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Gentile against Spinozism

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 at 21:39

Giovanni Gentile on Dr John Dunn. Giovanni Gentile


Spinoza’s Ethics is composed as a doctrine of freedom - a freedom to be acquired by liberating the soul from the passions. In order to free ourselves from our passions we must only know them, that is, we must discover their causes and understand their natural necessity… In such a conception, reality was nature, the universe, existing independently of human thought which only aspired to know it, without ever attempting to transform it into a better world of its own - the moral world. Hence the essential function of the human spirit was conceived as a purely theoretical and speculative activity, without any practical power. The will… was degraded by such a doctrine to a mere device of reasoner compelling human conduct to conform the laws of nature. Its function was therefore negative rather than positive; it was destined to put out of man’s mind any foolish desire to oppose himself vainly to reality, which, being what it is, cannot be changed to please us…

In such a system feeling can find no place. It is a hindrance to man who, being born to develop completely his rational nature, is from the beginning entangled in his senses, which are at once the means and the obstacle to human knowledge…


In the universality of reason there is no mine or thine, I or thou, this or that; the universal is an object of knowledge but is not the knowing subject. It has no personality, and it is not spirit…

…With Christianity there arises a new concept of life, no longer as nature, but as spirit…

…They point to something that seems to be a new nature, a grace, a virtue freely bestowed without his doing anything to deserve it, but which is nothing in its pure immediacy - the immediacy that deprives the spirit of all freedom and consequently of all merit, thus degrading it to a state of nature. Grace is not fate! This is the hard problem which the new age has for so long attempted to penetrate. But however mysterious it remained for a still immature reflection, men drew from it the firm assurance that the principle of salvation was within them that it was there they must seek it, at the source of their life; there lay the treasure. The subject began to prevail over the object; the spirit, with all the strength of its inner life, began to lift itself above nature.


(Giovanni Gentile, The Philosophy of Art)

Posted by John Dunn.

The human mind partakes

Thursday, 2 November 2017 at 21:20

Plethon on Dr John Dunn. Plethon



II. God in De Differentiis
Plethon treats of God in the first three substantive paragraphs of De Differentiis. His first claim is that "...Plato's view is that God, the supreme sovereign, is the creator of every kind of intelligible and separate substance, and hence of our entire universe. Aristotle, on the other hand, never calls God the creator of anything whatever, but only the motive force of the universe."


The Aristotelian causality of Aquinas and Augustine, is the conception of God as the One who imparts a cause or a motion to things, a beginning with an effect and teleology.

Between cause and effect Aristotle opened a gap between man’s will and the divine. God was absolutely transcendent and man was left on earth by himself. This development was not atheism, God was there after all, He created the universe. He may be good or benign, but we cannot say or know for sure.

The gap opened up by causality was filled later by Enlightenment thinking, which ran counter to the emergent Platonic ideals of Dante and others during the Renaissance. The Enlightenment thinkers were the heirs of Augustine and Aquinas, not their nemeses.

Giordano Bruno would die for his heresy against the church’s accommodation with Aristotle, not against Christianity per se.

The sun metaphor illuminated Dante’s idea of the Trinity as the inexhaustible source that keeps giving. It gives to all and we are all part of this gift that is so loved by a Creator who ‘never takes his eyes off it’.

Dante rejected the causa efficiens of Augustine and Aquinas in favour of a creation that involved the participation of the creatures. More than just the result of efficiency and aetiology (cause), the human mind partakes of the inexhaustible source of light.


© John Dunn.

Also Spoke Zarathustra

Wednesday, 1 November 2017 at 20:11

Zarathustrian good versus evil on Dr John Dunn.

Zarathustrian struggle between good and evil








Why did Nietzsche choose Zarathustra to be the voice of his great work of social commentary and philosophy? Nietzsche’s answer was that ‘Zarathustra had been the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things’.

This I can understand. It is about an essential confrontation underlying all things that has been lost, or covered over, in the modern world.

But the overcoming of morality; this have I yet to thoroughly understand.

Thus spoke Nietzsche

People have never asked me, as they should have done, what the name Zarathustra precisely means in my mouth, in the mouth of the first Immoralist; for what distinguishes that philosopher from all others in the past is the very fact that he was exactly the reverse of an immoralist. Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things. The translation of morality into the metaphysical, as force, cause, end in itself, was HIS work. But the very question suggests its own answer. Zarathustra CREATED the most portentous error, MORALITY, consequently he should also be the first to PERCEIVE that error, not only because he has had longer and greater experience of the subject than any other thinker--all history is the experimental refutation of the theory of the so-called moral order of things:--the more important point is that Zarathustra was more truthful than any other thinker. In his teaching alone do we meet with truthfulness upheld as the highest virtue--i.e.:the reverse of the COWARDICE of the 'idealist' who flees from reality. Zarathustra had more courage in his body than any other thinker before or after him. To tell the truth and TO AIM STRAIGHT: that is the first Persian virtue. Am I understood?... The overcoming of morality through itself--through truthfulness, the overcoming of the moralist through his opposite--THROUGH ME--: that is what the name Zarathustra means in my mouth.
Nietzscheq quoted by ELIZABETH FORSTER-NIETZSCHE in her introduction to her brother’s THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA: A BOOK FOR ALL AND NONE

Nietzsche Archives,

Weimar, December 1905.


Posted by John Dunn.

Renaissance: Counter-Renaissance

Monday, 30 October 2017 at 20:46

Book cover to Renaissance: Counter-Renaissance on Dr John Dunn.



The Renaissance was not simply a rebirth of classical thought from out of the Dark Ages, that led seamlessly to the Reformation, the so-called Enlightenment and on to modernity. It was, rather, a conscious uprising against a ruling oligarchy that had imposed its ideas upon the minds of an enslaved mankind for a thousand years.

Men and women were crushed under the Diocletian Order for the whole of the Dark Ages, whilst their spirit was held in the religious shackles of the Jehovian Settlement. Yet a light flickered during these long dark centuries, a Platonic Underground, a conspiracy of intelligence, which kept alive the ideas that were eventually to burgeon forth in Dante’s unsurpassable Divine Comedy.

There have been innumerable mystical interpretations of Dante’s revolutionary masterpiece over the centuries, but all these readings have been, and continue to be, nothing other than decoys from the main point of the work, which is politically the most explosive ever written.

For in this work, the individual attains both crown and mitre, the power of mind over which no secular or clerical authority can rule.

It is the Comedy because of its positive ending, as opposed to a tragedy; and what an ending - nothing less than man’s deification, capax Dei, man become god.

So explosive were these writings that they triggered an uprising against the Guelphic oligarchy, a cultural, philosophical and political revolution that has since come to be known as the Renaissance.

A correct reading of Dante’s Comedy is thus essential to an undistorted understanding of the Renaissance. It is also needed if a consciousness of the Counter-Renaissance is to be rescued from the obscurantism of Guelphic histories.

These were the revolutionary ideas that inspired Nicholas of Cusa, Gemistos Plethon, Erasmus and Thomas More, amongst many others, providing the intellectual groundwork for the flowering of art, culture, philosophy and political ideas that had the potential to lift mankind out of bestiality and into a deified realm.

The potential was never fully realised. The Renaissance was crushed by the resurgent ruling oligarchy in a Counter-Renaissance, which was more ruthless in its exploitation and bestialisation of mankind on a global scale than ever before. Most cruelly, the mind of man has remained controlled and manipulated by the Guelphic oligarchy in the name of freedom ever since.

New theoretical work is needed to explain how mankind was led once more into this state of bestiality. In response, my book, Renaissance: Counter-Renaissance, presents a reading of the Comedy as Dante intended, in order that the ideas driving the Renaissance uprising might be fully appreciated.

The origins of feudalism are traced in the Diocletian Order, which was inseparable from the Jehovian Settlement of Constantine, the newly constructed Christian creed of Nicaea, which enchained minds and subdued whole populations to lives of abasement for the next millennium and more.

The path of the Renaissance uprising is followed to where it led politically. Likewise the Counter-Renaissance, explaining how the Diocletian Order and Jehovian Settlement were re-established in new and vigorous forms, and how mankind remains enslaved as a result.

Connecting the socio-political issues confronting Dante with those of our own time has necessitated a transdisciplinary approach, one that recovers a coherent narrative from beneath the crazed ‘histories’ of the disconnected academic disciplines. The result is a reading of the past that has serious implications for the future.


© John Dunn.

A Zoroastrian reflection of Heaven on earth, and the force which opposes this

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 21:41

Zarathustran good and evil on Dr John Dunn. Asha, for Zarathustra, was ideal creation, the totality of the vision of ideal existence. It is a fundamental concept of Zoroastrianism. There is no adequate translation of Asha, although the following impart something ofits essence. World-order, Truth, Right, righteousness and holiness. In short, it did not mean in our small-minded empirical way, the truth or falsity of a statement.

The Truth for Zarathustra was the relationship of all things in such a way that nothing occurs at the expense of something else. In such perfect harmony there is no friction in existence.

This ideal world of Zarathustra was to be idealised in the material world. Ahura Mazda, God, literally 'Wise Lord', the Supreme Being of the Zoroastrians, in his wisdom conceived ofa perfect existence in purely ideal terms and this is what is called Asha, the Truth.

So Truth then means an ideal form of existence,where nothing is in conflict, or in abrasion, with anything else. It is also the notion of social justice. In an earthly reflection of the World-order, no-one prospers at the cost of somebody’s injury.

The ideal world was supposed to be actualised in matter, lived in Asha, to a state of total perfection.

However,and here comes the essential dualist doctrine of Zarathustra, within the material world there is also the possibility that Asha may not be actualised.

Indeed, Zarathustra says there are two forces. Thereis the spirit which promotes Asha and there is the spirit which opposesand frustrates Asha.

And this is the eternal dualism, the struggle between good and evil.

Christianity once recognised such a struggle, but now it is glossed over by pseudo-Christianity, Judaeo-Christianity.

Jesus,the incarnation of Truth, confronted the evil epitomised by Pharisaic self-righteousness and hypocrisy, and the Roman moral relativism of Pontius Pilate. Said Jesus, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34)


© John Dunn.

Epoptika!

Monday, 16 October 2017 at 21:13

Epoptika flash of light on Dr John Dunn.



At the climax to the Comedy, Dante conjured a vision of Eleusinian light, epoptika! no less, a participative union with the ‘glory of Him who moves all things’, capax Dei.

...my mind was struck by a flash
In which what it desired came to it.


The power of man’s imagination, and the creative freedom from servitude to sense perception were central, literally central, to the participative nature of man’s relationship to God explored in the Comedy.

With the imagination, man is of all animals uniquely endowed to imagine, look forward, contemplate new futures and, above all, hope. As such man has an active rather than a passive relationship to God. Man’s creativity, expressed through art, was the hallmark of the Renaissance, a movement that had its seeds in Dante’s imagination.

Dante’s experience of the One is Eleusinian, it revives Plato’s own employment of the Eleusis metaphor of philosophical enlightenment. Jesus is absent from Dante’s great Christian work, despite the incarnation, ‘our effigy’, being prominent.

Dante's devotional epic was expressive of a Christianity that was deeply Hellenic and Platonic.

....out of a tradition that was firmly rooted in the Hellenist origins of Christianity.


© John Dunn.

With the angels or the sheep?

Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 18:24

Dante on Dr John Dunn.











Dante lists those excluded from the inner circle.


  1. Those with a defect of body occurs when its parts do not function correctly, so that it cannot receive anything, as with the deaf, the dumb, and suchlike.
  2. Those with a defect of the spirit, which occurs when evil conquers it, so that it follows vicious pleasures, by which it is so deceived that through it everything becomes vile.
  3. Those with domestic and civic responsibility, which properly engages most men, so that they have no time for contemplation.
  4. Those with a defect arising from the location where someone is born and raised, which often not only lacks all places of learning, but is distant from educated people.
1 and 3 are deserving of excuse and pardon; the other two merit our censure and scorn, though one more than the other.

Anyone who reflects deeply can plainly see that there are few who can attain to that habit of knowledge desired by all, while those who live deprived forever of this nourishment are innumerable. Oh, blessed are the few who sit at that table where the bread of angels is eaten! And wretched are those who must graze along with the sheep!

(From the opening paragraphs of Book 1 of Il Convivio [The Banquet] by Dante Alighieri)


© John Dunn.
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