chapter  2
44 Pages

Seeking the Primal Through Paint: The Monochrome Icon

This chapter delineates an aspect of Greek philosophy that has been ignored and in a sense even repressed in the culture. In Greek mythology, of course, the giants attempted to destroy the distinction between heaven and earth, that is, in Plato's terms, between the noumenal and the phenomenal realms. The extent of Pyrrhon's involvement in negative thinking is indicated by the brief formulaic account of his teaching left by Timon of Philus, a first generation student of Pyrrhon. After Plotinus, the absolutist mode of negative thinking passed into the emerging Christian tradition, where it had such effect on the Scholastics, Eckhardt, and others down to and including Heidegger. The concept nomas, or convention, relate Democritus closely to the Sophistic movement, with its language criticism, its relativistic skepticism, and its phenomenalistic turn toward the subject. Even the skeptical branch of Plato's own school, the Academy, featured this type of self-cancelling and hence truly universal negation.