Anamnesis is a collection of rather difficult essays to which, as the cover says, "any student of [Voegelin's] thought must return again and again." I found Eugene Webb's Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History (University of Washington, 1981) to be a valuable companion volume.
My method of outlining and note-taking may be less valuable in studying this book than it is with others. I can amass details, but the big picture is much harder to summarize. Making the outline was helpful for me, but I am not sure how valuable reading it will be to others.
The bold headings are taken from the Table of Contents.
Your comments and corrections are always welcome: please e-mail Bill McClain.
Return to the Eric Voegelin Study Page.
The default of the contemporary school philosophies in the face of perplexing political movements.Voegelin's dead-end search for a theory that would explain the phenomena of politics. A theory of consciousness must be the center of a philosophy of politics, but despite the abundance of theories of consciousness and scientific methodologies, no school of philosophy provided the appropriate intellectual instruments.
Why do ideological thinkers prohibit the important questions?A question raised from surveying the various schools. Why such limited horizons, and why dogmatize phoney reality as universal truth and lock mankind up in it? (Comte, Marx)
The default due to a similar restriction.The failure of the schools of philosophy to address the problem was caused a limitation of horizon similar to that of ideological thinkers. Since Voegelin could see this, then his own consciousness had a larger horizon than the philosophies. "Intersubjectivity" [?] invalid.
A desirable analysis of consciousness could refer only to the concrete consciousness of the analyst.The quality of the results will depend on the horizon of the analyst's consciousness, on his desire to know and his willingness to reach out into the dimensions of reality of which his consciousness is an event. Reality is not an object external to this consciousness and cannot be made into a system.
The concrete consciousness as the specifically human mode of participation in reality.In personal, social and historical existence. The superiority of ancient analyses.
The content of consciousness could be recovered through historical restoration and original perception.A massive, if diffuse, movement of the early 20th century. Voegelin's caution against short-circuiting into new restrictive schools.
Also to be explored: the problem of the resistance to truth.The problem lay much deeper than the surface debates.
The conflict between open and restrictively deformed existence dominates our time.Growing over the past 50 years into a world-wide disruption of rational discourse. Summary remarks:
The violence of mentally diseased ruling cliques.(1) Existential level: "febrile impotence" and "bloody dreams of greatness."
Academically, the restrictive school-philosophies and methodologies, refusing rational discourse.(2) Academic level: more dominant than ever, repeating in America the German experience of the 1920s. The "inrush of functional illiterates into academic positions in the 1950s and 60s." Satire is inadequate to describe the situation.
On the other hand: the study of man's normal life in open existence, as a revolt against the dominating forces.(3) The revolt against deformed existence has been more successful than expected and is now in the forefront of the advance of the historical and philosophical sciences.
The philosopher's task: to find a theory of consciousness that fits these facts.The facts of the stasis that has grown since the 18th century.
The answer emerging from the study of Husserl's phenomenology.1943. Discussions with Alfred Schuetz. Husserl's the most competent analysis, but still insufficient.
Husserl's concepts of "apodictic beginning" and "horizon of apodictic continuation" as a restrictive vision of existence, abolishing history.His three-part history of man's reason an apocalyptic-gnostic construction and another restrictive view of history.
The alternative had to reintroduce the historical dimension.Retain Husserl's intentionality of consciousness and reintroduce the historical dimension.
History is the permanent presence of the process of reality in which man participates with his conscious existence. Man's conscious existence is an event within that reality.Reality can be an object-of-thought but there must first be a reality in which human beings with consciousness occur. Men express their awareness of being parts of a comprehensive reality by symbols such as:
Within the field of reality-consciousness occur processes such as:
- birth and death
- a cosmic whole structured by realms of being
- a world of external objects
- a the presence of divine reality in the cosmos
- mortality and immortality
- creation into the cosmic order and:
- salvation from its disorder
- descent into the depth of the psyche and:
- meditative ascent toward its beyond
- wondering, questing, seeking
- being moved and drawn into the search by a consciousness of ignorance, which, in order to be sensed as ignorance requires:
- an apprehension of something worth to be known
- an appeal to which man can lovingly respond or not so lovingly deny himself
- the joy of finding and the despair of having lost the direction
- the advance of truth from the compact to differentiated experiences and symbols
- the great breakthroughs of insight through visions of the prophetic, the philosophic, and the Christian-apostolic type
Such statements could be accepted only if true in the concrete. Verification had to penetrate from the engendered symbols to the engendering experiences.The experience of reality is articulated through language symbols. Verification requires penetrating through the symbols to a responsive experience. Neither experiences nor symbols can be analyzed separately.
Why was a consciousness constituted by reality preferable to a reality constituted by a transcendental ego? The answers had to be sought in anamnetic analysis of a concrete consciousness, my own.Recapture of childhood experiences to explore the constitution of consciousness.
Philosophizing about time and existence as a residue of Christian meditation.The problem of the consciousness of time became a central problem of philosophy only in the 19th century. It is a residue of Christian ascertainment of existence in meditation.
Experiences cannot be adequately described. Husserl equivocates.
There is no experience of a stream of consciousness except in observing a particular process of perception. The flow of time experienced as sensual awareness of breathing or noises. The "fleetingness" of sense perception contrasted with the nonflowing consciousness.Fascination with the stream of consciousness seem to be with the "flow" itself, something that can be sensuously perceived.
"The function of human consciousness is not to flow, but rather to constitute the spaceless and timeless world of meaning, sense, and the soul's order."
Modern attention to the body had balanced our views of consciousness. It tends, however, to an exaggeration that makes a wasteland of consciousness.It is an error to say that because consciousness is based on the body, the body therefore causes consciousness.
Consciousness cannot be constituted thusly."It is not the consciousness of time that is constituted by the flow but rather the experience of the flow is constituted by consciousness, which is itself not flowing."
"A speculation about the stream of consciousness may serve as a substitute for meditation because it, too, conduces to transcendence; both processes have the function to transcend consciousness, one into the body, the other into the ground of being; both processes lead to a 'vanishing point', in that the transcendence itself cannot be a datum of consciousness."
"It is doubtful whether consciousness has the form of the I, or whether the I is not rather a phenomenon in the consciousness."
The starting point for a description of consciousness is attention.And the focusing of attention.
Consciousness as the experience of a finite process between birth and death.The only process we know from within. It becomes the model used to grasp transcendent processes.
Tensions between the finite process and other, "infinite" processes.Results in several fundamental problems:
- Kant's antimonies
- process theology
Since available symbols stem from the experiences of finite processes, the experience of the infinite leads to conflicts of expression. The phenomenon of myths.(2) "A mythical symbol is a finite symbol supposed to provide 'transparence' for a transfinite process." Examples:
- a myth of creation, which renders transparent the problem of the beginning of a transfinite process of the world
- an immaculate conception, which mediates the experience of a transfinite spiritual beginning
- an anthropomorphic image of God, which finitizes an experience of transcendence
- speculations about the pre-existence or post-existence of the soul, which provide a finite formula for the beyond of birth and death
- the fall and original sin, which illuminate the mystery of finite existence through procreation and death
The problem of the "adequacy" of myths. The "deliberate" myth in Plato.Sensual mythical symbols tend to be spiritualized from polytheistic to monotheistic symbols, then from a deity with sensual attributes to one without attributes. When a sensual myth dissolves:
Plato, however, resorted to new myths of varying quality. How to judge the "adequacy" of a myth? Plato's myths of gold, silver and iron in the souls, vs the myth of the golden threads. The second myth "adequately" finitizes the experience between the "I" and "world-transcendent being."
- a good philosopher may rationalize the mythical problems by reducing them to formulas of speculation
- a bad philosopher will reduce multiple processes to a single one such as in physicalism, biologism, psychologism, etc.
The transcending process called "the others." Unsatisfactory treatment of this by Husserl.Other minds as processes transcending our own consciousness.
The capacity for transcendence is a fundamental character of consciousness.It is a given.
The problem of acknowledging the other as one like myself, as an equal.What is the appropriate symbolism?
Historical myths of equality. The function of the myth: to finitize transcendence.Historically there are two myths of equality:
Older myths expressing the transcendence of other men. Hebrew Genesis and the monosomatic and monopneumatic conception of humanity.
- the equality of children born from the same womb (corresponding to the transcendence of the body)
- the equality of children in the spiritual mold of the same father (corresponding to the transcendence of spirit)
Vico's understanding of politics as struggles for the myth.Vico on the phases of the struggle between patricians and plebeians:
Plato, Aristotle and gentlemen's polytheism. In handling mythical tensions, polytheistic communities have an advantage over the monotheistic.
- the monopoly of gods of the patricians
- the creation of the plebeian gods
- the recognition of the equality of cults and the rationalization of social relationships through ethics
The "de-sensualization" of myths in the West and the resulting loss of orientation. Their replacement by "the movements."Rationalism has dissolved Christian sensual myths, but expressions of transcendence in intellectual mysticism or philosophic speculation are accessible only to the few. Most people are lost. They still have experiences of transcendence but these remain in the psychic state of "fear and shudder."
Movements and wars are symptomatic of:
- orgiastic discharge
- paralysis of the will to order, which can be active only when its meaning is secured by the community of myth
Process-theology, the third problem area, seeks to express the tensions between human consciousness and transcendence in the language of an immanent process.(3) The only meaningful systematic theology. Historical examples:
- the Pythagorean tetraktys
- the process of the Trinity
- kabbalistic mysticism
- Schelling's theory of potency
Schelling's question: "Why is Something?"Why is there something rather than nothing?
The dismissal of this question is a restriction of transcendental reflection to the structure of subjectivity constituting the objective world. Resistance to such restriction issues from two experiential complexes.The two complexes which lead to process theology:
- Man's structure as animalic, vegetative, and inorganic being
- The experience of meditation
Man's structure as animalic, vegetative, and inorganic being is the ontic structure for his transcending into the world.(1) Human consciousness does not relate only to the world through cognition; it is based on the other orders of being.
The experience of meditation, at the climax of which consciousness apprehends the contents of the world nonobjectively.(2)
From this is inferred the substantive identity of the levels of being. Schelling's "Something" is a justified symbol of the experienced real ground of being.[summary so far, pg 30]
Past and future as illuminations of a process. Is the present a mere point? While the moment is radically immanent, its ordering requires process-transcending consciousness.How does calling consciousness a "process" differ from calling it a "stream"?
Human consciousness as "pure" is an illusion. We can "grasp" only a consciousness in a body and in the world. Experienceable only as a process. Kant's thing-in-itself overlooks that we experience only consciousness itself.Kant is correct in that our experience of natural being is phenomenal: we experience nature "from without"; the "within" of matter is inaccessible. Also that consciousness is a special case in that we experience it "from within."
Being as a ground is not a datum but approachable only through meditation. Neither idealistic nor materialistic metaphysics is possible."Both positions try to reduce total being to the level of a particular being." However, idealistic metaphysics at least recognizes a substance that we know "from within", and in the materialistic metaphysics of Santayana, from Lucretius, the symbol "matter" approaches the unity of being and is similar to Nirvana. See Paul Valéry's Cimétiere Marin.
There is no absolute starting point for a philosophy of consciousness.General principles of a philosophy of consciousness.
Neither can consciousness be made into an "object." Why did there arise an attempt to construct the world out of the subjectivity of the I? It seems to have sprung from a desire for a new beginning. Not all "new beginnings" are of equal value. Plato's "new beginning" was based on the fundamental experiences of thanatos, eros, and dike.Plato, however, could not break with the polis and see the new spiritual man as a member of a new type of community.
"It is the fate of symbols in the history of the mind that transparence turns to 'appearance'." The reality they illuminated comes to be denied or rejected as a motive of philosophizing.
The creation of the transcendental "I", however, implied the destruction of the cosmic whole in the subjectivity of the egological sphere.Spiritual nihilism.
"The nature of the irrupting experiences and of the excitements they induce, together with the result of an "attunement" of consciousness to its "problems", seem to me to be the determinants on which depend the radicalism and the breadth of philosophical reflection."
- That consciousness is not constituted as a stream within the I.
- That in its intentional function consciousness, in finite experience, transcends into the world, and that this type of transcendence is only one among several and must not be made the central theme of a theory of consciousness.
- That the experiences of the transcendence of consciousness into the body, the external world, the community, history, and the ground of being are givens in the biography of consciousness and thus antecede the systematic reflection on consciousness.
- That the systematic reflection operates with these experiences or, at least, in its operations sets out from these experiences; that thus:
- The reflection is a further event in the biography of consciousness that may lead to clarification about its problems and, when reflection is turned in the direction of meditation, to the ascertainment of existence; but that it never is a radical beginning of philosophizing or can lead to such a beginning.
Twenty anamnetic experiments "which recall those experiences that have opened sources of excitement, from which issue the urge to further philosophical reflections."
"Natural law" is now a dogmatized topic of philosophy. In classical philosophy "right by nature" was the symbol by which the philosopher interpreted his experience of right action. We will try to reconstitute the original symbol.
Aristotle first joined "right" and "nature" in a larger theoretical context. The case is worth investigating because:
- We hope to discover the experiential basis of the symbol.
- Aristotle's context is supposed to be valid everywhere, but also changeable, which differs from the later topics.
I. Physei Dikaion
"Natural law" and Aristotle's "right by nature."The text of the Nicomachian Ethics is unclear at this point because:
- The concepts burst out of the logical scheme of general and special.
- The term physis ("nature") is used in several senses.
The connection of justice with the polis.(1) Definitions from Politics:
Aristotle is concerned here only with right within the polis and statements may not apply to other forms of association.
- Justice: the bond of men in the polis
- Right: the order of the political community
- Judicial decision: the determination of what is right
The divisions of justiceBook V of Nicomachian Ethics. The relation of what is generally right to what is politically right. Political right consists of:
Nomos is the rule of law.
- physikon (the essentials)
- nomikos (indifferent rules)
The layers of meaning: life in the polis and beyond the polis. Justice of the polis as essential law.Aristotle is not much interested in other political associations.
Essential law changeable among men, though not among gods.The justice of the polis is essential, not positive, law. There is a tension between nature and hubris. Similar notions in Heraclitus and Sophocles.
Aristotle's various meanings of physika and nomika.(2) He uses "nature" in the sense of:
Physei dikaion: "what is right by nature in its tension between divine immutable essence and human existentially conditioned mutability."
The question of the right order of society.What is right by nature is identical with the best constitution, and its investigation is the search for the right order of society.
Tensions between what is right by nature and the changing modes of its realization.Since the polis is the community best by nature, justice has a fourfold determination as natural:
- It is right by nature insofar as the historical type of community of the polis is best by nature.
- It is natural insofar as it concerns human essence, as opposed to indifferent matters.
- Within the tension it is the preeminently natural that is valid everywhere, akin to the divine law
- It is the mutable natural in the concrete constitution of the polis.
Phronesis as the mediation between the poles of tension.The tension cannot be resolved theoretically but only in the practice of the man who experiences phronesis.
The ontology of ethics. Concrete actions as having higher truth than generalizations. The truth of existence in the reality of action.Ethics is not:
It is the truth of existence in the reality of action in concrete situations.
- a matter of moral principles
- a retreat from the complexities of the world
- a contraction of existence into eschatological expectations or readiness.
The wise man and the unwise "fortunate one."Right action is possible without the mediation of ethical knowledge.
Ethics as "kineton," being moved cosmically by the cause of all movement.Reasoning about action is part of a movement in being that issues from God. Usually the divine in us moves through knowledge, mind, and virtue. What is "right by nature" is moved cosmically by the cause of all movement.
Ethics as an organized body of knowledge is a phase of this movement of being, and service to the unmoved mover.
The spoudaios, the man who is permeable for the movement.The "mature man" who desires what is in truth desirable and who judges everything right.
What is right by nature cannot become a set of immutable propositions.You have to ask the "mature man."
Phronesis as the virtue of right action and right speech about action. Plato's phronesis as the virtue of the man who exists in the vision of the good."Resulting from the opening of the soul, it is a virtue thoroughly forming all existence."
Phronesis, like philia, is neither a moral nor an intellectual virtue but rather an existential virtue.Call it an "existential" virtue to distinguish it from the virtues with special functions. Aristotle's phronesis is existential also, but this is not clear because he uses cosmological rather than transcendental terms.
Summary of Aristotle's investigation of phronesis: it possesses the same character as political science but differs from wisdom.
- Phronesis is a virtue of deliberation about the good life. The "mature man" possesses it.
- Phronesis concerns reachable goals and human affairs which can be changed.
- Phronesis must be distinguished from:
- science (episteme), which draws conclusions from principles
- intellect (nous), which recognizes first principles
- wisdom (sophia), which refers to things divine
- art (techne), which produces artifacts but is not action which carries its end in itself
- Phronesis possesses the same character as political science and is identical as a virtue.
- Phronesis is not identical with wisdom because it is directed at the good of man, which is not the highest thing.
In Aristotle's cosmos man is not the highest ranking being. Phronesis as distinct from knowledge of right action.No distance between knowledge and action in phronesis. It is the movement of being in which the divine order of the cosmos attains its truth in the human realm.
Aristotle used "nature" in a traditional meaning that comprised constant structures in the movement of being, gods, and men.He gives no clear definition of "nature" because he presumed his readers were familiar with the tradition.
The definitions in Metaphysics delta.None are very helpful:
- form or gestalt
- the unity of form and matter in a thing, modelled on organism and artifact.
"Form" and "matter" are not directly applicable to man in society.Aristotle's analysis fails when he calls the constitution "form" and the people "matter."
Similar difficulties with the soul as form and the body as matter.When the soul has a special relation to divine eternity is has a life-of-its-own and cannot be only a form.
Other philosophers experienced the body as an imprisoning form. The saints experienced the transformation of their form, or a new creation within the same identity.Comments of Augustine and Aquinas.
A wider philosophical concept of nature thus is opposed to a narrower metaphysical one. Why was the concept narrowed? The background of Ionic speculation, between myth and philosophy.Thales and the earlier myth of the origin of all things in water.
Comparison of the Ionic speculation with Egyptian myths.Similar origins in earth, air, fire and water in both traditions.
Speculations about origins may take the form of:
- mythologizing the cosmos and gods
- philosophizing a dedivinized cosmos and divinity
The Greek philosophers named that which revealed itself to their differentiating experience "being." The three main complexes of the problems of being:
- the dependence of philosophy on the myth and its separation from the myth
- the relation of the divine to being
- the relation of man and his cognition to being
The Ionic arche is a concept that functions like a god but already contains the experience of the soul-before-god.(1) Arche imposes on being the character of becoming, the mythical genesis. Since being has some constancy, there must also be the character of abiding form, which leads to speculation about being as eternally immutable. The experience of transcendence elevates form to true being.
The problem of the relation between the divine and being.(2) Through the experience of transcendence comes the realization that the divine is the Beyond in relation to the immanent world. God and world obtain a relative autonomy and can be related to the common denominator of being.
Locating divinity in God leads to new problems, stated here as theses:
- The being of philosophical experience is not a thing separate from that of primary experience.
- The experience of being differentiates the order of things:
- in its autonomy
- in the relation of things with each other
- in its relation to the beginning
- The divine ground of being is not an existent thing of the type of things existing in the world.
- Nothing of the world is merely immanent. All things have a dimension of order in relation to the divine ground of being.
- The world cannot be adequately understood as the sum total of relations of autonomously existing things.
The world-transcendent God must be included in the order of being.When God is taken as the model of being, the being of the world is demoted to doxa. When nondivine things provide the model for being, then being itself can be applied to God only analogically. Objectivising thought about being cannot resolve this. The experience of a divine-worldly cosmos must be retained in philosophy.
Dangers of separating God and the world.When philosophy loses consciousness of the cosmic bond of being, the world degrades to relations between immanent things and God is reduced to mere existence. Plato carefully separated thought about being (problems about the transcendent idea) and myth, which treated such problems as:
- the destiny and judgement of the soul (Gorgias, Republic)
- the cycles of order and disorder (Politikos [Statesman]
- creation by the demiurge (Timaeus)
The relation between the order of being and the knowing human.(3) "Reality demonstrates a remarkable agreement between order of the mind and order of being."
The experience of the correspondence of mind and being.Heraclitus, Aristotle and Plato on the philosopher as the man who is fully awake, consubstantial with his environment and in partnership with being.
Why was the philosophic conception of nature narrowed to the metaphysical conception of form? Because the problems of the new thinking could be mastered only step by step.
The philosophic concept of nature still preserves the nature of coming-to-be, as given in the primary experience of the cosmos.But the metaphysical concept accentuates the nature of things as being ordered by form.
This aspect was shoved aside in favor of the form.Why couldn't one concept of nature supplement the other?
Because of the emotional block stemming from the fact that the experience of being is also an experience of God.In man the cosmos dissociates into an immanent world and a transcendent ground, but God and the world are united again in the experiences of love, faith, hope, desire for the good and the beautiful, the turning toward the ground, etc.
"Man enters into the known truth of his own order, i.e., of his nature, through the experience of himself as one who is experiencing order. This ontological complex makes sense only as a whole. Philosophy becomes senseless if it isolates one of its parts without regard to the others."
When the experience of being differentiates itself from the primary experience of the cosmos, there emerges the image of the demiurge. Plato, Aristotle and Anaxagoras on the demiurge.Plato:
Aristotle on the origin of all movement, citing Anaxagoras on the presence of an ordering mind in nature.
- Timaeus: demiurge as craftsman
- Politikos [Statesman]: the statesman who puts into form the human psychic matter of society
- Sophist: parallel human and divine works
The experience of being has attained clarity about the relation of being and knowledge.The relation of divine creation in the order of being and human participation in it through knowledge of the order of being. The agreement of the images of God and man is a symbol expressing the experience of human attunement to the divine ground of being.
Still, the wider philosophical horizon remains open in Aristotle.Despite his narrowing trend in metaphysics. Argument against an infinite series of causes of human action.
His discussion of the aitia. Three meanings of aitia.Three meanings of "cause":
Symbolizations of arche:
- as in "cause and effect", the immanent temporal processes which may constitute an infinite chain in space and time
- the material, efficient, formal and final causes applied to the class of organisms, also a possibly infinite series
- the cause of human action, which cannot have an infinite regress because it involves the experience of the order of being
- myth: cosmogonic speculation
- revelation: divine creation from nothing
- philosophy: the question of the ground of being of he world
The subject is the disposition of human order through the accord of the human nous with the divine nous. The disappearance of limit from action.Correctly understood, nous is not:
It is the place where the human ground of order is in accord with the ground of being.
- Hebrew ruach of God
- Enlightenment reason
- Hegel's Geist
Questioning knowledge and knowing question.The core of human nature.
The limit of causalities concerns the coming-to-be from the ground of being.This is the noetic experience.
The experience of being not grounded-in-itself does not require proof. The proofs of the existence of God are myths sui generis arising when the nous is demoted to world-immanent ratio.The question of the origin implies knowledge about the ground of being at which the question aims. Proofs of the existence of God can add nothing to the complex of experiences.
Summary. Man's nature is the openness of his being in questioning and knowledge about the ground of being.
Reason as a historical event.The circumstances and consequences of the differentiation of the nous, when reason was discovered as both the force and the criterion of order.
The epochal consciousness of the philosophers.No retreat from the new differentiation. The central symbol of the new structure in history was the "philosopher", parallel to:
"Myth" represents the old compact consciousness and "philosophy" the new differentiated one.
- Plato's "spiritual man"
- Aristotle's "mature man"
Plato's and Aristotle's balance.They realized that reason existed in human nature before its differentiation and that the new discovery would not prevent disorder. Plato particularly was open to new differentiations, such as later occurred:
- pneumatic revelation of the Judeo-Christian type
- tolerance in doctrinal matters
Classic reason sees no apocalyptic end.It resists disordering passion through persuasion.
The newly experienced force of the nous.The tension of order and disorder illuminated by dialogue and discourse.
I. The Tension of Existence
The definition of man as a zoon noetikon referred to the reality of order in man's psyche. To it correspond the definition zoon politikon. The definitions should have included zoon historikon.Man's reason exists in the personal, political and historical dimensions, none of which is valid without the others. Man also has a "synthetic" nature which includes the animal, vegetable and material realms. His "integral" nature, comprising both the psyche with its three dimensions of order and man's participation in the hierarchy of being from nous down to matter, is what Aristotle calls the subject matter of the study of things pertaining to man's humanity.
This is the comprehensive field of human reality where reason is the center of order in existence.
Man is not a divine causa sui.Man exists in a state of unrest, lacking the meaning of his existence within himself.
Characteristic of man is the unrest of wondering, the beginning of philosophy.First recognized and articulated by the philosophers. Myth expresses the same truth more compactly.
Feeling moved or drawn. The desire to escape ignorance.The symbols of questioning and of ignorance.
The underlying experience is the key to an understanding of nous in the classic sense. The experiences of Parmenides and Anaxagoras.Parmenides differentiated the noetic faculty to apperceive the ground of existence. Anaxagoras identified the nous as the source of intelligible order in the cosmos.
The exploration of the soul contributes the dimension of critical consciousness.The compact symbols of myth are challenged by the new questioning.
The ground is a divine presence that becomes manifest in human unrest."The questioning unrest carries the assuaging answer within itself inasmuch as man is moved to his search of the ground by the divine ground of which he is in search." The pursuit requires the articulation of the experience through language symbols; this effort leads to noetic insights into the psyche.
The unrest becomes luminous to itself in Plato and Aristotle.The structure of the psyche can be unfolded either by ascending from the existential unrest at the bottom of the cave to the vision of the light at its top, or by descending from the consciousness that has become luminous down.
Movements of the divine-human encounter form an intelligible unit of meaning.
This unit of meaning is man's tension to the divine ground.Classic philosophy does not speak of "tension" in the abstract, but of specific modes such as love, desire, faith and hope.
The nous symbols express the reality of man attuned to the divine order in the cosmos.Reason is differentiated from the experience of the "love of God", not the "love of self."
Reason has the existential content of openness toward reality.This context has been lost. The bond between reason and existential love or openness to the ground must be made explicit.
Closure toward the ground of reality affects the rational structure of the soul. The analyses of Heraclitus, Aeschylus, the Stoics and Cicero.Heraclitus: the distinction between those who live in the one common world and those who live in the private worlds of their passion and imagination.
Aeschylus: The Promethean revolt against divinity as a disease or madness.
Stoics: invented terms for conciliation and alienation.
Cicero: mental diseases caused by the rejection of reason.
Anxiety as a variety of ignorance. In the states of both health and unhealth.The first references to anxiety. Questioning unrest can either follow the attraction of the ground and unfold into noetic consciousness, or it can be diverted and follow other attractions into pathological derailment.
Cicero lists some symptoms of disorientation:
But: "there is nothing wrong with passions as such, nor with occasional indulgences or excesses." The problem is when habitual passions imbalance the rational order of existence.
- restless money-making
- addiction to delicacies and snacks
- desire for fame
- rigidity of attitude
- fears of contacts with other human beings such as misogyny and misanthropy
Mental disease as a disturbance of noetically ordered existence.It affects both the passions and reason, but is caused by neither. It originates in the questioning unrest and in man's freedom to fulfill his potential or botch it.
There is no Aristotelean term for "anxiety."The classic experience of unrest is distinctly joyful because the questioning has direction.
Heidegger, Hobbes, Hegel, Marx built alienation into their system, and Freud and Sartre reject the openness to the ground. Modern writers claim for their mental disease the status of mental health. Schelling's modern characterization of this condition as "pneumopathology", and Doderer's term "refusal of apperception."
III. Life and Death
The "in-between" character of human existence.The metaxy as developed in the Symposium and Philebus. In-between life and death, knowledge and ignorance, god and man. The practice of dying and activity of immortalizing.
Historically, the experience of immortalizing in the unfolding of the rational consciousness has been, and still is, the storm center of misunderstanding, fallacious misconstruction, and furious attacks.
A construction of man as a world-immanent autonomous entity destroys the meaning of existence.The poles of tension must not be hypostatized into objects independent of the tension in which they are experienced as its poles.
Or, noetic structures can be attacked directly, as in the systems listed previously.
- taking the symbol "rational animal" as a word definition
- reducing the metaleptic tension to physical being
- psychologizing the symbols of tension into projections of an immanent psyche
Distortion of the classic analysis through a restrictive concentration of on the conflict between reason and the passions.A more subtle distortion which isolates both reason and passion from their context in the tension between life and death.
The corresponding differentiation of Life and Death.As the moving forces beyond reason and the passions. Refinements in the analysis of metaxy. The mystery of being as existence between the poles of the "one" (divine ground, wisdom, mind) and the "unlimited" (cosmic ground, arche).
"Behind the passions there is at work the lust of existence from the depth." In Christian psychology this becomes pride and the will to power; original sin. Plato on the nourishing of mortal and immortal parts.
A fully developed rejection of reason requires the form of an apparently rational system.Else a man will fall into moods of dejection.
Hegel, Schiller as examples.Schiller: the purpose of a progessivist philosophy of history is the achievement of imaginary immortality through participation in an imaginary meaning of history.
The distinction between dialectics and eristics by Plato.Dialectics: the movement of thought or discussion within the metaxy. Eristics: speculative thought that attempts mastery over one of the poles of the metaleptic tension, over the apeiron or the nous.
Modern deformations as object-lessons of eristics.Marx, Freud, Breton, Jung.
Hegel's misuse of an Aristotelean passage. And of a Pauline passage.Hegel's "dialectic" is Plato's "eristic."
The modern egophanic revolt against reason.The phenomenon of intellectual imperialism leading to mass murder has its origin in the destruction of the life of reason in the metaxy.
Hegel's construction of a "dialectical process" belonging to an imaginary "consciousness.""Reason can be eristically fused with any world-content, be it class, race, or nation; a middle class, working class, technocratic class, or summarily the Third World; the passions of acquisitiveness, power, or sex; or the sciences of physics, biology, sociology, or psychology. The list is not meant to be exhaustive."
The contemporary preoccupation with depth, death, anxiety.Caused by the mortalizing pressure of the apeirontic depth.
The truth of fantasy Systems is challenged when knowledge of content advances beyond that of the System's creator. Methods of defending the System:
- revision within the imperial style
- taboo on questions of premises
- ignoring fatal criticism
- defaming critics
- jailing or killing dissenters, or building a wall around the country
IV. AppendixThe unfolding of noetic consciousness is not an "idea" or a "tradition", but an event in history. The classic analysis was the first to articulate the structure of man's quest for his relation to the divine ground:
- of the unrest that offers the answer to its questioning
- of the divine nous as the mover of the quest
- of the joy of luminous participation when man responds to the theophany
- of existence becoming cognitively luminous for its meaning as a movement in the metaxy from mortality to immortality
The classic insights were gained as the exegesis of the philosophers' resistance to against the climate of opinion. Reason is not a treasure to be stored away."It is the struggle in the metaxy for the immortalizing order of the psyche in resistance to the mortalizing forces of the apeirontic lust of being in time." Existence in the in-between is not abolished when it becomes luminous to itself, but attains a new level of critical consciousness concerning the order of existence.
The classic philosophers did not foresee:
The classic philosophers resisted the decay of cosmological myth and the Sophistic revolt; today we resist the Systems of thinkers in a state of alienation.
- the incorporation of philosophy into various revelatory theologies
- the transformation of philosophy into propositional metaphysics
- the radical separation of the noetic symbolism from its experiential context, so that the philosophical vocabulary would be set free to endow the attack on reason with the appearance of reason
More important than the insights is the resistance against the "climate of opinion." This essay is an act of resistance. Its tactics:
- restore the forgotten experiential context on which the meaning of reason depends
- establish the inner coherence of scattered pieces of analysis
- explore the psychopathology of alienation and the contempt of reason
- characterize the modern revolt against reason and the phenomenon of the System
Principles to be considered in the study of human affairs: principles of completeness, of formation and foundation, of metaxy reality.Points to be considered in any study of human affairs:The order of formation of the left column is from the top down; the order of foundation is from the bottom up. The order of foundation of the top row is from left to right.
-> Person Society History |
Divine Nous ^
Psyche - Noetic Psyche - Passions Animal Nature Vegetative Nature Inorganic Nature Apeiron - Depth
Principle of completeness: a philosophy of human affairs must cover the entire grid without hypostatizing any coordinate of it.
Principle of formation and foundation: the order of formation and foundation must not be inverted or distorted.
Principle of metaxy reality: the coordinates determine metaxy reality, intelligible as such by the consciousness of nous and apeiron as its limiting poles. The poles cannot be converted to phenomena within the metaxy.
False theoretical propositions can also be located on the grid.
History is not a given object of analysis.Is there such a thing as an essence of history that can be grasped by philosophical analysis? History is not yet completed. The observer is part of the process. The reality of being comprises both philosophy and history.
The reality of being divisible into four relations: philosophy as a phenomenon in time, philosophy as a constituent of history, history as a constituent of philosophy, history as a field of philosophically analyzable phenomena.
- Philosophy as a phenomenon in the field of history. Thousands of years of history passed before philosophers appeared in it.
- Philosophy as a constituent of history. The emergence of philosophy is an epoch in history, distinguishing a before and an after.
- History as the constituent of philosophy. Eternal being is a compelling event when it irrupts into time, in the soul that is open to it. Eternal being becomes real in time as the response of the philosophers.
- History as the field of phenomena of philosophical investigation. Philosophy can recognize the logos realized in nonphilosophical symbolisms and investigate them.
- The relations shown here are not autonomous things. Reality is undivided.
- This essay is just a summary and does not constitute a material philosophy of history.
I. Philosophy as a phenomenon in the field of history.
Philosophy appears as a phenomenon in a context of other structuring phenomena.By "field" is meant that historical phenomena appear as part of meaningful configurations. To what configuration does philosophy belong?
The minimum range consists of: spiritual outburst, ecumenic empire, historiography.As they appeared, these phenomena were understood as factors that independently determined the configuration of history:
- spiritual outburst
- ecumenic empire
Jasper's concept of the "axis time of mankind."(1) Between 800-200 BC:
Independent of other factors, spiritual outburst does not determine the meaning of the period, else we would have to discount other outbursts, such as Moses and Christ.
- the prophets
- the Buddha
The Daniel Apocalypse and speculations about the translatio imperii.(2) Translatio imperii: "historical transition."
The accumulation of empires from China to Rome not to be construed as an autonomous determinant of history.There were Middle Eastern empires before that time.
Historiography in Hellas, Israel, China, connected with imperial conflicts.(3)
Early Israel also had conflicts with the older cosmological empires which inspired historiographic works.
- the royal history of the Deuteronomists ends with the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon
- the work of the Chronicler is induced by the restoration of the temple after the Persian conquest of Babylon
- and the Books of the Maccabeans by the conflict with the Seleucid empire
- Hellas: Herodotus on the collision with Persia
- China: Ssu-ma Ch'ien's account of the absorption of classical China into the Ch'in and Han Dynasties
Not all imperial conflicts lead to the creation of historiography.
Spiritual outbursts preceding historiography, and exceptions.Spiritual outburst precedes both historiography and the ecumenic empires:
Among the exceptions, where spiritual outburst and empire are not followed by historiography, are Persia and India.
- Hellas: the Ionic philosophers, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Xenophanes
- Israel: the prophets
- China: Confucius and Lao-Tzu
The meaning of the configuration requires statements from the fourth relation, below.
II. Philosophy as a constituent of history.
Philosophy as an ontic event and a noetic experience.As an ontic event: being is recognized as the field of historical tensions. As a noetic experience: the illuminative quality of the nous is brought to understand itself. The structures that become visible are the "logos of realization."
The resulting two tensions of the soul.
None of the subjects of these statements refer to things of the external world. Rather:
- the tension of the soul between time and eternity
- the tension of the soul between its order before and after the ontic event
--are terms of the noetic exegesis in which the ontic event interprets itself. The terms have often been improperly objectivized.
- the poles of the tension in being
- the experiences of the tension
- the states of order in being
The soul as the place where the tensions between time and eternity are experienced.The soul is not an object, but is rather the sensorium of the tensions of being, particularly of transcendence.
The subject of this experience.There must be something nontemporal in man by which he participates in eternal being.
The content of the experience: loving urge and graceful call.From the pole of temporal being within himself, man experiences the tension as a loving and hopeful urge toward the divine eternity. From the pole of eternal being the tension is experienced as a call and irruption of grace.
The experience itself: objectless and possibly subjectless? The alternative: hypostatization of being.The impression of a subjectless event in history must not be rejected as a false appearance; this leads to psychologization of the divine as a projection of the soul. Nor must one hypostatize the impression of being into being as an object, else philosophy derails into speculations of the theogonic or historical dialectic type.
The symbols in Plato's Symposium. Fullness and neediness. Wisdom and ignorance.Language depicts objective images of the world of things. Plato's myths are a different symbolization of the tensions:
(1) The poles of temporal and eternal being are represented by the mortals and the gods. Relations between them are mediated by Eros, the spirit of the in-between.
- gods and mortals
- judgement of the dead
Plato's type-concepts.The types of men:
The sequence of types reveals the field of history which is constituted by the event of philosophy. After the differentiating experience there is no way there is no way to return to the compact experience of the "mortal"; he who closes himself to the new order becomes "spiritually dull." The spiritual man has the criteria for judging the others.
- the mortal
- the spiritual man
- the spiritually dull man
(2) The myth of judgement of the dead expresses the tensions of the soul toward other types of men.
What is a "field of history"?Tensions in the structure of being. Being is not the place of the tensions; it is not an object but a pole of noetic explanation.
It is incorrect to project psyche beyond the concrete human being, particularly so as to place history in a collective or divine psyche. Plato's cosmic psyche is a myth and must not be objecitivized. The field of historical tensions must be in the personal soul.
The personal experience of being.The immanence of the world and its temporality are not primary experiences, but become visible when through philosophy ones recognized the tension between time and eternity. Only when these poles are objectivized is there the problem of reconciling them. They should not be separated and do not exist as objects.
The tension of being, experienced as a process.The process occurs in the metaxy. Since the human person also exists in the world, it is possible to relate mundane events to that process.
Eternal being not an object in time, temporal being not transposable into eternity. The concept of the flowing presence."Eternal being in temporal flow", the experience in the metaxy of the temporal flow in which eternity is present. The event of philosophy is "flowing presence."
How the permanent tension of the "flowing presence" becomes "history":
The tension of being not an intersubjective object. It is a personal experience and thus influenced by personal attitudes.(1)
It is also not a disordered multiplicity but manifests traits of order. Giving rise to direction and a character of irreversibility.(2)
How does the flowing presence become, in the world's time, an intelligible process of history? This is a mystery.
III. History as the constituent of philosophy.
Philosophy, related to the preceding primary experience of the cosmos, is a historical event.Aspects of the historical constitution of philosophy:
- The philosophical experience where eternal and temporal being encounter each other.
- This experience is one among others in the field of the flowing presence.
It discovers not new objects but relations of order in an already known reality.Known in the primary experience of the cosmos. Aristotle on the theologizing thinkers (the poets) and the philosophizing thinkers (the Ionians).
To avoid objectivising the relations of order, we need a theory of indices.
The context of being replaces the older cosmos."Being" in the context of order after the dissociation of the cosmos.
"The world" not an object but rather an index for the relations within a nondivine, autonomous structure.When "world" becomes an abject, there appears the antitheistic, ideological "worlds." For example: the world of sense-perceptible things, with its claim to a monopoly on reality. Politically, the attempts to conquer "worlds" are misdirected.
The ensuing concern with the transcendence of God.
IV. History as the field of phenomena of philosophical investigation.
Philosophy as the event in history through which history is recognized as the field of tension between the phenomena. Why have no attempts been made to construct a material universal history?
- no comparative materials from other cultures
- the event of history required concentration on philosophical experience and defense against tradition and resistance.
Preoccupation with the polemical situation created by the event of history. Types of historical polarization.The narrow types:
The need for debate with opponents:
- Hellenes and barbarians
- Israel and the nations
- Plato and the Sophists
- Christ and the Pharisees
- Christians and pagans
Contemporary advances in philosophical investigation have also received their impetus from the struggle with global ideologies.
- Irenaeus and the Gnostics
- Athanasius and the Arians
- Augustine and the Manicheans
- Thomas and the Muslims
Philosophy, not a one-time event, is rather a continuing process of actualizing noetic potentialities for the investigation of phenomena in history. Barriers to this development have fallen in recent times. An experience of the metaxy cannot dwell exclusively on either the human or the divine pole. Ensuing attitudes toward the temporal sequence of experiences: the condemnation of the past as "false", or the past as compatible by means of interpretation.Philosophy is emphasis on the human pole of the divine-human tension. In this mode, earlier experiences are considered falsehoods, until in Plato and Aristotle when they are understood as truth in different modes of experience.
Revelation is emphasis on the divine pole, and in this mode differences in understanding are made into compatible interpretations.
Neither attitude is suitable for investigation of the flowing presence. The modern historical research of the theologians and the science of comparative religion have removed these obstacles.
Augustine's symbol of exodus as the principle for a material philosophy of history.The conflict between the Chosen People and empire is represented by the symbol "exodus", which, with exile and return, describe the tension between time and eternity.
Mathematics is a science based on fundamental principles (axioms). Political science is not because of the special relation between science and political reality.This is not a defect that can be remedied in the future. Political reality is structured by knowledge that aims at that same reality.
The traits of this peculiar relationship:
The noetic knowledge of political order deals with an object already structured by another kind of knowledge.(1) "Every society is constituted by the self-understanding of its order." The non-noetic acts of self-interpretation produce symbols:
- and so on...
Nonnoetic knowledge precedes noetic knowledge.(2) Even after noetic interpretations arise, the non-noetic ones remain the form of a society's self-interpretation. Noetic interpretations cannot replace the non-noetic.
Noetic knowledge arises in a relation of tension with society.(3) Noetic interpretation becomes a science through opposition to the non-noetic order, which becomes the object of investigation. The scientist is in turn objectivized by the opposition, which treats him as an atheist or heretic or reactionary.
This relation can be made transparent. Today this is difficult because of nonnoetic, ideological interpretations of society. Which is why political science cannot be defined as a corpus of propositions and principles.On the one hand, "science" has become a term of prestige to dignify various ideologies. On the other, the dominant model of science and its objects is useless in dealing with the question of political reality.
Noetic interpretation: "The tension in political reality that presses beyond the self-understanding of society and pushes the social reality into the position of an object." (syn: political science)
No objective propositions are possible with regard to the experience of order in consciousness.Neither the human nor divine poles or the tension between them are objects. The experience of order is a non-objective reality and there can be no knowledge of order. A variety of experiences motivate a number of symbolic expressions, which is the origin of the tensions in political reality.
Noetic and nonnoetic interpretations conceive order in terms of their ground.Each expresses the experience of the one ground, not of a multiplicity of grounds.
Noetic interpretations arise when consciousness seeks to become explicit to itself.Noetic exegesis: the endeavor of consciousness to interpret its own logos. The classical exegesis was successful and serves as a prototype.
Aristotle's vocabulary. The direction of consciousness: desire for knowledge, questioning in confusion, awareness of ignorance. This directional factor called ratio.Ratio is the material structure of consciousness. The direction refers to man's attraction to the ground of being.
The mutual participation of two entities called nous.Both (1) the human capacity for knowing, questioning about the ground, and (2) the ground of being itself experienced as the directing mover of questions.
Here myth enters into the exegesis.Aristotle explains that noetic participation of the two forms of nous is possible because the human nous was created from the divine nous.
"Human nature" the symbol of an experience of the ground."Human nature" is an expression of love for the divine ground which man experiences as his essence. The knowledge that this essence is of all men comes from the cosmic primary experience. Heraclitus' xynon ("the common") and conscious homologia ("like-mindedness").
The myth and its symbols a residue of prenoetic knowledge.Aristotle myth of creation of the human nous from the divine is not a derailment of noetic knowledge, but a background which makes it meaningful.
The Orphic mysteries. Myth appears in the noetic exegesis because noesis emerges from the myth.
Four aporias arising in the objectivization by noesis.[I see only three problems listed in this section].
(1) Problem #1: Different symbolizations of the reality of tension toward the divine ground are all cases of "participation". But noesis interprets itself by "participation", making it both genus and species.
(2) A solution: attribute to noesis cognitive quality, making the non-noetic forms of participation objects of noetic science. But this causes problem #2: the symbols of noetic exegesis are developed by meditation, not as concepts about the non-noetic forms of participation. The symbols of noesis relate to the experience they are interpreting.
(3) Solution: The logic and classification of objects does not apply to an area of reality where species and genus are structured by the same kind of knowledge.
(4) This leads to problem #3: noesis does indeed analyze and classify non-noetic phenomena as objects.
(5) But: All participation contains knowledge about itself, on the scales of:
- compactness and differentiation
- direction and misdirection
- acquiescence and revolt
"Objectivization" referring to the difference of truth arising in the search for the ground.
(6) Solution: "The 'objectivization' thus does not refer to participation itself but rather to the difference of truth that arises in the longing search for insight into the right relation to the ground."
Participation itself cannot be seen as an object.
There is no "objective" beyond.
(7) "The relation of knowledge and object is a relation immanent to the process between degrees of truth of participation."
There is a "past" phase of the quest.Inferior truth drops into the past.
The personal field of history generates a social one.When traditional knowledge is experienced as unsatisfactory. Plato's types of the mortal, the seeker and the dull man.
Three dimensions: the direction-giving ratio, the luminosity of the tension toward the ground, the process of a quest leaving behind phases of the past.Three dimensions of the exegesis whereby the noetic experience, interpreting itself, illuminates the logos of participation.
Aristotle's criticism of the Ionic speculation.(1) "The direction-giving ratio is the material content of consciousness, even when it is not known in the luminosity of noetic consciousness."
Aristotle understood that ratio, as questioning about the ground, provides the structure of the myth from which consciousness is differentiated as the center of order. He also knew that there are transitional forms by which myth and noesis confront each other; Ionic speculation was such.
The new luminosity as the substance of the critique.(2) The luminosity of the tension toward the ground. That man is noetically open is not an argument or the result of an argument, but the premise that makes the above argument possible. Aristotle understood this, but needed an argument to achieve social acceptance of the insight. New knowledge of the ground must be expressed as criticism of the old knowledge. This is justified only by isolating the question of the ground as the tension of consciousness. The field of history is composed of the endeavors to grasp and symbolize the truth of the ground. The character of history is revealed not by argument but by light thrown on the prenoetic past by noetic experience.
Aristotle's analysis is not as clear as it might be because he emphasizes truth, obscuring participation. The older speculations are not as "false" as he describes, nor is his identification of nous with the ground as "right" as he claims, to the extent that his claims are improperly based on argument.
- The tension toward the ground is the material structure of consciousness but not an object for propositions.
- Rather, it is a process of consciousness having degrees of transparency for itself.
- In the noetic experience, consciousness attains its optimum luminosity in which the tension toward the ground can interpret its own logos.
- From the presence of the luminous exegesis of its logos, it can constitute the field of past history as the field of less transparent phases of the same endeavor to know the truth of the ground.
A new aporia: the relegation of the past to "falsehood."(3) The process of a quest leaving behind phases of the past. Contrary to long-held convention, Voegelin does not believe there has been continuity of experience from Ionian speculation to now. Particularly, prenoetic and noetic experiences differ.
Disappearing as Aristotle traces both philosophy and myth to wondering.The two types of experience are equivalent symbolizations, but do not achieve equal knowledge of truth of the ground.
The comparison constitutes a rudimentary philosophy of history. History constituted by consciousness."The time in which history constitutes itself is not that of the external world."
The field of history is always universally human.Because all men desire and search for the ground.
The equivalence of symbolisms.Because of the universality of the experience the symbols represent
The changeability of the human reality of participation. Aristotle's noetic work left partly unfinished.This was the obstacle to further development of his philosophy. That, along with lack of interest an the part of his successors.
The vocabulary about being insufficiently differentiated."Being" referring to all of reality. Aristotle did not develop a vocabulary describing the modes of being, such as:
- the existence of things in space and time
- divine being beyond space and time
- the nonobjective reality of consciousness, with its tensions and dimensions
The case of the symbol ousia.Aristotle's deficiencies here (and elsewhere) pushed philosophy toward dogmatic metaphysics.
Ousia was for him a transparent symbol of all of reality, the things of primary experience. The symbol is incorrectly translated as "substance."
Its later dogmatization and the resulting cleavage between language and reality.Once the noetic experience has separated the cosmos into world and ground, the symbol becomes opaque and the "things" of the world are objectivized. Then begin dogmatic controversies about the status of God, the soul, the finality of the world in time, etc. In the final phase, after the Enlightenment and Positivism, the reality of reality itself is denied. Intellectual grotesqueness.
Flaubert and Karl Kraus on modern cliché language.When reality is lost, categories such as "destiny" and "action" lose their meaning. New words attempt to describe world-immanent conduct:
When political events drop to a level of nonsense or madness they can no longer be interpreted by symbols originating in consciousness' center of order.
Differentiating the reality represented compactly by ousia.Dogmatization cannot be prevented, but the symbol can be differentiated such that the analysis offers few inducements to the dogmatizing disposition.
Articulation of "reality":
- Reality is not a thing that man confronts but the encompassing reality in which he himself is real as he participates.
- Real are the "things" that can be distinguished in the encompassing reality--the gods, men, and so on.
- Real is also the participation of things in each other within the encompassing reality.
In man, participation has the structure of consciousness. The noetic experience of participation is special because it elevates to clarity the tension toward the divine ground both as (a) the structure of consciousness, and (b) as the structure of all reality that is not the ground. The mythical image of the cosmos must be changed to the philosophical image of the order of being.
The manifold meanings of "reality" is a necessary ambiguity.Removing the ambiguity would destroy the insight into the structure of reality. The symbol is noetically unambiguous. The symbol is reality.
Aristotle's symbol of ousia is objectionable not because it is ambiguous, but only because:
- It tends to limit reality to the terms of participation.
- It suggests spacio-temporal existence as the model of reality, losing the experience which:
- Gives noetic unambiguity to the linguistic ambiguity.
- Exhaustively determines the content of the perspectival ambiguity.
The different "images" of myth and noesis expressing respective experiences of participation in the same reality.(1) Philosophical images are not more "correct" than mythical images. Both are more or less adequate expressions of the experience of reality. If one overlooks the reality of consciousness:
The secondary phenomena of philosophy develop when symbols become images detached from their engendering experiences:
- the terms of knowing participation turn into data independent of participation
- the images and differential of truth between them turn into events in the time of the world
- participating man turns into a subject of knowledge beyond participation
- metaphysics: the manipulation of noetic symbols as if they were propositions
- the eternal truths of philosophy
- the sixteenth century philosophia perennis
- the quarrel of "isms" about the correctness of images
The changeability of the human reality of participation.(2) Reality is not changed by the differences of truth in consciousness. But reality is not constant because consciousness puts phases of lower grades of truth behind itself, as the past.
The differentiating experiences can be so intense that one feels transformed into a new being, and the new image of the world may be seen as a new world. The process of change itself can be taken as a structure of reality that is extrapolated into the future. These are the roots of metastatic ("magical") beliefs:
Metastatic outbursts are followed by disillusionment:
- the gradualistic idea of infinite progress in the time of the world
- apocalypse from divine intervention
- revolutionary human action
- the social dwindling away and dying out of metastatic beliefs
- the turning from metastatic exuberance to the necessities of everyday life
- the retreat of the adepts into underground sectarianism
- Isaiah's "remnant"
- pietistic communities aloof from the corrupted world
- the disappointment of the expectation of parousia
- the decline of revolutionary world-conquest to co-existence
Consciousness always consciousness of something.The problem of objectivization of consciousness.
Being, thinking, and symbol constituting both an identity and three distinct objects.(As analytical distinctions).
The danger of consciousness drawing the reality of the ground into itself.The enthusiasm of noetic consciousness effaces what should have been distinguished: the limit between the reality of participation and the reality of its poles. In Aristotle the boundary between image and reality becomes fuzzy. The intentionality of consciousness causes him to say more about the reality of the divine ground than is warranted.
The freedom of consciousness entailing the possibility of a cleavage between form and content of reality.If we were machines we would not produce fallacious images of reality.
Images of reality are found in:
The loss of reality originates in the disparity between its form and content.
- mythopoeic freedom
- artistic creation
- gnostic and alchemistic speculation
- the private world view of liberal citizens
- the constructions of ideological systems
Men do not cease to be human even if they do not enter into the quest for the truth, or do it poorly, and they also design images of reality. "Whenever the desire of knowledge is sufficiently intensive to elaborate somewhat comprehensive images of reality there occurs a filling-in of the perspective form of reality." There is a relation between form and content which has been noted when comparisons are made:
- Christian discovery of pagan parallels to their own faith and cult
- secularist contention that Qumran texts diminish the importance of Christ
- when similar images appear in different civilizations
- when parallels are explained by a collective unconscious
Images of reality should be examined for traces of a closed system as well as categorized, and analyzed by form and content.The insight above provides general rules for the investigation of image-designs:
- images of reality must be examined for their form of reality
- the contents of the pattern must be examined
- schemes presented as systems must be examined for the tricks used to close up non-systematic reality
- systems must be understood from without, not by accepting the premises of the system
- cosmological myths must be collected and classified
The problem of the loss of reality.The insight allows us to formulate the problem more precisely.
Ersatz images of reality.When he rebels against the reality of tension toward the ground, a man must inhabit a "second reality." The ersatz images are usually drawn from the lust for wealth, power or sex, or from pride that substitutes the autonomous Ego for the ground.
A person living in the "second reality" becomes spiritually ill; if it becomes socially dominant there will be massive social disruption.
Apart from violent manifestations, life in "second reality" is also experienced as "loss", as living a shadow life. This is the low point of the turning around and emergence from the cave. Our time has examples of the effort to fill the form of reality with the reality of existential tension.
The meditation of Camus as a recovery of reality.His work "a prototype of existential catharsis." First the absurdity of existence, then endurance in uncertainty of the meaning of life, finally (a phase not completed in his life) the vision of healing, the reversal of the murder of God.
Summary of the analysis of consciousness.Start from classical noesis and follow it to an insight into:
Go beyond Aristotle to introduce further problems of:
- the material structure that we call ratio
- the luminosity of consciousness
- the historical gradations of truth
Classical noesis sought to differentiate consciousness as the source of human order, in opposition to the compact cosmological myth. Modern noesis must re-establish consciousness in opposition to dogmatism bare of reality.
- the perspective of reality
- the form of the intentional object
- the form of reality of consciousness, as well as that of the content of reality and the loss of reality
The two efforts are phases in the historical continuum of consciousness, inasmuch as:
- The incomplete condition of the classical noesis set up the development of post-classical dogmatism to which we are in opposition today.
- We can struggle out of the misery of dogmatism only by returning to the classical noesis and trying to solve its unfinished problems.
The derailment into propositions unmotivated by experience.Unfinished problems of classical noesis:
Truth about the poles of participation turns into propositions about a reality supposedly independent of noetic experience. These propositions induce others unmotivated by experience which destroy the center of human order. The analysis of the desire for knowledge developed directly into the knowledge of man and of the divine ground itself.
The experience as the ordering reality of man had not become a central theme.
Next: clarification of the connection between the experience and the symbolism relating to the poles of noetic participation.
Unlike knowledge of the natural sciences, noetic knowledge is knowledge "from within."Consciousness is not discerned in the primary experience.
Of a reality that is "nonobjective." The terms developed in the process not defining objects but rather creating linguistic indices.Consciousness intends the form of objects, but the linguistic terms used to describe our movements of meditation are not concepts or definitions relating to things. They are "linguistic indices." Examples:
- consciousness of the ground
- openness to the ground
- existential tension toward the ground
- poles of the tension
- participation from within, from without, reality
- perspective of reality
An "immanent world" or a "transcendent being" do not "exist."They are indices assigned to areas of the primary experience dissociated by noesis. They are relations of order.
Other indices: "man", "philosophy", "metaxy."Man: the immanent pole of existential tension toward the ground. Philosophy: the meditative movement toward the ground. Metaxy: the area of mutual participation of divine and human reality.
Constituting no quantitative increase of knowledge, but introducing a new mode of knowledge.The noetic experience differentiates what had been compact. The insight arises from the new intelligibility of participation for itself.
Which has the character of rationality and science
(1) The noetic experience brings about a change in the mode of knowledge insofar as:
The indices "science" and "theory" were developed to distinguish the noetic mode of knowledge from beliefs and opinions.
- it makes transparent the material structure of consciousness which we have called ratio and thereby provides
- rational criteria for the correct symbolization of the poles of participation
Science consists of methods compatible with the ratio of noesis.Natural science. "Science" discovers itself as knowledge of the structure of reality. Noesis made "world" an index and freed the autonomous structure of the world for scientific investigation, by removing mythical, revelatory and ideological hypotheses of truth. The notion that mathematics is the model of science is a dogma stemming from scientism.
"History" as an index of a field of rational structure.(2) The area of the changes in being. The criterion of ratio makes it possible to judge the non-noetic experiences. History becomes radically transparent.
Plato's type-concepts stemming from the "objectivization" of other interpretations of order.Plato's three types of man, and his philodoxos and sophistes. Aristotle's philosophos and philomythos. The modern types of:
- compact and differentiated experience
- the cosmic primary experience
- the noetic and revelatory experience of transcendence
- the derailment into dogmatism
- the metastatic, apocalyptic and gnostic experiences
- the revolutionary experiences
Various meanings of "object."(3) The above symbols may be called "concepts" to distinguish them from the indices mentioned previously. Type-concepts are developed from the exegesis; they do not interpret the noetic experience but refer to phenomena beyond its area.
Meanings of "object:"
- consciousness expresses itself through objects
- historically, superseded truths become objects of the past
- The spreading of consciousness to a multitude of men seems to be an "objective" phenomenon.
Consciousness, though discrete, creates an intelligible field of history. Its structure is the structure of reality. The sole meaning of the "field of history" is that discovered through the ratio of noesis.(4) History is intelligible because all men share the same ground. Viewing history as the unfolding of a superhuman consciousness is invalid.
The material and the historical dimensions of consciousness interacting with a tendency toward objectivization.(5) The three meanings of "object" are additionally complicated by the problems of the existential tension and its poles. Clarification, by example, of the historical and material dimensions in the development of type-concepts:
- Aristotle's incomplete exegesis allowed later dogmatization.
- Aristotle's criticism of his predecessors could appear as a matter of logical argument, losing the experience of participation.
- The area of discrete consciousness: the battles of modern dogmatisms where the adherents are unaware of motivating experiences.
Type-concepts formed around all kinds of "positions."(6) Non-noetic interpretations can form type-concepts also, pushing noetic interpretation into the role of objects, as in the "history of ideas."
Noetic knowledge is concrete knowledge of participation illuminating the divine ground of being as the ground of man and world. Thus the reality of participation is knowledge.Even when it is not fully conscious of its own character. The desire for knowledge is the reality of every experience of participation.
Which goes beyond the knowledge of reason to the knowledge of faith, hope and love. The complex of knowledge being effective as a whole.The modes of knowledge are woven into a whole, not independent of each other.
Man's existence ordered by knowledge prior to noesis. Ratio is both a component and an instrument of criticism.There are no societies whose self-interpretation is exclusively noetic.
Three phases in the process of tension: the hellenic one, dogmatism of the philosophic schools and of theology, and the dogmatic theologies.(1) The Hellenic phase. Classical noesis claimed to both restore the content of reality and to draw true images of it. The political effort failed and was superseded by empire. Noesis derailed into the dogmatism of the schools, and that into skepticism.
(2) In the Christian phase, noesis enters into a socially successful combination with the truth of revelation. Noesis itself suffered because its authenticity was weakened by dogmatic metaphysics
(3) Philosophy struggled to maintain itself against theology, and this play of dogmatic position and opposition has become the dominant form of Western self-understanding.
Ideologies block man's access to reality."Where there is no active participation, there is no rational consciousness that could be differentiated." The cause of hundreds of years of dogmatomachy:
(1) The symbols of dogmatism constitute a language of obsession expressing the revolt against the reality of knowledge.
"The nihilistic rebellion cannot be overcome on its own level of experiences and symbols, for instance, by means of am criticism of ideology, culture, or the times, as attempted intellectuals who no longer feel easy in their situation. Such attempts can lead only to a confused stirring around in the nothingness of lost reality."
The solution consists in a turning again toward reality. Which is rendered difficult by the historical background of theological and metaphysical dogmatisms.(2) The rebellion aims not at knowledge of reality but at the forms of its decay. Simply reversing the rebellion will not be successful. The rebellion has accomplished the good of breaking the domination of the former orthodoxies. The attempt to return to the former orthodoxy is a "secondary ideology", using symbols of "tradition" and "conservatism." Lacking noetic clarification, such efforts lack conviction in their debate with ideologies.
One must push on to the predogmatic reality of knowledge. The example of Camus.(3) His strength came from Greek myth:
- The Myth of Sisyphus (the absurd)
- The Myth of Prometheus (rebellion)
- The Myth of Nemesis
The study of predogmatic realities a strong recent movement.Along with the furor of ideologies and return to tradition. When the dominant social symbols cannot be used to seek knowledge, symbols are sought from the past. Not much effect yet on contemporary institutions.
Alternatively, there is resort to works of literature.The most important contributions to political science are not from within that discipline, but from the sciences that study the past.
The paradigm of mysticism.The relation of two areas to the dogmatomachy:
These are the predogmatic realities of knowledge.
- classical noesis
(1) The academic anti-metaphysical taboo makes no distinction between predogmatic philosophizing and its derailment. Aquinas crystallized the misunderstandings of Aristotle into "metaphysics." The later ideological rebellion was strongly provoked.
Necessary distinctions: metaphysics in Thomas, Descartes, Voltaire, Baumgarten, Wolff. Mysticism in Bodin and Bergson.(2) Both attempted to find a way back to rationality.
Pico della Mirandola, Ficino, Pseudo-Dionysius.The sad fate of prophets and their teachings. Bodin: pluralism caused by the inadequacy of symbols to express the reality of participation.
The dimension of the ineffable.Aquinas in his commentary on Pseudo-Dionysius presents this formula:
The last area is symbolized by the Ineffable or the Silence; it is important for the understanding of a large class of phenomena of order.
- HE WHO IS is the most proper name for God (the area of noetic exegesis that cannot go beyond the symbol of the ground of being)
- beyond that, the name God (the area of the comprehensive pneumatic reality of knowledge to which belongs also the experience of being personally addressed by God)
- beyond that, the name Tetragrammaton (the area of the incomprehensible)
- When the experience of the Ineffable remains compact, the symbols take a sacred character. Differentiations are not allowed; if they do occur they are commentaries on a sacred text.
- When the Ineffable is differentiated in the sphere of historico-human symbolism, mysticism appears.
- When the balance between the differentiated Ineffable and symbolic expression ("tolerance") is lost, we have contentions about correct theology; dogmatomachy follows. Ideological classics parallel to the sacred texts, also with their commentaries and apologetics.
Human consciousness is always concretely personal. Man's synthetic nature.Man's existence is ordered from his consciousness, but what is ordered is his entire existence, not just his consciousness.
His corporeality the basis of social existence.Requiring organized rulership caring for social order within and defense from dangers without.
Implications clarified by corollaries;
Political theory must cover man's entire existence.(1) But "theory" is also commonly used to cover consciousness without corporeality and corporeal existence without consciousness. Symptoms of the loss of reality.
Omitting parts of it results in spiritualistic or naturalistic distortions.(a) The utopian thinking dominant today.
(b) When the ordering consciousness is obscured, there remains only man in his lusts. Order must be construed as an artifact created by contract. Plato disposed of this in Republic Book II.
There is no collective consciousness.(2) Either of society or of history.
Social fields of concrete consciousness are not identical with organized societies.(3) National consciousness and pluralistic democracy. The fields are not mutually exclusive.
The phenomenon of civilizations as the minimum intelligible field of study.(4) Toynbee and the inclusion of the time dimension into the study of organizational units.
The phenomenon of empires.(5) Fields more comprehensive than civilizations.
The concept of the ecumene, both as contemporaneous cultured humanity and universal humanity.(6) Distinguish the ecumene from "humanity", a symbol of the universally representative character of the ground.
History as the interpretative field of a consciousness experiencing its essential humanity.(7) The experience of universal humanity is where a man participates in the eternal being of the ground.
History as a field of interpretation of acts of self-understanding.(8) Every study of order proceeds from symbols of self-understanding to order of collective existence: government, economy, hierarchy, etc.
The total structure of the universal field of history is no possible object of knowledge. The pneumatic experiences of eschatology.(9) Symbol of the participation of the universal field in the eternity of the ground, known only mythically.
A more differentiated language than that of classical philosophy required.The classical symbols of:
...are still compact and need further differentiation.
- human nature
- the nature of society
- the essence of history
Noetic experience differentiates structures which change the image of reality as a whole.The reality-image of being replaces the reality-image of the cosmic primary experience, the result of a thousand-year process.
Experiences beyond the polis having to be symbolized as a wider context of order.Something Plato and Aristotle did not do. Beyond the polis:
- the pneumatic experiences of order as expressed in prophecy, metastatic faith, apocalypse, and gnosis
- the experience of mysticism on which are based tolerance and the balancing of the symbolism of order by the ineffability
- rebellion with corresponding "philosophies of history" and mass movements
This context to be called the realm of man.Not an object of perception but a function of the participating consciousness
It is empirically determined by the history of the knowledge of participation and the historically respective level of noetic exegesis.A "theory" cannot be just any arbitrary image of reality.
The movement of noetic consciousness moving along certain objective lines.Which are:
- the line from man to humankind
- the line from consciousness to the corporeal foundation
Along which are found certain objective areas.(1) Which are:
- the order of the concrete human consciousness
- the order of human existence in organized society, as well as of nonorganized fields
- the order of human and social existence in history
Which are related to each other.In that:
- the series is not reversible
- nor can an objective area exchange its place with another
- nor can any of these areas become an object independent of the two others
In man's synthetic nature various levels of being are distinguished.(2) In Aristotle's sense of the realms of the human-psychic, animalic, vegetative, and inanimate being. These tiers are related in:
- the material dependence of the higher on the lower levels
- the organization of the lower by the higher levels
Their relations not reversible.(3) This applies to the model as a whole.
The entire pattern ruling study procedure.Violations of the model by socially dominant ideologies.
Violations against the rule of relations, as shown by Ricoeur."Philosophies of history"
Violations against the structure of the whole.There are no principles or propositions of political science, just common sense insights such as:
Attempts to develop "scientific" propositions in political science are socially disruptive.
- executive power must be checked
- cabinets should not larger than a certain size
Common sense, in Thomas Reid's philosophy.Common sense a compact type of rationality.
Why political theory cannot rise above an "empirical" level of politics. Relations between common sense and Aristotle. Common sense a genuine residue of noesis. Its relative inadequacy.The desire for "principle" in political science is a genuine desire to again gain the luminosity of noetic consciousness.