Friday, September 28, 2012

The Beginning and the Beyond

Or Ground and Telos, Origin and Destiny, Source and Vector, Creation and Salvation, Center and Top, Depth and Height, Order and Direction. I could think of others, but I need to get to the post.

Let me preface this by saying that what follows will have been inspired by an essay by Voegelin called The Beginning and the Beyond, although the end result may or may not (probably not) comport with his understanding, and certainly not with his style. The problem is, he's not always the clearest of writers. Perhaps it has to do with the intrinsic difficulty of the subject, but sometimes he's quite lucid, other times impenetrable. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that he took no graduate students, and thus wasn't used to communicating to mortals, or that his editors were too intimidated by his big brain.

He starts off the essay with the following observation, with which I fully agree: "Divine reality is being revealed to man in two fundamental modes of experience: in the experience of divine creativity in the cosmos; and in the experience of divine ordering presence in the soul."

So you could say that divine reality is revealed in objective and subjective, or exterior and interior, modes. Or, one could simply say Intelligibility and Intelligence, which are obviously unified on a deeper level. In other words, Truth and Reality must be One, and "within" this One, word is essentially deed (which is how the Creator "speaks" the creation into existence).

This immediately reminds me of something Schuon wrote in a similar-but-different vein, about the Center and the Origin:

"In the spatial world where we live, every value is related in some way to a sacred Center, which is the place where Heaven has touched the earth; in every human world there is a place where God has manifested Himself in order to pour forth his grace."

This Center is simultaneously the Origin, "which is the quasi-timeless moment when Heaven was near and terrestrial things were still half-celestial." And "it is also the period when God spoke" in a more direct -- or less veiled -- manner, thus creating a kind of bond -- i.e., covenant -- with the people involved.

It seems to me that the difference between the two thinkers has to do with the matter of the Beyond, because, as alluded to in the opening paragraph, the Beyond implies such things as Direction, Destiny, Development, Telos, and Salvation. I believe this causes Schuon's metaphysic to be entirely "backward looking," so to speak, whereas Voegelin's very much looks up or ahead, to the future.

However, Voegelin makes it quite clear that this is not a future we could ever arrive at or achieve. Rather, the enduring reality of the human situation involves living in the "in between" -- specifically, in between the Beginning and the Beyond, neither of which can be understood or conceptualized in any merely rationalistic manner, but both of which are necessary for human-qua-human existence (in other words, to live in ignorance of the Beginning and the Beyond is to live outside or below the human station).

To put it another way, if we eliminate either of these two poles, or collapse them into a dimensionless present, we will have entered a state of pneumapathology, more on which as we proceed.

In considering these questions, we need to be mindful of the reality of time, because our world is much more "temporal" than it was for premodern man, both for good and for ill. Schuon writes of "traditions having a prehistoric origin," that are "made for 'space' and not 'time,'" so to speak. That is, "they saw the light in a primordial epoch when time was still but a rhythm in a static beatitude and when space or simultaneity still predominated over the experience of duration and change."

In contrast, a historical tradition such as Judaism or Christianity "must take the experience of 'time' into account," and therefore "instability and decadence." Here time becomes "like a fast-flowing and ever more devouring river," so that the focus shifts more to "the end of the world."

I think I would respectfully disagree slightly (or maybe more than slightly) with Schuon, who seems to have a wholly negative attitude toward time. But for Voegelin, time is where we live and must live: again, in the in-between, between the Beginning and the Beyond. Leaving the "spatial" world of the Beginning (or Origin) and entering time was an achievement, not an intrinsic deterioration, for the same reason it is an achievement for a human being to leave the timeless world of infancy for the timebound world of adulthood.

Indeed, there are some traditions that maintain that this is what the expulsion from paradise is all about. Or, if you prefer, it is certainly what Exodus is all about. To live in time is to embody the Exodus, which is not just a chaotic and meaningless disperson, but a sojourn, a spiritual adventure. However, it cannot be an adventure unless the path is illuminated by the Beyond, which casts its light down and back, into history.

O yes it does!

So in reality, we have the Beginning, the Human Betweening, and the Beyond; or the Roadmap, Both Hands, and Aseity. You are of course free to reject this schemata, but only from the In-Between postion that stands outside or above the flow of time and is capable of surveying the whole existentialada.

If we are consciously aware of standing in the In-Between, then God will surely "speak" to us (listen!). Specifically, he will speak to us of Essential things and of Beyond thingness, or in the modes of immanence and transcendence.

Again, there are two meta-cosmic "directions" from where we stand, "the direction of the divine creativity toward a Beginning of things," and "in the direction of the ordering presence within [the] soul toward a divine Beyond as its source" (Voegelin).

Or, if you want to be abstract about it, you could just unsay (↕).

The point is, neither the Beginning nor the Beyond are among the "things" of this world. If we attempt to look at existence in this manner, we end in absurdity. For example, we can trace physics back to a "big bang," but this is like tracing a ray of light back to the sun. You still need to account for the central sun, with reference to something that transcends it.

So Beginning and Beyond are directions, not things in existence. To put it another way, they do not exist, so it's no use looking for them there. Rather, they are. They are "in" Being, not existence. And existence is derived from Being. For this reason, the Beginning is not really a temporal "before," any more than the Beyond is a temporal "after."

Rather, these two poles "articulate, first of all, the divine reality that draws man into the quest; they express furthermore the structure of consciousness in its questing tension toward the divine ground of things and of itself; and they finally bring into view the structure of reality that channels both the divine drawing and the human questing" (ibid).

Push and pull.

To be continued...


ted said...

What a beautiful blog today! They are all good, and yet I especially appreciate the ones that leave the Obama bashing aside in time (if not in space ;-)

EbonyRaptor said...

Looking at truth is like looking at the multiple facets of a diamond - each facet is beautiful and reflects the entire spectrum of light.

I very much enjoyed the facets of Schuon and Voegelin as you presented and contrasted them today. My synapses are firing.

Thanks Bob.

Rick said...

"a historical tradition such as Judaism or Christianity ...the focus shifts more to "the end of the world.""

Since telos means "end", one could maybe, or should not necessarily, think temporally but more in terms of "point" or "meaning of the world". In which case then the end or meaning is all around us, and not really some ending of everything that will happen at some event in the near future.

Occasionally, more so lately, I'll "name" a chapter to The War, not so much based on the content of the current (present) chapter but based on what one won't know till later on. Since while writing fiction you sort of loosely grasp (present) the end of the book with the back of your mind only All The Time. You are trying to find it while headed there. I look at it as in writing the present chapter, I'm also naming the one which will take place later on, which remain always in the Beyond.

Such as Use telos in a sentence

The title will make more sense, I'm thinking, about 3 or 4 chapters from now.

JP said...

I like your post today because I've been thinking a lot about space and time recently.

That being said, really think that you got it right with your unsaturated symbols.

julie said...

Timely; I was just thinking today about what it means to be balanced (and how to foster that in your kids).

Re. Schuon's take on the changing pace of time, it seems to me he's more accurately describing the flow of a human life: timeless and seemingly eternal in childhood, only to become that fast-flowing and devouring river the more one ages.

julie said...

And speaking of pacing...

mushroom said...

… neither the Beginning nor the Beyond are among the "things" of this world …

“This world and one more, “ my grandma used to say.

Van Harvey said...


"The point is, neither the Beginning nor the Beyond are among the "things" of this world. If we attempt to look at existence in this manner, we end in absurdity."

, and this from yesterday,

"This contraction results in an existential shrinkage in which man is "condemned to be free" (Sartre, I think)."

, ran a bell for me (and Sartre it was).

I just finished reading 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' (mucho recommendo), which stretches the thousands of years from world apocolypse, to slow rebirth and renewed destruction, from the place and travelling time of one monastery that spans it all. One exchange rings the bell of relevance, where the Abbot present at the 2nd closing, has just had a discussion with a Sam Harris type doctor, intent on 'helping' the sick and dying, and is thunderstruck at the enormity of what has passed into the world once again:

"You heard him say it? 'Pain's the only evil I know about.' You heard that?"
The monk nodded solemnly.
"And that society is the only thing which determines whether an act is wrong or not? That too?"
"Dearest God, how did those two heresies get back into the world after all this time? Hell has limited imaginations down there. 'The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.' Brother Pat, you'd better get out of here, or I'll start raving."
..Seeing misery everywhere and detesting it, and sincere in wanting to do something about it. Sincere - that was the hell of it. From a distance, one's adversaries seemed fiends, but with a closer view, one saw the sincerity and it was as great as one's own. Perhaps Satan was the sincerest of the lot.

In the seeming agreement, and mutual goals, reality is detoured into the nulldesac of good intentions, and you are most certainly condemned to be free.

"Fantasies have consequences."

Van Harvey said...

Not too OT, "A 1968 episode of William F. Buckley's Firing Line, featuring a drunken Jack Kerouac..." (giving a nice illustration of being condemned to be free) "..., the Fug's Ed Sanders ..." (ditto) "... and a clueless academic, Lewis Yablonsky, discussing the "Hippie" movement."

ge said...

Kerouac the Writer-Saint-Catholic would be voting for Mitt, became evermore anti-lefty as he grew older

Gagdad Bob said...

Teaches writing. At a university.

Gagdad Bob said...

Each one of those little essays is somehow more cringeworthy than the last. I still find it impossible to believe that half the country can be so deformed.

Rick said...

I'll vote for anyone who colonizes another planet.

julie said...

I still find it impossible to believe that half the country can be so deformed.

Having grown up immersed in the kool-aid, as it were, I can believe it. Rather, I'm suddenly surprised that half the country sees through it, including myself. Not because it's convincing, but because the pressure to conform is so great and the promise of security so appealing to those who think they need it. Combine that with the illusion that it's all about being nice and caring and good (and that being Republican or conservative is the antithesis of all that), and you've got an intoxicating mix of self-righteousness and group solidarity that is difficult for many to resist.

They really do push all the right buttons; conservatism simply can't offer the same appeals. Self-reliance, the hard truth of the imperfectability of human nature, individualism, the willingness to take risks - these things are a much harder sell, especially to a population that has so fully invested itself in the idea of safety in all things.

EbonyRaptor said...

Bob, I expected the "Teaches writing" link to have something to do with Kerouac, but it goes to a pro-Obama website. A mistake on my part or a slip of the link?

Gagdad Bob said...

No, it was a change of subject.

Gagdad Bob said...

I read Kerouac back when I was someone else, so I'm no longer qualified to opine.

julie said...

The trouble with "teaches writing" is that she, and those like her, are teaching people how (not) to think. Even if she - and the other author types dropping essays there - manage to sound coherent, the ideas they espouse are complete crap. But very convincing to a vast number of people.

One thing brought home to me at the playgrounds out here is how easy it is for people to be swayed by what they perceive as authoritative voices, even though quite often the voices are simply the loudest and most often heard.

EbonyRaptor said...

Julie, I agree with your post. I think you aptly describe the majority of leftists as the hope to change the world (and get a free lunch) crowd. But there seems to be a dichotomy in the leftosphere in that it also attracts the apathetic disillusioned me-is-all-there-is crowd, who wish a pox on both political parties but vote Dem or not at all.

We're hoping the silent majority wakes up and gets to the voting booth this year, but no one is quite sure if the silent majority still enjoys a majority anymore.

ge said...

Teaches Writing
& His Wisest Spirit Scripture

Jack said...

Last night I was hanging out with 2 musicians and a poet. All liberal. One of the musicians lives in "low income housing". Which, of course, means that he pays below market value in a very expensive town. As I understand it, this is done through the HUD.

The rationale given--according to the HUD people themselves, I am told--is that this is for "professional development".

I think it is fair to mention that my musician friend who lives there is from a privileged background. He owns two cellos that are worth what I make in 10 years.

The three of them--I remained silent about the whole situation--heaped nothing but praise on the whole affair. The poet summing it up by declaring that is was very "conscious" in its intention. Which I guess is some sort of compliment.

This is not to keep those incapable of helping themselves from starvation or exposure. This is to help a child of privilege live in a nice place at a cheaper rent at the expense of others.

My contribution could only have been to throw some cold water on the whole notion e.g. "why should I--or anyone-- be subsidizing *your* housing, so *you* can can get an advantage where others do not?".

Needless to say, if I had done so it would have revealed just how regressive I actually am and therefore, non-conscious. It is a viewpoint that is anathema to the leftist worldview.

These are intelligent, "educated" people. Guess whom they will be voting for?

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "I still find it impossible to believe that half the country can be so deformed."

I just read a booklet by Steinbeck that each of my kids have been complaining about having to read, over the last 8 yrs. I've always despised Steinbeck, even more than I do Kerouac, but "The Pearl" is one of his I hadn't read.

At only 88 pages, it has, syllable for syllable, got more multi-cultural and anti-western venom packed into its pages, than most anything else that could could also pass the expletives deleted test and still be taught in school.

This book was written in 1947, how many millions of kids minds junior high school Literature classes (proregressively devolved to 'English', 'Language Arts Appreciation', and now 'Comm Arts' for 'Communication Arts'), over how many generations, have been flushed through this excrement?

I'll have a post on it later, if I can manage to de-rant it, that is.

If you want to know how the nation has become so deformed, look at how the 'educational' institutions seek to deliberately form it.

Gagdad Bob said...

Not to mention the fact that subsidizing anything makes it more expensive because it drives up demand.

Gagdad Bob said...

Van -- Yes, in reading this book called "I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism," the author shows how progressivism and the university have been joined at the hip since the very start. Mostly inspired by German Hegelians who were employed by the state to glorify the state. Fascism by another name.

Rick said...

Socialism is a parasite on capitalism.
A theory which is mine.

Van Harvey said...

Jack said "Needless to say, if I had done so it would have revealed just how regressive I actually am and therefore, non-conscious. It is a viewpoint that is anathema to the leftist worldview."

Jack, it's not pleasant, and it'll cost you friends, but they've got to be made aware that their comfortable lie is just that, a lie, and that others know it, and know it is not justifiable.

If you, and each and every one of us, with our friends, family, co-workers, don't at the very least make them aware that their smugging of reality isn't as self-evidently successful as they like to assume it to be... then they will persist to hold those thoughts, unquestioned, and they will continue to assume that the evils that results from their assumptions, are only the results of evil conservatives opposing their happiness.

They must be made uncomfortable in their comforting lies.

You. Have. To. Speak. Up.

Jack said...

Not to mention the fact that subsidizing anything makes it more expensive because it drives up demand.

The irony is that a perfectly fine trailer park was torn down to make way for "low-income housing". So, in short, they took *actual* low-income housing that paid for itself and replaced it with fewer units of low-income housing that cannot pay for itself.

Making it more expensive for those of us who aren't thus subsidized i.e. by taxation and, as you point out, by driving up demand.

This is what leftists call "progress" and being "conscious". Granted, trailer parks are singularly unable to advertise to the world exactly how "enlightened" one is. So there's that.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "... the author shows how progressivism and the university have been joined at the hip since the very start."

Got that right. And it was from the very start, promoted even by some of our Founders, and Hegel soon provided the synthesis that became the opium of the masses.

A full dose given in every course of "A,B,C's", for well over 150 years... talk about your bad high.

Jack said...

For what it's worth I second Van's recommendation of "A Canticle for Leibowitz". A very though provoking and beautifully rendered book, to say the least.

Cond0011 said...

Hi Jack! (heh)

It is sad that this is happening. When I was a child, I could not fathom how a World War could happen, or how a people could kill whole swaths of their own citizens like what happened in the Reign of Terror in France (French Revolution) or Russia (Russian Revolution).

Sadly, I understand it now. The slow moving libel and slander of the Bourgeois (definition of being 'Middle Class') and the Kulaks (Small-Businessman/Non-Democrat-Party-Corporate-CEO Ownership Class) is producing its proper effects by making the country ripe for revolution and a ready available victim class to be blamed with the eventual annihilation (and then everyone can dance because the badguys are gone).

All we need now is for the manufactured crisis to come to a head (Using the Cloward-Piven Strategy to drop the economy like a punk)

...and the wheels of History will start turning again.

Forgive them, for the Neo-Coloni do not know what they do. They are on the Road to Serfdom and this time... this time ... they will be able to transform the people from Roman Citizen to Serf in only a few generations (instead of the centuries it took over 1500 years ago).


Van Harvey said...

Jack said "So, in short, they took *actual* low-income housing that paid for itself and replaced it with fewer units of low-income housing that cannot pay for itself."

Yup. Precisely what they did with 'Cash for Clunkers'. They destroyed old functioning cars, or those that would serve as a source of cheap parts for them, and even removed the possibility of their serving as scrap, by sending them to China.

And now, those with low incomes, who would have found a nice used car they could afford, find themselves unable to find a used car in their price range, and in need of 'public transportation'.

Not only economic idiocy and the actual destruction of wealth, but a case of proRegressive vote farming in action.

Jack said...

They must be made uncomfortable in their comforting lies.

Van- I agree. Doing so has already cost me friendships. This after the seemingly merest digression from Leftist orthodoxy.

Though, I often do hesitate to oppose what is manifest leftist absurdity. I could say I remain silent because of the high cost of speaking even the simplest truth sometimes. That is true, as far as it goes. Yet I do also value my own comfort and privacy too highly.

But you are right, "once more into the breach, dear friends, once more".

Gagdad Bob said...

Have you ever noticed that whenever the government tries to do something not specified in the Constitution, it doesn't know what it is doing?

Rhetorical question.

But why is, say, the military different? Because it has -- or should have -- a sharply defined mission that it then goes about dealing with. Problem. Problem solved.

But imagine if liberals came up with the bright idea of charging the military with the grandiose and ill-defined mission of, say "creating world peace," or "ending war on earth." Then you have an unending and infinite program, like "affordable housing," or "the war on poverty," or "social justice."

Chris said...

I recently got into it with a very liberal relative of mine. I did my best to keep the passions under control and to eschew the standard name calling. These debates have a tendency to degenerate into your "side" is stupid, immoral, or a combination of both.

His basic view of "the right" seemed to revolve around the idea that conservatism amounts to the domination of society by an aristocracy. He was basically making the charge that conservatism is incompatible with democracy (its antithesis according to him) and prosperity. He pressed hard on the notion that tradition/conservatism is essentially a deception that attempts to legitimize prejudice and authoritarianism.

This rather irritating convo got me thinking that the left-right political spectrum is inadequate.

Cond0011 said...

Hmmm... yea.

The ill-defined "War On Terror" is just a half step in that direction. One thing it did was inflate Executive Power to unhealthy levels for an indefinate period of time.

Though it was Republicans who did this, it was an opportunity for a corruption of the system to take place and now we have all these Czars (and the expansion of the government bureaucracy) pooping up via the Executive Branch decrees in the Obama Administration.

If this country is going to survive as a Republic and not transform into an Empire it must get back to clearly defined solutions and simplify back to its Original Charter (Let the people pursue their happiness and not dole it out to them).

That means end all Social Programs:

Unemployment Benefits
Welfare Programs
Social Security

Give people back the responsibility to take care of themselves. No more Neo-Coloni Bread&Circuses.

The first step is to disallow the right to vote (for x years after the last payment of dependency/gift they received) for anyone on the Government Dole.

After all, since dependent children are not allowed to vote, why should dependent adults be allowed to vote either?

Gagdad Bob said...

To paraphrase something I read on Instapundit the other day, the liberal turns all matters of fact into questions of motive.

Conservatives are liberals.

Liberals are leftists. And leftism always devolves to an aristocracy of leaders over the led. The anti-democracy charge is just a canard, because America is not a democracy and was never designed to be one, thank God. Leftists appeal to democracy when it is convenient, bullying and force when it isn't.

Your relative lives in a fantasy world of pure projection, unburdened by contact with actual conservative ideas. Rather, he only engages with his self-conjured straw men.

Cond0011 said...

"This rather irritating convo got me thinking that the left-right political spectrum is inadequate."

Chris, I've posted this here, before, but it sounds like you may enjoy seeing it.

It cleared things up perfectly for me. Enjoy!

4 Types of Government

julie said...


The dichotomy is only an apparent one. The thing about leftism is that it appeals just as much to the disaffected and the so-called "non-conformists," those self-serving disillusioned and apathetic losers, by promising that they will not only be part of the "in" crowd, they can be part of the in-charge and in-your-face crowd, if that's what they desire, all while still feeling as though they are somehow doing good.

EbonyRaptor said...

@Julie, I understand what you mean, I guess I just draw the line in a different place. I see the hopey changey kool-aid crowd as a different breed than the life- sucks crowd. The kool-aid drinkers are the true believers and the victims looking for freebies, whereas the life-sucks crowd are almost apolitical, but they align with the left because they think that at least the left promotes a more licentious lifestyle than what they perceive to be the morally obsessed right.

Van Harvey said...

Chris said "This rather irritating convo got me thinking that the left-right political spectrum is inadequate."

Well the left right spectrum is definitely inadequate, but unless your friend is arguing from a European viewpoint, his idea of conservatism and traditionalism is also inadequate - it matters which traditions you are committed to conserving.

In America, our traditions are those of the (classical) Liberals of our Founding Fathers era (which has almost less than zero in common with the those who stole the name and call themselves 'liberals' today).

They believed, that a moral, virtuous, people could live together in a society whose government defended and upheld their right to live their own lives in liberty - hence the name Liberalism. They also believed that the various state constitutions and finally our Federal Constitution were wholly unfit for any other kind of people.

ProRegressives agreed. Which is why the knowing ones amongst them have been seeking to degrade, disrupt, destroy and replace the form of Education which led to the kind of people who populated our Founding Father's era.

Modern proRegressivism, which masquerades as 'liberalism', believes that people are fundamentally unable to live their own lives well, cannot be trusted to, and that those among them who know best, leftists (which is all I can bear to call them), must, in the words of one of their founders, Rousseau, 'force them to be free'.

They further justify this through the belief that people do not have free will (except themselves, sorta), they merely react against the events and conditions in their environment, and so govt must shape those events and conditions for them so that their reactions will be for the betterment of the collective.

This might be better described as Evil, but... that argument also goes nowhere fast.

Van Harvey said...

Cond001 said "If this country is going to survive as a Republic and not transform into an Empire it must get back to clearly defined solutions and simplify back to its Original Charter..."

Yep. What it requires is a removal of the system that was grafted upon the American system of Constitutional Government through the Rule of Law, and which made, and required, those Czar's in the first place - the Administrative State and it's Regulatory Agencies.

As long as they remain, your Rights are chimeras; regulatory law is the means of abolishing private property rights (Marx's ideal), and all other rights as well, as no Individual Rights can exist without your having the Right to acquire, retain and dispense of your property as you choose.

I think that part of the reason why Obama has been so pleased to let things go as they have - no budget, congress failing his Cap-and-Trade, system, etc - is that it shows that, and enables him to, have his Czars 'make the trains run on time' without having to bother with Congress, or the consent of the governed - they just need to let those who know best, do what's best 'for the greater good'.

Bad news all around.

Van Harvey said...

Ebony Raptor said " I see the hopey changey kool-aid crowd as a different breed than the life- sucks crowd."

Both sides reject the idea of objective truth and Right and Wrong, which means that anyone who promises to provide some amount of goodies (and smacking down of mutual enemies) are easily agreed upon.

For them, the enemy of my enemy IS what a friend is... more or less, right? I mean, it's not like there are Actual standards or anything like that....

JP said...

Obama's just sitting there doing nothing, so the Congress is pretty much getting stronger by default.

For some reason Romney has decided to throw away the election, so we're stuck with Obama for the next four years.

With a Republican house so nothing is actually going to happen.

Van Harvey said...

JP said "Obama's just sitting there doing nothing, so the Congress is pretty much getting stronger by default."

When congress refuses to pass a bill, only to have the EPA or FCC passes its substance at Obama's bidding, that is not the sign of Congress getting stronger.

And those, Net Neutrality, Cap & Trade, are the very least of what this administration has been doing to wipe its feet upon the 'People's House'.

To look upon this and seeing Congress getting stronger... is like a celebrity believing their own press releases.

Chris said...

I just re-read an essay written by Russell Kirk some years ago entitled "Civilization Without Religion" . Some thoughts.... Is Kirk correct in claiming that conservatism's foundation is belief in a transcendent moral order. Connected to that, can the atheo-materialist be a conservative? Do libertarians and Randians have, in truth, more in common with leftists than with conservatives?

julie said...

I would argue that Kirk is correct. However, I don't think atheist conservatives necessarily have more in common with leftists, rather that their worldview is essentially parasitic on the belief in a transcendent moral order. One can deny transcendence even while acknowledging the beneficial impact of living according to the moral values that are shaped by Judeo-Christian faith.

Van Harvey said...

Chris said "Do libertarians and Randians have, in truth, more in common with leftists than with conservatives?"

Many libertarians have little more than a personal preference separating them from leftists, their conception of morality being based upon little more than utilitarian calculation. And though greater than most, Hayek is among them.

Rand is a little different. She was avowedly NOT a materialist, strongly believed in Truth, and that morality depended upon its allegiance to it, and she believed in the existence of free will and the unique, individual, human soul. With the wrinkle being that in her view, the soul arose and perished with the body.

As you push her definition of a soul though, and when it came into existence, it was entirely dependent upon Reason, and lacking that, such as a baby prior to being born, or a person past being able to bear reasoning, such as in sickness or depression, could take their life, or in the case of an unborn child, have it taken, without any questionable issues of morality.

Chris said...


"She was avowedly NOT a materialist.." I didn't know that.
For being such a staunch Aristotelian, her loud atheism never made much sense to me.But, I have only superficially investigated her objectivism. If she wasn't an ontological materialist, in what vein were her metaphysical views? Her writings don't strike me as being "stoic/logos"- ish.

Anna said...

"Twitterature"... Oh my. :) I think that is an original.

Anna said...

" that the focus shifts more to "the end of the world.""

And maybe the (consciously understood) purpose, and the existence of purpose (in consciousness) itself.

Anna said...

i.e. "End", as in purpose.

Van Harvey said...

Chris, I distinguish between the flavors of atheism, the deliberate atheist, and the incidental atheist.

The deliberate atheists are the ones who are either opposed to a reality that exists outside of what they wish reality was, (and)/or, they are against the idea of Truth, Right & Wrong and standards as such. At their root you'll usually find a denial of man's ability to know such things even if they did exist, and together with that they typically deny free will (and of course responsibility for ones actions... and the corollary, the justification for forcing others to do 'what is best'). These types are atheists because they deliberately, purposefully, even primarily, reject God and religion and everything they stand for.

Then there are those who approach the question of God as if it were a mathematical formula, in which they find certain variables empty of evidence, and concluding that the formula doesn't hold up, they see no reason to believe in what there is no evidence for believing in. Rand's view of religion has much in common with the fundamentalist, literalist, reading of it, which when held up for evidential support, is easily found wanting and mocked. But what is important, is that she rejects religion because in her view it not only denies what is True, but is an attack upon Truth and upon Reason. Rand rejects God and religion, but because in her view they reject Reality, Truth and Reason. Atheism isn't a first level category for her, but a response to a perceived attack on those first level categories, she isn't primarily an atheist, only incidentally one.

Her reading of Aristotle, as far as I can tell, was fairly light... it seems as if she read him, or other's commentary on him, for what she could find agreement with, and for the rules of logic, and that's about it.

For instance, her famous "A is A" which she chalks up to Aristotle's "Law of Identity". Good luck finding that in Aristotle. You can find an incidental reference to something similar to A is A, but it is in his Law of Non-Contradiction, which is much more sound than her reading of it. It's amazing the number of hits a Google search will pull up for 'Aristotle "Law of Identity"', and not so amazing that the bulk of them are Objectivist oriented sites. That's one of the things I embarrassed myself with about 25 years ago, which sent me back to reading Western Civilization from the ground up, beginning with Homer and working my way forward, going to the source, rather than the often ridiculous reports of it.

It's a mistake to write Rand off as a lightweight though, her basis for metaphysics is:
"Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists."

, which ain't bad at all, and her ideas on concept formation are outstanding, and provide the means for escaping the old 'problem of categories'. You have to realize that she only goes where she chooses to go, and all else is either dismissed or denied, you can get to them yourself though, from where she left off, as long as you don't let her rule out what you can see as being so.

Van Harvey said...

Chris, this page gives a good overall summary of Rand's views.

To the original point, can Objectivists ("Randians") be allies with the Right, the answer is Yes... to the extent that the Right sheds its own progressive tendencies (everything John McCain-ish, etc) and aligns itself with the original Classical Liberal principles of our Founders. And to that extent, if anything, Objectivists have a stronger identification of, and defense of, our Rights, and the Constitution's defense of them, than most in the Right do.

But... they do view the Right, especially to the extent that they reference anything religious, as hindrances, obstacles and even dangers.

Sooo... it's a wonderful life!

Chris said...


Thanks for the link.