Posted by: glue | November 22, 2008

Curvature of Reason

The configuration of a heuretic generator appears at this point, with the emergence of the circular pattern structuring the Classical Greek world-view.  The context of the NeoPlatonic metaphysics of avatar — the round trip of descent, abiding and return already documented — sets the measure for the Greek stance in every sphere (so to speak), anchored on the Odyssey as the allegorical journey of homecoming (epistrophe).  This circularity extends to the craft of metic (practical) reason.  Detienne and Vernant abstract from the mythological and historical archives the curving dynamic of Metis.



The general frame for metis is the play between aporia and poros, the capacity to ensnare or to escape traps.  As logic, circle-thought is able to turn upon itself, to mean the opposite of what it says, or to be the opposite of what it seems.  Detienne and Vernant abstract the metic art to the interaction of the  two powers of bond and circle.  The pilot gifted with metis navigates passage through an uncrossable space, opens a way by means of a path that fetters (binds what is formless).  The heuretic generator forms just on this abstraction, with its entailment:  a different shape supports (in principle) a different style of metis, within a different world-view.

Instruction:  find/propose the shape of electrate metis.


  1. Signature

    Detienne and Vernant relate the curve describing metic thinking to the Indo-European root gu, “curving.” GU is associated in this context with the root kamp, naming what is pliable, articulated. Metic logic exploits the properties of the circle or curve, the detour or excess that allows the weaker to defeat the stronger (the fishing frog to catch the mullet). G.U. Gregory Ulmer. It calls my name.

  2. It seems that Levinas, in “Substitution,” has given us one way to think about the relationship between responsibility and (an electrate) metis:

    “A does not come back to A, as in an identity, but withdraws behind its point of departure. Must we not speak of a responsibility that is not assumed? Far from recognizing itself in the freedom of consciousness losing and rediscovering itself, slackening the order of being so as to reintegrate it in a free responsibility, the responsibility of obsession implies an absolute passivity of a self that has never been able to depart from itself so as to return within its limits and identify itself by recognizing itself in its past; an absolute passivity whose contraction is a movement this side of identity” (Basic Philosophical Writings 89)

    The circle allows for recuperation: A comes back to A. Responsibility is that of which I am aware.

    An electrate metis is not “practical” in this sense. In fact, it’s quite risky. But, as Levinas reminds us, it is “a fine risk to be run.”

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