What is it about wood that makes it so good around the home? Why is wooden furniture such a perfect fit for us human beings? These questions have been pondered by greater men and women than me. Did you know that the ancient Greeks invented many of the most important words in our western languages used today? ‘Hule’ is the common Greek noun referring to wood. Aristotle used this particular term to signify matter. The nature of trees growing and what most stuff was made out of in his time, wood, led him to associate all matter with this amazing material. Wooden it be nice, philosophically speaking, to live in a world, mainly, comprising of beautiful timber.
Wood Makes Wonderful Furniture
Trees and timber are a part of a larger ecosystem. The great thinkers of the world realised this and endowered hule appropriately on this basis. A Russian philosopher, Vladimir Bibikhin, devoted a lengthy treatise to the woodiness of Aristotelian matter. Wood, my friends, is no small matter in the rarefied realms of philosophy and deep thinking. Most of us prefer to, merely, sit in a wooden chair and at a beautiful timber table. We enjoy the shape and feel of our wooden furniture within our homes and places of business. We do not feel the need to think too hard on such matters.
Cannot See the Wood for the Trees
Aristotle embraced the idea of not just the single tree and the fruits of its womb, but the very concept of the woods themselves. A forest of trees and how important these forests are for the health of mother earth herself. We now know, in this age of ecology and environmental awareness, how right he was. We cannot cut down all the trees, they must be managed as a finite resource through things like plantation timber. The tree has many gifts to give us, but we must honour its brethren first.
The tree keeps on giving, even, in death, as it becomes timber. All things must die, including ourselves. Life cannot exist without death. Some say these are woody matters, best left unsaid. When you sit in a well-made chair, sleep in a well-made bed, and sit around, with friends, a well-made and laid table, you know the meaning of the good life. Aristotle was, very much, concerned with the good life and what that entailed. So, here is a toast to the good life and my perfect wooden chair and table.