The perennial philosophy postulates a spiritual Source from which all being emanates; all is one. It is the contention that there is a structure to reality and this structure matches man’s interiority; his soul. There is a hierarchy of being; body, mind, soul and spirit.
One might add that if love is connection and all is one, then love corresponds to the structure of ultimate reality. In the realm of the Absolute, there are no distinctions; no individuals, no time and no space – just love.
However, I argue in Globalism, Don Juan and the Perennial Philosophy published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum that in order for love to be made manifest in the realm of the Relative, it is necessary to love individuals; individual people, individual families and individual countries. Liberals make a philosophical and theological mistake in backing globalism which attempts to bypass the particular. This can be compared to Don Juan. A man who loves women must express his romantic love by loving a particular woman. Don Juan, however, attempts to simply bed as many women as possible, treating them as disposable nothings, which is far from love. The deracinated, rootless cosmopolitan likewise has no attachments to any particular country, community, culture or landscape and therefore loves none of them adequately, if at all.
My latest article Is Western Civilization Misogynistic? at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum answers this question in the negative. In it the case is made that feminism is misogynistic and that feminist self-hatred drives their resentment and hatred of men. Feminism embraces the mistaken notion that there is something wrong with femininity in women – a view few men adopt. When Hélène Cixous lists binary opposites, she imagines that there is something wrong with the item associated with the feminine. In this, she is deeply wrong. What the list reveals is the way in which each needs the other, in the way men and women do for the species to continue.
Feminists find themselves in rivalry with men and suffering from a sense of inferiority. The current strategy is thus to highlight every cultural, artistic, moral and scientific achievement they can find by women. If men point out the positive contribution of many men in all those areas, as breath-taking as they are numerous, it would just make feminists hate men even more. Thus any attempt to provide counter-examples to the notion that men are a worthless bunch will just increase their ire.
This is an example of the self-sealing fallacy where what sounds like an empirical claim is made, namely that men and patriarchal culture are evil and worthless. If counter-examples are provided of positive male achievement, Plato, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Cervantes, Gandhi, Einstein, Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Jesus, these accomplishments are imagined to represent opportunities denied to women, so these are evil too. Anytime a factual assertion becomes immune to counter-example, even in principle, it means that the factual assertion has been replaced by tautology. For feminists, men and patriarchy are evil by definition.
Philosophy and the Crisis of the Modern World is my contribution to a symposium on the topic of identity published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum. René Guenon criticizes philosophy for generating this crisis. He argues that removing or ignoring the esoteric content of Platonic philosophy resulted in exoteric rationalism which has dominated Western philosophy, certainly since the scientific revolution. Since rationality is not itself generative, but merely analytic, philosophers find themselves with a vacuum where God should be and inevitably head in the direction of nihilism – the unavoidable consequence of postulating a Godless universe.
It is hard to see how a nihilistic culture could sustain itself in the long term. My argument is consistent with these comments by Scott Weidner concerning T. S. Eliot:
Eliot formulated the most basic tenet of his cultural theory, that religion and culture are essentially “related.” <4> In fact, Eliot argued that “no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer, the culture [appears] to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.” <5> They might be thought of as different aspects of the same thing; culture was “the incarnation of the religion of a people.” <6> Civilizations which appeared to be secular or humanistic, such as ancient Greece and Rome, were actually religious cultures in decline. <7> Culture could not be preserved, extended, or developed in the absence of religion, nor could religion be preserved and maintained if culture was not. <8>
The Brussels Journal is defunct. This article still seems relevant but is now nearly impossible to find. It does not appear as a search result under articles I have contributed to TBJ, so I am making it available here.
In preparation for teaching a literature course in the 1950s, René Girard reread some of the classic novels. In the process he realized that the novelists had had profound insights into aspects of the human condition and that to a large degree, they were the same insights…
In Deceit, Desire and the Novel, possibly René Girard’s best book, he argues that denying the existence of God does not remove the desire for transcendent meaning. Thwarted from seeking spiritual satisfaction from above, the desire gets directed towards other people who it is imagined have god-like qualities of self-sufficiency and autonomy and that we alone have been excluded from this divine status – creating resentment and compounding human misery.
Likewise, various utopian ideas are an attempt to create heaven on earth, frequently creating hell on earth. Trying to satisfy transcendent desires in the realm of the immanent is a disaster, both in politics and in relationships between people.
In this essay published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, I also draw connections between Girard and St. Augustine’s notions of the role of God in human life.
Goedel’s Theorem is an application to mathematics of Aristotle’s thesis that thinking relies on first principles and that first principles are unprovable assumptions. This means that faith and hope are ineradicable features of human existence even in the exact sciences. The briefest summary of the implications of Goedel’s Theorem and the necessity for first principles is the notion that not everything that is true can be proven to be true.
Goedel’s Theorem states that an axiomatic system can be consistent and incomplete, inconsistent and complete, but never consistent and complete. Eternal verities can only be proven in relation to other eternal verities. Axiomatic systems exist on the rational plane of thought. Their rationally approximate and unprovable nature is due to their ultimate reliance on transcendent truths described in Plato’s realm of Forms. For instance, people contrast earthly justice with perfect justice, though the latter has never been instantiated in the physical realm. This implies some intuition of perfect justice, though no one has ever experienced such a thing.
Positivists and post-modern relativists are likely to regard each other as opposites. More than likely both will be liberals and in most cases share a contempt for religion and any notion of transcendence. As rationalists, they will also most likely reject emotional attachment to and especial preference for family, tradition, community, culture and the local physical landscape. The modern liberal instead is committed to being a citizen of the world and welcoming to all comers, no matter their basic hostility to the ethos of the host culture.
An excellent parable for our time. In this episode of Star Trek, an inhuman machine using machine logic forces a people into compliance with its picture of a conflict-free world – achieved Grand Inquisitor style by suppressing free will. All are incorporated or “absorbed” into “the Body.” “Are you with the Body?” asks Bones after he is absorbed. Spock objects that without creativity, our humanity is lost. He could have added that without free will, love and goodness are lost. At one point in the episode, the robot-like people grab implements or handy pieces of wood that happen to be lying about after a kind of frenzied Dionysian revelry the night before that seems to be designed as a kind of release valve, and begin to stalk the “Archons” – the Enterprise core members, in the manner of a sinister, zombie lynch mob.
Why does no one step forward to defend the scapegoat victim? An obvious answer is that aligning with the victim risks the wrath of the mob falling on the defender too.
The other is social conformity. On the face of it, this smacks of something wormlike and intensely ignoble.
In a famous experiment, a large crowd of people agree to lie. They will say that line A is shorter than line B even though the reverse is true. Just one person is the experimental subject and this person does not know about the pact shared by the others. This person will deny the evidence of his senses and agree with the crowd. Pathetic!
But, try to think of a single thing you think is true with important ethical implications that no one else at all believes. Give up? If no support is forthcoming from anyone at all – not a friend or family member – how would this belief be maintained?
Clare Graves’ MEME theory involved asking subjects to describe their conception of a “successful” person. Beck and Cowan subsequently color coded the resulting developmental levels in their book Spiral Dynamics. Blue MEME is the fundamentalist with black and white moral conceptions. Blue divides the world into true believers who are saved and the dissenters who are damned. It is “you’re either with us or against us.”
Green MEME is the liberal egalitarian obsessed with equality. Since social structures and developmental theories involve hierarchies and the liberal hates hierarchies, social structures end up being jettisoned. One instance of this was when the radicals took over the university in the 1960s and demanded new courses reflecting Green ideology. The students schooled the professors, erasing the appropriate hierarchy.
Jordan Peterson, the anti-political correctness Toronto professor, distinguishes between PC egalitarian and PC authoritarian. He claims the PC authoritarian is conscientious and likes rules; and has low verbal and cognitive ability. The PC egalitarian, on the other hand, is high in motherly compassion and verbal ability. The PC authoritarian favors censorship and punishment for breaking the rules. The PC egalitarian has high verbal ability and responds positively to the PC authoritarian’s claims of being assaulted by unwelcome speech. She then comes up with post hoc justifications for why the PC-a’s demands are legitimate.