It is intriguing that this idea gains a negative connotation in some instances. This has always made me wonder, because I notice that what is old today becomes new tomorrow - perhaps this was so noticeable to me because I grew up surrounded by the fashion industry. Of course, the challenge in that context was for designers to bring new tweaks to the old pattern, but this is reminiscent of the concept (if I understood it correctly to the point of generalisation) of the African mask maker, wherein the maker could make tiny, regulated alterations to the original. Still, in this example which I am taking on the surface-aesthetic level, there are two approaches to the past wherein one strictly controls reproductions of what existed before, not allowing for too much change.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those movements that look to abolish what came before. There was a dose of this in modernism, for instance. And then we can speak of philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which used scientific discovery as a metaphor through which to make a radical departure to ways of thinking that existed before.
Or did they?
What about the reasoning of Zeno, or why is it that - oh, now the name escapes me, which modern poet loved Catullus' verses? B-... Yikes. Anyway. We speak of the Fayum portraits as being "ahead of their time," or "like Picasso." According to the taste of the present, old thinkers/creators are mined and used to uphold the present trend. What I find so interesting - though this is a subject I have not yet read up on fully - so perhaps my thoughts here are premature - is that according to one historian, it was only the thinkers in the early 20th century who were familiar with ex. Aristotle who could sew together the new ideas with the old; the implied problem here that many of the philosophers had not read the extant works of certain ancient philosophers. I know that some of them did - and used the old to show that the new was brand new and not connected to the old, like the paper on Plato by Deleuze and Guattari. But, and this is the question I need to answer now, and do not know the answer to, did they read Plato out of context? The answer I have to this question based on my memory of my reading of that essay is that they wrote a poetic, not methodical or particularly accurate response to Plato's ideas. I like poetry, and am personally a fan of the poetic freedom available today, but find it uncomfortable when poetry is then called "a serious essay." Again, these are my impressions.
The second thing I find intriguing is that these philosophers who used science as a metaphor for philosophy (that is my way of putting it) ripped it out of context, because, for instance, Einstein and as far as I remember Maxwell and Faraday all believed in God. I need to recheck the latter. The essays written by these scientists (here I speak of Einstein and Pupin, and this I do know) interpreted their scientific findings as proof of God and order in the universe - which is the opposite to what Bachelard and crew were writing.
And I do not think that this was the first time that thinkers believed (I use that word purposely) believed in chaos. I mention Zeno, as this is the first example that comes to mind, because I do not know enough about any of this - so please enlighten me via comment/email if you know more.
It has been said before that we do not actually ever think of brand new ideas, it is, as the example of fashion, a reformulation of what came before. Of course, the advent of industry led to changes in fashion, and that could be conceived of as new, but if one looks at each of those examples individually, one sees many interesting things, like the influence of the kimono or the origin of certain prints or fabrics.
I think the term old-fashioned is a compliment, because it means that one has respected what has come before, and I am not in favour of stomping on one's ancestors. There is such a lack of respect for the old and one's ancestors. I read today that one hundred years after she lived, Queen Helena's grave was moved to protect it from being destroyed. Do we respect the graves of our ancestors, or allow land to be ploughed up if it will make money? Why must we spit on the ideas of yesterday? "Oh, that's philosophy, it can't be useful to me." Or, "Oh, that's really old philosophy, it has nothing to do with the situation today."
There are people who say that the play of power today is such that theories of power and violence spawned by the 20th century philosophers is the only true model through which to understand the situation. That is one way of looking at it. And I need to read up on those philosophers. But, isn't it also possible that history repeats itself, and that replacing the old with the new leads partially to an avarice that bears perpetuum mobile? Isn't it a form of pride and egoism to reject the lessons of those who have come before us, to reject the lessons learned by others? And yet... There is something to be said for learning something "on one's own skin." Maybe that is what it boils down to. But, to be educated, I think, means 20/20 vision, not just being myopic.

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