Monday, May 09, 2022

Only Conservatives are Free

Wrapping up our discussion of The Contradictions of Relativism, Schuon bats away the anti-philosophy of existentialism with a single sentence: it

postulates a definition of the world that is impossible if existentialism itself is possible.

Boom. Upon understanding it, a normal person -- a person with a normally functioning intellect -- would say to himself, "Oh. That clears that up. Better choose a real philosophy." 

And yet, existentialism abounds under innumerable guises, as it encompasses the polar opposite of the vertical essentialism that orders the cosmos. In a subsequent chapter, Schuon writes that existentialism

has achieved the tour de force or the monstrous contortion of representing the commonest stupidity as intelligence and disguising it as philosophy, and of holding intelligence up to ridicule, that of all intelligent men of all times.... All down the ages to philosophize was to think; it has been reserved to the twentieth century not to think and to make a philosophy of it. 

Now, what is existentialism and why does it continue to hold such sway over the tenured? 

Forgive me if this is too basic, but in a word, existentialism applies to any philosophy -- ideology is more like it -- that stresses the primacy of existence over essence. 

A quintessential example is Marxism and its retarded postmodern progeny (e.g., identity politics, feminism, critical race theory), each of which claiming that who you are is a consequence of class, race, gender, etc. You yourself have no say in the matter. If you happen to be black, that is your primary identity. Your God-bestowed individualism is effaced.

Or, if you happen to be white, you automatically have White Privilege and are an oppressor, irrespective of the good or bad choices you have made in life; likewise, if you are a woman (whatever that is) you are intrinsically a victim of the patriarchy. In short, your essence is determined by your existence instead of vice versa.

In the real world, of course, we actualize our essence via our free choices, which is precisely what determines their merit. 

Conversely, in existential world, a black criminal, for example, is "depraved on account I'm deprived." Note the contradiction, however, because the same courtesy is not extended to, say, the January 6 rioters. They're just criminals, full stop. They chose their fate, while the behavior of Democrat criminals is always determined by forces beyond their control. 

So, it's free will -- essentialism -- for white conservatives, who are rotten to the core, existentialism for everyone else. 

Sartre famously remarked that human nature cannot exist because there is no God. Except human nature does exist. So... 

This is not to say that existentialism is wholly false. Rather, like any heresy, it is generally correct in what it affirms but false in what it denies. 

Obviously, certain aspects of existence influence us, and Schuon outlines four big ones: first and foremost we are creature and not Creator, so there's that. Only God's essence is to exist, while for the rest of us our existence is on loan, and our lives consist of choices that will (or will not) further actualize -- existentiate -- this our that aspect of our essence.

Next, we are men and not angelic beings; we have material bodies, plus we are persons, both conditions involving certain limitations and privileges that we will get into in a subsequent post. Let's just say that to attain a human birth is a great boon. And to be born in America is impossibly lucky.   

We are also this or that man, i.e., a unique individual essence. You are finally you, not a simply a member of a race or some other anonymous collective. Unless, of course, you're a Democrat, in which case you are indeed simply a race or a gender. This is ironically called "identity politics" despite robbing you of your identity, precisely.

Finally, we all have accidental infirmities arising from a host of existential factors and influences such as family, culture, language, neuroses, etc. Here race or gender could be factors, but hardly the dominant ones. 

Now, choice -- AKA freedom -- is absolutely meaningless in the horizontal and relativistic cosmos of existentialism. In fact, it's not even possible, hence the default to Class (or race) made me do it. This is where the Evil One enters the picture. For "Not to admit that which exceeds us, and not to wish to exceed oneself" is "the very definition of Lucifer." It is indeed Genesis 3 All Over Again, Every Time. 


joe said...

I thought existentialism was that there is no meaning in life except what you make.

Gagdad Bob said...

Which is to say, no meaning.

Gagdad Bob said...

I myself dabbled in existentialism in the 1980s, but quickly discovered that it redounded to nihilism. Which is no ethos at all.

Nicolás said...

Only God and the central point of my consciousness are not adventitious to me.

Gagdad Bob said...

Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity, or why the progressive left offers a free indoctrination to every child.

Gagdad Bob said...

The crisis of meaning.

julie said...

Among the young people I know, even those who have some sense of meaning struggle instead with hopelessness, feeling that all the things that would make life both meaningful and fulfilling are beyond their reach, or if reachable then likely to be snatched from their grasp at any moment. Over time, of course, the hopelessness leads to meaninglessness, and a vicious cycle is born.

John Venlet said...

A quintessential example is Marxism and its retarded postmodern progeny (e.g., identity politics, feminism, critical race theory), each of which claiming that who you are is a consequence of class, race, gender, etc. You yourself have no say in the matter.

I'd say that the example of two of Socrates most famous pupils nullifies that particular line of reasoning, no matter how you phrase it. Both Plato and Alcibiades sat at Socrates' feet, under his tutelage in the same environment. Plato rose and flowered, while Alcibiades lived like a profligate and betrayed Athens.

Anonymous said...

“…postulates a definition of the world that is impossible if existentialism itself is possible.” Can you please expand on this refutation? I just need it to be unpacked a little - thanks.

Gagdad Bob said...

Lots of reasons, but for one, existentialism can never account for the transcendent self-consciousness that is free to posit existentialism. It's an artificially narrow philosophy that never even bothers to ask how the miracle of intellection is possible, let alone how it can know the the Real.

Nicolás said...

The rhetoric that is in the worst taste is that which renounces transcendence without renouncing its vocabulary.

Nicolás said...

The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.