Experiences Undergone

According to the Phaedo, knowledge must be a re-membering phase. He who can comment on "nature" or "history" must be he who has observed the phenomena first-hand, represented in the early Greek tradition in the phrase peri physeos historia, "a report of the experiences undergone to witness events."
But being there, in the event, is not enough - "it is didactic, if we are worthy to be taught," writes Ruskin, who explains, "all guidance to the right sense of the human and variable myths will probably depend on our first getting at the sense of the natural and invariable ones". He hints at what this looks like in this example: "If it has too much ornament ... its carver was too greedy.. too little ..., he was rude, or insensitive, or stupid. So that once you have learned to spell these most precious of all legends, - pictures and buildings, - you may read the characters of men, and of nature". But lest we take his reading of buildings too literally: "spirit is continually creating its own shell of definite shape out of the wreck around it; and this is what I meant by saying ... "you may always stand by form against force".
Huge debates begin with matter and force - such consideration was related to Kant's ethics; early Greek thought was predominately so connected. We laics are not encouraged to meditate upon these subjects, not even consider science as we read our Phaedo or Timaeus, because we are meant to leave that to the specialists. But we forget through that omission the very basic building blocks of thought: something always stands behind appearance.
Thence Ruskin writes, "The reason for seeds is that flowers may be; not the reason of flowers that seeds may be." Similarly, Maxwell, in one of my favourite speeches (which nods to the Phaedo lesson above), says: "I suppose that when bees crowd round the flowers it is for the sake of the honey that they do so, never thinking that it is the dust which they are carrying from flower to flower which is to render possible a more splendid array of flowers and a busier crowd of bees in the years to come." This illustration is connected to his supposition that many suppose that they congregate in universities merely to be within reach of "appliances of study" like libraries, to study what they like... This he compares to Bell's telephone, the mathematical symmetry of which would be fascinating to the mathematician, but not to the "evolutionist of the Spenserian type" who would consider it a low type of organism. His point was that there needs to be a cross-fertilization of study, such as between mathematics and science - and here, we are wont to remember the bee. We are also wont to remember that knowledge requires the man of experience.
Maxwell includes a reference to Tennyson's Idylls pf the King - tellingly about King Arthur's failure to elevate mankind and create a perfect kingdom - how nice it would be to compare this with Bacon's New Atlantis. In both texts, perfection is demonstrated by eternal values. So, I wonder if the "experienced" man is the one well-versed in eternity, the beginning of which is morality and the wish to be worthy of the lesson.

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