts rarely amount to anything as was noted by Diogenes of Sinope. The huge quantity of useless pablum dished out under the rubric of philosophy is truly astonishing.



Pleasure principle - Discovering the relationships of the living conscious self to the cosmos is the one pleasure that never palls. This is why Epicurus founded his pleasure principle upon philosophy. It was left for a Gelehrter of the twentieth century to replace philosophy with sexuality.



Dinosaurs and consciousness - The problem of existence for humans is the problem of enlarging their consciousness. When they attempt to develop themselves through technology, they are like dinosaurs struggling to survive by adding to their armored plating.



Nietzsche - The tragedy of Friedrich Nietzsche is that of a mighty engine over which control was lost. But for we “still hopeful, still youthful moderns,” Nietzsche remains a guiding star.



Icarus – Nietzsche’s mind soared to incredible heights; but like Icarus. his wings were not secure enough to hold him aloft. He sank into a tragic hebephrenic psychosis to the endless joy of his detractors who slandered him with the stain of syphilis. He failed the requirement that he had set for his disciples – to hold out.



Pillars of consciousness - The three pillars of a higher consciousness are experience, reflection and expression. Not one of these is dispensable in order to make what the Stoics called ton sojon - the wise or virtuous man. They admitted the phenomenon is very rare.



Pointillist canvas of eternity – The artist-philosopher eventually comes to the realization that when all is said and done, each human life paints its own unique brushstroke on the pointillist canvas of eternity.


Richard Schain