The Graven and Craven Images of the Nihilist
One wonders what possible interest an avowed existentialist (FF) -- which is to say, nihilist -- would have in visiting our site. Indeed, not just visiting, but taking the time to comment and to try to convince Raccoons of the worthiness of his little philosophy. Why would one do such a thing in a meaningless universe? Is he trying to help us? Educate us? Disillusion us? In a universe in which truth does not exist, why try to convince others of the truth? Does he not realize that we already understand existentialism from bottom to bottom and find it to be inadequate to the very task of philosophy and therefore unworthy of the name?
No offense to rappers, but existentialism is to philosophy as rap is to music. Just as rap emphasizes rhythm at the expense of the two other key ingredients of music, i.e., melody and harmony, existentialism emphasizes an extremely narrow band of egoic consciousness and elevates it to the totality. FF sets out the premise of his philosophy:
"Existentialism is not for the faint of heart. You have to feel yourself as alone in a large, uncaring universe in which there is no God, and other people can't be really be depended on."
One could equally say that existentialism is for the faint of heart, the egocentric among us who are too proud to surrender to the higher consciousness that gave birth to them. And to say that one must "feel" oneself alone in an uncaring universe is to emphasize that this pseudo-philosopy is grounded first in a deicidedly schizoid "feeling" of cosmic abandonment, which is a psychological issue susceptible to treatment, not a properly philosophical issue belonging to the arena of the intellect properly so called.
Moreover, it sounds as if one part of the self must bully another part into submitting to this bitter philosophy. Why live in such a divided state, one part bossing around the other part in order to believe something it doesn't believe and cannot swallow, much less digest?
In fact, how is it that this cosmos has produced a detached and dispassionate center of consciousness which is able to will itself to believe or disbelieve this or that? There is no materialistic philosophy which can, with materialistic assumptions, account for such an entity. Of this we may be certain.
The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses. --F. Schuon
I do agree with FF that 1) truth exists, and 2) truth is what we must believe. But a true existentialist must affirm the opposite, that 1) no one can know the truth, and 2) it doesn't matter anyway. FF even says so:
"Everything you've ever done will come to nothing, as time erases all things in due course. And even if something was 'accomplished' it all comes to nothing because the entire thing is an absurd and empty gesture done for no end. There is nobody and nothing watching the performance of your life."
Here truly is the "voice of the nihil." As you can see, just as this detached voice emphasizes the ego at the expense of all other levels and dimensions of consciousness, it absurdly posits time in the absence of eternity, freedom in the absence of any ground and therefore goal for it, falsehood in the absence of truth, absurdity in the absence of meaning, and subjectivity in the absence of a Subject. It is completely incoherent and makes no sense at all. You could summarize it by saying that it uses the vertical to annihilate the vertical, like a tree that grows more leaves in order to prove that the roots and soil -- not to mention the Sun -- do not exist. Once again, he even says so:
"All pleasures and pains eventually lead to one thing, the annhiliation and nothingness of death."
In short, Death is God -- even though death can only exist as a local side effect of a nonlocally living cosmos.
I don't know how one could know that Death is God unless one is omniscient -- or perhaps just emotionally dead and omnipotently projecting this unnatural state into the cosmos. And if they are omniscient, then this is a category that most certainly transcends existentialism. I myself have no difficulty believing that human beings are "omniscient," albeit in a limited way that reflects the axiom, "as above, so below." In other words, seeing as how human beings are made in the image of the Creator, it follows that we have a divine spark at the center of our being which is able to know truth and to know it absolutely. You will notice that I do not have to "force" myself to believe this. Rather, it is obvious.
It is also personally bobvious because people far wiser than Bob have told him so, and the B'ob places far more trust in them than in somenone who tells him up front that he "feels" truth doesn't exist and that I must believe that he is being truthful about this. I suppose he's being truthful about his feelings, but that hardly means his feelings are true.
For one thing, truth is generative. It flowers, it grows, and it nourishes the soul. It is literally like a tree, the Tree of Life. In this regard, revelation is like an O-perating system for the soul. Once installed, you will find that it is effective on various planes, including the plane of epistemology, i.e., what we may know and understand about existence, both individual and cosmic. In short, it allows finite beings to think properly about the eternal, the infinite, and the absolute, which otherwise remain impenetrable mysteries. I could never blog on a daily basis using the operating system of existentialism, for I would only be able to say nothing over and over, like my critics.
But existentialism is not "organic." It as not made for man. Rather, it is a wholly unholy manmode philosophy -- obviously -- that cannot account for the one who invented it and has decided to believe in it, because such a one ipso facto transcends his philosophy. Thus, existentialism is ultimately a self-limiting cognitive and spiritual dead end that truly does produce nothing, for it is the philosophy of nothingness. It is the very substance of nothing. So yes, if you are an existentialist, I agree with you: you are a nothing, a nihil, a worm, and an absurdity. But you have only yourself to blame and nosoph to bloom.
Naturally, such a one has a need to evangelize. But this is not out of a generous spirit of truth sharing -- for how could it be? -- but out of a bad spirit which you might say represents the cold hand of death reaching out to comfort you. Have you ever seen René Spitz's famous experiments using monkeys to study maternal attachment? He removed the babies from their mothers and placed them in a cage with two mother substitutes. One was a wire monkey holding a milk bottle, the other was a cloth monkey with no nourishment. The baby would feed from the wire monkey but otherwise ignore it. Most notably, when frightened, it would jump into the arms of the cloth monkey for comfort and security.
As I have mentioned before, both psychoanalysis and Christianity take seriously the idea that we are embodied beings, and that our mental life takes place in a human body. A philosophy such as existentialism is a non-starter for me, because it again begins with this abstract, detached ego hovering in subjective space with no theory to account for how it got there. But if you take the trouble to truly deconstruct your mind in the generative sense of that term, you will discover that your self is not made of "food" but that it is made of love -- or, conversely, that you have internalized various mind parasites in the space where the love should have been.
Of course, I know nothing about FF's developmental history, but existentialism is the philosophy of the wire mother, so that may or may not provide him with some food for thought from Petey's ample bosom as to how and why he believes what he does. There is nothing human about it; it is like trying to use Marx to understand Shakespeare. And like something made of wire, existentialism is a cold, dry, and lifeless thing, whereas truth is warm, loving, flowing -- ah, manna from above!
Thank you our MotherFather who art in heaven!
Why thank you?
Because it is simply the spontaneous expression of gratitude for something so precious. Gratitude is one of the unmistakable seals of truth. Something like this:
Not the god of the philosophers and scholars.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace....
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God....
Greatness of the Human Soul.
"Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee, but I have known Thee."
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy....
Let me not be separated from Him eternally.
"This is eternal life.”
Renunciation, total and sweet....
Eternally in joy for a day's training on earth.
Yes, even Donovan knew that love is hot and truth is molten. This is what Truth feels like to a pascally pundit but not to a wascally wobot. If you have never shed real tears upon hearing truth, you probably haven't heard it. Such tears occur when one has touched the divine plane.
What does existentialism feel like to a lover of truth? -- for there is no transcendent truth that is not lovable. It feels entirely contrived and artificial, like an ideology made of cardboard and baling wire. It is certainly not for human consumption. But being that we are what we eat, it will gradually convert your soul into its image. It leads to such nonsense as this:
"The existentialist summons forth his free will, and fortified with nothing beyond that, decides to feel 'meaning' in whatever he or she decides. It could be a pair of Argyle socks or a committment to a book club. It doesn't matter what it is, it only matters that the person has made the choice."
Brrrrr! The human mind was no more made to believe such an absurdity, than the human body was made to live at the north pole. I mean, it is possible, but don't make a virtue out of it.
"This is as high as one gets. There is a dignity in facing against the absurd emptiness that is this cosmos and spitting in its face. Defiance is the hightest virtue available. Like Nietchze, we bite off the head of the snake."
Respectfully disagree. This is as low as one gets, and there is no dignity whatsoever in it, except for the delusional and compensatory kind. It is, however, the outcome of a diet consisting of unctuous, hypnotic, and seductive snakes and their oil -- not to mention wire monkeys and their loveless milk. What I am saying is not complicated. It's just simple gastrophysics.
"The way of the existentialist takes a huge amount of discipline and self-mastery. For him, the easy path of religion is not good enough. He takes the hard road."
The way of existentialsim is the quintessence of a lack of self-mastery and an admission of defeat. It is by definition the lazy man's path, for it ends precisely where religion begins. It is like -- exactly like -- saying, "the path of quantum calculus is not good enough. I will take the hard road of basic arithmetic to understand all of reality." FF abuses religion beyond all recognition, and then rejects it because it is so ugly. I don't blame him for the latter, only the former, for it is a monumental sin of the intellect to treat Sophia in such a shabby manner.
"Even if he is wrong, and God exists, he has still shown the manly virtues of fortitude and forbearance; few other paths offer such a baptism in naked fear."
Correction. If he is right, there are no virtues, manly or otherwise, because Man does not exist.
As I said, I do have a certain respect for the intellectual honesty of an existentialist who truly has the courage of his absence of convictions, such as Nietszche. Reading him is still a bracing experience, for he is the most poetic voice of the nihil. He is the anti-Christ, and for that he deserves a certain kind of respect -- as does the poisonous snake to whom we give a wide berth. Nietszche knew that in the absence of the divine there is only the will to power:
When one gives up Christian belief one thereby deprives oneself of the right to Christian morality. For the latter is absolutely not self-evident: one must make this point clear again and again, in spite of English shallowpates. Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces: one has nothing of any consequence left in one's hands.... Christian morality is a command: its origin is transcendental;... it possesses truth only if God is truth -- it stands or falls with the belief in God.
As does existentialism, which could only have occurred in a thoroughly Christianized world. For existentialism is simply a reactionary parasite on a magnificent organic structure that existentialism could never have built, for existentialism builds nothing, precisely. As like is drawn to like, who could love nothing, except a nothing with no love?
I had intended to get into the second commandment of nihilism, but got carried away. However, my post definitely addresses that commandment, which is that you must acquiesce to manmade graven images, just as FF tells us -- i.e., that we must feel ourselves to exist in an absurd and loveless universe in which nothing and no one can be trusted. Here is a review of some of what I wrote last summer about the matter:
The reason why it is necessary to acknowledge the Absolute prior to the relative is that, in the absence of the Absolute, all transcendent values are bleached out and ultimately wiped away. Values can only exist in a hierarchy (i.e., some things are more precious and valuable than others), and any hierarchy is conditioned from top to bottom. There can be no higher or lower in an infinite horizontal wasteland. Rather, in such a case, the world is simply a brute fact, with nothing to spiritualize it. Matter is elevated to the “ultimate,” so that the world shrinks down to our most primitive way of knowing it. In fact, it is precisely because there are degrees within the relative that we may prove the Absolute, in that these degrees of relativity reflect the Absolute either more or less adequately.
Although secularists like to think that their's represents a sophisticated view of the world, in reality, no philosophy could be more provincial and monkey-bound. As Richard Weaver has noted, it substitutes facts for truth and logic for wisdom, elevating the world of the senses above the antecedent reality that can only be known by the intellect. Man becomes the center of authority, which makes him no authority at all, for no fact speaks for itself and no experience can tell us what we are experiencing.
The secular materialist attempts through endless induction to assemble the cosmos from the bottom up, but you can never get there from here. No one has ever seen this thing called “cosmos,” and no one ever will. Rather, it is accepted on faith, as it is an inevitable shadow of its unitary creator. In other words, we all intuit that there is a strict totality of interacting objects and events because we were built to do so (unlike any other animal). To say “cosmos” is to say and even praise “God,” for God is the cosmos, even though the cosmos is not God. It is a "reflection" of God, and therefore cannot help but to be One.
In reality, beauty is another inevitable “residue” of its source, an exteriorization of the Universal Mind. To the extent that ugliness exists -- and it surely does -- it does not represent a fundamental reality but a deprivation of such. It is a measure of distance from the divine archetype, the full brunt of which reality could not bear. Thus we have degrees of beauty just as we have degrees of goodness and truth. And no one could plausibly argue that this beauty is perceived by the senses, but only by the uncreated intellect that mirrors it.
Two things that the uncorrupted mind cannot not know: that the world is intelligible and man is free. Take away either, and the world is simply an absurdity, a monstrosity, a mistake. For to say that we may know is equally to say that we are free, otherwise it is not knowledge at all. Knowledge proves freedom, freedom proves knowledge, and both prove the Creator, for the hierarchy of being disclosed by the free intellect leads back to its nonlocal source above.
Behind the idolatrous secular impulse is a persistent, vulgar materialism that collapses the hierarchy of being and reduces the Absolute to some tangibly manifest idea or object that can be “contained” by the lower mind. But these are truly “mind games” for the childlike secularist, for no fragmented detail at the periphery of existence can explain the mysterious whole, much less the infinite interior center that represents its beating heart.
“The universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below.” So says the Katha Upanishad. We know this tree, for it is the same tree that appears in Genesis. It is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf. For the grazing herdhearted woodenheads who wouldn't, they are the sap. Or perhaps a wire monkey.