The accents may fall on the consequences of immortality for the order­ing of existence in earthly life, as in classical ethics. As the “post-Christian” derives from the “post-Christ,” I shall deal, third, with the implications of the synbolism for the Christian “post-.”, “Post-Christian” as a Revolutionary Consciousness of Epoch. When the consciousness of existential ten­sion has atrophied–as it has in doctrinal theology and metaphys­ics of the eighteenth century–we are not thrown back to a pre-Aristotelian belief in mortals and immortals. The other tristichs of this series do no more than amplify the theme by listing further unappetizing odors. He imagined an in­choative revelation of God through Christ to have come to its fulfillment through consciousness becoming self-conscious in his system; and correspondingly he imagined the God who had died in Christ now to be dead. Speaking carefully, one would have to say that an experience is never an illusion but always a reality; the predicate illusion should be used with reference, not to the experience, but to its content, in case it has illusionary character. In either case, the judgment of illusion rests on control experiences of the potentially or actually existent object outside the experience. As a consequence, when the experience engendering the symbols ceases to be a presence located in the man who has it, the reality from which the symbols derive their meaning has disappeared. Gnostic systems certainly are spectacular phenomena in the “history of ideas” and deserve attention; sym­bolisms of alienation and the famous “dualism” are so strongly developed that one is justified in considering them the specific dif­ference of Gnostic thought; and both Hellenic and Iranian symbol­isms are similar enough to permit the construction of a long pre­history of Gnostic thought. I shall continue the modern usage, but give it more philosophical precision by letting the term refer to a mood of existence that is rooted in the very structure of existence itself. A characterization of this type is possible, of course, only if the alternative to the deficient mode is a living force in the author, so that he can use the presence of reality experienced as a standard by which to judge society. wonder if Euripides’ words were true, when he says: And we really, it may be, are dead; in fact, I once heard one of our sages say that now were are dead, and the body is our tomb. The arguments of the Soul try to open ways out of an impasse that characteristically may induce a solution through suicide. Specifically, the author complains: Transposing the thought into the language of classic philosophy, one might say: The philia politike in the Aristotelian sense, deriv­ing from love of the divine Nous that is experienced as constituting the very self of man, has become impossible, because the divine presence has withdrawn from the self. Why not simply not despair? Madness in the sense of the word here used–it is the Aeschylean sense of nosos–is a pneumopathological state, a loss of personal and social order through loss of contact with nonexistent reality. It is well articulated as early as the “Dispute,” i.e., in a strictly cosmological variant of the complex. It is true, the balance of the ten­sion can shift–personally, socially, and historically–toward one or the other of the poles; and certainly, the shifts in balance can be used to characterize periods of history. KR was founded in 1939 by poet-critic John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. We have to note its properties with regard to extension and struc­ture. 3. It is the life lived in the flow of presence. 4. Still the revolt had to be lived through, it seems, in order to bring the issue of truth v. doctrine to acute consciousness: in the twentieth century, at least the beginnings of a truly radical revolt against all varieties of doc­trine, including the ideological ones, can be discerned–as I have pointed out in an earlier part of this lecture. These observations are not meant to criticize James; they rather want to characterize the situation of science at the begin­ning of the century, when the fundamental texts were so far below the threshold of general debate that even the catholicity of a James could not become aware of their relevance to his purpose. If the distinc­tion between the two meanings of consciousness be neglected, there arises the danger of derailing into the divinization of man or the humanization of God. In the realistic sense the “post-Christian age” is an antidoctrinal revolt which, having failed to recapture the reality of existential tension, has derailed into a new dogmatism. The Flow of Presence as the Common Source. Thus, the veiled sense in the background, if made articulate, proves to be just as much nonsense as the proposition in the foreground. We can dissolve confusion and misconstruction once they have arisen–but we cannot prevent the disturbances of existential order that will historically arise from changes in the modes of experience and cause ever new confusion and misconstruction. In its Neo­platonic context it refers to a remoteness of God so great that God is “alien” to the world and man; and this meaning is quite close to the language of the “alien” or “hidden God,” or of the “alien Life,” that we find in the Mandaean and other Gnostic writings. Login via your Compact sym­bolisms, in sum, may become obsolete in the light of new insights, but the reality they express does not cease to be real for that rea­son. Culture Education Philosophy Politics Voegelin, Biography Collected Works Excerpts Voegelin Audio Voegelin Videos Resources, About VoegelinView Announcements Archive Forthcoming Submissions Staff Donate, Published Essays: 1966-1985 (Collected Works of Eric Voegelin 12), Saint Thomas Aquinas on History, Politics, and Law. In particular, he must resist the professional temptation of taking his stance at the pole of the tension toward which his de­sire moves him; if he were to start sermonizing on existence in truth as if it were an absolute object in his possession, he would derail into doctrinaire existence. Nevertheless, while treading the narrow path between the contestants, the philosopher must remain aware of their respective merits both intellectual and existential. As the doctrinaire believer gives his existential assent to the tricky de­vice, he is caught both ways: by the first trick, he becomes the vic­tim of his own fallacy; by the second one, he is shoved aside as the relic of a past that has become obsolete. Moreover, the mode of nonexistence pertains also to the experience itself, inasmuch as it is nothing but a con­sciousness of participation in nonexistent reality. In order to accept reason, he would have to accept truth experienced–but the reality of existential tension is difficult to re­vive, once it has atrophied. T. S. Eliot has caught the essence of such a venture in the following lines: By strength and submission, has already been discovered, Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope, There is only the fight to recover what has been lost, And found and lost again and again; and now, under conditions, Perhaps the conditions are less unpropitious than they seemed to the poet when he wrote these lines, almost a generation ago. First, it obscures the fallacy of mis­placed concreteness which its background premise has taken over from doctrinal truth; and second, it hides the implied ideology which carves history into a series of blocklike segments, each gov­erned by a state of consciousness. There must be a fac­tor whose addition will change the reality of power over nature, with its rational uses in the economy of human existence, into a terrorist’s dream of power over man, society, and history; and there can hardly be a doubt what this factor is: it is the libido dominandi that has been set free by the draining of reality from the symbols of truth experienced. The intangibility of the experience just adumbrated exposes the symbols and their truth to strange vicissitudes of history. The symbols “life”-“death” are not synonyms for man’s spatiotemporal existence, its coming-into-being and its passing away, seen from the outside, but express man’s consciousness of existing in tension toward the divine ground of his existence. The text is known as the “Dispute of a Man, Who Contemplates Suicide, With His Soul.”. The modern Western ambiance to which I refer is an intellectual and emotional jungle of such denseness that it would be unreason­able to single out a particular ideology as the great culprit. In our civilization, the sequence has run its course twice: once in antiquity, and once in medieval and modern times. We shall return to this problem presently. To the people who live in it, the subfield is a closed world; there is nothing beyond it, or at least nothing they care to know about, should they uneasily sense that something is there after all. Immortality: Experience and Symbol -pt 1--When doctrinal truth becomes socially dominant, even the knowl­edge of the processes by which doctrine derives from the original account, and the original account from the engendering experi­ence, may get lost. We diagnosed longitudinal melanonychia (or melanonychia striata). It seems to be familiar with skeptical thought about the prob­abilities of afterlife; it knows that nobody has ever come back from over there to tell the living about the state of the soul in the be­yond. the distinction of na­tures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the charac­teristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence.”. Indecision would cast the philosopher in the role of the Soul in the “Dispute,” while it is his burden to act the part of Man. Moreover, the movement of inquiry from one variant to the other is apt to let the meaning of the sequence as a whole emerge–though meaning of the whole, I should warn, is not the proper term for a perspective of truth that must be gained from a position inside the process of emergent truth. Man tries to make the decision palatable to his Soul by promising proper pro­vision for burial and sacrifice, so that its sojourn in the beyond will be pleasant. This is what has happened in Hegel’s Begriffsspekulation: the two Nous entities of Aristotle blend into the one Geist of Hegel; the separate entitites become moments in the dialectical process; and the tension between them reappears as the dialectical movement internal to the Geist. From the state of confusion, there rather emerges the new type of system which transforms experienced participation in the divine into a specu­lative possession of the divine. The Egyptian “Dispute” has hitherto escaped attention–but I would not be surprised if sooner or later it were used to extrapolate the history of gnosis beyond Iran to its true beginning in Egypt. In order to confirm the sameness of structure expressed in different symbolisms, I shall quote the essential passage from the Definition of Chalcedon (a.d. 451), concerning the union of the two natures in the one person of Christ: “Our Lord Jesus Christ. Especially Plato had to go through the oddest deformations to make him fit the doctrinaire fashions of the moment. The mood of alienation can affect the tension of existence in more than one way, and the resulting modes of experience and variants of symbolization are not necessarily Gnostic. Whether the tra­ditionalist believer who professes truth in doctrinal form is not perhaps farther removed from truth than the intellectual objector who denies it because of its doctrinal form, he does not know. But the loss of self can also assume the form of wickedness and consent to it. Mental operations in the subfield, thus, are charac­terized by the doxic as distinguished from the rational mode of thought. Each of the tristichs of the second sequence opens with the line “To whom can I speak today?” The destruction of community among men through destruction of the spirit is their great theme. The acceptance of status as counselor to the sun god remains the only method conceivable to make the newly dis­covered reality of Man effective in the economy of cosmos and so­ciety–and in order to achieve that status, Man must commit sui­cide. On the other hand, he is not permitted to side with the objectors, as they deny validity to propositions concerning God, the soul, and immortality, on the ground that they cannot be veri­fied or falsified like propositions concerning objects of sense per­ception. To time with its “post-,” or to the time­less where presumably there is no “post-“? The practice of “immortalizing” is to Aristotle a virtue superior to all other. To the larger part, the meaning is submerged in the dreamworld of doctrinaire existence that has cut loose from the reality of existential tension; with this large block of submerged meaning I shall deal second. For what can you do with a man who will not find his peace of mind either with con­ventional belief or with conventional skepticism! First, the intellectual structure of the objection: the proposition is a piece of loose thinking, quite common in everyday speech. But why be so serious? Let me advert, in conclusion, briefly to this problem, as we are living in an age of major disturbances from this source. 2000 b.c., an early reflection on the experiences of life, death, and immortality, distinguished by excellence of analysis. Neverthe­less, wherever the accents fall and however the groups of symbols are balanced or imbalanced, the pattern of the complex remains recognizable. He does no longer move in the realm of reason but has descended to the underworld of opinion, in Plato’s technical sense of doxa. Thinkers who otherwise rank above the level of ordinary intellectuals propound it with a serious, if sorrowful, face; and even theologians, who ought to know better, are softening under constant pressure and display a willingness to demythologize their dogma, to abandon the most charming miracles, to renounce the virgin birth, and glumly to admit that God is dead. The “world” we discern in the perspective of our existence to partake of both time and the timeless is dissociated, under the pres­sure of the mood, into “this world” of existence in time and the “other world” of the timeless; and as we “exist” in neither the one nor the other of these worlds but in the tension between time and the timeless, the dissociation of the “world” transforms us into “strangers” to either one of the hypostatized worlds. chial cysts arecommonerin the decadeI5-25andin girls morethanin boys. In the primary experience of the cosmos, mortality is man’s way of lasting; immortality the gods’ way. Even to Aristotle man is still the mortal who can think only mortal thought; if he can think about the divine nevertheless, he is enabled to do so by some part in him, the intellect, that is a divine entity. It would be difficult to detect any lasting imprints the work of individual thinkers has left on the vast expanse of intellectual mud that covers the public scene; the madness seems to go as strong as ever, and only an Hobbesian fear of death puts on the brakes. 2. The first bout of the struggle between Man and his Soul is concerned with the idea of life as a gift of the gods. For transformed into a divine companion of the sungod, Man will function as his adviser and as a judge concerning affairs of man and society on earth. We have spoken, therefore, of a truth experienced rather than of a truth attaching to the symbols. The symbol “alienation” is meant to express a feeling of estrangement from existence in time because it estranges us from the timeless: we are alienated from the world in which we live when we sense it to be the cause of our alienation from the world to which we truly belong; we become strangers in the world when it compels conformity to a deficient mode of existence that would estrange us from existence in truth. His concern is, therefore, not with truth as a bit of information that has escaped his contemporaries, but as a pole in the tension of order and disorder, of reality and loss of reality, he experiences as his own. The author of the “Dispute” rises above lamentation to dramatic judgment and action. Symbolisms of alienation are conventionally associated with gnosis. The language of the cosmological myth will not adequately express the newly discovered reality of interaction and mutual participation between God and man. There appears to be a flow of existence that is not existence in time. But how does the “historical Christ,” with a fixed date in history, fit into this philosophical conception? In 1938 he and his wife fled from the Nazi forces which had entered Vienna and emigrated to the United States, where they became citizens in 1944. Under the pressure of circumstances, this suspense between a temporal life that is not all of life, and a nontemporal life that makes no sense on the conditions of time and death, can be sharp­ened to a conflict in which the meaning of life changes to death and of death to life. When reality has receded from the self, the face becomes faceless–with various consequences. His Man is pitted against the disorder of society and can emerge as victor from the struggle because he carries in himself the full reality of order. Where, then, does the existential tension belong? The time had not yet come for the transfer of authority from the cosmological ruler to the prophet, sage, or philosopher as the nucleus of a new communal order. We can speak of a state of alienation, therefore, when the existential mood that engenders the double meanings of life and death has reached a stage of acute suffering–as it has for the Man in the “Dispute.”. The experience of cosmic real­ity includes in its compactness the existential tension; and the dif­ferentiated consciousness of existence has no reality without the cosmos in which it occurs. We have noted the double meanings of life and death engendered by the consciousness of participating, while existing in time, in the timeless. The Kenyon Review The intellectual error, though it takes a paragraph to trace it out, is too obvious for the proposition to survive, in a critical environ­ment, for any length of time; in order to explain its social effective­ness in polemics, we must introduce the factor of existential as­sent. An un­capped hy­po­der­mic nee­dle was found taped to the rear door of a Saanich business in re­cent days — the lat­est of sev­eral in­ci­dents in the past two months in which items ap­pear to have been de­lib­er­ately po­si­tioned to hurt peo­ple. He spent most of his academic career at the University of Notre Dame, Louisiana State University, the University of Munich and the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. If in this manner we transpose the es­sence of the argument into American colloquialism, its seriousness will become suspect. But Man knows how to plead: the disintegration of order, both personal and public, in the surrounding society deprives life of any conceiv­able meaning, so that exceptional circumstances will justify a vio­lation of the rule before the gods. There are, first of all, the Platonic symbols of the In-Between (metaxy) and of the spir­itual man (daimonios aner) who exists in the tension of the In-Between. The question has agitated the Christian thinkers. . In the primary experience of the cosmos all the things it compre­hends–the gods, heaven and earth, man and society–are con­substantial. At the turn from the second to the third century a.d., the vast, accumulated body of skeptical argument was collected and organized by Sextus Empiricus. Christianity, then, has inherited, through both the Old and New Testaments, a solid body of cosmic myth and lived with it by letting it stand and di­gesting theologically only so much of it as the philosophical In­strumentarium of the moment seemed to allow. The symbolism belongs to the self-interpretation of a revolutionary movement in the deficient mode of existence. The field of historical reality, furthermore, has to be iden­tified and defined as a field of doctrine; and since the great events of participation do not disappear from reality, they must be flattened and crushed until nothing but a rubble of doctrine is left. A famous passage from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics X.vii.8 will show the symbolism of immortality at the point of transition from the earlier to the later mode of experience.

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