Apologetics, Pope Saint Pius X, Theology, Traditionalism

Pope Saint Pius X: Pascendi Dominici Gregis

– Pope St. Pius X – Pascendi Dominici Gregis –

Pope Saint Pius X - PascendiThe Modernist as Apologist

35. The Modernist apologist depends in two ways on the philosopher. First, indirectly, inasmuch as his subject-matter is history – history dictated, as we have seen, by the philosopher; and, secondly, directly, inasmuch as he takes both his doctrines and his conclusions from the philosopher. Hence that common axiom of the Modernist school that in the new apologetics controversies in religion must be determined by psychological and historical research. The Modernist apologists, the, enter the arena, proclaiming to the rationalists that, though they are defending religion, they have no intention of employing the data of the sacred books or the histories in current use in the Church, and written upon the old lines, but real history composed on modern principles and according to the modern method. In all this they assert that they are not using an argumentation ad hominem, because they are really of the opinion that the truth is to be found only in this kind of history. They feel that it is not necessary for them to make profession of their own sincerity in their writings. They are already known to and praised by the rationalists as fighting under the same banner, and they not only plume themselves on these encomiums, which would only provoke disgust in a real Catholic, but use them as a counter-compensation to the reprimands of the Church.

Modernist Apologetic Methodology

Let us see how the Modernist conducts his apologetics. The aim he sets before himself is to make one who is still without faith attain that experience of the Catholic religion which, according to the system, is the sole basis of faith. There are two ways open to him, the objective and the subjective. The first of them starts from agnosticism. It tends to show that religion, and especially the Catholic religion, is endowed with such vitality as to compel every psychologist and historian of good faith to recognize that its history hides some element of the unknown. To this end it is necessary to prove that the Catholic religion, as it exists today, is that which has founded by Jesus Christ; that is to say, that it is nothing else than the progressive development of the germ which He brought into the world. Hence it is imperative first of all to establish what this germ was, and this the Modernist claims to be able to do by the following formula: Christ announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, which was to be realized within a brief lapse of time and of which He was to become the Messias, the divinely-given founder and ruler. Then it must be shown how this germ, always immanent and permanent in the Catholic religion, has gone on slowly developing in the course of history, adapting itself successively to the different circumstances through which it has passed, borrowing from them by vital assimilation all the doctrinal, cultural, ecclesiastical forms that served its purpose; while, on the other hand, it surmounted all obstacles, vanquished all enemies, and survived all assaults and all combats. Anyone who well and duly considers this mass of obstacles, adversaries, attacks, combats, and the vitality and fecundity which the Church has shown throughout them all, must admit that if the laws of evolution are visible in her life they fail to explain the whole of her history – the unknown rises forth from it and presents itself before us. Thus do they argue, not perceiving that their determination of the primitive germ is only an a priori assumption of agnostic and evolutionist philosophy, and that the germ itself has been gratuitously defined so that it may fit in with their contention.


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Philosophy, Traditionalism

Identifying the Ideological Enemy of the Catholic Church

Jacobin Revolutionaries“Hence we find Liberalism laying down as the basis of its propaganda the following principles:

  1. The absolute sovereignty of the individual in his entire independence of God and God’s authority.
  2. The absolute sovereignty of society in its entire independence of everything which does not proceed from itself.
  3. Absolute civil sovereignty in the implied right of the people to make their own laws in entire independence and utter disregard of any other criterion than the popular will expressed at the polls and in parliamentary majorities.
  4. Absolute freedom of thought in politics, morals, or in religion. The unrestrained liberty of the press.

Such are the radical principles of Liberalism. In the assumption of the absolute sovereignty of the individual, that is, his entire independence of God, we find the common source of all the others. To express them all in one term, they are, in the order of ideas, RATIONALISM, or the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of human reason. Here human reason is made the measure and sum of truth. Hence we have individual, social, and political Rationalism, the corrupt fountainhead of liberalist principles [which are]: absolute freedom of worship, the supremacy of the State, secular education repudiating any connection with religion, marriage sanctioned and legitimized by the State alone, etc.; in one word, which synthesizes all, we have SECULARIZATION, which denies religion any active intervention in the concerns of public and of private life, whatever they be. This is veritable social atheism.

Such is the source of liberalism in the order of ideas; such, in consequence of our Protestant and infidel surroundings, is the intellectual atmosphere which we are perpetually breathing into our souls. Nor do these principles remain simply in the speculative order, poised forever in the region of thought. Men are not mere contemplatives. Doctrines and beliefs inevitably precipitate themselves into action. The speculation of today becomes the deed of tomorrow, for men, by force of the law of their nature, are ever acting out what they think. Rationalism, therefore, takes concrete shape in the order of facts. It finds palpable expression and action in the press, in legislation, and in social life. The secular press reeks with it, proclaiming with almost unanimous vociferation, absolute division between public life and religion. It has become the shibboleth of journalism, and the editor who will not recognize it in his daily screed soon feels the dagger of popular disapproval. In secularized marriage and in our diverse laws, it cleaves the very roots of domestic society; in secularized education, the cardinal principle of our public school system, it propagates itself in the hearts of the future citizens and the future parents; in compulsory school laws, it forces in the entering wedge of socialism; in the speech and intercourse of social life, it is constantly asserting itself with growing reiteration; in secret societies, organized in a spirit destructive of religion and often for the express purpose of exterminating Catholicity, it menaces our institutions and places the country in the hands of conspirators, whose methods and designs, beyond the reach of the public eye, constitute a tyranny of darkness

In a thousand ways does the principle of Rationalism find its action and expression in social and civil life, and however diversified be its manifestation, there is in it always a unity and a system of opposition to Catholicity. Whether concerted or not, it ever acts in the same direction, and whatever special school within the genius of Liberalism professes it or puts it into action – be it in society, in domestic life, or in politics – the same essential characteristics will be found in all its protean shapes – opposition to the Church – and it will ever be found stigmatizing the most ardent defenders of the Faith as reactionaries, clericals, Ultramontanes.

Wherever found, whatever its uniform, Liberalism in its practical action is ever-systematic warfare upon the Church. Whether it intrigue, whether it legislate, whether it orate or assassinate, whether it call itself Liberty or Government of the State or Humanity or Reason, or whatnot, its fundamental characteristics is an uncompromising opposition to the Church.

Liberalism is a world complete in itself; it has its maxims, its fashions, its art, its literature, its diplomacy, its laws, its conspiracies, its ambuscades. It is the world of Lucifer, disguised in our times under the name of Liberalism, in radical opposition and in perpetual warfare against that society composed of the Children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ.”

– Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany, Liberalism is a Sin – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Creation, Holy Scripture, Philosophy of Nature, Theology, Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Wolfgang Smith & The Pitfall of Astrophysical Cosmology

Wolfgang Smith on the Big Bang vs. Christian Faith“We propose now to look at the big bang scenario from a theological perspective. Leaving aside the question as to whether this cosmology is factually correct, we shall treat it as a kind of myth or icon, a symbol to be read. What, then, does the big bang signify? What above all strikes one is the idea of a temporal origin: the notion that the universe ‘did not always exist.’ This is not to say that ‘long ago’ the world did not exist, for time as we know it refers to cosmic events and cannot therefore antedate the universe itself: ‘Beyond all doubt,’ says St. Augustine, ‘the world was not made in time, but with time.’ What big bang theory affirms, rather, is that the universe has a finite age; the question, now, is whether this implies an act of creation ex nihilo. I would argue that, from a strictly logical point of view, it does not. But this is actually beside the point: we are now ‘reading the icon,’ a task which is not simply a matter of logical analysis. In its iconic import, I say, the big bang picture does overwhelmingly suggest what Christianity has always taught: namely, that the universe was brought into being some finite time ago through a creative act. As Pope Pius XII declared in 1951, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Science:

‘In fact, it seems that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial Fiat lux uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation…Hence, creation took place in time; therefore, there exists a creator, therefore, God exists!’

It would seem from this animated papal expression of assent that the impact of big bang cosmology upon Christianity is bound to be salutary; but such proves not to be the case. I contend that the new cosmology has in fact exerted a baneful influence upon Christian thought, and has contributed significantly to the deviations and vagaries afflicting contemporary theology; how can this be? The answer is simple: icons can be dangerous, lethal actually, due to the fact that the icon itself can be mistaken for the truth, ‘the finger for the moon’ as the Chinese say. And this is what has actually happened in the case of the big bang: we are dealing, after all, with a scientific paradigm declared by the leading authorities to be factually true. Now, the problem is that in its factual as distinguished from its symbolic significance, the big bang scenario is flatly opposed to the traditional Christian cosmogony based upon Genesis. Take for instance the biblical fact that the Earth and its flora were created before the Sun, Moon and stars: surely this rules out all contemporary theories of stellar evolution, even as it rules out all contemporary theories of stellar evolution, even as it rules out all Darwinist claims. Theologians, as we know, have for the most part responded to this challenge by ‘demythologizing’ the first three chapters of Genesis; but in so doing, I contend once again, they have taken a wrong turn. Placing their trust in a man-made theory, which moreover stands demonstrably on shaky ground, they have contradicted the inspired teaching of the Fathers and the Church. Let it be said once again that the first three chapters of Genesis, taken in their literal historical sense, cannot be denied without grave injury to the Christian faith. The point has already been made implicitly in the preceding chapter: in bringing to light the content of biblical cosmogony, we have at the same time demonstrated its central importance to Christian doctrine. Whatever contemporary theologians may say in their pursuit of ‘scientific correctness,’ the fact remains that the teachings of Christianity presupposes the biblical cosmogony, even as the Redemption presupposes the Fall. It is utterly chimerical, thus, to imagine the doctrine of Christ actually makes sense in a big bang universe; and one might add that the biblical cosmogony has in fact been mandated by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909. In a definitive response to eight questions relating to ‘The Historical Character of the Earlier Chapters of Genesis’ the Commission explicitly denies the validity of ‘exegetical systems’ which exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters.

Getting back to big bang cosmology, I would like to point out that this doctrine is evidently all the more compelling to a Christian public on account of its obvious symbolic signification: what could be more wonderful, after all, than a scientific cosmology bearing witness to the primordial Fiat lux! In conjunction with certain other scientific developments, the new cosmology has thus fostered a major movement of reconciliation between the scientific and the religious communities. Book titles such as ‘God and the New Physics’ (by physicist Paul Davies) or ‘God and the Astronomers’ (by the astronomer Robert Jastrow) have come to abound, and it is hardly possible, these days, to keep up with the profusion of seminars and symposia on ‘science and religion’ being held all over the world. And everywhere one encounters the same message of ‘peace and harmony’ from both of the former contestants. There is however a price to be paid on the part of religion: wherever a conflict does arise – as between Genesis and the big bang – it is always Christianity which is obliged, by the presiding experts, to conform its teaching to the latest scientific theory. It appears that a certain fusion of science and religion is now in progress on a world-wide scale, which threatens to transform Christianity into some kind of ‘theistic evolutionism’ more or less akin to the quasi-theology of Teilhard de Chardin.

In a word, the new cosmology is not quite as innocuous as one might think. So far from being compatible with the truth of Christianity, it proves to be one of the most seductive and potentially lethal doctrines ever to threaten the integrity of the Christian faith: a dogma amply capable, it seems, of ‘deceiving even the elect.’ The devil, they say, gives us nine truths, only to catch us in the end with a lie: could big bang cosmology be a case in point? Could this be the underlying reason why an atheistic science has now promulgated – to everyone’s amazement! – a doctrine which, on the face of it, glorifies God as the creator of the universe? It has at times been suggested that there is indeed a connection between a scientific enterprise and the demonic realm; this has been seriously affirmed, for example, by the late Orthodox Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, and again by the Catholic historian Solange Hertz. It is not easy, of course, to document such a connection; but the surmise of demonic influence is neither irrational nor indeed improbable. When it comes to a major onslaught against the Catholic faith, it behooves us to recall the sobering admonition of St. Paul, which may well bear also upon the point here at issue: ‘Put on the armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We wrestle not against the flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ The demonic connection then, of which we speak, may prove in the end to be more than a pious fantasy.”

– Wolfgang Smith, Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, History, Traditionalism

Revolution Begets Revolution

Martin Luther 95 ThesesThis year will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt and will be celebrated by many who would consider themselves traditional, conservative, and biblical.

This, however, is a contradiction. Conserving tradition and furthering revolution are fundamentally at odds. Preserving that which has been handed down cannot at the same time be rebelled against in the name of its preservation; therefore rendering Luther’s claim to revive the Church by overthrowing it incomprehensible to the demands of reason.

Moreover, to be biblical means to possess and follow the Sacred Page in its entirety as the Apostolic Church has received it, interpreted it, protected it, and cherished it. Claiming to be biblical while manufacturing a truncated version of the written word of God in order to suppress revealed doctrines that are unbecoming of a heretical schematic, is to advance the machinations of heterodoxy.

Furthermore, the exemplification of revolutionary incoherence is found in the statement most Protestants cherish. The dramatized “Here I stand…” moment exposes the unoriginal futility of individually fabricated ideas. Every heretic in the history of the Church has echoed this spirited mantra in rebellion against divinely instituted authority. A difference between them and Luther is that he murmured the loudest when the same treatment was given in return.

Martin Luther didn’t understand, but soon found out, that revolution begets revolution. Protestant denominationalism, to this day, is a rebuke against the errors of private judgment.

The last 500 years of Western Civilization are an undeniable testimony to the all-consuming nature of defiance against truth. The contemporary culture of revolutionary political dialectics is not inexplicable. It is the natural unfolding of institutionalized principles of rebellion.

The liberally heterodox systems of theology, philosophy, and politics since Luther’s sedition have had a focused mission: seize power away from the Church in order to divide and dismantle Christendom. And all of this for the purposes of reshaping nature and reality according to autonomous individualism guided by the precepts of subjective private judgment.

There are consequences to such projects.

The barbarism of the French Revolution, the body count of Manifest Destiny, the death toll of world war, the cultural destruction in pursuit of making the world ‘safe for democracy,’ and the legal ratification of sexual revolution all testify to what men might strive for when building a world without God and the guiding wisdom of Holy Mother Church.

We are deadlocked in a culture war that has been raging for a long time. The roots of this war, however, weren’t planted in the 60’s. The leftist sexual revolution, the bureaucratic welfare state, and the technocratic military-industrial complex all share the same heritage with the Western cultural revolt initiated by the principle of “I will not serve.”

Historically speaking Martin Luther initiated a series of intricately interconnected events. The spiritual leader, however, has always been the serpent that deceives men into believing in their individual autonomy and their power to rebel themselves into a new order.

One of the most ironic things that will take place during the celebration of Luther’s revolt against the Church is that many will be calling for the reestablishment of Christendom. The irony of this exposes the deceptive nature of the revolutionary mind; they always want to have in their possession what they just overthrew.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

 

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Saints, Theology, Traditionalism

Pope Saint Pius X, Pray For Us!

Pope Saint Pius X Renew All Thing in Christ

Today we celebrate the feast day of the great warrior saint who stood boldly against the heresy of modernism, Pope Saint Pius X.

Pope Saint Pius X initiated his pontificate with the encyclical letter, E Supremi Apostalatus (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ). In this encyclical Pius X describes the ideological environment of his era,

“We were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is – apostasy from God, than which in truth nothing is more allied with ruin, according to the word of the Prophet: ‘For behold they that go far from Thee shall perish’ (Ps. 72:27). We saw therefore that, in virtue of the ministry of the pontificate, which was to be entrusted to Us, We must hasten to find a remedy for this great evil, considering as addressed to Us that Divine command: ‘Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to root up, and to pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant’ (Jer. 1:10). But, cognizant of Our weakness, We recoiled in terror from a task as urgent as it is arduous.”[1]

It is worth noting that this description of the dire times surrounding the Church was written in 1903. One can only wonder how Pope Saint Pius X would describe the horrendous state of affairs the Church finds herself in today.

However, in order to combat the situation of his time, and we might apply this mission statement to our own, Pope Saint Pius X provides a lucid description of what would motivate his pontificate,

“Since, however, is has been pleasing to the Divine Will to raise Our lowliness to such sublimity of power, We take courage in Him who strengthens Us; and setting Ourselves to work, relying on the power of God, We proclaim that We have no other program in the Supreme Pontificate but that ‘of restoring all things in Christ’ (Eph. 1:10), so that ‘Christ may be all and in all’ (Col. 3:11). Some will certainly be found who, measuring Divine things by human standards will seek to discover secret aims of Ours, distorting them to an earthly scope and to partisan designs. To eliminate all vain delusions for such, We say to them with emphasis that We do not wish to be, and with the Divine assistance never shall be aught before human society but the Minister of God, of whose authority We are the depository. The interests of God shall be Our interest, and for these We are resolved to spend all Our strength and Our very life. Hence, should anyone ask Us for a symbol as the expression of Our will, We will give this and not other: ‘To renew all things in Christ.’”

In undertaking this this glorious task, We are greatly quickened by the certainty that We shall have all of you, Venerable Brethren, as generous co-operators. Did We doubt it We should have to regard you, unjustly, as either unconscious or heedless of that sacrilegious war which is now, almost everywhere, stirred up and fomented against God. For in truth, ‘The nations have raged and the peoples imagined vain things’ (Ps. 2:1) against their Creator, so frequent is the cry of the enemies of God: ‘Depart from us’ (Job. 21:14). And as might be expected we find extinguished among the majority of men all respect for the Eternal God, and no regard paid in the manifestations of public and private life to the Supreme Will – nay, every effort and every artifice is used to destroy utterly the memory and the knowledge of God.”[2]

After reading this call to arms, is this not the mission of the Church Militant? Did not Pope Saint Pius X simply proclaim the reason for the Church’s existence, which is to renew all things in Christ?

Indeed, for after this call to arms this great saint and leader of Christ’s army on earth identifies with similar clarity the heresy which actualizes aforementioned apostasy in staggering numbers,

“It may, perhaps, seem to some, Venerable Brethren, that We have dealt at too great length on this exposition of the doctrines of the Modernists. But it was necessary that We should do so, both in order to meet their customary charge that We do not understand their ideas, and to show that their system does not consist in scattered and unconnected theories, but, as it were, in a closely connected whole, so that it is not possible to admit one without admitting all. For this reason, too, We have had to give to this exposition a somewhat didactic form, and not to shrink from employing certain unwonted terms which the modernists have brought into use. And now with Our eyes fixed upon the whole system, no one will be surprised that We should define it to be the synthesis of all heresies. Undoubtedly, were anyone to attempt the task of collecting together all the errors that have been broached against the faith and to concentrate into one the sap and substance of them all, he could not succeed in doing so better than the Modernists have done. Nay, they have gone further that this, for, as We have already intimated, their system means the destruction not of the Catholic religion alone, but of all religion. Hence the rationalists are not wanting in their applause, and the most frank and sincere among them congratulate themselves on having found in the Modernists the most valuable of all.”[3]

The precision of Pascendi is relevant for our current era given the amount of confusion modernism brings into the ranks of the Mystical Body of Christ.

There is much more that can be said about Pope Saint Pius X, but for now, let us pray that God might raise up a series of Popes with the apostolic pedigree of Pius X.

Pope Saint Pius X, Pray For Us!

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] E Supremi Apostalatus (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ), Paragraph 3.

[2] E Supremi Apostalatus (On the Restoration of All Things in Christ). Paragraph 4

[3] Pascendi Dominici Gregis (On Modernism), Paragraph 39

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Metaphysics, Philosophy, Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Metaphysics as Seeing: The Christic Center of the Metaphysical Journey

Metaphysics as Seeing - The Christic CenterIn the quest to enter metaphysics as ‘seeing’ it is essential to establish the importance and necessity of a metaphysical schematic for understanding reality. Metaphysics is important because it is needed to answer the fundamental questions of life, and it is necessary because we interpret reality through the principles of first philosophy. Now, we are prepared to analyze Wolfgang Smith’s essay, Metaphysics as ‘Seeing’, so that we might find the Christic center of our journey.

Contrary to the modern suggestion, metaphysics isn’t confined to the halls of academia where professors smoking pipes and wearing tweed jackets break down the problem of universals to its linguistic parts in order to reject it as an ancient abuse of language; nor is it a field of thought accessible only to the modernist apologetics intelligentsia utilized only to frustrate the new atheist credo.

Metaphysics is effectively a human endeavor.

Wolfgang Smith reminds us of this perennial truth,

“Since the beginning of modern times, metaphysics has been viewed as an academic discipline, to be pursued at universities; and it is of interest to note that, as such, its standing and prestige in the educated world has steadily declined, to the point where many nowadays deny its philosophic legitimacy. Yet I contend that the metaphysical quest pertains by right, not to the artificial environment of the contemporary university, but to human life, human existence in its untruncated reality. In plain words: it springs from man’s innate thirst for truth, which is none other than the thirst for God…Metaphysics is therefore something that concerns each of us by virtue of the fact that we are human, which is to say, ‘made in the image and likeness of God.’ It is indeed a case of, ‘noblesse oblige’: so far from reducing to a mere academic discipline – to be pursued by ‘professionals,’ notably recipients of a doctorate in philosophy – metaphysics constitutes an activity of the mind and heart to which, in principle, all are not only entitled, but are, in a way, ‘called.’”[1]

It is worth noting that because metaphysics is by its nature a human endeavor, and not a speculative product of academic investigation, that its deepest roots are planted in the theophany of aesthetic wonderment. Humans crave answers to the deepest and most fundamental questions of life because we are made in the imago Dei and participate in a created order that proclaims the glory of the Triune Creator. Our hearts are restless, St. Augustine says in union with St. Paul, because it is “in Him that we live and move and have our being.” To the contrary of modern materialistic and epistemic reductionism, metaphysics springs from aesthetic longing and wonder, rather than doubtful skepticism.[2]

The divergent approaches in the metaphysical quest for truth points toward an important distinction between the perennial tradition and the modernist misconception. It is because the modernist intellectual conviction manifests itself through speculative doubt that it subordinates metaphysics to the confines of critical reason alone. With this in consideration, Smith says that “we tend to think that the means or modus operandi of metaphysics consists of reasoning, that is to say, of rational argument, when in fact it is, again, the very opposite: a question, namely, of ‘seeing,’ of direct perception, of gnosis properly so called.”[3] This is not to deny the rationality metaphysics exemplifies in the human pursuit of truth; it is, however, important to identify the appropriateness of its praeambula-type nature, that is, “reasoning does have a role to play; but its function is inherently negative and preparatory; to be precise, rational argument serves to deconstruct false beliefs, and in so doing, to purify the mind.”[4] Smith’s explanation corresponds to St. Paul’s teaching, “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”[5] Once these metaphysical “obstacles” are cleared away and the mind is ‘wiped clean’, the ‘seeing’ person will be prepared to perceive God in Christ.[6]

Metaphysics is not only a human endeavor; it is inherently mystical in its ultimate end, which is seeing the Incarnate Christ.

These truths should point us to the realization that the spiritual and intellectual journey of metaphysics as seeing is not merely an external investigation of the fundamental principles undergirding all of reality, but an internal examination as well. God is not only the end to which our initial aesthetic desire is satisfied, but the very subject imminently prompting our soul towards its beatific union with the Creator.[7] Smith says, “It is this inscrutable indwelling of God – as the ‘soul of our soul’ – that enables and indeed powers the quest from its first inception to its ultimate end.”[8]

Metaphysics as seeing is the primordial human endeavor journeying toward mystical union with God through the life, death, and resurrection of the Incarnate Christ.

While this is what metaphysics as seeing is, it is important to recall that a purifying of the mind in order to see reality properly is required. The human pursuit of divine truth has been clouded by a “collective blindness.”[9] Motivated by the illusions of progress, guided by the mantras of the Enlightenment, and fueled by the habituation of concupiscence, modern man has institutionalized the postmodern abyss described by Catholic doctrine as the fall of man. Progress, so-called, is the cultural actualization of nihilistic deterioration. When the demonic deceptions of the serpent echo throughout the halls of modernity the collective blindness inexorably increases in its darkness as the light of God in Jesus Christ is pushed further to the margins. This modern cultural reality indicates that, “the primary task of the true metaphysician is then to undo the collective decline, to reverse it in himself. It is a question of restoring the ‘heart’ from its ‘darkened’ condition, and in so doing, to recover the unimpaired use of our God-given ‘eyes’: such, in brief, is the task of veritable metaphysics.”[10]

In order to prepare the mind to see nature as a theophany created by God the metaphysical evangel must expose the faulty, indeed the diabolical, Cartesian dualist apparatus presupposed by modernity in an effort to wipe the blurred mirror clean. Cartesian dualism sets up an illegitimate bifurcation of reality into the mechanistic and extended material realm and the internal subjective realm of the soul or conscious mind. Dividing the world in this way has disconnected the external and internal, and nobody has figured out how to reunite them. Instead of casting aside the Cartesian project for the disaster that it is, its presuppositions are maintained due to their usefulness for scientific modeling. The ruinous nature of this bifurcation becomes most apparent when the issue of consciousness is addressed.

Smith explains,

“The point is that ‘seeing’ does not reduce to the ‘reception into consciousness’ of something that pre-exists in the external world, but constitutes rather an ‘act of intentionality’ which conditions and in a way ‘defines’ its object. What is more, consciousness is not something which precedes that ‘act,’ but is itself that act, which is to say that it is never without content – like an empty receptacle – but is invariably a ‘consciousness of.’ So too, what antecedes the intentional act ‘externally’ is not in fact the object or ‘extended entity,’ but the phenomenon, conceived (according to the literal sense of that Greek word) as ‘that which shows itself in itself.’”[11]

The participatory nature of the conscious intentional act and the phenomenal showing in itself not only circumnavigates the prioritization of the object and the intentional act of consciousness or the intentional act of consciousness and the object, but effectively breaks down the Cartesian bifurcation with the intrinsically simultaneous relation of being between subject and object.[12] And when the erroneous sophistry of the Cartesian divide has been exposed the insanity of the project, ironically, manifests itself as the demonic trickery of a philosophical nightmare.[13] After cleansing the mind of the bifurcated illusion, we can begin to take steps toward seeing anew in the depths of our heart.

After clearing the spiritual and intellectual blockade of Cartesian dualism, realizing that we are not confined to the inner sanctuary of our mind and that reality is in fact accessible, we come face to face with another hindrance obstructing the path of metaphysics as seeing – Newtonian mechanism. To properly expunge this stain from the mirror of our mind, Smith proposes the scientific Anschauung of Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The Goethean view of science suggests that the objects under observation cannot be reduced to the sum of their parts, mechanism is rejected for the organic whole of nature, there is no mechanism standing behind the phenomena waiting to be discovered by the scientist, and that which is ‘seeable’ is that which is being theorized (that is, the theory is of the object and not concerning anything ontologically behind the object).[14]

This view of science, according to Smith, has been vindicated by the discovery of quantum mechanics,

“I would like to now point out that the Goethean ‘denial of mechanism’ – which in his day was met with derision, bordering upon contempt, and not only by the scientific establishment, but by the ‘enlightened’ public at large – has in fact been vindicated through the discovery of quantum mechanics, which turns out not to be a mechanics at all. It appears that the physical universe – the universe as conceived by the physicist – cannot actually be separated from the interventions effected by the physicist himself: as John Wheeler has put it, we have been forced to admit that physics deals, finally, with ‘a participatory universe.’ What ‘breaks a physical system into parts,’ it turns out, is the empirical intervention by which the parts in question are specified; and because the measurement of one observable has an uncontrollable effect upon its so-called conjugate, it follows that the system as such can no longer be conceived as a sum of well-defined parts.”[15]

Saint Bonaventure Quote copy

The Goethean view of science, as it has been vindicated by the quantum discovery of a participatory universe, opens the door for the possibility of reconnecting to nature rather than remaining alienated from it according to the inherently reductionist project of ideological scientism. It intuitively follows from this renewed understanding of participation that a qualitatively permeated “kinship” with nature as an organically created whole reflects its analogical correlation to its divine source of being.[16]

It is from this perspective then, after eradicating the modernist presuppositions of Cartesian bifurcation and Newtonian mechanism, that metaphysics as seeing moves from being a mere potentiality to an appropriately situated mystical actuality. Metaphysics as seeing actualizes the potential for discovering the realization of the “primary center in man”[17], that is, man is the pinnacle center of creation having been made in the imago Christi, which is to say imaged after the Christic center of the Trinity. To see is to know Christ, and to know is to see Christ. The metaphysical quest begins and ends with God; indeed it culminates in our union with Christ.[18]

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] Science & Myth, Pg. 201

[2] “We are prone, first of all, to imagine that the discipline stems from ‘doubt,’ when in fact it springs from a profound sense of ‘wonder,’ which is actually the very opposite of doubt: for that wonder proves to be in essence a recognition, however dim, of the inscrutable immanence of God in the thins of this world.” Ibid, Pg. 201

[3] Ibid, Pg. 201, 202

[4] Ibid, Pg. 202

[5] 2 Corinthians 10:5

[6] “Admittedly, reasoning does have a role to play; but its function is inherently negative and preparatory; to be precise, rational argument serves to deconstruct false beliefs, and in so doing, to purify the mind. That is all it can do, and indeed all it needs to do; for to the extent that the mind has been purified – the ‘mirror’ wiped clean – the ‘seeing’ takes care of itself. This holds true to the very end: as the Savior assures us: ‘the pure in heart shall see God.’” Ibid, Pg. 202

[7] “We need however to realize that God enters the picture, not only at the end of the metaphysical quest, but from the very outset, and not only as object of the aforesaid ‘wonder,’ but in a way as its subject as well. Indeed, we could in no wise ‘sense’ God outside of ourselves if H were not also present within the depths of our soul as the first ultimate ‘seer.’” Ibid, Pg. 202

[8] Ibid, Pg. 202

[9] “We have maintained, in keeping with sapiential tradition, that metaphysics is inherently a ‘seeing’; it needs also, however, to be noted that every ‘seeing’ – even the humblest act of sense perception – is in a way metaphysical, and can in principle serve to initiate the metaphysical quest. It is a question of following what may be termed ‘the spoor of God’ in visible things. ‘For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made.’ (Rom. 1:20) One may take this to mean that what St. Paul refers to as ‘the invisible things of God’ are in fact what is ‘clearly seen,’ which is to say that they are precisely what would be seen, if indeed we say ‘clearly.’ St. Paul is putting us on notice that in ‘seeing’ we generally ‘see not.’ We are given to understand that a collective blindness has overtaken us, which the Apostle goes on to ascribe to an apostasy, an estrangement from God: ‘Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.’ (Rom. 1:21)” Ibid. Pg, 202, 203

[10] Ibid, Pg. 203

[11] Ibid, Pg. 204

[12] “It is to be noted, moreover, that the phenomenon, by virtue of the fact that it shows itself ‘in itself’ – that is to say, not just in some representation, some private phantasm, but literally ‘in itself’ – does not belong ‘exclusively’ to the external or objective side of the Cartesian divide: it breaks the dichotomy, in other words.” Ibid, Pg. 204

[13] “It should however be noted that in fact – mercifully! – not a single human being accepts this Cartesian stipulation in his or her daily life: to do so would constitute insanity. Instead, we have leaned to oscillate, as it were, between our ‘daily’ Weltanschauung and the Cartesian – we uphold in our scientific convictions – without so much as realizing that these two orientations stand in stark contradiction: that one moment the grass is green and the next it is not!” Ibid, Pg. 205

[14] Ibid, Pg. 208, 209

[15] Ibid, Pg. 210

[16] “But there is more: Goethe’s science is based, not only upon a profound kinship with Nature, but also upon a deep love: a love which cannot but be near to what religion knows as ‘the love of God.’ If Nature be more than a mechanism – more than an inert machine – it must be something noble and beautiful and instinct with power; and that, to be sure, is something worthy to be loved. One senses an almost Franciscan quality in Goethe’s relation to what he termed ‘Nature.Ibid, Pg. 211

[17] Ibid, Pg. 214

[18] “The metaphysical question – which is none other than the task of religion according to its highest conception – reduces thus to a cleansing that rids the soul of its impurities: those intangible and elusive ‘little bits’ that stick to it and impair our vision. We are called to the very ‘purity of heart’ by which we ‘shall see God.’ Nothing less than this will do: such is the perfection Christ has enjoined upon us…” Ibid, Pg. 220

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Metaphysics, Philosophy, Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Metaphysics as Seeing: The Necessity of Metaphysics

Wolfgang Smith - Metaphysics as Seeing The Necessity of MetaphysicsThe journey toward metaphysics as seeing requires preliminary steps to be taken. The first step is to appreciate that when investigating the five most basic questions of life[1] a metaphysical schematic is required, that is, the importance of metaphysics must be recognized. After identifying the importance of metaphysics, another preliminary step is essential in the quest for truth – accepting the intellectual and spiritual necessity of metaphysics.

Comprehending the necessity of metaphysics is imperative because there are many who would deny both of these preliminary steps. However, these metaphysical scoffers do so at their own intellectual and spiritual peril. For it will be seen that those who deny the importance and necessity of metaphysics end up staring at the shadows in the cave rather than gazing upon the light of truth. There is no amount of epistemological trickery, semantic posturing, or scientistic shenanigans that will successfully eliminate the fundamental reality of metaphysical presence. Philosophy and the first principles of wisdom can either be united to a way of life moved by the divine light, or it can be a tool to justify a brutish existence blinded by sensual passion. Indeed, “philosophy always buries its undertakers.”[2]

Throughout the history of philosophy metaphysics has had to overcome challenges. Rather than a comprehensive survey, it would be profitable to focus on the modern confrontations our current era is up against. In his Encyclical, Fides et ratio, Pope St. John Paul II identifies five primary threats against a traditional understanding of Christian philosophy and metaphysics. These threats are eclecticism,[3] historicism,[4] scientism,[5] pragmatism,[6] and nihilism.[7] In addition to Pope St. John Paul II, Thomist philosopher Robert Koons identified a similar catalogue of modern threats to Christian philosophy and metaphysics. He argues “metaphysics faced opposition from five sources in the early twentieth century.”[8] The primary opposition came from subjectivism and phenomenology, positivism, relativism and historicism, pragmatism, and physicalism.[9]

Along with the general identification of philosophical schools of thought that are hostile to traditional metaphysics, there are some common objections routinely made against first philosophy. W. Norris Clarke zeroes in on three basic objections:[10]

  1. No distinctive subject matter.
  2. We, as parts of the Whole, cannot comprehend the Whole.
  3. Objections to metaphysics from modern restrictive theories of knowledge.

The first objection, that metaphysics has no distinctive subject matter, is an attempt to categorically transform metaphysics into something that it cannot be, which is a sort of empirical field of study. The objection amounts to nothing more than a complaint that metaphysics isn’t more like the hard sciences, but this makes no sense because metaphysics is the study of being qua being, and not observable quantifications of concrete reality. Metaphysics is the study of what is fundamental to all the sciences, which is being as such. As Clarke states, “Metaphysics does not have a distinctive subject matter, since it treats of all beings, but it does have a distinctive point of view from which it studies them.”[11] Clarke continues, “It [metaphysics] considers in them only their most fundamental attribute of being and the properties and laws which they have in common with all beings, or all changing and finite beings, as these beings exist in the community of other existent beings, acting and interacting with each other to form the universe in which we are all plunged.”[12][13]

The second objection, that metaphysics is impossible because we, as parts of the Whole, cannot comprehend the Whole, is arguing that in order to comprehend reality in its totality would require a God’s-eye-perspective, which is obviously impossible for creatures like us. It is due to this philosophical impasse that we must, maybe out of polite humility, focus on studying the parts rather than pretending that we can understand the whole.

Clarke does a beautiful job of refuting this objection (emphasis added),

“But this is precisely the wonder and paradox of the spiritual intellect we all possess. Because it is by nature ordered to being as such as its proper object, it is open to the entire horizon of being without restriction, and so can think about it as a whole and about our own place in it, can encompass it in a certain sense in its own thought – not in detail, of course, but in its broad outlines – which other non-intelligent beings in the universe cannot do. Hence, by the very fact that we can raise the question about being as a whole, the human person is not just a part of the universe but a whole, within the Whole. Every person endowed with intelligence is thus, at least implicitly, a point of view on the whole universe. This is an essential part of our dignity as images of God.”[14]

The third objection to metaphysics is based on the epistemological restrictions placed on reality by empiricism, Kantianism, and relativism. The empiricism of David Hume is quite restrictive and claims that all knowledge is derived from sense experience. Because of this limited source of knowledge, there can be no justification for claiming to know anything outside the realm of sense data. Kantianism is the view that knowledge of things-in-themselves is impossible, and the intelligibility of the phenomenal world comes from the categories of our mind as they are imposed on the world. Metaphysics, then, is an illusion of reason because each person is “locked without escape within the walls of our own minds.”[15] Finally, relativism, which is directly related to historicism and postmodernism, claims that every person is bound by the historical, cultural linguistic framework in which they live. Due to this constrained situational epoch, there is no such thing as objectivity or universal knowledge that can surpass the limits of historical circumstances.

A primary problem with empiricism is that it destroys experience for the sake of ignoring fundamental questions of reality. Moreover, empiricism as an epistemological theory violates its own criteria of what constitutes knowledge since the theory of empiricism is not subject to validation through the patterns of data collection required of the five senses. For example, in order to articulate a theory of empiricism an argument must be put forth to make the case. This argument will have basic premises to which our reasoning can syllogistically connect in our intellective capacities. The problem with this is that the premises themselves are not connected by way of sense experience because the intellect itself is not a product of the same sensory input. The intellect is extra-sensory, so to speak, and is the prerequisite for the intelligibility of sensory experience.

The Kantian assault on metaphysics, as sophisticated as it might be, is ultimately incoherent for the reason Clarke outlines,

“One of the central flaws in Kant’s theory of knowledge is that he has blown up the bridge of action by which real beings manifest their natures to our cognitive receiving sets. He admits that things in themselves act on us, on our sense; but he insists that such action reveals nothing intelligible about these beings, nothing about their natures in themselves, only an unordered, unstructured sense manifold that we have to order and structure from within ourselves. But action that is completely indeterminate, that reveals nothing meaningful about the agent from which it comes, is incoherent, not really action at all.”[16]

The objection of relativism, as well as the historicism and postmodernism that follow, fails the same way each relativistic theory fails. Every declaration related to a theory of relativism refutes itself because to claim that there are no objective or universal truths is itself an objective and universal truth claim. This becomes transparent when applied to the suggestion that there can be no objective and universal truth transcending the inherited cultural and linguistic frameworks. Due to the nature of the statement, this claim is itself an objective and universal assertion that allegedly transcends each cultural and linguistic framework because it is meant to describe every culture throughout all of history. It is a self-defeating statement.

These are the modern schools of thought and common objections against the necessity of metaphysics. And while there may have been a resurgent relevance in academic metaphysics during the twentieth century, this recovery has not been in any way influential in the culture. In fact, it might have worked to only further solidify what has already been established among these combative theories and arguments just outlined. The fusion of all philosophical heresies continues to jealously grip the soul of every Western cultural institution.

Despite this death grip, it is imperative to confront the errors of these despotic sophists combatting the truths of perennial wisdom. Although the lists provided above should be respected in their entirety, it is the united ideological synthesis of metaphysical naturalism and epistemic scientism that inexorably reduces to postmodern historicism, relativism, and nihilism. Our enemy, in a word – is atheism.

Brandishing the modern discoveries of science, atheists have proclaimed the death of philosophy, and therefore, the ultimate demise of metaphysical speculation.[17] And while philosophy is claimed to be dead according to atheistic champions, the important questions of life remain. The persistence of life’s ultimate questions needs a new guide, so to speak, since the advances of a technocratic scientism have outdone the ancient teacher.

Who wouldn’t argumentatively shrink from the obvious successes of modern science? Who needs theology and metaphysics when we can carry a computer in our pocket? What can religion offer when its mythical tenets are throwbacks to an era prior to the advent of scientific discovery, progress, and technology? How can the Davidic underdog of traditional philosophy dare challenge the Goliath of modern science?

The advance of scientific progress is a powerful narrative. But underneath the rhetoric of a premature declaration of victory lurks a dirty little secret atheists desperately want to keep hidden. The entire atheistic Weltanschauung depends on a metaphysical and epistemological schematic that is utterly incoherent. Moreover, the truth claims made by the atheist requires a metaphysical extrication from their own materialistic imprisonment so they might rob from the perennial wisdom previously spurned in order to feign intellectual superiority.

The atheist must take from what they have proclaimed to be dead.

It is metaphysical naturalism, however, that is ultimately dead on arrival because it epistemically depends on an ideological scientism that fails for the same reasons empiricism collapses into itself. Scientism cannot abide by its own principles without arguing in a circle, and begging the most important metaphysical questions. Without epistemic scientism metaphysical naturalism loses its offensive arsenal. Edward Feser provides the nails for the scientistic coffin:[18]

  1. Scientism is self-defeating, and can avoid being self-defeating only at the cost of becoming trivial and uninteresting.[19]
  2. The scientific method cannot even in principle provide us with a complete description of reality.[20]
  3. The “laws of nature” in terms of which science explains phenomenon cannot in principle provide us with a complete explanation of reality.[21]
  4. What is probably the main argument in favor of scientism – the argument from the predictive and technological successes of modern physics and the other sciences – has no force.[22]

If these four points are the nails sealing the scientistic coffin, this summary is the dirt pushed into the grave and guarantees its anti-metaphysical demise,

“For scientific inquiry rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: the assumption that there is an objective world external to the minds of the scientists; the assumptions that this world is governed by regularities of the sort that might be captured in scientific laws; the assumption that the human intellect and perceptual apparatus can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since scientific method presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. To break out of this circle requires ‘getting outside’ of science altogether and discovering from that extra-scientific vantage point that science conveys an accurate picture of reality – and, if scientism is to be justified, that only science does so. But then the very existence of that extra-scientific vantage point would falsify the claim that science alone gives us a rational means of investigating objective reality.”[23]

It should be evident that any attempt to avoid, discredit, undermine, or eradicate metaphysics from the human pursuit of truth in the quest to see reality utterly fails. No matter the school of thought or the argument presented attempting to do away with metaphysics through the front door, an instantaneous attempt to smuggle in a schematic of first philosophy in order to maintain rational cogency is ushered in the back. Now that the importance and necessity of metaphysics has been established, the final step toward metaphysics as seeing is possible.

To be completed…

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] These questions were referenced in the previous installment, Metaphysics as Seeing: The Importance of Metaphysics. The questions are – Does God exist; Why is there something rather than nothing; Who am I in relation to all that exists; What is the good life; What happens when we die?

[2] “The reality of the fact itself seems to be beyond question. Plato’s idealism comes first; Aristotle warns everybody that Platonism is heading for scepticism; then Greek scepticism arises, more or less redeemed by the moralism of the Stoics and Epicureans, or by the mysticism of Plotinus. St. Thomas Aquinas restores philosophical knowledge, but Ockham cuts its very root, and ushers in the later medieval and Renaissance scepticism, itself redeemed by the moralism of the Humanists or by the pseudo-mysticism of Nicolaus Cusanus and of his successors. Then comes Descartes and Locke, but their philosophies disintegrate into Berkeley and Hume, with the moralism of Rousseau and the visions of Swedenborg as natural reactions. Kant had read Swedenborg, Rousseau and Hume, but his own philosophical restoration ultimately degenerated into the various forms of contemporary agnosticism, with all sorts of moralism and of would-be mysticisms as ready shelters against spiritual despair. The so-called death of philosophy being regularly attended by its revival, some new dogmatism should now be at hand. In short, the first law to be inferred from philosophical experience is: Philosophy always buries its undertakers.

That is the reason why, at the very time when he was denouncing the illusory character of metaphysical knowledge, Kant sought the root of that illusion in the very nature of reason itself. Hume had destroyed both metaphysics and science; in order to save science, Kant decided to sacrifice metaphysics. Now, it is the upshot of the Kantian experiment that, if metaphysics is arbitrary knowledge, science also is arbitrary knowledge; hence it follows that our belief in the objective validity of science itself stands or falls with our belief in the objective validity of metaphysics. The new question, then, is no longer, Why is metaphysics a necessary illusion, but rather, Why is metaphysics necessary, and how is it that it has given rise to so many illusions?” The Unity of Philosophical Experience, Gilson, Pg. 246, 247

[3] “The first goes by the name eclecticism, which is meant the approach of those who, in research, teaching and argumentation, even in theology, tend to use individual ideas drawn from different philosophies, without concern for their internal coherence, their place within a system or their historical context. They therefore run the risk of being unable to distinguish the part of truth of a given doctrine from elements of it which may be erroneous or ill-suited to the task at hand. An extreme form of eclecticism appears also in the rhetorical misuse of philosophical terms to which some theologians are given at times. Such manipulation does not help the search for truth and does not train reason – whether theological or philosophical – to formulate arguments seriously and scientifically. The rigorous and far-reaching study of philosophical doctrines, their particular terminology and the context is which they arose, helps to overcome the danger of eclecticism and makes it possible to integrate them into theological discourse in a way appropriate to the task.” Fides et Ratio, Pope St. John Paul II, Pg. 108, 109

[4] “Eclecticism is an error of method, but lying hidden within it can also be the claims of historicism. To understand a doctrine from the past correctly, it is necessary to set it within its proper historical and cultural context. The fundamental claim of historicism, however, is that the truth of a philosophy is determined on the basis of its appropriateness to a certain period and a certain historical purpose. At least implicitly, therefore, the enduring validity of truth is denied. What was true in one period, historicists claim, may not be true in another. Thus for them the history of thought becomes little more than an archeological resource useful for illustrating positions once held, but for the most part outmoded and meaningless now. On the contrary, it should not be forgotten that, even if a formulation is bound in some way by time and culture, the truth or the error which it expresses can invariably be identified and evaluated as such despite the distance of space and time.

In theological enquiry, historicism tends to appear for the most part under the guise of ‘modernism.’ Rightly concerned to make theological discourse relevant and understandable to our time, some theologians use only the most recent opinions and philosophical language, ignoring the critical evaluation which ought to be made of them in the light of the tradition. By exchanging relevance for truth, this form of modernism shows itself incapable of satisfying the demands of truth which theology is called to respond.” Ibid, Pg. 109

[5] “Another threat to be reckoned with is scientism. This is the philosophical notion which refuses to admit the validity of forms of knowledge other than those of the positive science; and it relegates religious, theological, ethical and aesthetic knowledge to the realm of mere fantasy. In the past, the same idea emerged in positivism and neo-positivism, which considered metaphysical statements to be meaningless…Regrettably, it must be noted, scientism consigns all that has to do with the question of the meaning of life to the realm of the irrational or imaginary.” Ibid, Pg. 109, 110

[6] “No less dangerous is pragmatism. An attitude of mind which, in making its choices, precludes theoretical considerations or judgments based on ethical principles. The practical consequences of this mode of thinking are significant. In particular there is growing support for a concept of democracy which is not grounded upon any reference to unchanging values: whether or not a line of action is admissible is decided by the vote of a parliamentary majority. The consequences of this are clear: in practice, the great moral decisions of humanity are subordinated to decisions taken one after another by institutional agencies. Moreover, anthropology itself is severely compromised by a one-dimensional vision of the human being, a vision which excludes the great ethical dilemmas and the existential analysis of the meaning of suffering and sacrifice, life and death.” Ibid, Pg. 110, 111

[7] The positions we have examined lead in turn to a more general conception which appears today as the common framework of many philosophies which have rejected the meaningfulness of being. I am referring to the nihilist interpretation, which is at once the denial of all foundations and the negation of all objective truth. Quite apart from the fact that it conflicts with the demands and the content of the word of God, nihilism is a denial of the humanity and of the very identity of the human being. It should never be forgotten that the neglect of being inevitably leads to losing touch with objective truth and therefore with the very ground of human dignity. This in turn makes it possible to erase from the countenance of man and woman the marks of their likeness to God, and thus to lead them little by little either to a destructive will to power or to a solitude without hope. Once the truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try and set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery.” Ibid, Pg. 111

[8] Metaphysics: The Fundamentals, Koons and Pickavance, Pg. 6

[9] Ibid

[10] The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics, Pg. 8-14

[11] Ibid, Pg. 8

[12] Ibid, Pg. 8, 9

[13] “This fundamental dimension of being itself, of the actual existence of what they are studying, is taken for granted by all other branches of knowledge, which then go on to study what it is and how it works. But just because something is taken for granted does not mean that it is unimportant. This is just what metaphysics, and it alone, aims to do: to draw into the explicit light of reflection what all other human inquiry takes for granted and leaves implicit – the foundation of actual existence upon which all else is built and without which all subject matter vanishes into the darkness of nonbeing, of what is not. Martin Heidegger, the great contemporary German metaphysician – not himself a Thomist at all – complained that the whole of Western metaphysics, from Plato on, lapsed into a ‘forgetfulness of being,’ not of what things are, their essences, but of the radical fact that they are at all, standing out from nothingness and shining forth to us.” Ibid, Pg. 9

[14] Ibid, Pg, 10

[15] Ibid, Pg. 11

[16] Ibid, Pg. 12

[17] “We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time.

Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” The Grand Design, Hawking and Mlodinow, Pg. 5

[18] Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, Pg. 10

[19] “First as I have said, scientism faces a dilemma: It is either self-refuting or trivial. Take the first horn of the dilemma. The claim that ‘the methods of science are the only reliable ways to secure knowledge of anything’ (Rosenberg 2011, p. 6) is itself not a scientific claim, not a something that can be established using the scientific method. Indeed, that science is even a rational form of inquiry (let alone the only rational form of inquiry) is not something that can be established scientifically.” Ibid, Pg. 10

[20] “The second main problem facing scientism, I have said, is that science cannot in principle provide a complete description of reality. Indeed, it cannot in principle provide a complete description even of physical reality. The reason, as paradoxical as it sounds, has to do precisely with the method that has made the predictive and technological achievements of modern physics possible. Physics insists upon a purely quantitative description of the world, regarding mathematics as the language in which the ‘Book of Nature’ is written (as Galileo famously put it). Hence it is hardly surprising that physics, more than other disciplines, has discovered those aspects of reality susceptible of the prediction and control characteristic of quantifiable phenomena. Those are the only aspects to which the physicist will allow himself to pay any attention in the first place. Everything else necessarily falls through this methodological net.” Ibid, Pg. 12, 13

[21] “If there are limits to what science can describe, there are also limits to what science can explain. This brings us to the third problem I have claimed faces scientism – the fact that the ‘laws of nature’ in terms of which science explains phenomena cannot in principle provide an ultimate explanation of reality.” Ibid, Pg. 18

[22] “Now if scientism faces such grave difficulties, why are so many intelligent people drawn to it? The answer – to paraphrase a remark made by Wittgenstein in another context – is that ‘a picture holds them captive.’ Hypnotized by the unparalleled predictive technological successes of modern science, they infer that scientism must be true, and that anything that follows from scientism – however fantastic or even seemingly incoherent – must also be true.” Ibid, Pg. 21

[23] Ibid, Pg. 10, 11

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Metaphysics, Philosophy, Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Metaphysics as Seeing: The Importance of Metaphysics

Wolfgang Smith Metaphysics as Seeing Part IThere are five primary questions every person will wrestle with throughout their life, and how these questions are answered will shape who they are and what they might become. Even if these questions are ignored, or suppressed, they will remain lurking in the psyche of each individual. And because there is no escape from these questions any attempt to ignore them is in actuality an answer to them.

The five most important questions every person must confront and provide an answer for are these:

  1. Does God Exist?
  2. Why is there something rather than nothing?
  3. Who am I in relation to all that exists?
  4. What is the good life?
  5. What happens when you die?

These questions are fundamental and ultimate. It is because of their ultimacy that nobody can evade responsibility for providing answers to them. Every moment of any person’s life will result in a way of thinking, knowing, believing, and acting which reflect how these questions have been answered. The answers might be thoroughly examined or they may be entirely unexamined, but either way, they will be answered in the choices we make here and now in this life.

The fundamental importance of these questions is also the strongest reason why so many people attempt to hide from them; because once they have been answered the virtuous will recognize the necessity to submit and conform to the truths discovered. Hiding only leads to ruin and spiritual decay.

While these questions might seem disparate and independent of one another, the truth is they are intricately united by a word that causes modern men to tremble in fear – metaphysics. These five questions are metaphysically united; how the first question is answered will affect the manner in which the rest of the questions are answered. And even if the first question – Does God exist? – is ignored for the sake of starting with the fourth question – What is the good life? – the examination of what constitutes the good life will inevitably lead to whether or not God exists. The impact the divine has on the questions of life are, as we will come to see, world changing.

There are at least three all-encompassing metaphysical questions that directly overlap with the questions of life (these three questions are taken from the book, Metaphysics)

  1. What are the most general features of the World, and what sorts of things does it contain? What is the World like?
  2. Why does a World exist – and, more specifically, why is there a World having the features and the content described in the answer to Question 1?
  3. What is our place in the World? How do we human beings fit into it? [1]

It is evident, then, that there is no way to avoid metaphysics when examining life’s ultimate questions. It is built into the fabric of reality.

As penetrating as these questions might be, and as daunting as metaphysics can become, there are only two general metaphysical frameworks or schematics of reality that make sense given the nature of the questions under examination. For example, God either exists or He does not exist; the world/universe is either infinite or it is finite; there is a purpose or reason for why we are here or there isn’t; there is either a good life or there is not a good life; there is an afterlife or there is not an afterlife; the reality we perceive either exists independently of the mind or it is dependent on the mind; there are minds or there are not. Nuances arise when figuring out how these options might fit together in a coherent whole, but there are really only a couple of available routes from which to choose at the foundational level.

Another way to break down the metaphysical situation is to recognize that throughout the history of rational thought there has been a theistic and a materialistic/atheistic schematic vying for sway in the minds of men, and ultimately the cultures men find themselves living.

The theistic answers to the fundamental metaphysical questions are all of reality and everything therein exists because it has been created by God;[2] God is the necessary being which sustains all of created reality;[3] and human beings are made in His image to love, serve, and honor Him in this life and the next.[4]

The materialist/atheistic answers to the fundamental metaphysical questions are that all of reality is reduced to atomized matter in motion;[5] matter is a brute fact and eternally exists;[6] and human beings are intricately structured products of the material reality they find themselves existing.[7]

The theistic and materialist/atheistic metaphysical schematics cannot both be true. They are both making claims about reality that are fundamentally incompatible. Moreover, this metaphysical incompatibility significantly influences what might constitute the good life, that is, questions concerning moral philosophy, as well as answers concerning the mysteries of life after death.

The ultimate questions of life are vitally important and will impact every person not only by the choices made today, but potentially in the afterlife as well. The answers to the ultimate questions are fundamentally informed by metaphysical presuppositions that can either be examined or left unexamined by those who fear the consequences of what might arise concerning the truth. And these metaphysical presuppositions will directly influence how a person will answer moral questions and questions pertaining to the afterlife. Now that the importance of metaphysics has been established, it is worth examining why metaphysics is necessary and unavoidable.

To be continued…

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] Metaphysics, Inwagen, 3rd Ed., Pg. 4

[2] “The World consists of God and all He has made. God is infinite (that is, he is unlimited in knowledge, power, and goodness) and a spirit (that is, He is not material). He has made both spirit and material things, but all the things he has made are finite or limited. God has always existed, and at a certain moment in the past He first made other things; before that, there had never been anything besides God. God will always exist, and there will always be things He has made.” Ibid, Pg. 5

[3] “God has to exist, just as two and two have to equal four. But nothing else has this feature; everything besides God might not have existed. The things other than God exist only because God (who has the power to do anything) caused them to exist by an act of free will. He could just as well have chosen not to create anything, in which case there would never have been anything besides Himself. Moreover, God not only brought all other things into existence, but he also keeps them in existence at every moment. If God did not at every moment keep the sun and the moon and all other created things in existence, they would immediately cease to exist. Created things no more have the power to keep themselves in existence than stones or lumps of iron have the power to keep themselves suspended in the air.” Ibid, Pg. 5

[4] “Human beings were created by God to love and serve Him forever. Thus, each of them has a purpose or function. In the same sense in which it is true of John’s heart that its function is to pump blood, a human being has free will and can refuse to do the thing for which it was made. What we call human history is nothing more than the working out of the consequences of the fact that some people have chosen not to do what they were created to do.” Ibid, Pg. 5

[5] “The world consists of matter in motion. There is nothing but matter, which operates according to the strict and invariable laws of physics. Every individual thing is made entirely of matter, and every aspect of its behavior is due to the workings of those laws.” Ibid, Pg. 5

[6] “Matter has always existed (and there has always been exactly the same amount of it), for matter can be neither created or destroyed. For this reason, there is no “why” to the existence of the World. Because the World is wholly material, and because matter can be neither created nor destroyed, the World is eternal: it has always existed. The question ‘Why does it exist?’ is a question that can be asked only about a thing that had a beginning. It is a request for information about what caused the thing to come into existence. Since the world is eternal, the question ‘Why does the World exist?’ is meaningless.” Ibid, Pg. 5, 6

[7] “Human beings are complex configurations of matter. Since the World is eternal, the existence of complex configurations of matter is not surprising, for in an infinite period of time, all possible configurations of matter will come to exist. Human beings are just one of those things that happen from time to time. They serve no purpose, for their existence and their features are as much accidents as the existence and shape of a puddle of spilt milk. Their lives – our lives – have no meaning (beyond such purely subjective meaning as we choose to find in them), and they come to an end with physical death, since there is no soul. The only thing being said about the place of human beings in the World is that they are – very temporary – parts of it.” Ibid, Pg. 6

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Politics, Traditionalism

Traditionalist Political Realism & Modern Political Agendas

Traditionalist Political RealismThose who are committed to truth will eventually move towards traditionalist political realism, and those moving toward traditionalist political realism will inevitably begin to recognize the certainty of concrete political agendas.

Traditionalist political realism is a view that is totalizing in nature. It is informed by a theological commitment to the Social Kingship of Christ, which in turn is championed by the Church Militant in its proclamation of the Great Commission. These theological commitments are supported by a metaphysical structure articulated in the ancient tenets of classical realism, which were baptized by the Patristics, and perfected by the Scholastics. Traditionalist political realism also recognizes the reality of hierarchy and authority, which are not add-ons to maintain social tranquility, but are built into the fabric of reality and organically develop in accordance to the social communitarian nature of man. The traditionalist will also pay little attention to rights and focus on duties because there is no such thing as a right not fully guarded by a duty that is ultimately secured by loyal allegiance to the authorities protecting a given culture, which is best expressed in the structure of Catholic monarchy. Rights are empty platitudes if not secured by men committed to their protective duties. It is because of a commitment to duty that the jurisprudence of the traditionalist is perfectionist in nature. Laws are meant to make men better, not to simply secure alleged universal rights derived from the fictitious state of nature whereby a “social contract” is built to invent a just, civil society.

This description of traditionalist political realism obviously stands in stark contrast to the modernist political idealism infecting our current culture, institutions, and government.

Traditionalist political realism recognizes the existence of powerful groups motivated to enact an agenda in society according to a theological and philosophical vision of reality that is looking to overthrow the Catholic worldview. It follows, quite naturally from this, that these inherently secularist, quasi to neo-pagan groups will be informed by a spirituality which prompts them to either be a “prime mover” on the world stage, or if not orchestrating events to implement a specifically selected program, said groups exploit events (usually tragic) to nudge society toward their desired end.

For example, can anybody really deny the historically realized agenda to overthrow throne and altar? Not many people who are privy to the facts of the French Revolution would deny this, and some would even extol the virtues of this particular scheme because of the shared spirituality of anti-logos revolutionary commitments.

Concrete political agendas can be scary for some people today because everybody wants to believe that they have a voice in the public square, that their vote counts toward important political changes, and that they can alter the manner in which government conducts itself following the era of revolution; as if the anti-logos spirituality will be quenched once power has been attained. To the contrary, the political revolutionary commitment will not cease until all opposition has been crushed and is no longer a threat to their chaotic rule. Everyone wants to believe revolution and the groups pushing for societal discord is a thing of the past, but that is ultimately a naive suggestion. It exists here and now. Traditional political realists are those who are not afraid to bring up this uncomfortable fact.

Traditionalists are the scapegoats on behalf of truth.

The Church, guided by the Vicar of Christ, used to acknowledge the reality that there are enemies looking to destroy the Mystical Body of Christ. The Freemasons are one example of this recognition. Times have changed. The heresy of modernism has blinded the clerical hierarchy into believing that if they lay down their arms and accommodate the enemies of Mother Church, these revolutionaries will renounce their agenda. This mentality surrenders the Great Commission given to the Church Militant and establishes a spiritually neutralized Church Ecumenical where the Gospel of Jesus Christ takes a back seat to “meeting people where they are at” or focusing on the “the accompaniment of sinners.” Conversion and repentance are considered to be harsh measures for the ears of modern man. This too is a lie. Modern man, now more than every must hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ no matter the cost.

We must never forget the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“If the world hate you, know ye that it hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: the servant is not greater than his lord. IF they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake: because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the worlds that no other man hath done, they would not have sin: but now they have both seen, and hateth both me and my Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: They have hated me without cause. But when the Paraclete is come, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me: And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning.”[1]

Christ continues this teaching saying,

“These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things I have told you: that when the hour of them shall come, you may remember that I told you.”[2]

The fallen, sinful world hates Jesus Christ, “because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light; for their words were evil.”[3] St. Paul, following the Captain of his own salvation tells us through the church of Corinth (emphasis added), “ For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Gentiles, foolishness: But to them that are called Jews, and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God, is wiser than men: and the weakness of God, is stronger than men.”[4][5]

The Church Militant has been handed what looks like an impossible task. Jesus Christ the God-man, has told us that the world hates him because he is the light exposing the evil works of men; Christ has told his followers that the world will hate them too because they preach the message of Christ crucified, which continually exposes the darkened heart of fallen man in need of salvation; St. Paul, who suffered the hatred of men towards the Gospel he preached, tells us that this message is a stumbling-block because it is not what carnal ears want to hear.

The Church Militant is not meant to compete for popularity points among those who love the world and perishing in their sin.

And while the Great Commission seems impossible given the stakes, Jesus reminds us of a truth that fuels our passion (emphasis added), “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.[6]

The Church Militant is in a battle against those who collaborate against the Kingship of Christ. However, the Church cannot vanquish an enemy it refuses to identify. It is time for the Church Militant to rise up, forget about the nonsense of ecumenism, and commit to proclaiming the revealed truth handed to us in the Great Commission. There will be hostile opposition to baptizing the nations into all that Christ as taught, but our King reminds us that the victory has already been won; He has already overcome the world.

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] John 15:18, 19

[2] John 16:1-4

[3] John 3:19

[4] 1 Corinthians 1:23-25

[5] “The Jews, in the mean time, ask for miracles, such as God formerly wrought in their favor, and the Greeks, or the Gentiles, to be converted, expect from us, what they would look upon as the highest points of human wisdom and knowledge; for that which appeareth the foolishness of God, is wiser than men, and able to confound the highest human wisdom; and that which appeareth weakness of God, is stronger than men, who cannot hinder God from converting the world, by means and methods, that seem so disproportioned to this his design. Wi. – Foolishness. That is to say, what appears foolish to the world in the ways of God, is indeed most wise: and what appears weakness, is indeed above all the strength and comprehension of man.” Douay-Rheims Commentary

[6] John 16:33

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Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Wolfgang Smith: Modern Science & Guenonian Critique

Wolfgang Smith on Scientistic IdolatryIn the previous article examining the thought of Wolfgang Smith, three modern paradigms through which reality is interpreted were identified. These paradigms were the Newtonian, the Darwinian, and the Copernican. It is important to recall that while Smith is critical of the paradigms, he is willing to recognize legitimate scientific discoveries made despite the faulty lenses interpreting these findings. For example, Smith is highly critical of the mechanistic metaphysical framework of the Newtonian paradigm, while simultaneously acknowledging discoveries made through its application. This is relevant because Smith’s essay, Modern Science and Guenonian Critique, begins by saying, “Reading Rene Guenon’s discourse on modern science more than half a century after it was written, one is struck not only by the depth of its penetration, but also, to a lesser degree, by its glaring insufficiencies.”[1] In the previous article, Smith disassociates what he believes to be faulty philosophical analysis applied to the various fields of science, and in this essay, he disassociates what he believes to be an overzealous philosophical critique of legitimate scientific discovery.

Smith recognizes in the Guenonian critique a penetrating metaphysical analysis of modernity and its scientistic reduction of reality to that which is merely quantifiable. This hyper-reductionism is leading our modern world toward an ongoing “descent to the lowest point.”[2] Smith agrees, and referencing Guenon, argues that if our modern contemporaries knew where ‘the reign of quantity’ was leading society, “the modern world would at once cease to exist as such.”[3] But this is where Smith’s agreement with the Guenonian critique ends. He says,

“However, along with such major recognitions – which I find unprecedented and indeed definitive – there are aspects of the Guenonian doctrine that strike me as less felicitous. I charge that these questionable tenets are not only gratuitous – that is to say, uncalled for on the basis of Guenon’s central contentions – but demonstrably false. What primarily invalidates the Guenonian critique, as it pertains to physics in particular, is the failure to recognize that in the midst of what is admittedly a ‘scientific mythology,’ there stands nonetheless a ‘hard science,’ a science capable of an actual knowing, ‘partial’ though it be. As I have argued repeatedly, the one thing most needful for a just appraisal of modern science is the distinction between ‘scientific knowledge’ and ‘scientistic belief,’ that is to say, between science, properly so called, and scientism. Yet it appears that nowhere does Guenon draw that crucial distinction, apparently for the simple reason that he does not credit contemporary science with any bona fide knowledge at all. Admittedly, science and scientism are invariably joined in practice, and prove indeed to be de facto inseparable; whosoever has moved in scientific circles will have no doubt on that score. It can even be argued that scientistic belief plays a vital role in the process of scientific discovery, that in fact it constitutes a pivotal element in the scientific quest. Yet, even so, I maintain that the two faces of the coin are as different as night and day, and need to be sharply distinguished.”[4]

It is important to take a moment to reflect on what it is Smith is looking to accomplish overall in his argumentation. Smith’s general criticism of the modern scientistic ideology is that bad philosophy has been illegitimately united to good science. The flawed paradigms have lead to supposed discoveries of scientific paradoxes, but in truth, they are the result of erroneous philosophical interpretations of reality. Identifying these paradigms, the anti-myths, which lend credence to the contemporary mechanistic cataract by which modern man views the world is the first step toward resolving these “paradoxes.” Following their identification – the Newtonian, the Darwinian, and the Copernican – they must be stripped away from the legitimate scientific discoveries being made in the hard sciences so that they might be reinterpreted by the corrective traditions of the perennial metaphysical and ontological understanding of an organically united natural world. However, it is important to guard against what Smith is criticizing in this essay, which is, to refrain from throwing the scientific ‘baby’ out with the dirty metaphysical ‘bathwater.’ Smith is walking the tightrope between these two extreme positions, that of ideological scientism and metaphysical fundamentalism. To successfully walk this line, Smith unites scientific discovery to the ancient wisdom of the perennial philosophical traditions.

The Guenonian critique, then, can be expressed by two basic principles – ‘solidification’ and ‘dissolution.’ And if I am understanding Smith’s analysis, he would maintain that these two principles correlate to the Cartesian bifurcation of reality, the eradication of essences and substance from modern metaphysics, and the institutionalization of these philosophical dogmas within the ‘scientific’ worldview.[5]

Following the introductory analysis of the Guenonian critique, Smith proceeds to argue that the discoveries of quantum mechanics opens interesting pathways towards reconciling traditional metaphysics and ontology to these findings. In order to accomplish this, Smith argues that, “the very possibility of mathematical physics is based upon the fact that every corporeal object X is associated with a corresponding physical object SX, which in the final count reduces to an aggregate of quantum particles.”[6] This distinction is made so that it can be recognized that X and SX are not identical, and that they belong to differing ontological planes pertaining to reality.[7] Moreover, Smith identifies the rule that, “SX determines the quantitative properties of X; and this is the reason, of course, why there can be a mathematical physics.”[8] According to Smith, moving in this direction points toward accepting the fact that contemporary physics can only be appropriately discerned from a distinctly metaphysical point of view.[9] Admitting the need for a viable metaphysical and ontological interpretation of the quantum realm, and following a brief examination of the importance of measurement and probability, Smith says this,

“It turns out, quite unexpectedly, the physicist is catching a glimpse of materia, of the Aristotelian hyle. Not in itself – not as a ‘pure potency’ or a mere possibility – but as a weighted possibility: as a probability, to be exact. Whether he realizes it or not the quantum physicist is looking in – through a keyhole, as it were – at the mysteries of cosmogenesis: not in the bogus sense of big bang theory, but ontologically, in the here and now. By way of quantum theory he has entered upon an ontological domain ‘prior’ to the union of matter and form: onto a sub-existential plane which presumably has never before been accessed by man.[10]

When reality has been correctly interpreted by properly uniting the authentic discoveries of science to that of a superior and traditional metaphysical world picture, the corporeal and physical domains become uniquely seated in their hierarchically cogent ontological planes. So construed, the Guenonian critique of modern science is appropriately corrected to include spheres of knowledge discovered by the exceptional methodological powers of the hard sciences.

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] Science & Myth, Pg. 25

[2] Ibid, Pg. 26

[3] Ibid, Pg. 26

[4] Ibid, Pg. 26, 27

[5] “The decisive event in the evolution of modern thought was no doubt the exclusion of essences effected by Galileo and Descartes, and the concomitant adoption of a bifurcationist epistemology which relegates perceptible qualities to the subjective domain. These metaphysical and epistemological infractions, however, do not in themselves invalidate the modus operandi of a science concerned exclusively with the quantitative aspects of reality. From a methodological point of view, the exclusion of essences constitutes simply the delimitation that defines and thus constitutes the domain of physical science; and it is by no means paradoxical that the science in question owes its prowess precisely to that very reduction of its scope; as Goethe has wisely observed…Let us note, at the same time, that since the logic of contemporary physics is positivistic or operational, as the prevailing philosophies of science aver, that science has nothing to do – on a technical plane! – with the Cartesian premises; and if it happens that contemporary physicists, in their scientistic beliefs, remain affected by a residual Cartesianism, this does nothing to invalidate the positive findings of physics as such. The knowledge in question may be miniscule by comparison to higher modes, and may indeed conduce to dissolution, as Gueonon avers, but constitutes, even so, a bona fide though partial mode of knowing.

On the other hand, Gueonon’s failure to distinguish between science and what he terms ‘scientific mythology’ does not invalidate his perception of the scientific enterprise as the dominant factor driving contemporary humanity ‘downwards’ to the end-point of its cycle. He broaches the question by pointing out that the public at large is prone to accept ‘these illusory theories’ blindly as veritable dogmas ‘by virtue of the fact that they call themselves ‘scientific,’ and goes on to note that the term ‘dogma’ is indeed appropriate, ‘for it is a question of something which, in accordance with the anti-traditional modern spirit, must oppose and be substituted for religious dogmas.’ What follows, in The Reign of Quantity, is an elaborate analysis of the modern and indeed postmodern world, which has rarely, if ever, been equaled either in depth or in breadth.

It is of major importance to recall that Guenon distinguishes two principal phases in the ongoing descent, which he designates by the terms ‘solidification’ and ‘dissolution’; and it is of interest to note that he enunciated this distinction at a time when physics was just entering the second aforesaid phase through the discovery of quantum mechanics. Although Guenon displayed no more interest in the new physics (which came to birth between 1925 and 1927) than in its Newtonian predecessor, and seems hardly to take not of the quantum revolution, it is clear that the advent of quantum theory does indeed mark the de-solidification of the physical universe. Not only, however, does this development – which came as a complete surprise and major shock to the scientific community – accord with the principles of the Guenonian analysis, but as I will show in the sequel, that analysis provides in fact the key to a metaphysical understanding of quantum theory, and thus of contemporary physics at large: they very science, that is, the existence of which Guenon never recognized!” Ibid, Pg. 30, 31

[6] Ibid, Pg. 34

[7] Ibid, Pg. 34

[8] Ibid, Pg. 34

[9] Ibid, Pg. 34

[10] Ibid, Pg. 37, 38

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