Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some random thoughts or not

Here are some quotes [and very little commentary] from a book entitled "The New Science of Politics," by Eric Voegelin, which are, to say the least, interesting:

"The death of the spirit is the price of progress. Nietzsche revealed this mystery of the Western apocalypse when he announced that God is dead and that He had been murdered. This Gnostic mystery is constantly committed by the men who sacrifice God to civilization. The more fervently all human energies are thrown into the great enterprise of salvation through world-immanent action, [the mantra to "contribute, contribute, contribute" that is imposed on all young people these days] the farther the human beings who engage in this enterprise move away from the life of the spirit. And since the life of the spirit is the source of order in man and society, the very success of a Gnostic civilization is the cause of its decline." [p. 131]

For Voegelin, one of the most important events of human history was "the opening of the soul," which means for him that the soul was viewed as the source of transcendence that all human beings seem to seek. In his less than rousing language: "The opening of the soul was an epochal event in the history of mankind because, with the differentiation of the soul as the sensorium of transcendence, the critical, theoretical standards for the interpretation of human existence in society, as well as the source of their authority, came into view." [156] That is, among other things, the possibility of philosophy arises, and the possibility of critical social thought.

And it is in preserving this perspective that the possibility of philosophy and a genuine human existence exists. History, human history, is the story of the truth of the soul and the truth of society agitating mankind, continually and perpetually. There are those who would like to "freeze history" by means of "an everlasting constitution," but this is not recommended or desirable.

"The idea of solving the troubles of history through the invention of the everlasting constitution made sense only under the condition that the source of these troubles, that is, the truth of the soul, would cease to agitate man. Hobbes, indeed, simplified the structure of politics by throwing our anthropological and soteriological truth. This is an understandable desire in a man who wants his peace; things, to be sure, would be so much simpler without philosophy and Christianity. But how can one dispose of them without abolishing the experiences of transcendence which belong to the nature of man? Hobbes was quite able to solve this problem, too; he improved on the man of God's creation by creating man without such experiences....."

In other words, Hobbes, and of course those Hobbesians like the founders of the American political order, tried to "de-soul" human beings as the price of social peace.

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