A Different Way of Viewing the World
Question #1: James Maffei and Leon Portilla both draw a picture for their readers of who the creator or ultimate god is for the Aztec. There are a few differences such as the name they use to refer to the same god. Maffei refers to the Aztec ultimate creator as teotl and Portilla refers to him/her as Ometeotl. Although, sometimes there is difference in the Maffei and Portillas versions of Ometeotl there are many similarities, such as: 1. ―Ometeolt is the Foundation of the universe; everything is in him‖ (Portilla) 2. ―Continually generates and regenerates‖ (Maffei), 3. ―is a verb denotating process and movement rather than as a noun denoting a discrete static entity‖ (Maffei), 4. Omeyocan- ―mansion of duality‖; place of ometeotl (Portilla) 5. ―God of Duality‖ (Portilla), 6. “Origin of all cosmic forces‖ (Portilla) 7. transcendant. ―invisible like the night and intangible like the wind.(Portilla) Some of the few difference between Maffei and Portillas’s versions of Ometeotl are: 1. ―Is neither described as ordered or unordered‖ (Maffei) 2. ―mother and father of the gods, the old god‖(Portilla) 3. Ometeotl Lives in the navel of the earth. (Portilla) Both authors use different words to describe almost the same creator, but the few changes causes a separation between the two versions. When looking over the difference between the two different Ometeotls versions, there are not many and it some way sound similar what both authors are trying to say. It could be argued that even though they called Ometeotl different names that they do have the same version in mind, but they forgot to include certain details that the other author did include.
... society. Works Cited: The Holy Bible. King James Version. Woods, Susanne. Lanyer: A Renaissance Woman Poet. ... eat certain candies and foods, so does God. God tells Adam and Eve never to eat from ... his days. Like parents, pretty much everything God does has good intentions, although emotions might get ... on what they teach them. In numerous ways, God is comparable to a parent. Providing comfort, setting ...
James Maffei and Leon Portilla are both philosophers who have similar views on philosophy the only time that they diverge from similar thought is the way in which they implement philosophy to understand the Aztec civilization. Leon Portilla states, ―To establish a universally acceptable of philosophy would be a formidable task. Genuine philosophizing from the explicit perception that problems are innately in the essence of things. A sence of wonder and a mistrust of the solutions derived from tradition or custom are requisite to the formulation of rational questions about the origin, the true nature, and the destiny of man in the universe‖ (Portilla).
Even though, Maffie does not have an explicit definition of philosophy itself, he does explain that Aztec Philosophy involved ―defining question of human existence: How can we maintain our balance while walking upon the slippery earth?‖ (Maffie) Since, Portilla explains philosophy as the act of asking questions and Maffie explains the Aztec as having philosophy because they ask questions then, it can be concluded that Maffei and Portilla have similar views on the definition of philosophy. Maffei and Portilla can agree on the basics of philosophy most of the time, but there some difference such as is in what way they use it when talking about Aztec philosophy and Maffei’s Hermeneutical triangulation concept. Leon Portilla’s purpose in chapter one in his book Aztec Thought and Culture is to prove that Aztec had philosophy in their society and that it was as ―smart‖ as the western philosophy. The way that he proves that the Aztec did have philosophy is by giving examples of poems where they questioned the myths and learned ideas that they grew up with. According to Portilla the philosophical ideas revealed in the ―poems reveal the depth of thought of the Nahuas‖ (Portilla).
Maffie’s purpose is not that far away from Portilla’s, but instead of triying to prove that the Aztec had philosophy he is helping the reader understand the Aztec philosophy. At the beginning of his article Maffie states, ―the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica enjoy a long and rich tradition of philosophical speculation. The Aztec and other Nahuatl-speaking peoples of the High Central Plateau of Mexico were no exception‖ (Maffie).
... existence, that there are no enduring substances" (The Big Question p. 309). Western philosophy rejects this theory because it is specifically derived from ... and not scientific knowledge. However, some Non-Western philosophy has some similar theories as Western philosophy. Middle Eastern philosophy, specifically Persia, believed in three levels ...
Here Maffei is just stating that the Aztec civilization had philosophy and now he is going to help explain it. At the end both authors are interested in helping others understand that the Aztec practiced philosophizing and what their philosophy involved. The difference is that both authors decided to focus on different parts of the Aztec philosophy.
Finally, one of the biggest differences between Portilla’s and Maffei’s idea of philosophy is when Maffei explains his hermeneutical triangulation concept, which portilla does not focus on. Maffei states: ―I assume Nahua philosophy to be a coherent body of thought consisting tentatively of four interrelated divisions: metaphysics, epistemology, theory of value, and aesthetics. In hermeneutical fashion, understanding Nahua philosophy as a whole depends upon understanding each division, while understanding each division depends upon understanding the other division as well as the whole‖ (Maffei) The hermeneutical triangulation is an interesting concept because it is very closely related to the Aztec view of the world; they believed that Ometeotl is everything, and everything is him/her. Therefore, Maffei’s argument is valid because it makes perfect sense of how this is a way that the Aztec organized their philosophical thoughts and it was projected in their whole moral, believes system and world.
Question#4: According to both Maffei and Leon Portilla the Aztec conception of truth is different from the western conception because the western way of viewing the world is in a dualistic form. Maffei describes the different views of the Aztec and the western conception of truth in his article Aztec Philosophy in the sections: Metaphysics-―The House of Paintings‖ and Epistemology – ―Truth as Well Rooted‖. To introduce some of the western conceptions of truth or life Maffei introduces Plato’s idea of ―notion of illusion: to characterize an inferior or lower grade of reality or existence; to distinguish this inferior grade of reality from superior, higher one (the Forms); and to deny that earthy existence is fully real. This conception of illusion commits one to an ontological dualism that divides the universe into two fundamentally different kinds of existents: illusion and reality‖ (Maffei , 8).
... or himself, and that is why Socrates is considered a wise man. Word Count - 329 Work Cited Plato, Apology, in The Trial ... , Socrates looked at many men, who were thought to be wise men. Socrates found that these men were actually not wise at all, but just ... he knows is that he knows nothing. "I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything ...
This idea of dualism causes many western societies to not be able to comprehend or understand Aztec Philosophy because the concept of something not being dualistic or being able to be everything at once is an idea that is hard to grasp. A big part of the Aztec conception of life and truth was that: ―dreamlike character of earthly existence, the mask of unknowing which beguiles us as human beings, is a function of our human perspective and teotl’s artistic self disguise these being ultimately one and the same!—not metaphysical dualism inherent in the make-up of things‖ (Maffei 9)
Although, the view of the world if real or not is not a sufficient conception to explain the Aztec conception of truth it does give a basics that is necessary in order to explain or understand the concept of a well rooted truth. If one does not understand or can accept that the Aztec believed in a notion that ―illusion does not commit them to an ontological dualism between two different kinds of existence—illusion and reality – and is therefore consistent with their ontological monism‖, (Maffei 9) then the conception of truth will not really make sense. The definition of truth can be a complicating one to answer because depending on the culture or group the definition might change. The Aztec philosophers ―thus possessed a concept of truth but they conceived truth in terms well-grounded stability, well-foundedness, and wellrootedness—not in terms of correspondence, aboutness, representation, reference, fit or successful description. In short, they understood truth non-semantically‖ (Maffei 15).
Leon Portilla in his book Aztec Though and Culture also introduces the idea that the Aztec conception of truth is different than the western conception because to the western philosophers truth is the question ―do men posses any truth?‖ (Portilla) compared to the Aztec that instead would ask ―Does he had firm roots?‖ (Portilla).
Even though, both authors have the similar definition of the conception of truth according to the Aztec they provide different details. One of the most important details to get a good picture of the Aztec view on truth when Maffei introduces that the Aztec believed the only way someone could understand the truth was when a person was characterized as ―well-rooted in teotl, is genuine, true, authentic, and well balanced as well as non-referentially disclosing and unconcealing of teotl” (Maffei 15).
... was in fact the truth. He approached a man that was known by the public to be very wise. He then proceeded to ... than the other. If Socrates were said to be the wisest man then surely people would not react in the way they ... and he has no real answers. If he were the wisest man than he would not need to question or debate. He ...
This is a big difference to western philosophy because everyone is free to understand truth as they want to perceive it and no one is right because no one has proof, but in the case of the Aztec’s view there was those wise men who understood the truth of teotl and if they were not characterized in the positive characteristic mentioned before then they were considered a false wise men. Leon Portilla provides more detail on this concept of the wise men and the false wise men. The wise men were the ―men who deserved to be called philosophers‖ (Portilla) because they were doing all the requirements that the Aztec had in order for them to be acknowledged as wise men and to understand the truth. There are 22 actions or rules that the wise men need follow in order to be considered wise men instead of false wise men. Number 9 touches upon the fact
that the wise men needed to be ―teacher of truth, he never ceases to admonish‖, which means that wise men never stop teaching the truth and reminding people of it. (Portilla 12).
The concept of having wise men keep everyone updated on teotl is rare in western philosophy, which many would argue that it would be good to have because then many of the mistakes in human history could have maybe been prevented. Some of the reasons why western societies do not have wise men is because not everyone believes the same thing for example ―Existentialist see reality as ―existing,‖ without any foundation at all‖ (Portilla 8) Although, the Aztec challenge many of the concepts or myths that they shaped their lives around they saw everything as one and believed having wise men was very important not only for the help of their society, but also for the health of the world.
Question#5 James Maffei and Leon Portilla both illustrate the Aztec metaphysics as the best way that the Aztec explained or talked about their different ideas or beliefs. One of the hardest concepts to grasp is the idea that teotl or Ometeotl is ―more than the unified totality if things; teotl is identical with everything and everything is identical with teotl”(Maffei 4) When talking about teotl it is impossible to address him/her as only her or as good or bad because he/she is everything and ever moving. Since, addressing about teotl in a certain ways will diminish the meaning or who he/she really is then the Aztec had a concept called ―Flower and Song‖ to be able talk about teotl in a way that will show all the various aspects that make teotl. Leon Portilla focuses on this idea and he calls them ―difrasismos‖, some examples are Lord and Lady Ometeotl. The ―flower and song,‖ helped the Aztec try ―to comprehend the origin of all things and the mysterious nature of an invisible and intangible creator‖ (Portilla 98) Since, our current languages do not contain too many ―difrasismos‖ it makes it very hard to be able to describe Ometeotl, which is a problem that the Aztec did not deal with. Maffei also touched upon ―Flower and Song‖ he says that ―it comes from a ritually prepared heart that embodies and presents a proper balance of reason and passion, male and female, active and passive, etc.‖ (Maffei) The importance of this description is the fact that besides being able comprehend an intangible creator it also helps them find balance in everything they believe and continue their belief that everything is one and it cannot live without one another.
... told me the truth behind the three wise men. They told me that the three wise men were just make belief ... see the light balls transform to the magical wise men before my eyes. My brother was sleeping and ... you were good or bad. The gifts that the wise men bring are toys, clothing, school supply, shoes, ... they ride on camels, Gaspar is the black wise man and they speak all languages because they are ...
There are many of ways in which the Aztec expressed ―Flower and Song‖, one of the very popular one was poetry. Some examples of poems that the Aztec used to express teotl was: First Poem: ―Where is the place of light, For He who gives life and hides Himself? Where shall I go? Oh, where shall I go? The Path of duality Is your home in the place of the dead? In the interior or the heavens? Or only here on earth Is the abode of the dead?‖ (Portilla 80) Second Poem: Perchance, oh Giver of Life, do we really speak? Even though we may offer the Giver of Life Emeralds and fine ointments, If with the offerings of necklaces you are invoked, With the strength of the eagle, the tiger, It may that on earth no one speaks the truth. (Portilla 74) Metaphysics is when a philosopher or person asks questions like, what is there? What is like? Leon Portilla and James Maffei both introduce how important ―Flower and Song‖ was for the Aztec to refer to teotl, but that was not the only reason why it was used. This was a way for Aztec to also question the creator or the truth they knew, which is metaphysics. The Aztec believed that the only way to get close to the creator was through ―Flower and Song‖, which was their constant goal so such poems were really important to them. Leon Portilla and James Maffei both show how because of metaphysical questions the Aztec indeed have philosophy in their community and were very wise people.
... that he is a muscular man. When I am standing close to him face to face to introduce our self to ... , the wrinkles appears on his square face and veins on his hands. His face reminds me one of my old, ... muscular, and his big muscles bulging out everywhere. A man that have nothing to be afraid off and will be ... a woman is looking for in a man. Therefore what make a man to be perfect? Some people seek the ...
Question #6 Question: #7 Leon Portilla introduces the idea that ―Flower and Song‖ did not only allow the Aztec to express the unified duality that Ometeolt was, but it also had a relationship to education and
character building. An important ―difrasismo‖ that came out of ―Flower and Song‖ was faceheart, which the wise men used to help build a person that would be so well rounded that eventually will find the truth. When the wise men talked about face they were not literally talking about the persons face instead they were referring to ―the verbal embodiment of an ego or self assumed and developed through education‖ (Portilla).
As for the second part of the ―difrasismo‖, ―heart signified man dynamism; it was the active searcher of the self. The same idea, related to the deepest longing imbedded in the heart of the tlamatini- to discover poetry and wisdom‖ (Portilla 114).
Face-Heart was really important for an individual’s life because it allowed him/her to: ―escape the dream world of tlalticpac. Only at this manner might he arrive at his own individual truth, and thus be able to follow the path which might lead him to the ―only truth on earth.‖ And at the end of his path he might find the answer to that which only ―flower and song‖ could solve: the mystery of human life and suffering on tlalticpac‖ (Portilla 115) Being able be a well rounded individual with and educated face and a passionate heart was a long process that involved the wise men. The wise men’s job was to: ―He makes wise the countenance of others; he contributes to their assuming face; He leads them to develop it… Before their face, he places a mirror; prudent and wise he makes them; he causes a face to appear on them…. Thanks to him, people humanize their will And receive a strict education‖ (Portilla) The wise men truly played a big role in society because he helped guide an individual to understand themselves and ultimately be able to help understand the world. This concept was so important because it is what helped shaped a person’s personality and what his/her contributions would be in society. If the wise person was sadly a false wise man then they could jeopardize someone’s future and the future of the society as a whole. Of course not just anyone can be a wise man because there are some that had ill intentions and were considered charlatanes. As mentioned before there are requirements of actions that the wise men or tlamatini need to follow to be considered wise, a good physician, or good artist, otherwise the individual would be called a charlatan or bad tlamatini. Some examples of a true doctor and of a false physician are:
A true doctor: ―He alleviates sickness, He massages aches and sets broken bones.‖ (Portilla) A false physician: ―He makes illness worse His herbs and seeds poison and his curse kill‖ (Portilla) In conclusion, there are many differences between the wise men and the charlatan, but the biggest one that can be refered from these few examples is that the wise men want to do good for others, while the charlatans want to cause harm to others.