Categorie archief: philosophy

Round Table


The Round Table is King Arthur’s famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knights congregate. As its name suggests, it has no head, implying that everyone who sits there has equal status. The table was first described in 1155 by Wace, who relied on previous depictions of Arthur’s fabulous retinue. The symbolism of the Round Table developed over time; by the close of the 12th century it had come to represent the chivalric order associated with Arthur’s court.

During the Middle Ages festivals called Round Tables were celebrated throughout Europe in imitation of Arthur’s court. These events featured jousting, dancing, and feasting, and in some cases attending knights assumed the identities of Arthur’s knights. The earliest of these was held in Cyprus in 1223 to celebrate a knighting. Round Tables were popular in various European countries through the rest of the Middle Ages and were at times very elaborate; René of Anjou even erected an Arthurian castle for his 1446 Round Table.

The artifact known as the “Winchester Round Table,” a large tabletop hanging in Winchester Castle bearing the names of various knights of Arthur’s court, was probably created for a Round Table tournament.[10] The current paintwork is late; it was done by order of Henry VIII of England for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s 1522 state visit, and depicts Henry himself sitting in Arthur’s seat above a Tudor rose. The table itself is considerably older, dating perhaps to the reign of Edward I. Edward was an Arthurian enthusiast who attended at least five Round Tables and hosted one himself in 1299, which may have been the occasion for the creation of the Winchester Round Table

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Taijitu (a Chinese word that translates roughly as ‘diagram of ultimate power’) is a term which refers to any of the Chinese symbols for the concept of yin yang, and is sometimes extended to similar geometric patterns used historically by various cultures. The most recognized form is composed of two semi-circular teardrop-shaped curves of different colors, or a circle separated by an S-shaped line, where each half is marked with a dot in the opposite (or different) color. Symbols of this type are found as Celtic art forms and coat of arms for several Western Roman army units in Late Antiquity.[1][2][3] Taoist philosophy adopted equivalent symbols several hundred years later, as representations of yin and yang, from which the most common modern usage of the symbol and the name ‘taijitu’ arise. There is no academically established relationship between the Taoist and the earlier ancient Roman symbols.


Symbols with a partial resemblance to the later Taoist diagram appeared in Celtic art from the 3rd century BC onwards, showing groups of leaves separated by an S-shaped line.[1] The pattern lacked the element of mutual penetration, though, and the two halfs were not always portraited in different colours.[1] A mosaic in a Roman villa in Sousse, Tunisia, features different colors for the two halves of the circle, but here, too, the little circles of opposite color are absent.[1]

The earliest depiction of the diagram which today is known as Taijitu or Taiji  appears in the Roman Notitia Dignitatum, an ancient collection of shield patterns of the Roman army dated to ca. AD 430.[1][2][3] The emblem of an infantry unit called the armigeri defensores seniores (“shield-bearers”) is graphically identical in all but colour to the dynamic, clockwise version of the Far Eastern tradition.[1] Another Western Romandetachment, the Pseudocomitatenses Mauri Osismiaci, featured an insignia with the same contours, but with the dot in each part kept in the same shade of colour.[1] A third infantry regiment, the Legion palatinaeThebaei, had a shield pattern comparable to the static version of the East Asian symbol: three concentric circles vertically divided into two halfs of opposite and alternating colors, so that on each side the two colors follow one another in the inverse order of the opposite half.[1] The Roman yin-yang-like symbols predate the Taoist version by several hundred years:

As for the appearance of the iconography of the “yin-yang” in the course of time, it was recorded that in China the first representations of the yin-yang, at least the ones that have reached us, go back to the eleventh century AD, even though these two principles were spoken of in the fourth or fifth century BC. With the Notitia Dignitatum we are instead in the fourth or fifth century AD, therefore from the iconographic point of view, almost seven hundred years earlier than the date of its appearance in China.

It should be mentioned that there is no academically established relationship between the ancient Roman and the later Taoist symbols.



The Taijitu or Taiji diagram is a well known symbol representing the principle of yin and yang, introduced in China by Ming period author Lai Zhide. The term taijitu (literally “diagram of the supreme ultimate”) is commonly used to mean the simple ‘divided circle’ form, but may refer to any of several schematic diagrams representing these principles, such as the one at right.

In the taijitu, the circle itself represents a whole (see wuji), while the black and white areas within it represent interacting parts or manifestations of the whole. The white area represents yang elements, and is generally depicted as rising on the left, while the dark (yin) area is shown descending on the right (though other arrangements exist, most notably the version used on the flag of South Korea). The image is designed to give the appearance of movement. Each area also contains a small circle of the opposite color at its fullest point (near the zenith and nadir of the figure) to indicate how each will transform into the other.

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Tree of life


The concept of a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related has been used in science, religion, philosophy, mythology and other areas. A tree of life is variously, a) a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, b) a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense, and c) a motif in various world theologies, mythologies and philosophies.Various trees of life are recounted in folklore, culture and fiction, often relating to immortality or fertility. They had their origin in religious symbolism.

picture: A Tree of Life, in the form of ten interconnected nodes, is an important part of the Kabbalah. As such, it resembles the ten Sephirot.


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Vicious circle

virtuous circle or a vicious circle is a complex of events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop toward greater instability. A virtuous circle (or virtuous cycle) has favorable results, and a vicious circle (or vicious cycle) has deleterious results. A virtuous circle can transform into a vicious circle if eventual negative feedback is ignored.

Both circles are complexes of events with no tendency towards equilibrium (at least in the short run). Both systems of events have feedback loops in which each iteration of the cycle reinforces the first (positive feedback). These cycles will continue in the direction of their momentum until an exogenous factor intervenes and stops the cycle. The prefix “hyper” is sometimes used to describe these cycles. The most well known vicious circle is hyperinflation.


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Fu Lu Shou


Fu Lu Shou (traditional Chinese: 福祿壽; simplified Chinese: 福禄寿; pinyin: Fú Lù Shòu) refers to the concept of Good Fortune (Fu), Prosperity (Lu), and Longevity (Shou). This Taoist concept is thought to date back to the Ming Dynasty, when the Fu Star, Lu Star and Shou Star were considered deities of these attributes respectively. The term is commonly used in Chinese culture to denote the three attributes of a good life.


Fu star

The Fu star (福) refers to the planet Jupiter. In traditional astrology, the planet Jupiter was believed to be auspicious. Alternately, according to Taoist legend, the Fu Star is associated with Yang Cheng, a governor of Daozhou. Yang Cheng risked his life by writing a memorial to the emperor to save the people from suffering. After his death, the people built a temple to commemorate him, and over time he came to be considered the personification of good fortune.

The Fu star is often placed in the centre when the three are depicted as a group. He is generally depicted in scholar’s dress, holding a scroll, on which is sometimes written the character “Fu”. He may also be seen holding a child, or surrounded by children.


Lu star

The Lu star (禄) is Ursa Major-ζ, or, in traditional Chinese astronomy, the sixth star in the Wenchang cluster, and like the Fu star came to be personified. The Lu star is believed to be Zhang Xian who lived during the Later Shu dynasty. The word luspecifically refers to the salary of a government official. As such, the Lu star is the star of prosperity, rank, and influence.

The Lu star was also worshipped separately from the other two as the deity dictating one’s success in the Imperial Examinations, and therefore success in the imperial bureaucracy. The Lu star is usually depicted in the dress of a mandarin.


Shou star

The Shou star (壽) is Argo Navis-α (Canopus), the star of the South Pole in Chinese astronomy, and is believed to control the life spans of mortals. According to legend, he was carried in his mother’s womb for ten year before being born, and was already an old man when delivered. He is recognized by his high, domed forehead and the peach which he carries as a symbol of immortality. The God of Longevity is usually shown smiling and friendly, and he may sometimes be carrying a gourd filled with Elixer of Life.


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Anarchy symbol


While anarchists have historically largely denied the importance of symbols to political movement, anarchists have embraced certain symbols for their cause, including most prominently the circle-A and the black flag. Since the revival of anarchism at the turn of the 21st-century concurrent with the rise of the anti-globalization movement, anarchist cultural symbols are widely present.

The Circle-A is almost certainly the best-known present-day symbol for anarchy. It is a monogram that consists of the capital letter “A” surrounded by the capital letter “O”. The letter “A” is derived from the first letter of “anarchy” or “anarchism” in most European languages and is the same in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts. The “O” stands for order. Together they stand for “Anarchy is Order,” the first part of a Proudhon quote. This character can be written as Unicode codepoint U+24B6: Ⓐ. In addition, the “@” sign or “(A)” can be used to quickly represent the circle-A on a computer.

The first recorded use of the A in a circle by anarchists was by the Federal Council of Spain of the International Workers Association. This was set up by the freemason, Giuseppe Fanelli in 1868. It predates its adoption by anarchists as it was used as a symbol by freemasons amongst others. According to George Woodcock, this symbol was not used by classical anarchists. In a series of photos of the Spanish Civil War taken by Gerda Taro a small A in a circle is visible chalked on the helmet of a militiaman. There is no notation of the affiliation of the militiaman, but one can presume he is an Anarchist. The first documented use was by a small French group, Jeunesse Libertaire (“Libertarian Youth”) in 1964. Circolo Sacco e Vanzetti, youth group from Milan, adopted it in and in 1968 it became popular through out Italy. From there it spread rapidly around the world

As noted above, the circle-A long predates the anarcho-punk movement, which was part of the punk rock movement of the late 1970s. However, the punk movement helped spread the circle-A symbol more widely, and helped raise awareness of it among non-anarchists. This process began with the use of anarchist imagery by the Sex Pistols, though Crass were the first punk band to use the circle-A as well as being the first to espouse serious anarchist views. They had earlier discovered it – then merely an extremely esoteric political emblem – while traveling through France. With time the symbol, and “anarchy” as a vague synonym for rebelliousness, were incorporated into common punk imagery. This led to gradual appearances in mainstream culture over the course of several years, at times far removed from its political origin (described by Situationists as “recuperation”). These appearances typically connected it with anarchy and were intended as sensationalist marketing ploys, playing off of mainstream association of anarchy with chaos. This process mirrored the process of punk subculture coming into the mainstream, which occurred at approximately the same time.


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Squaring the circle



Squaring the circle is a problem proposed by ancient geometers. It is the challenge to construct a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge. More abstractly and more precisely, it may be taken to ask whether specified axioms of Euclidean geometry concerning the existence of lines and circles entail the existence of such a square.

In 1882, the task was proven to be impossible, as a consequence of the Lindemann–Weierstrass theorem which proves that pi (π) is a transcendental, rather than algebraic irrational number; that is, it is not the root of anypolynomial with rational coefficients. It had been known for some decades before then that if π were transcendental then the construction would be impossible, but that π is transcendental was not proven until 1882. Approximate squaring to any given non-perfect accuracy, on the other hand, is possible in a finite number of steps, as a consequence of the fact that there are rational numbers arbitrarily close to π.

The term quadrature of the circle is sometimes used synonymously, or may refer to approximate or numerical methods for finding the area of a circle.


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