The Super Bowl (and Heraclitus, the unity of opposites, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and my prediction: a tie)

Super-Bowl-2014-Prop-Wagers-012714LLet me begin by noting that I know not a thing about football – I’m not even really sure how points are scored. I do know, however, that to win the game one team must win more points than the other, and that, of the two teams playing in today’s “Super Bowl”, one is the best offensive team in the league, and the other is the best defensive team in the league. So when we have two opposite forces facing off against each other, whom should we expect to win?

Heraclitus on Opposites:
Heraclitus conceives of a unity of opposites. The “unity” of opposites does not mean that the opposites are the same but rather that they are determined by the other. Thus, Heraclitus argues not that hot and cold are the same, but that hot could

Heraclitus, the homie

Heraclitus, the homie

not be hot without being in reference to cold. Representative of this way of thought is his statement, “As a single, unified thing there exists in us both life and death, waking and sleeping, youth and old age, because the former things having changed are now the latter, and when those latter things change, they become the former” (Heraclitus, Fragment 88A). Thus, Heraclitus claims that the unity of opposites can be seen in our person, as in order to live we must be able to die, and likewise we must sleep in order to be awake and vice versa. While being asleep and being awake are opposites, they are unified by their dualistic opposition, and change from one into the other, such that though they are opposed they are a unity. Therefore, Heraclitus holds that there exists a unity of opposites in that there is a constant flux between two opposites.

While Heraclitus thinks that the unification of opposites comes from their changing into each other, he also postulates that dual opposites are in tension with each other. There is tension between the opposites because while they are unified by their opposition, their polarization as opposites repels them from each other. This tension is an integral part of Heraclitus’ philosophy and can be seen in his statement, “They fail to recognize how things can diverge while being brought together; it is a harmony that changes back, like that of the bow and the lyre” (Heraclitus, Fragment 209A,). Heraclitus’ thinking here is that two opposites are brought together as a unity, such as in the example of two ends of a piece of wood being brought together to make a bow, a single thing. Though the opposites are brought together by their unification in dual opposition, they at the same time pull back to their original spatial position, creating tension, such as that on the string. In the case of the bow, the tension on the string from the two stretched ends makes the bow, the unity, powerful. Similarly, the tension between the opposites makes their conceptual unification powerful, giving us greater understanding of each through their tumultuous relation with the other. Therefore, the tension between the unification of the two opposites makes their overall opposition stronger.

My Super Bowl Prediction:

So, who will win, the Seattle stoners or the Denver druggies? My prediction is that, due to their perfect unity as opposites, there will be a tie of 0 to 0.

Another Unity of Opposites: A Great Rock Band Performing With A Talentless Nobody
That is: The Red Hot Chili Peppers performing with Bruno Mars.

Heroin is a hell of a drug

Heroin is a hell of a drug

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most innovative, and talented, and just overall best bands from the 1990s. I’ll be the first to admit that their most recent record, the disjointed and disappointing “I’m with you” was boring to no end, but the Chili Peppers have some timeless records. Blood Sugar Sex Magic is no doubt the pinnacle of their discography (with John Frusciante on guitar) but Freaky Styley (with Hillel Slovak on guitar before ODing [RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman, by the way, a phenomenal actor in Doubt and Capote]) is also a fantastic funk record. While Frusciante was still with them, they were in the running for my favorite contemporary rock group — up against Radiohead and Queens of the Stone Age, but with this new guitarist… their music is just snooze worthy. Here’s my top three for their albums (I still buy CDs, I believe in the full experience of a record from beginning to end; also, I like the challenge of top threes, and avoid top fives, there’s no point of going further than gold, silver and bronze.):

1. Blood Sugar Sex Magik
2. Freaky Styley
3. Californication

Uplift Mofo Party Plan is close on the heels of Californication, but that’s the fun of top threes. Blood Sugar really is their masterpiece, and anyone who has listened to more than one of their records will recognize this. Every note, and the timbre of every note, is pure perfection.

All this in mind, I’ll consider tuning in for the halftime show. Like I said before, there’s not really a point in watching the game since no one will score due to the perfect unity of opposites.


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  1. #1 by jmeqvist on February 9, 2014 - 2:25 pm

    Great post! It makes me realize that I need to study the Pre-Socratics more thoroughly as I have always found Heraclitus’ ideas fascinating, but I have never spent much time pondering them.

    Also, your top three RHCP albums mirrors mine, and I agree that since Frusciante left their music has gone down hill. It is great to see someone else who loves Freaky Styley. It is often overlooked album. I will say this however Yertle the Turtle is the greatest funk take on Dr. Seuss I have ever heard.

    • #2 by ausomeawestin on February 9, 2014 - 5:50 pm

      Thanks a lot! Yeah the pre-Socratics can be pretty fun reading at times. If people think philosophers argue for crazy ideas nowadays they should go back and check out the wild days of the pre-Socratics! Parmenides is a personal favorite, along with his successors, Empedocles and Anaxagoras.

      Glad to hear I’m not alone in thinking those are the top three RHCP albums. Since the super bowl I’ve checked out some live shows on youtube with the new guy, Josh, and they are pretty good, he sings different harmonies and does very different solos than the ones John did, so I respect that he is not copying him. Also, you just can’t beat the chemistry between Flea and Chad Smith. The thing about the live shows though is that they are playing mostly old songs, songs written with John. So it looks like, judging from the material on the latest album, that John was the really significant song writer.

      Agreed on Yertle the Turtle!

  2. #3 by Frederick on February 10, 2014 - 4:39 am

    Please find an introduction to a unique Philosopher who cracked the code of experience.

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