Volume 15, Issue 1/2, 2005
Wisdom: Research, Education, Implementation
I. Bambang Sugiharto
Logos without Substance
Wisdom as Seeing through the Absence
The tradition of Western philosophy has been tracing out the significations of logos and centered around logos. This in fact has given birth to many significant results. Through its logical structuring of empirical reality it has made possible critical understanding transcending the past and progressive creation of the future. But this Logology or Logocentrism has eventually also led to its self-destruction and to the brink of absolute nihilism.
Along the history, logos has been interpreted in various ways. The history implies that at least in the cosmic, theological and ideological frameworks logos used to be seen as extralinguistic substance; whereas starting from the scientific mode of thinking logos has been seen more as intralinguistic substance (at least up till Logical-Positivism). This ends up in the political perspective in which logos is without substance: mere effects of the play of texts and discourse.
While the latter appears like a predicament, the fact is that it can also be taken as a moment of liberation, a liberation from the keen yet stifling Western (Aristotelian) paradigm of logos apophanticos which has animated all kinds of “positivistic” mode of thinking; a liberation from the so-called Metaphysics of Presence, hence an openness towards the Absence, the ambiguity, the indefinability or the elusiveness of reality (Being); an openness towards the richness and complexity of human experience; hence an openness for mutual interogative and transformative dialogues among different semiotic systems, traditions and language games, which would also empower and incorporate non-Western as well as non-scientific mode of thinking into global discourse.
Perhaps wisdom lies in the courage to recognize the fact that ultimately reality or the so-called Being is not a substance, but rather, fleeting relations, ever-changing networks, or elusive flux. Wisdom ultimately might mean an ability to come to terms with insecurity, an ability to see through the “absence”.