Thus, the cosmos -- the total and unified order of reality -- is a concept, an abstraction, an assumption. And thanks to sober thinkers such as A.N. Whitehead, we know that this concept is rooted in Judeo-Christianity, against which all those 18th and 19th century philosophers drunk on the radical Enlightenment were rebelling.
Come to think of it, those radical thinkers (we're not speaking of the moderate Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment to which we are heir) were very much like our reactionary progressives and anti-Trumpers: if it's Jewish or Christian, the opposite must be true.
For example, if we believe race to be unimportant, then race must be all important; if we believe men and women are very different, then they must be identical; if we believe in the nuclear family, it must be a quintessential form of oppression; if we believe children are entitled to a mother and father, then fathers must be superfluous; if we think liberty is impossible in the absence of law and order, they think it would be great to abolish the police. If school vouchers are the most important civil rights issue of the day, then children should be forced to attend mandatory state indoctrination centers. The list is endless.
Exaggerate much, BoB? Well, here's a handy chart yoinked from PowerLine. It's not racist at all:
White people believe in all the bad things such as individualism, self-reliance, the nuclear family, and fatherhood. Worse yet, in order to understand the world, white folks look to objectivity, cause-and-effect relationships, and quantitative analysis. In fact, I'll admit to abusing my son, because I taught him to delay gratification, plan ahead, and not waste time.
Check out some of the laughable stereotypes: we prefer our food bland, our culture European, our thinkers white, and our women Barbies. Am I triggered? Absolutely, in the sense that I'm laughing at these imbeciles.
Yesterday one of them called me racist again. I'm old enough to remember when this was just an admission that the accuser had lost the argument. Now it is the argument. Are my feelings hurt? Yes, I can't believe I have only one reader calling me racist. After 15 years of blogging, I should have hundreds by now.
Anyway, back to our subject: our cosmos. Which no one has ever seen. As it so happens, the above insultainment actually goes to our subject, because another thing no one has ever seen is mankind:
Mankind is not a given thing. Mankind stretches back into the past toward unknown beginnings. It moves into the future toward unknown times. What we call mankind is simply an idea, which arises on the occasion of certain experiences of revelation or illumination, and which is extended to all other people who do not have such insights (Voegelin).
This is a critical idea for a number of reasons. First, as we mentioned a couple of posts back, you can't blame people of the past for not understanding that all human beings are created equal. After all, Africans themselves were unacquainted with this principle, because they're the ones who kidnapped fellow Africans in order to sell them to Arab or European slave traders.
Today we understand -- advocates of identity politics notwithstanding -- that cultures vary but mankind is one. Human nature is real, and confers certain inalienable rights. The left is adamantly opposed to the principles of human nature and natural rights, not just because they can only come from the Creator, but also because they limit state power and undercut their project of inventing positive rights.
It has now become controversial -- even racist -- to suggest that some cultures are better than others. This critique itself is racist to the core, because we're obviously referring to culture, not race.
Conversely, the left, in insisting that all black people ought to think alike, conflates race and culture: Al Sharpton or Cornell West or Ilhan Omar think like Black people ought to think; Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas or Candace Owens aren't just wrong, they're not even properly Black.
I know. And they call us racist! Their absence of self-awareness, let alone irony, is literally disorienting. They'd no doubt call the following racist as well, despite the fact that it is the opposite, because it is again affirming the principle that Blacks are not defined or constrained by culture, just like anyone else:
We include within mankind, for example, all Africans, yet in all Africa there never was an insight that would have enabled an African tribe to conceive the idea of man or mankind. There simply was no such thing. These are Western, or at least largely Western, ideas -- classical and Christian ideas (ibid.).
The operative word isn't "African" but tribal: tribalism isn't just a form of social organization but a mode of thinking. Yes, identity politics has always been with us. Identity politics is post- rather then pre-Christian, but both subordinate universal man to particular tribe, rather than vice versa.
More abstractly, this again means that mankind is not, and can never be, an empirical object. It would be more accurate to say that man is a kind of "location" where something quite marvelous is occurring and never stops occurring. In this luminous space occurs history, creativity, civilization, philosophy, theology, everything. Indeed, what is happening is Being itself:
everything that happens and which we call history, including our idea of mankind, is happening in Being itself, which is behind all specific things and all specific happenings (ibid.).
We'll end with one of my favorite aphorisms, because it is one of the Keys to the Cosmos:
The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.
One of its logical entailments is that
History is the series of universes present to the consciousness of successive subjects. -Dávila