Do Ideas Matter?

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Arduous path

Ideas about life have always whirled around us, sometimes in contradictory fashion. But usually the main issue is to obtain answers to questions such as, “What is most important?” “What is the greatest value?” “What is a worthy goal for my efforts?”

The search for truth has always been an arduous path. But in the “Post-Winter Solstice 2012” era, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach great understanding of truth, since there is so much knowledge available to us over the Internet.

The philosopher Plato, for instance, believed that this earthly world is of little value. For Plato, the most valuable world was the “world of ideas,” or the world of “perfect forms.”

In contrast, Karl Marx believed that ideas are a product of the economic infrastructure of a society. For Marx, ideas are not that important. What is important is to ascertain what the economic infrastructure of a society is. Once we know what the economic infrastructure of a society is, we can fairly accurately predict what kinds of ideas will be prevalent in that society.

Marxism is extremist.

Marxism is extremist.

The point of view introduced in the “Back to the Body” approach is a balanced perspective between the two extremes of the Platonic and the Marxist view. The “Back to the Body” perspective differs both from the Platonic and from the Marxist perspective in three ways:

  1. The Back to the Body approach looks at the world, not in terms of dualities–e.g., “mind” and “body”; “spirit” and “matter”–but rather in terms of triads in search for unity. Here the lines between philosophy and mysticism blur.
  2. The dogged pursuit of the ascertainment of dominance and hegemony–so typical in traditional philosophical systems such as Platonism and Marxism–collapses under the Back to the Body approach. In the Back to the Body approach, every relationship is based on equality rather than dominance or hegemony. The parts are equal; therefore, they can relate. If they are not equal, no true relationship is possible.
  3. The Back to the Body approach sees three elements always present in any relationship. This is different both from the Platonic view and from the Marxist view. The third position is the center, which favors neither party but brings them into harmonious interaction and unity.

“Heart” as the Center

FrenchPhilosophy

French philosophy

According to the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, all types of “structure” have a center, that is, a point of origin for that structure. In the Back to the Body approach, a metonymy for “center” is heart.

“Heart” is actually one part of the triad “stomach-brain-heart,” which is a metonymically associated with the emotional aspects of the human being. Thus, the structure of “stomach/brain” centered on “heart” is a metonymic prototype, paragon, and paradigm for every structure, according to the “back to the body” approach.

Heart is the Center.

Heart is the Center.

Thus, in every structure we need a part that plays the role of “stomach,” a part that plays the role of “brain,” and a center, which plays the role of “heart.”

Importance of Ideas

The way we think reflects the way we act. Ideas are important. If we take a platonic point of view, then this world is of little importance. Why be too concerned with daily events?

Ideas are important.

Ideas are important.

If we take a Marxist perspective, then what is important is to change the economic infrastructure of a society–since from there all the ideas will flow. Why be concerned about education?

The “Back to the Body” approach presented here is a balanced perspective between these two extremes. By giving equal value to the two sides of a structure and by placing the “heart” at the center, the Back to the Body approach can lead to harmonious interactions and peaceful relationships.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

December 26, 2012

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Photo Credits: The photos used in this post are under “no known copyright restrictions.”

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