Friday, 21 July 2017

The People want metaphysics! (but they don't realise it...)

It was more than 100 years ago Rudolf Steiner noted that the (German-speaking) public were no longer interested in academic philosophy in the way they had been a couple of generations earlier; the situation prevails - except when people get close to addressing metaphysical concerns about the ultimate nature of reality.

It was the 'epistemological turn' (away from metaphysics and towards epistemology - a focus on knowing, justification, logic etc) from the mid-1900s, that killed real philosophy - and thus spontaneous public interest in the subject. Since then, academic philosophers write purely for one another, the subject is free-spinning cog; its effect is subversive not constructive.

(Modern professional philosophers are often clever; but actually have nothing to be clever about. Hence the leading figures seem to project a peculiarly unjustifiable smugness, presumably based on the delusion that they are of the lineage of Socrates and Plato, rather than prime destroyers of that lineage...)

Revivals of philosophical interest are usually focused on 'middle-brow' but fundamental-problem-orientated work on the nature of the human condition - e.g. the popular existentialism of the 1950s epitomised by Colin Wilson, Robert Pirsig's writings on Quality from the 1970s, and the like (not much since Pirsig, however...); these tackling core aspects of the basis for living, meaning, purpose etc.

It seems the people want metaphysics! - even though they don't know the name, and would not like it if they did.

However they want metaphysics, although they don't realise it, because they need it - indeed they need it more than anything else; because it is unknown, unexamined and denied false-basic-assumptions about reality that have created and sustained the nihilism and despair which is at the root of modern self-hatred and covert-strategic suicide.


knifecatcher said...

Are people familiar with Eric Vogelin?

In 1968, the political philosopher Eric Voegelin published a little book called Science, Politics and Gnosticism. In a section of that book entitled “Ersatz Religion,” he argued that modern ideologies are very much like ancient Gnostic movements. Certain fundamental assumptions, Voegelin wrote, characterize both ancient and modern Gnosticism.

The gnostic, Voegelin observed, is fundamentally dissatisfied with his situation and believes that the world is “intrinsically poorly organized” and that salvation from the world’s evils is possible. The gnostic further thinks that “the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process” and that this is possible through human effort. Finally, the gnostic looks for a prophet who shares saving knowledge about how to make the transformation happen. It turns out that the intersectional project accords in every detail with Voegelin’s description.

I would put the modern source of this elitist scientism back to the Enlightenment. There is a dark side of the Enlightenment and its social engineering progeny that many libertarians (particularly those enamored by Ayn Rand’s militant atheism) do not acknowledge. They continue to blindly hold to the secular mythology that the Enlightenment was entirely about bringing truth, reason, tolerance, and light to the miserable masses held in bondage and superstitious oppression by Throne and Altar.

dbk_999 said...

I would say that Voegelin's thought is often reduced into a series of cliches about 'gnosticism' and such . The insights behind the cliches are not false, overall, but not unique to Voegelin, and by now well known common currency among spiritually-oriented thinkers of a rightward bent.

But Voegelin wrote explicitly on the need of Albion's people for Metaphysics !

I was waiting to post this link on Albion Awakening when the time seemed right, but this is a link to a piece of Voegelin's writing on the spiritual disaster of early 18th Century England. (The 2 introductory
sections are somewhat dull.. start with 'A Stagnant Population'..
.. and especially the 'Loss of the concrete, 'Materialization of the external world', and 'psychologization of self' sections if you are in a hurry! ) It shows Voegelin at his penetrating best.