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Vision, Seeing, Beholding

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message 1: by Lia (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
the eidos as essence is what Aristotle characterizes as the to ti en einai: that which the thing already was before its actualization. As such, it constitutes the genos or origin of the product and determines its morphe, its eventual figure or form in each instance. The eidos is cause, aition. The genesis of beings comes to be sought in their nonsensible and primary form.
Philosophical knowledge, then, according to this model which finds its exemplary moment already latent within the activity of artistic production, is understood as a seeing, a pure theorein of the nonsensible eidos in the soul. Such knowledge lies in the sighting of the eidos that comprises the universal origin and determinative essence (essentia) of each sensible object as that which already was: the apriori. Because the artisan's sighting of the nonsensible eidos (which is already a theorein, although not yet "pure" or disinterested, since it is part and parcel of the productive activity) governs in advance the being of the eventual product, the vision that truly sees this eidos will know in advance what governs the order of being.
Source The Glance of the Eye: Heidegger, Aristotle and the Ends of Theory

message 2: by Lia (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
The Shield of Achilles

The details of Hephaestus’ (and the poet’s) creation have been much debated, but the overall design seems clear: the shield is round, and features several concentric, decorated bands. Real-life objects, such as Phoenician and Cypriot silver bowls of the eighth and seventh centuries , may have inspired the design, but the shield of Achilles is a divine artefact: stars rise and set at its centre, marking the passing of time in the cosmos; in a different scene, people shout at each other in a court case, and are then pacified by a verdict; in another, warriors organize an ambush, engage in a skirmish, then carry away the dead; elsewhere agricultural work follows the seasons; while, in yet another scene, dancers stamp their feet to the sound of music; and, finally, the river Oceanus flows all around the rim of the shield. It seems that, on this object, images turn into stories.
Perhaps we ought to imagine film strips projected on to each circling section of the shield, complete with sound effects—for this is not silent cinema, but rather an impossible, multimedia, moving and buzzing device. If we consider the size of the shield, the whole creation becomes even more bewildering. At one level, its dimensions are determined by the size of Achilles’ body—but the scenes on it are so numer- ous and detailed that, in order to fit, they would need to be scaled down to microscopic proportions. The poet concentrates the whole world on to the shield of Achilles.
The fact that scenes of peace, as well as war, are included may seem strange—other Homeric shields are designed to frighten the enemy—but here we must distinguish between the poet’s ability to see and describe this divine object, and the perspective of characters inside his story. Achilles admires the shield and recognizes, in its stunning intricacy, the work of a divine craftsman; but when his soldiers see it, they cannot endure to look at the contraption, and run away in terror.

message 3: by Lia (last edited Jul 22, 2018 02:19PM) (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
The poet’s (divine?) vision in The Iliad

As well as describing the fighting from his usual vantage point, hovering somewhere above the Aegean sea and facing Troy, [Homer] can zoom in and describe tiny details—how a spear breaks through a forehead, for example, making pulp of the brain. He can show how two horses stumble on a branch, and then pan out again, to reveal the whole battlefield in disarray. Contemporary readers often comment on the cinematic qualities of Homeric epic; but, in antiquity, there were no helicopters, no cameras, no medical probes that could enter into wounds and reveal the devastation inside. To ancient audiences, the poet’s powers of vision were truly divine.

There are two set pieces, in the Iliad, that spectacularly display the poet’s ability to survey the landscape, as if from above, and to zoom in and highlight details of microscopic proportions: the ‘Catalogue of Ships’ in book 2 and the ‘Shield of Achilles’ in book 18. As has already emerged, at the beginning of the catalogue the poet asks the Muses for help. He then goes on to name the commanders of all the contingents that formed the Trojan expedition, arranging his catalogue spatially, on the basis of the commanders’ place of origin.
He begins in Aulis, where the Achaean fleet gathered before sailing off to Troy, and moves in a spiral around that starting point—in order to name the contingents that gathered from nearby locations. A second spiral starts in Lacedaemon—place of origin of the war, since Helen was abducted from there. A third movement brings the catalogue to Elis, in western Greece, where the poet draws another route, to include Ithaca and Calydon. In a fourth spiral, the poet lists the Aegean contingents, and then moves to Phthia, Achilles’ place of origin, and names nearby contingents in a final spiral.

This huge ‘Catalogue of Ships’ thus concludes with Achilles, his former contribution, and current absence: without him, the Achaeans cannot succeed, however great their fleet. A similar visual control of the landscape emerges from the shorter ‘Catalogue of the Trojans’, which follows, and lists their allies. In the absence of Google Earth, we must wonder how the poet could see what he describes. It is perhaps significant that Olympus, vantage point of the gods, lies precisely on the dividing line between Achaean and Trojan contingents: the gods must have had the same commanding view of the landscape as the poet himself.
Source: Homer

message 4: by Lia (last edited Jul 22, 2018 02:31PM) (new)

Lia | 522 comments Mod
Heidegger/ Aristotle/ Greeks prioritizing vision:
The Glance of the Eye: Heidegger, Aristotle and the Ends of Theory
Seeing was regarded as the most powerful of the senses, according to Heidegger, because it was, for the Greeks, the most powerful way in which things could be given as present:
Seeing, having or keeping something in view, is indeed the predominant, most obvious, most direct and indeed the most impressive and extensive way of having something present. On account of its exceptional way of making­present, sensible vision attains the role of the exemplary model for knowing, knowing taken as an apprehending of entities. The essence of vision is: it makes and holds things present, holds something within presence, so that it is manifest, there in its unconcealment. (GA 34, 159–60)

Only because the Greeks implicitly understood the being or givenness of beings as presence could the eidos, as that which can be most constantly present amidst the flux of things, come to dominate over the event of unconcealment as such, determining the unconcealment of whatever appears.

Yet for vision truly to see, and thus to be a genuine knowing, it must precisely remain with its object, in the presence of what it sees; what it sees must be that which abides in presence. It cannot immediately pass on to something else, like the productive activity of the artisan, who must put his hands to work, or the restlessness of the merely curious, who desire only to have seen. Like mere curiosity, the philosophical desire is certainly a desire to see. And to see is always already to have seen— the Greek word eidenai conveying precisely this perfect, tense. Thus, translated more literally, the first line of the Metaphysics reads, "All humans by nature desire to see and to have seen."

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