In recent days, we have been mulling over a famous passage from the preface to Hegel’s Philosophy of Right:
The standard translation, as provided by the diligent S. W. Dyde, reads:
Little is known about how the goddess Athena came to be associated with Athene Noctua; yet we do know that Athena explodes from the head of Zeus, cracked open by an axe wielded by the smithy Haephaestos. Athena enters the world with eyes blazing and in full armor, born not from Eros but from violence; Zeus raped and impregnated her mother, Metis, and then he ate her, fearful of an avenging son.
We also know that the owl’s nocturnal vision is not intended for wise contemplation, but for predation and survival; and that the goddess of wisdom is also the goddess of war strategy, hence her abiding affiliation with wily Odysseus. With a nod to her devoured mother Metis, herself born from Oceanus and Tethys, Athena also becomes the goddess of navigation.
A lengthy list of post-Hegelian commentators have labored over interpretations of the “grey in grey”; the Eule only flies after the semi-colon, before which the grey was heavily painted, und so weiter und so fort. This particular shade of grey descends from Goethe….
… yet we know that Mephisto is hardly known for transparency of thought. Grey theory cannot rejuvenate the decadent form of life; yet is not theory, when painted only in grey, the most telling sign of that decadence?
Let us follow the thread further back to the Phaedo:
Ah, but such citations are deceptive. In context, could one not interpret Socrates as poking fun at Simmias, as Mephisto would later poke fun at Faust?
Grey theory and the green of life may share more than three letters; and when the grey owl of philosophy flies into the green meadow of life, her talons are soon enough painted red.