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Metaphysics of Light

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

For the first time, this term was used by the German Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher in his book “The Great Art of Light and Shadow”, written in 1646, as one of the chapters of his book was called.

The term “metaphysics” ( literally means "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural", and examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality.

This term is important because it is a starting point followed by questions that concern us all. Trying to get answers to those, we are getting closer to understanding what is the true benefit for us and thus we can improve

our life.


So, what is lite? Don't we know?

Physical science defines light as electromagnetic radiation that can be detected by the human eye. Within a broad spectrum, the wavelengths visible to humans occupy a very narrow band, from about 700 nanometers (nm; billionths of a meter) for red light down to about 400 nm for violet light.

Something is confusing about this definition... Here, light and color are considered only as an imposition on human abilities. But what if there are no humans there? Does it meat the light disappears as well?

Here an analogy arises with one of the philosophical questions related to the existence of the meaning of reality: if creatures capable of perceiving the meaning of reality disappear, does this mean that the meaning itself will disappear as well?

This is where we got closer to the questions that we would like to receive answers to:

Why are there so many metaphors of light and why they are so important in theology, philosophy, and mysticism?

Why light and color are the main means of expression in a significant part of art?

I. Theological, philosophical, and mystical

understanding of light.

Theological: Light as a symbol of divine presence. God, Himself is light.

Let's start with the very beginning:

“And God said: Let there be light. And there was light."

(Dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux)

(Genesis 1, 3).

What does it mean? Many commentators interpret this differently. What did God create?

The very first meaning is theological.

One of the medieval authors, an English statesman, scholastic philosopher, theologian, scientist, and Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste ( c.1168 - 1253) asserts that initially, God created a certain point of light, where the primary form of all world content - primordial matter - is still united into some kind of inseparable primordial union. This point of light subsequently explodes and expands to generate all the diversity of the world. We can say that this first point of light contained all the information about the world, or all the meaning that we are talking about. This can be compared by analogy with light and colors (this is old teaching, which can be found even in the Pythagoreans and Aristotle): light makes colors apparent and is their source, refracting and showing them to our eyes. Likewise, the primal meaning (facta est Lux) as a point of light that generates a variety of colors in the world. If colors are understood as a variety of meanings, then light can be understood as the primary meaning.

Philosophical: Light as a fundamental property of true existence and cognition.

Plato understands true existence - the world of ideas - by analogy with flashes of light: "Edei (eidos) are light-like". And our spirit, containing this spark, can attune itself to this light reality (true existence). An analogy for Plato is the sun in the visible world and the good in the world of ideas. For Plato, light is a metaphor for true existence and cognition. It is very important that light acts as a metaphor for both true being and cognition. Because of light, we can distinguish things as well as meanings.


(428/427 – 348/347 BC) an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonic school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of high education in the Western world.

Later, the Platonic interpretation of light reaches Plotinus, Proclus, St. Augustine, Dionysius, Kant, and further up to the 20th century.

For Immanuel Kant ( ), everything we are getting to know is the light, appearance ("Schein" - German) - the same metaphor of light.

According Rene Descartes ( ), we must speak clearly and distinctly ("clairement et distinctement" - French).

Light as an ontological condition for human transformation.

(Theological, philosophical, and mystical studies)

The mystical ascent to the depth of one's spirit is described as maximum enlightenment and becoming something absolutely simple and unified.

Plotinus (VI, 15). "Whoever wants to have an approximate idea of the MIND (mea