Rainer Katteli magistritöö kaitsmine
26. juunil kaitses magistritööd Rainer Kattel ( The Emergence of the Philosophy of the Polis in 6th Century (BC) Greek Poetry: Xenophanes of Colophon and his Predecessors. (Polise-filosoofia teke 6. sajandi (e.K.) kreeka luules: Xenophanes ja tema eelkäijad.) Juhendaja: prof. Anne Lill, Tartu Ülikool).
The thought and personality of Xenophanes of Colophon reach us through quite many fragments, and yet it all seems to stay hidden in the times we will never know; it seems to stay in the tradition which is ours but which we cannot fully comprehend anymore. But we can still, or only, see a philosopher between the times; a philosopher who wanted to change through daring and sometimes almost too vehement critique his own contemporary world. For it lacked something crucial: a true understanding of the divine and of the polis.
The world-view Xenophanes challenged started to emerge in the shadow of Homer and Hesiod, in the early poetry of Archilochus and Mimnermus. The world in which they lived is of divine origin; whatever happens in it is the choice of the Gods; the mortals know neither of the good nor of the bad, nor what happens tomorrow; the one certainity of mortal life is that it cannot be throughly good and pleasurable. This experience is abstracted from the facts of personal life and presented through a personal tone, a personal poetry. Only through that directedness towards the self, the early poetry becomes concerned with the other, through companionship and friendship, that is through the enjoyment of the company of an other. And yet, the directedness towards the self is only possible through the divine, understood as the basis of everyhting there is in human life. In the early poetry of the late 7th century, thus, man’s innermost and basic character in his attitude towards the world and human world is not only heroic excellence anymore; what emerges in light of a tragically percieved life is the need of an other. Only through this emerging basic character of human life is it possible to understand the change brought about in the concept of aretê by Tyrtaeus for the thus-percieved world, where the guarantee of survival becomes the shoulder of the other, rather than personal abilities. The philosophy of the polis, emerging in the late 7th century in the elegies of war of Tyrtaeus, took the heroic ideals of valor and manhood and transformed them into ideals of the polis. Tyrtaeus’ aretê of a warrior becomes the highest and most valuable good for the polis which enables it to prosper, enables the common good. Tyrtaeus speaks for the first time in Greek history in the name of that common good of the polis. However, for him, aretê and the polis are mutually beneficial, but not mutually constitutive. The good man is good for the common good, but this goodness of man is not constitutive of the common good, it is not experienced as an ability to constitute the rules of the polis – justice.
Only in the early 6th century, in Solon’s elegies, justice becomes an objective divine principle inherent in the nature of things, which expresses itself in the human world through the eunomia, well-orderedness, which in turn is possible only through man’s understanding of the nature of the human together; understanding that the common good of the polis, eunomia, is possible only when unrighteousness is avoided at all cost, and thus understanding that the basis of that very same eunomia is the divine dikê. Thus, in Solon’s political thought, a turn to world-immanent understanding of the human living together occurs in the light of the faith in the divine order of justice. For Solon, the divine is the expression of the totality of the human living together.
In Solon’s thought, we can see a turn to immanence in the understanding of the matters concerning the polis. With Xenophanes something new comes to this view, something that can be called a new experience. Mortals cannot know for certain, there is the veil before our eyes, and that will be always there. What are we do to in this situation in which we invariably are, thrown into the world as blind, with eyes which do not see to the end? In other words: if even the immanence of the human world is utterly "invisible" for us, how do we live?
Xenophanes asks to pray to God, in order to be able to be dikaios, in order to accept our dokos like real, as like the truth, knowing at the same time that it just might and also might not be the truth. But that is what we know – that we might or might not be right in whatever we do or say. We do not know, however, if there is anything that connects you and me, reaches from you to me, but we are thrown nonetheless together. The polis is, thus, the world of solidarity, there is something connecting us – the experience of being together in this world. And for Xenophanes this is expressed through the idea of the universiality of the divine. The divine is the connection, the spiritual connection of the human living together.
However, to fulfill the aim of the polis – the good life –, Xenophanes introduces a new concept of human aretê we might say: a new concept of the moral and personal perfection of man. The essence of this aretê consists essentially of philosophically and morally responsible sophiê, wisdom, which dares to challenge, dares to be different, dares to be theoretical and always tries to know what is just and right, what is proper for the human being. A wisdom which knows, however, its limits and knows that man is not God, that man does not live alone. A wisdom which acknowledges that the truth is probably not given for human beings; that the truth cannot perhaps be a part of the human world; however, the idea of truth is never rejected – this would not be the answer for Xenophanes. The human strife for the truth, the search for the knowledge is the answer. Yet, this is a strife which knows that perhaps most of the totality of the world cannot be explained; certain things, meanings and explanations have to stay open – in order to enable us to search further, go further. Life has to stay a mystery to man. This kind of wisdom, the true essence of the human aretê, is essential to the polis, since this makes the polis and the human living together better – and it is a guarantee of the polis, and its true essence.