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Heidegger back to Earth

Monday, 9 September 2019 at 21:15

Heidegger on Dr John Dunn. So there is a never ending cycle, which is played out over and over again in art, literature and philosophy.

The individual, just like all the others, is born a fool, in innocence and idiocy, part of nature, unconscious and subject to necessity.

Some of this number achieve individuation through, perhaps, a chance encounter or sin and transgression.

There ensues a painfully conscious subjection to nature, a recognition of an underlying oneness. Jung’s Unus Mundi is the prime example.

Redemption thus becomes sacrificial and involves a return to the One.

The break in the cycle comes with death, which is the end of time for the individual or the end times for Mankind.

This is why time went hand in hand with being for Heidegger who believed that time - being finite - is what gives humans the ability to act uniquely as individuals.

We experience the world with a forward looking orientation. We must have agoal and that goal is temporal. We project an idea into the future.

We do not exist in time, but as time, we are time. The past, the present and the future are jumbled up in human experience. Time is subjective and personal.

But Heidegger also stressed that unless life is lived towards death, the personal subjectivity of time leads to a false individuation or inauthentic life, something akin to the life of the innocent fool with which we started.

Only a life lived towards death leads to true individuation and can free theindividual from the mundane oblivion of everyday life.

Nevertheless, with Heidegger we return to the cycle with which we started. His true individuation is at once a sacrifice of the singular existence and neverallows the individual to become truly separated. Freedom from the mundane demands the individual’s consciousness of its finitude, which atthe same time ties him to the eternal flow of beings in their constant passage from Earth to World and again back to Earth.

© John Dunn.

Nietzsche strictly Darwinian

Saturday, 7 September 2019 at 21:23

Nietzsche on Dr John Dunn. There is no Word ‘in the beginning’ for Nietzsche. Consciousness and reason are not tied to an original Logos for which it is man’s cosmic destiny to give voice and expression. There is no Logos that might be construed as the Godhead, the divinity in which man might somehow share. No - for Nietzsche God is really dead, very seriously dead.

Reason and consciousness for Nietzsche are extensions to man’s biological functions and no more. He sees them purely in Darwinian terms. Consciousness is confined to man only and will die with man in a mere millisecond of the cosmic expanse of time.

The vast libraries of human genius are according to Nietzsche destined to immolation in the death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.

Nietzsche expresses the time-bound limitations to man’s endeavours in a parable:

In some remote corner of the universe,... there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the haughtiest and most mendacious minute of ‘world history’ – yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have [changed]. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer give it such importance, as if the world pivoted it...
Nietzsche explains the purpose of the intellect in Darwinian evolutionary terms only.
The intellect, as a means for the preservation of the individual, unfolds its chief powers in [deception]; for this is the means by which the weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves, since they are denied the chance of waging the struggle for existence with horns or thefangs of beasts of prey.” (On Truth and Lying in an Extra-Moral Sense 1873)
Predicting Freud and expanding upon Darwin, Nietzsche explains further that in the full-flowering of the intellect our instinct-nature has been supplanted by consciousness and reason. In his On the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche asks the question:
…how should such a courageous and richly endowed animal not also be the most imperilled, the most chronically and profoundly sick of all sick animals?
The most profound symptom of this sickness is the internalisation of man

All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward – this is what I call the internalisation of man: thus it was that man first developed what was later called his ‘soul.’
Instead of seeking a cure for this sickness, Nietzsche, in his Will to Power, asserts that this ‘sickness’ will continue to give an evolutionary advantage to the entire organism that is man.

He claims that ‘the body is a more astonishing idea than the old “soul”’, he also claims that, ‘it is a history of the development of a higher body that emerges into our sensibility. The organic is rising to yet higher levels’ – i.e., “the entire evolution of the spirit’”.

However, it is within time-bound consciousness and reason, (whether time-bound refers to a span of life or to the span of humankind’s entire existence) that Nietzsche’s highs of the human spirit are attained, i.e., strictly within ‘the mendacious minute of world history’.

There is no freedom in Nietzsche’s evolutionary ‘internalisation of man’, no escape inwards from the cycle of birth and death - the time-boundedness of it all, in other words the finality of death, will always confine man. There may be purpose in this evolutionary progress to the higher body of a superman, but to Nietzsche the purpose is strictly Darwinian in scope.

© John Dunn.

Issue central

Saturday, 24 August 2019 at 21:35

Luria on Dr John Dunn. Historically, there has been a central philosophical issue.

The relationship of the individual human being to the One, the originating entity, Spinoza’s Substance, the All, Nature, or God if you will.

This is a central issue because it impacts upon thinking about what it means to be human.

The emanation of all manifest things from the One was a concept originating in Plato’s work and neo-platonism.

Importantly, this Platonic emanationism was taken up by Judaic Kabbalah in the Middle Ages and was absorbed into mainstream western thinking in all its variants, be they philosophical, theological, alchemical, scientific and more.

A key figures in all this was Isaac Luria (pictured), who reworked the Kabbalah into a metaphor of exile and return, which resonated with Jews as disparate in their approaches as Spinoza and Sabbatai Zevi.

Spinoza was undoubtedly the catalyst figure in the development of enlightenment thinking.

Kabbalistic Freemasonry and the scientific endeavours of the Royal Society also had huge influences, to such an extent that the thought medium in which we now all swim is a kabbalistic-scientific soup.

The human being is reduced to being one amongst countless other manifestations of the One, a mode of existence of the One, that is one amongst countless other manifestations of Nature.

The often unspoken watchword of this near-universal standpoint of modern times is - ‘freedom is the recognition of necessity’, meaning that mankind is powerless to change Nature; the best we can hope to do is understand it and submit to it.

And yet - to submit to the Law of the One is the suicide of the self.

How is the self preserved? How is the self reborn?

© John Dunn.

Supreme irritant

Monday, 12 August 2019 at 21:11

Heidegger on Dr John Dunn. Reading Benjamin Crowe’s essay Heidegger's Romantic Personalism prompted a metaphor in my thinking.

Crowe writes that Martin Heidegger (left) aimed to replace superficial banality with "inner truthfulness" by calling into question the "masks" behind which individuals and societieshide from the task of self-responsibility.

Another way of looking at what Heidegger deems to be the philosopher’s task is to see him as the irritant sand within the oyster, with the irritant being a metaphor for induced anxiety.

The "rigour" of philosophy, which "must heighten anxious worry in its constant renewal in the facticity of Dasein, and must ultimately make actual Dasein insecure" (Collected Works, 59 174). Philosophy is to be understood, in Heidegger's view, as a "counter-motion," a "motion against [Gegenbewegtheit]" the "ruinance" that life inflicts upon itself (Collected Works, 61 132/99). Philosophy must join "the constant struggle of factical, philosophical interpretation against its own ruinance, a struggle that always accompanies the process of the actualisation of philosophising" (Collected Works, 61 153/114).

Out of the response to the philosophically induced anxiousness will come the pearl of authenticity. Thus the role of the philosopher is to make life hard for itself.

This [i.e., making life hard] is the only duty philosophical research can be required to fulfil, unless of course it wants to miss its object completely. All making it easy, all the seductive compromising of needs, all the metaphysical tranquillisers prescribed for problems that have been for the most part derived from mere book learning - the basic intention of all of this is from the start to give up with regard to thetask that must in each case be carried out, namely, bringing the object of philosophy into view, grasping it, and, indeed, preserving it (Natorp Report).
Posted by John Dunn.

The One conundrum

Saturday, 10 August 2019 at 20:25

The kabbalistic Tree of Life was first formulated as an image in 1516 as the frontispiece to the Latin translation of Gikatilla's Gates of Light.

A development of the image later appeared in Cordovero's Pardes Rimonim, published in Cracow in 1591.

A later development was created by Robert Fludd in 1620 - illustrating in an overtly inverted tree that everything has its roots in the One, which is above all.

The Tree popularly known today appeared in Oedipus Aegyptiacus of Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit priest, published in the middle of the 17th century.

This dates the visual development of the Tree of Life to the period coveringthe height of the Reformation to the end of the Thirty Years War, whichmay have some relevance.

The Tree of Life is a pantheistic depiction of oneness as a picture of the macrocosm. It gives an account of the creation of the world, accompanied by the Sefirot emanating from the transcendent God. It also charts the cosmic harmony of the universe upheld by the Sefirot under the constraining influence of the polar system of opposites. In short, it is a model of the divine world order, and in manifesting the invisible God through His attributes, it is also an image of God as everything.

Where does this leave the freedom of man within this God as everything?

This is a conundrum confronted by Freemasonry. Labor in the First Degree hasthe goal of the individuation of the Self, and in the process of interior development this individuation is essential. Only a person operating from the level of Tiferet/Self can assume responsibilities andexercise freewill. This is the rationale for placing the Self at Tiferet, the sefirah (singular) connected with ego.

Yet an independent entity with genuine freewill is inconsistent with the existence of a pantheistic oneness. In the course of the mystical ascent that is the apparent Freemasonry path, there comes a time when one must surrender one's freewill to the Divine Will; and, indeed, one must give up the concept of one's Self as an separate entity.

In this sense, the Tree of Life can also refer to man as a microcosm, the ideal man created in the image of God. Interpreted in this way, it becomes a way of salvation for the mystic seeking deliverance from the bonds of flesh through the soul's union with God. The arrangement of the Sefirot from the bottom to the top of the diagram marks the path which he has tofollow in order to attain the ultimate goal, the crown of heaven represented by the Sefirah number one, Keter.

© John Dunn.

A Seraph is a lover

Thursday, 8 August 2019 at 21:20

Pico dela Mirandolla on Dr John Dunn. In his Oration on the Dignity of Man, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote that: ‘in the court beyond the world, closest to the most exalted Godhead’… the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones occupy ‘the first places’.

He argued there is no reason why we cannot aspire to be like the first amongst these angelic orders i.e., the Seraphim, which ‘burns with the fire of charity’.

Attainment of the status of Seraph is all about love.

‘If we burn with love for the Creator only’, wrote Pico, ‘His consuming fire will quickly transform us into the flaming likeness of the Seraphim’.

Then comes the transfigurative leap. Pico wrote:

Whoever is a Seraph, that is a lover, is in God and God is in him; even, it may be said, God and he are one.
This is the love and dialectical relationship to God from 1John:
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)
This is God and man in a dialectically sustaining relationship, one needing the other.

© John Dunn.


Tuesday, 6 August 2019 at 21:09

Tracing board on Dr John Dunn. I have read an article recently in which the author states the Freemasonic view of the Renaissance, arguably the current culturally paradigmatic view.* He wrote:

Three fundamental ideas seem to characterise the Renaissance view: First, theDeity was considered to be without limit. This resulted in a view of all existence as a single, tightly integrated unity centred on the Deity. A particularly clear statement of this view comes from the Hermetica:‘... for God contains all things, and there is nothing that is not in God, and nothing which God is not. Nay, I would rather say, not that God contains all things, but that, to speak the full truth, God is all things.’Second, earthly experiences were considered to reflect events in the heavenly realms; the succinct statement of this idea is, ‘As above; so below.’ There must be a correspondence between that which occurs in the higher (heavenly, causal) levels and that which occurs at the lower (earthly) ones. Third, knowledge of the ‘higher,’ or more subtle, aspects of the Universe was thought to be available only by experience (i.e. by one’s own revelation); certainly not by logical argument, nor, ultimately, by faith in the authority of another’s revelations.
However, it seems to me that this mono-cosmography or, to use a more familiar term, pantheistic worldview, became the dominant thinking of the Enlightenment following the Renaissance, during a Counter-Renaissance so to speak. These ideas were perhaps driven by the concept of The One in Platonic and neo-Platonic thought, as well as the Judaic Kabbalah, which was derived from Platonism, as far as the ineffable Oneness of the beginning of things is concerned. These ideas took hold during the Renaissance with Plethon’s reintroduction of Plato’s writings into the West, as well as the surge of interest in the Kabbalah in Western Europe at roughly the same time, and contributed to the downfall of the Renaissance in a Counter-Renaissance. Mono-cosmographical ideas are found amongst all the canonised prophets of the modern era, most notably in Jung’s work.

Freemasonry may operate secretly, but in doing so it is reinforcing the dominant intellectual paradigm of our time. It counters the idea of the separateness of creatures from the creator, which was the core principle of Renaissance thought, i.e., the idea of capax Dei, the capacity for God, the capacity of man to be a disrupter, destroyer or creator in his own right.

*W. Kirk MacNulty, Masonic Tracing Boards and the Western Metaphysical Tradition.

© John Dunn.
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