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Back to Unedited Philosophy Quotes and Ramblings about Intequinism.


Book name: THE PASSION OF THE WESTERN MIND. Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View


Publisher: PIMLICO (An imprint of Random House)

Place: London, England

Date: 1996 (First published in the USA by Crown, 1991)


After i read Sections V and VI in a borrowed book, i purchased the book and read the other sections. The page numbers seems to be exactly the same as in the borrowed book. Will however type quotation from the bought book in Arial font.



Book name: The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View

Author: Richard Tarnas

Publisher: Ballantine Books (First Ballantine Books Edition: April 1993)

Place: New York 

ISBN: 0-345-36809-6


Reader: Mr. M.D. Pienaar




1. What is the essence of a copernical turn ? Illustrate this by referring to Tarnas’ treatment of two copernical  terms, and try as well to relate this concept to Post-Modernity .

2. Give an analysis of the use of the word “nature”  in Tarnas treatment of  Modernity.  How far do modern philosophers (for instance Locke, Kant ,Rousseau, Marx,Hannah Arendt) have  different views on of nature?

3. Describe in your own words the main line in the lecture of Habermas about the relationship  between Modernity and Time. What does he try to say or to defend?


I. The Greek World View


The Archetypal Forms


13 June 2013




'.. a number of ambiguities and discrepancies remained unresolved in the corpus of Plato's work. At times Plato seems to exalt the ideal over the empirical to such an extent that all concrete particulars are understood to be, as it were, only a series of footnotes to the transcendent Idea. At other times he seems to stress the intrinsic nobility of created things, precisely because they are embodied expressions of the divine and eternal.'


14 June 2013


The Evolution of the Greek Mind from Homer to Plato



'Despite the continual emergence of new problems and new attempted solutions, a heartening sense of intellectual progress seemed to override the various confusions accompanying it. Thus Xenophanes could affirm: "The gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us; but in the course of time, through seeking, men find that which is the better. …" '[1]


The Greek Enlightenment



'Pericles himself was intimate with the rationalist philosopher and physicist Anaxagoras, and a new intellectual rigour, skeptical of the old supernatural explanations, was widespread. Contemporary man now perceived himself as more a civilized product from progress from savagery than a degeneration from a mythical golden age.'[2]



The Philosopher's Quest and the Universal Mind


'.. at the heart of Plato's conception of the world was the notion of a transcendent intelligence that rules and orders all things: divine Reason is "the king of heaven and earth." '




'Plato also recognized in the world's composition and irreducible element of stubborn errancy and irrationality, which he referred to as anankē, or Necessity. In the Platonic understanding, the irrational was associated with matter, with the sensible world, and with the instinctual desire, while the rational was associated with mind, with the transcendent, and with spiritual desire.'[3]




'Yet precisely because of its problematic nature, anankē serves as an impulsion for the philosopher's ascent from the visible to the transcendent.'




'.. from the visible to the transcendent.' above implies my thoughts that true transcendence is dependent on having realities in minds after societal honesties and true pre-knowledge. This is how i understood Plato's philosophy whilst studying PHIL221 (History of philosophy) and reading the Republic, especially the comparison of the Good and the Sun and the distinction between true knowledge, knowledge and opinion.


20 June 2013


III. The Christian World View


Classical Elements and the Platonic Inheritance




'The correspondence between this conception of Christ and that of the Greek Logos did not go unnoticed by Hellenistic Christians. The remarkable Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, an older contemporary of Jesus and Paul, had already broached a Judaic-Greek synthesis pivoted on the term "Logos."[4] But it was with the opening words of the Gospel according to John, "In the beginning was the Logos," that Christianity's relationship to Hellenic philosophy was potently initiated. Soon afterward, an extraordinary convergence of Greek thought and Christian theology was in progress that would leave both transformed.'




'In their understanding of Christ as the incarnate Logos, early Christian theologians synthesized the Greek philosophical doctrine of the intelligible divine rationality of the world with the Judaic religious doctrine of the creative Word of God, which manifested a personal God's providential will and gave to human history its salvational meaning. In Christ the Logos became man: the historical and the timeless, the absolute and the personal, the human and the divine became one.'




' "And the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us." '




'Despite his erudition and appreciation for the intellectual and scientific achievements of the Greeks, Augustine proclaimed: "… It is enough for the Christian to believe that the only cause of all created things, whether heavenly or earthly, whether visible or invisible, is the goodness of the Creator, the one true God; and that nothing exists but Himself that does not derive its existence from Him." '[5]




'As Clement of Alexandria announced, "By the Logos, the whole world is now become Athens and Greece." '


21 June 2013


IV. The Transformation of the Medieval Era


The Quest of Thomas Aquinas


Whilst reading about Thomas Aquinas i thought Tarnas implied the following: Thomas Aquinas drew a comparison between reality and what is in a person's mind and that the more equal the two are the more likely is beatification. I looked for it in the section of Aquinas but did not find it there.



Further Developments in the High Middle Ages


The Secularization of the Church and the Rise of Lay Mysticism



Christian philosophy digressed from rational Platonic views to empiricist Aristotelian views during the period from Jesus's life to the time of Meister Eckhart, when especially in the Rhineland a return to rationalism occurred.



'The life of Christ and the apostles was acknowledged as the paradigm of spiritual existence, but that life appeared to be neither represented nor mediated by the contemporary structures of the Catholic Church. And the new spiritual autonomy embraced by the Rhineland mystics, as well as by others in England and the Low Countries, tended to place the Church in a secondary role in the realm of authentic spirituality.'


Critical Scholasticism and Ockham's Razor




'.. in the fourteenth century in the paradoxical figure of William of Ockham .. A British philosopher and priest born soon after Aquinas's death ..'




'Human concepts possessed no metaphysical foundation beyond concrete particulars, and there existed no necessary correspondence between words and things. Ockham thereby gave new force and vitality to the philosophical position of nominalism (in its conceptualist version), which held that universals were only names or mental concepts and not real entities.'




'A separate, independent order of reality populated by universals or Forms was expressly denied. Ockham thus moved to eliminate the last vestige of Platonic Forms in Scholastic thought: Only the particular existed, and any inference about real universals, whether transcendent or immanent, was spurious. So often and with such force did Ockham use the philosophical principle that "entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity" (non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitate)' that the principle came to be known as "Ockham's razor."[6]

            Hence, according to Ockham, universals exist only in the human mind, not in reality. They are concepts abstracted by the mind on the basis of its empirical observations of more or less similar individuals. They are not God's pre-existing Ideas governing his creation of individuals, for God was absolutely free to create anything in any way he [own italics] pleased. Only his [own italics] creatures exist, not Ideas of creatures. For Ockham, the issue was no longer the metaphysical question as to how ephemeral individuals came from real transcendent Forms, but the epistemological question as to how abstract universal concepts came from real individuals. "Man" as a species signified not a distinct real entity in itself, but shared similarity in many individual human beings as recognized by the mind. It was a mental abstraction, not a real entity. The problem of universals was therefore a matter of epistemology, grammar, and logic—not of metaphysics or ontology.

Ockham, again following leads established by Scotus, also denied the possibility of moving from a rational apprehension of the facts of this world to any necessary conclusions about God or other religious matters.'




The above proves that empiricism and nominalism took hold in Britain and rationalism particularly in the Rhineland. When Tarnas and/or Ockham refer to 'in the human mind' as not reality, it implies that a real issue exists with regards to the nature of thoughts. To me a thought is reality because according to Descartes "cogito ergo sum" a thought is the most immanent thing, which a person cannot doubt. The deterministic effect of thoughts cannot be doubted because in a rational sense, idealism implies that after all materialist deterministic factors have been overcome, thoughts, which caused the overcoming is still deterministic.




'In Ockham's view, one could not assume that man's mind and God's were fundamentally connected. Empiricism and reason could give a limited knowledge of the world in its particulars, but no certain knowledge of God, for which only God's Word could be a source. Revelation offered certainty, but could be affirmed only through faith and grace, not <p207> through natural reason.'






'And so it was that just as the medieval vision had attained its consummation in the work of Aquinas and Dante, the altogether different spirit of a new epoch began to arise, propelled by the very forces that had achieved the earlier synthesis. The great medieval masterworks had culminated an intellectual development that was starting to break into new territories, even if that meant stepping out of the Church's established structure of education and belief. But Ockham's precocious modernism was still ahead of its time. Paradoxically, the culture of this new era would receive its major initiating impulse not from the line of medieval Scholasticism, natural science, and Aristotle, but from the other pole of classical Humanism, belles lettres, and a revived Plato. For just as Aquinas had his contrasting philosophical successor in Ockham, so did Dante have his contrasting literary successor in Petrarch, born in the same decade Dante began writing La Divina Commedia, at the start of the fourteenth century.'


The Rebirth of Classical Humanism






It seems Petrarch was a romantic.




'It was this new self-reflective awareness of human life's richness and multidimensionality, and his recognition of a kindred spirit in the great writers of antiquity, that made Petrarch the first man of the Renaissance.'


The Return of Plato




'With the universities trapped in a backwater of intellectual orthodoxy, a Platonic Academy was founded in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century, under the patronage of Cosimo de Medici and the leadership of Ficino, and this became the flourishing center of the Platonic revival.

In Platonism and Neoplatonism the Humanists discovered a non-Christian spiritual tradition possessing a religious and ethical profundity seemingly comparable to that of Christianity itself.'




'In 1486, at the age of twenty-three, Pico announced his intention to defned nine hundred theses derived from various Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic writers, invited scholars from all over Europe to Rome for a public disputation, and composed for the event his celebrated Oration on the Dignity of Man. In it Pico described the Creation using both Genesis and the Timaeus as initial sources, but then went further: When God had completed the creation of the world as a sacred temple of his [own italics] divine wisdom, he [own italics] at last considered the creation of man, whose role would be to reflect on, admire, and love the immense grandeur of God's work. But God found he [own italics] had no archetypes remaining with which to make man, and he [own italics] therefore said to his [own italics] last creation:


"Neither an established place, nor a form belonging to you alone, nor any special function have We [own italics] given to you, O Adam, and for <p215> this reason, that you may have and possess, according to your desire and judgment, whatever place, whatever form, and whatever functions you shall desire. The nature of other creatures, which has been determined, is confined within the bounds prescribed by Us [own italics]. You, who are confined by no limits, shall determine for yourself your own nature, in accordance with your own free will, in whose hand I [own italics] have placed you. I [own italics] have set you at the center of the world, so that from there you may more easily survey whatever is in the world. We have made you neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal, so that, more freely and more honorably the molder and maker of yourself, you may fashion yourself in whatever form you shall prefer. You shall be able to descend among the lower forms of being, which are brute beasts; you shall be able to be reborn out of judgment of your own soul into the higher beings, which are divine."[7]




'Equally uncongenial to the conservative theologians was the Neoplatonic belief in the uncreated divine spark in man, whereby divine genius could overtake the human personality and exalt man to the summits of spiritual illumination and creative power. While this conception, as well as the ancient polytheistic mythologies, provided a foundational and stimulus for the emerging Renaissance artistic genius (Michelangelo, for example, was Ficino's student in Florence), it also undercut the Church's traditional limitation of divinity to God alone and to the sacramental institutions of the Church. The elevation of man to a God-like status, as described by Ficino and Pico, seemed to contravene the more strictly defined orthodox Christian dichotomy between Creator and creature, and the Doctrine of the Fall. Pico's statement in the Oratio to the effect that man could freely determine his being at any level of the cosmos, including union with God, without any mention of a mediating savior, could easily be interpreted as a heretical breach of the established sacred hierarchy.

It is not surprising, then, that a papal commission condemned several of Pico's propositions, or that the pope forbade the international public assembly Pico had planned. Yet the Church hierarchy in Rome largely tolerated and even embraced the classical revival, especially as men like the Florentine Medici made their way into papal power and began using Church resources to underwrite the enormous artistic masterworks of the Renaissance (establishing indulgences, for example, to help pay for <p218> them).'




'The new religious sensibility of the Humanists revitalized the spiritual life of Western culture just as it was decaying under the secularization of the Church and the extreme rationalism of the late medieval universities. …

… The Humanists anti-Aristotelianism strengthened the culture's movement toward intellectual independence from the increasingly dogmatic authority of the Aristotelian tradition dominating the universities.'




Tarnas's use of the word rationalism is not certain. In sections V and VI he used rationalism as the opposite of empiricism. Above he writes of 'extreme rationalism' in the late medieval universities. I currently perceive the late medieval universities to have been highly empirical in their thought processes, which were then changed by Platonic rationalism at the beginning of the modern era or the end of the Middle Age.



29 April 2013

V. The Modern World View


The Renaissance


“Within the span of a single generation, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael produced their masterworks. Columbus discovered the New World, Luther rebelled against the Catholic Church and began the Reformation, and Copernicus hypothesized a heliocentric universe and commenced the Scientific Revolution. … Man was now capable of … He could defy traditional authorities and assert a truth based on his own judgement. … Pico’s proclamation of man’s dignity seemed fulfilled.”


“.. mid-fourteenth century, the black plague swept through Europe and destroyed a third of the continent’s population, fatally undermining the balance of economic and cultural elements that had sustained the high medieval civilization. Many believed that the wrath of God had come upon the world. … The universities were sclerotic.”

“Ecclesiastical conspiracies were routine, and included such events as a papally backed assassination in front of the Florentine cathedral altar at High Mass on Easter Sunday. … the Church itself, the West’s fundamental cultural institution, seemed to many the very center of decadent corruption, its structure and purpose devoid of spiritual integrity.”

“As with the medieval cultural revolution several centuries earlier. Technical inventions played a pivotal role in the making of the new era. Four in particular (all with Oriental precursors) had been brought into widespread use in the West by this time, with immense cultural ramifications: the magnetic compass, which permitted the navigational feats that opened the globe to European exploration; gunpowder, which contributed to the demise of the old feudal order and the ascent of nationalism; the mechanical clock, which brought about a decisive change in the human relationship to time, nature, and work, .. and the printing press, .. <p226> eroded the monopoly on learning long held by the clergy.”


“Moreover, the spread of the printed word and growing literacy contributed to a new cultural ethos marked by increasingly individual and private, noncommunal forms of communication and experience, thereby encouraging the growth of individualism. Silent reading and solitary reflection helped free the individual ways of thinking, and from collective control of thinking, with individual readers now having private access to a multiplicity of other perspectives and forms of experience.”


“.. came also the encounter with new cultures, religions, and ways of life, introducing into the European awareness a new spirit of skeptical relativism concerning the absoluteness of its own traditional assumptions.”

“The Italian city-states of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—Florence, Milan, Venice, Urbino, and others—were in many ways the most advanced urban centers in Europe. .. continual contact with the older civilizations of the East presented them with an unusually concentrated inflow of economic and cultural wealth. … The Italian city-states’ small size, their independence from externally sanctioned authority, and their commercial and cultural vitality all provided a political stage upon which a new spirit of bold, creative, and often ruthless individualism could flourish.”


“So too did Copernicus and Kepler, with Neoplatonic and Pythagorean motivations, seek solutions to problems in astronomy that would satisfy aesthetic imperatives, a strategy which led them to the heliocentric <p231> universe. No less significant was the strong religious motivation, usually combined with Platonic themes, impelling most of the major figures in the Scientific Revolution through Newton. For implicit in all these activities was the half-inarticulate notion of a distant mythical golden age when all things had been known—the Garden of Eden, ancient classical times, a past era of great sages. Mankind’s fall from this primal state of enlightenment and grace had brought about a drastic loss of knowledge. Recovery of knowledge was therefore endowed with religious significance.”


“But when all these “causes” of the Renaissance have been enumerated, one still senses that the essential thrust of the Renaissance was something larger than any of these factors, than all of them combined. Instead, the historical record suggests there was concurrently on many fronts an emphatic emergence of a new consciousness—..—and that this emergence had its own raison d’être, was propelled by some greater and more subsuming force than any combination of political, social, technological, religious, philosophical, or artistic factors. …: history was perceived and defined for the first time as a tripartite structure—ancient, medieval, modern—thus sharply differentiating the classical and medieval eras, with the Renaissance itself at the vanguard of the new age. <p232> More than “causes” were operative here. A spontaneous and irreducible revolution of consciousness was taking place, affecting virtually every aspect of Western culture.”


Reader currently postulate that the main reason for the changes was objective communication and spread of knowledge, combined with courageous honesties due to new faiths that made honest courageous communications possible against the forces, which undermines corresponding communications.

The Reformation


“It was when the spirit of Renaissance individualism reached the realm of theology and religious conviction within the Church, in the person of the German Augustinian monk Martin Luther, that there erupted in Europe the momentous Protestant Reformation.”

“The relaxed cultural syncretism displayed by the Renaissance Church’s embrace of Greco-Roman pagan culture (including the immense expense of patronage this embrace demanded) helped precipitate the collapse of the Church’s absolute religious authority.”

“The proximate cause of the Reformation was the papacy’s attempt to finance the architectural and artistic glories of the High Renaissance by the theologically dubious means of selling spiritual indulgences. Tetzel, the traveling friar whose sale of indulgences in Germany provoked Luther in 1517 to post his Ninety-five Theses, had been so authorized by the Medici Pope Leo X to raise money for building Saint Peter’s Basilica. An indulgence was the remission of punishment for a sin after guilt had been sacramentally forgiven—a Church practice influenced by the pre-Christian Germanic custom of commuting the physical penalty for a crime to a money payment. … raise money for financing crusades and building cathedrals and hospitals. At first applied only to penalties imposed by the Church in this life, by Luther’s time indulgences were being granted to remit penalties imposed by God in the afterlife, including immediate release from purgatory.”


The intequities values were thus in the new ideas of construction and medicine, for which the church raised money.


‘Yet the more immediate cause, the Church’s expensive patronage of high culture, does illuminate a deeper factor behind the Reformation—namely, the anti-Hellenic spirit with which Luther sought to purify Christianity and return it to its pristine biblical foundation. For the Reformation was not least a purist “Judaic” reaction against the Hellenic (and Roman) impulse of Renaissance culture, of Scholastic philosophy, and of much postapostolic Christianity in general.’

“It was finally, the faith in God’s redeeming power as revealed through Christ in the Bible, and that alone, which rendered Luther’s experience of salvation, and upon that exclusive rock he built his new church of a reformed Christianity.”


“..: Justification occurred by faith alone. The Christian believer had to be liberated from the obscuring clutches of the old system, for only by being directly responsible to God could he be free to experience God’s grace. The only source of theological authority now lay in the literal meaning of Scripture.”

20 May 2013



‘In the Protestant vision, true Christianity was founded on “faith alone,” “grace alone,” and “Scripture alone.” … Erasmus also argued against Luther that man’s free will and virtuous actions were not to be entirely discounted as elements in the process of salvation. Catholicism held that divine grace and human merit were both instrumental in redemption and did not have to be viewed in opposition, with exclusively one or the other operative. … The Protestant spirit prevailed in half of Europe, and the old order was broken. Western Christianity was no longer exclusively Catholic, nor monolithic, nor a source of cultural unity.’


‘While Protestantism was optimistic concerning God, the gratuitously merciful preserver of the elect, it was uncompromisingly pessimistic concerning man, that “teeming horde of infamies” (Calvin). Human freedom was so bound to evil that it consisted merely in the ability to choose among different degrees of sin.’


‘In the Protestant vision, neither the pope nor the Church councils possessed the spiritual competence to define Christian belief. Luther taught instead the “priesthood of all believers”: religious authority rested finally and solely in each individual Christian, reading and interpreting the Bible according to his own private conscience in the context of his personal relationship to God.’

‘Luther’s impassioned words before the imperial Diet declared a new manifesto of personal religious freedom: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”


‘By disenchanting the world of immanent divinity, completing the process initiated by Christianity’s destruction of pagan animism, the Reformation better allowed for its radical revision by modern science. The way was then clear for an increasingly naturalistic view of the cosmos, moving first to the remote rationalist Creator of Deism, and finally to secular agnosticism’s elimination of any supernatural reality.


‘Truth increasingly became truth-as-experienced-by-the-self. Thus the road opened by Luther would move through Pietism to Kantian critical philosophy and Romantic philosophical idealism to, finally, the philosophical pragmatism and existentialism of the late modern era.’


‘But the Counter-Reformation was spearheaded above all by the Jesuits, a Roma Catholic order that established itself as militantly loyal to the pope and attracted a considerable number of strong-willed and intellectually sophisticated men. …

<p.247> The classical humanistic tradition based on the Greek paideia  was thereby broadly sustained during the following two centuries, offering the growing educated class of Europeans a new source of cultural unity just as the old source, Christianity, was fragmenting. … It was no accident that Galileo and Descartes, Voltaire and Diderot all received Jesuit educations.’

The Scientific Revolution



‘Born in Poland and educated in Italy, Copernicus lived during the height of the Renaissance. Though it was destined to become an unquestioned principle of existence for the modern psyche, the central tenet of his vision was inconceivable to most Europeans in his own lifetime. More than any other single factor, it was the Copernican insight that provoked and symbolized the drastic, fundamental break from the ancient and medieval universe to that of the modern era.’

… how to explain the apparently erratic planetary movements by means of a simple, clear, elegant formula. To recapitulate, the solutions proposed by Ptolemy and all his successors, solutions based on the geocentric Aristotelian cosmos, had required the employment of increasingly numerous mathematical devices—deferents, major and minor epicycles, equants, eccentrics—in the attempt to make sense ... Further discrepancies were solved by compounding the circles, displacing the centers, positing yet another center from which motion remained uniform, and so on.


Renaissance Europe urgently needed a better calendar, and the Church, for which the calendar was indispensable in administrative and liturgical matters, undertook its reform. Such reform depended on astronomical precision. Copernicus, asked to advise the papacy on the problem, ... He found that several Greek philosophers, notably of Pythagorean and Platonist background, had proposed a moving Earth, although none had developed the hypothesis to its full astronomical and mathematical conclusions. Hence Aristotle’s geocentric conception had not been the only judgment of the <p.250> revered Greek authorities. .. Neoplatonists’ exalted conception of the Sun, .. , Copernicus hypothesized a Sun-centered universe with a planetary Earth and mathematically worked out the implications. … The heliocentric model readily explained the apparent daily movement of the heavens and annual motion of the Sun as due to the Earth’s daily rotation on its axis and its annual revolution around the central Sun. The appearance of the moving Sun and stars could now be recognized as deceptively created by the Earth’s own movements.’


‘Having set down a first version of his thesis in a short manuscript, the Commentariolus, Copernicus circulated it among his friends as early as 1514. Two decades later, a lecture on the principles of his new system was given in Rome before the pope, who approved. … But as a few proficient astronomers began to find Copernicus’s argument persuasive, the opposition began to mount; and it was the religious implications of the new cosmology that quickly provoked the most intense attacks.’

The Religious Reaction


‘In the beginning, that opposition did not come from the Catholic Church. Copernicus was a canon in good standing a Catholic cathedral and an esteemed consultant to the Church in Rome.’


‘By tolerating and even encouraging the exploration of Greek philosophy, science, and secular thinking, including the Hellenistic metaphorical interpretation of Scripture, the Church had, in Protestant eyes, allowed pristine Christianity and the literal truth of the Bible to be contaminated. .. the Copernican hypothesis contradicted several passages in the Holy Scripture concerning the fixity of the Earth, and Scripture was Protestantism’s one absolute authority. … When Rheticus took Copernicus’s manuscript to Nürnberg to be published, he was forced by reformers’ opposition to go elsewhere. …

… And by Galileo’s time in the early seventeenth century, the Catholic Church—now with a renewed sense of the need for doctrinal orthodoxy—felt compelled to take a definite stand against the Copernican hypothesis. While in an earlier century, Aquinas or the ancient Church fathers might have readily considered a metaphorical interpretation of the scriptural passages in question, thereby eliminating the apparent contradiction with science, the emphatic literalism of Luther and his followers had activated a similar attitude in the Catholic Church.’


‘.. astronomer Giordano Bruno. Bruno had widely promulgated an advanced version of the heliocentric theory … Certainly the fact that the same man [Bruno: own insert] who held heretical views on the Trinity and other vital theological matters had also taught the Copernican theory .. After Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 (though not for his heliocentric teachings), Copernicanism seemed a more dangerous theory—both to religious authorities and to philosopher-astronomers, each for their different reasons.

… The essential dichotomy between the celestial and terrestrial realms, the great cosmological structure of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, the circling planetary spheres with angelic hosts, God’s empyrean throne above all, the moral drama of human life pivotally centered between spiritual heavens and corporeal Earth—all would be cast into question or destroyed altogether by the new theory. … If the Earth truly moved, then no longer could it be the fixed center of God’s Creation and his plan of salvation. Nor could man be the central focus of the cosmos. The absolute uniqueness and significance of Christ’s intervention into human history seemed to require a corresponding <p.254> uniqueness and significance for the Earth. … Catholic Church .. condemned in no uncertain terms the heliocentric hypothesis. .. Galileo interrogated by the Inquisition, forced to recant and placed under house arrest .. all teachings and writings upholding the motion of the Earth prohibited. With the Copernican theory, Catholicism’s long-held tension between reason and faith had finally snapped.’



‘And he [Copernicus: own insert] had not adequately answered obvious physical objections to a moving Earth, such as why terrestrial objects would not simply fall off the Earth as it swept through space.

Despite the radical quality of the Copernican hypothesis, a planetary Earth was the only major innovation in the De Revolutionibus, a work that was otherwise solidly within the ancient and medieval astronomical tradition. Copernicus had caused the first break from the old cosmology, and thereby created all the problems to be solved by Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton before they could offer a comprehensive scientific theory capable of integrating a planetary Earth. … It was above all not utilitarian scientific accuracy but aesthetic superiority that would attract those crucial supporters to the Copernican cause. …

For Kepler, with his passionate belief in the transcendent power of numbers and geometrical forms, his vision of the Sun as the central image of the Godhead, and his devotion to the celestial “harmony of the spheres,” was yet more impelled by Neoplatonic motivations than Copernicus.’


‘Kepler .. Tycho de Brahe, his [Kepler: own insert] predecessor as imperial mathematician and astrologer to the Holy Roman Emperor. (1) …

... Kepler at last discovered that the observations precisely matched orbits shaped as ellipses, with the Sun as one of the two foci, .. –fastest near the Sun, slowest away from the Sun, with equal areas swept out in equal times. …

Thus Kepler at last solved the ancient problem of the planets and fulfilled Plato’s extraordinary prediction of single, uniform, mathematically ordered orbits—and in so doing vindicated the Copernican hypothesis. With elliptical orbits replacing the Ptolemaic circles, and with the <p.257> law of equal areas replacing that of equal arcs, … overarching principles which gave convincing evidence that the universe was arranged with elegant mathematical harmonies. … conclusions affirmed both Copernicus’s theory and the mathematical mysticism of the ancient Pythagorean and Platonic philosophers.’


‘.. Pythagorean claim for mathematics as the key .. thereby revealing the previously hidden grandeur of God’s creation.’



‘But coincidentally, in 1609, the same year that Kepler published in Prague his laws of planetary motion, Galileo in Padua turned his recently constructed telescope to the heavens .. his observations—the craters .. stars of the Milky Way—was interpreted by Galileo as powerful evidence in favor of the Copernican heliocentric theory.

If the Moon’s surface was uneven, like the Erath’s, and if the Sun had spots that came and went, then these bodies were not the perfect, incorruptible, and immutable celestial objects of Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmology.’


‘A new celestial world was opening up to the Western mind, just as a new terrestrial world was being opened by the global explorers.’

The Forging of Newtonian Cosmology


‘And where was God in this cosmos? …

… Influenced as always by the Neoplatonic exaltation of the Sun, he [Kepler: own insert] believed the Sun to be an active source of movement in the universe. … Kepler thereby made the first proposal that the planets in their orbits were moved by mechanical forces, ..’


‘To combat the Aristotelians, Galileo developed both a new procedure for analyzing phenomena and a new basis for testing theories. He argued that to make accurate judgments concerning nature, scientists should consider only precisely measurable “objective” qualities (size, shape, number, weight, motion), while merely perceptible qualities (color, sound, taste, touch, smell) should be ignored as subjective and ephemeral. … In addition, while Aristotle’s empiricism had been predominantly a descriptive and, especially as exaggerated by later Aristotelians, logico-verbal approach, Galileo now established the quantitative experiment as the final test of hypotheses. Finally, to further penetrate nature’s mathematical regularities and true character, Galileo employed, developed, or invented a host of technical instruments—lens, telescope, microscope, geometric compass, magnet, air thermometer, hydrostatic balance. The use of such instruments gave a new dimension to empiricism unknown to the Greeks, a dimension that undercut both the theories and the practice of the Aristotelian professors.’


‘Galileo analyzed projectile motion and developed the crucial idea of inertia. … Force was required to explain only change in motion, not constant motion. … Through this concept of inertia, however, Galileo demonstrated that a moving Earth would automatically endow all its objects and projectiles with the Earth’s own motion, and therefore the collective inertial motion would be imperceptible to anyone on the Earth.

In the course of his life’s work, Galileo had effectively supported the Copernican theory, initiated the full mathematization of nature, grasped the idea of force as a mechanical agent, laid the foundations of modern mechanics and experimental physics, and developed the working principles of modern scientific method.’


'Because Galileo had missed the significance of the planetary laws discovered by his contemporary Kepler, he had continued to maintain the traditional understanding of celestial <p.265> motion as circular orbits, only now centered around the Sun.'


Atomism of Democritus and his colleagues fit in with the neo-platonic view of a planetary Earth because atomism also had no center for their universe. The Aristotelian centered Earth implied a finite universe because an infinite universe can have no center.


‘The esoteric philosopher-scientist Bruno was the first to perceive the congruence between the two systems.'


‘The basic principles of ancient atomism offered may parallels to Descartes’s image of nature as an intricate impersonal machine strictly ordered by mathematical law. Like Democritus, Descartes assumed that the physical world was composed of an infinite number of particles, or “corpuscles,” which mechanically collided and aggregated. As a Christian, however, he assumed that these corpuscles did not move in utterly random fashion, but obeyed certain laws imposed on them by a providential God at their creation.’


‘.. the inertial motion of the planets, including that of the Earth, would necessarily tend to propel them in a tangential straight line away from the curving orbit around the Sun. Since, however, their orbits were maintained in continuous closed curves without such centrifugal breaks, it was evident that some factor was forcing the planets toward the Sun—or as Descartes and his successors more revealingly formulated it, something was continually forcing the planets to “fall” toward the Sun. … The fact that the planets moved at all was now explicable by inertia. But the form that motion took—the planets’ constant maintenance of elliptical orbits about the Sun—still demanded explanation. … Thus two fundamental questions remained, one celestial and one terrestrial: Given inertia, why did the Earth and other planets continually fall towards the Sun? And given a moving noncentral Earth, why did terrestrial objects fall to the Earth at all?”


‘The notion of an attractive force acting between all material bodies had also been developing. Among the Greeks, Empedocles had posited such a force. … By the third quarter of the seventeenth century, Robert Hooke had clearly glimpsed the synthesis: that a single attractive force governed both planetary motions and falling bodies. Moreover, he mechanically demonstrated his idea with a pendulum swung in an elongated circular path, its linear motion being continuously deflected by a central attraction. …

It finally fell to Isaac Newton, born on Christmas Day the year of Galileo’s death, to complete the Copernican revolution by quantitatively establishing gravity as a universal force—a force that could simultaneously cause both the fall of stones to the Earth and the closed orbits of the planets around the Sun.


‘Every particle of matter in the universe attracted every other particle with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.

… Through the concept of a quantitatively defined attractive force, he had integrated the two major themes of seventeenth-century science—the mechanistic philosophy and the Pythagorean tradition. … Newton had revealed the true nature of reality: Voltaire called him the greatest man who ever lived.’


‘In this universe, the Earth moved about the Sun, which was one star among a multitude, just as the Earth was one planet among many, and neither Sun nor Earth was at the center of the universe.

… It also seemed reasonable to assume that after the creation of this intricate and orderly universe, God removed himself from further active involvement or intervention in nature, and allowed it to run on its own according to these perfect, immutable laws. The new image of the Creator was thus that of a divine architect, a master mathematician and clock maker, while the universe was viewed as a uniformly regulated and fundamentally impersonal phenomenon. … One could scarcely doubt that man was the crown of creation. The Scientific Revolution—and the birth of the modern era—was now complete.’

The Philosophical Revolution


21 May 2013



‘While Socrates had equated knowledge with virtue, Bacon equated knowledge with power. Its practical usefulness was the very measure of its validity. With Bacon, science took on a new role—utilitarian, utopian, the material and human counterpart to God’s plan of spiritual salvation. … The pursuit of natural science was therefore his religious obligation. …

… No longer should the pursuer of knowledge start from abstract definitions and verbal distinctions and then reason deductively, forcing the phenomena into prearranged order. Instead, he must begin with the unbiased analysis of concrete data and only then reason inductively, and cautiously, to reach general, empirically supported conclusions.’


‘The mind must humble itself, rein itself in. Otherwise science would be impossible.’

… Only by recognizing the distinction between God and his creation, and between God’s mind and man’s, could man achieve real progress in science. Thus Bacon expressed the spirit of the Reformation and of Ockham. …

Because all the previous systems of philosophy from the Greeks onward lacked a rigorously critical sense-based empiricism, because they relied on rational and imaginative construction unsupported by careful experiment, they were like grandly entertaining theatrical productions, of no genuine relevance to the real world they so elegantly distorted.’


‘With Bacon was evident the modern turning of the tide in philosophy. The nominalism and empiricism of the later Scholastics, and their growing criticism of Aristotle and speculative theology, now found bold and influential expression. It is true that for all his shrewdness, Bacon drastically underestimated the power of mathematics for the development of the new natural science, he failed to grasp the necessity of theoretical conjecture prior to empirical observation, and he altogether missed the significance of the new heliocentric theory.



‘If it was Bacon in England who helped inspire the distinctive character, direction, and vigor of the new science, it was Descartes on the Continent who established its philosophical foundation, and in so doing articulated the epochal defining statement of the modern self.’


‘A skeptical crisis in French philosophy had emerged, a crisis that the young Descartes, steeped in the critical rationalism of his Jesuit schooling, experienced acutely.’


‘For in the process of methodical doubting everything, even the apparent reality of the physical world and his own body (which could all be only a dream), Descartes concluded that there was one datum that could not be doubted—the fact of his own doubting. At least the “I” who is conscious of doubting, the thinking subject, exists. At least this much is certain: Cogito, ergo sum—I think, therefore I am. All else can be questioned, but not the irreducible fact of the thinker’s self-awareness. …

The cogito was thus the first principle and paradigm of all other knowledge, providing both a basis for subsequent deductions and a model for all other self-evident rational intuitions. From the indubitable existence of the doubting subject, which was ipso facto an awareness of imperfection and limitation, Descartes deduced the necessary existence of a perfect infinite being, God. … Only through presupposition of such a God could the reliability of the natural light of human reason, or the objective reality of the phenomenal world, be assured. For if God is God, which is to say a perfect being, then he would not deceive man and the reason that gives man self-evident truths.

… only as object. Thus res cogitans—thinking substance, subjective experience, spirit, consciousness, that which man perceives as within—was understood as fundamentally different and separate from res extensa—extended substance, the objective world, matter, the physical body, plants and animals, stones and stars, the entire physical universe, everything <p.278> that man perceives as outside his mind. Only in man did the two realities come together as mind and body. And both the cognitive capacity of human reason and the objective reality and order of the natural world found their common source in God.’





‘Thus Bacon and Descartes—prophets of a scientific civilization, rebels against an ignorant past, and zealous students of nature—proclaimed the twin epistemological bases of the modern mind. In their respective manifestos of empiricism and rationalism, the long-growing significance of the natural world and the human reason, initiated by the Greeks and recovered by the Scholastics, achieved definitive modern expression. Upon this dual foundation, philosophy proceeded and science triumphed: It was not accidental to Newton’s accomplishment that he had systematically employed a practical synthesis of Bacon’s inductive empiricism and Descartes’s deductive mathematical rationalism, thereby bringing to fruition the scientific method first forged by Galileo.’

Foundations of the Modern World View


‘And so between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the West saw the emergence of a newly self-conscious and autonomous human being—curious about the world, .. responsible for his own beliefs and actions, .. and all together less dependent on an omnipotent God.’ … Out of that profound cultural transformation, science emerged as the West’s new faith.’


The above shows the misunderstandings about the faiths of Descartes relating to truths and honesties. With the sceptics’ probable techniques of instilling fear, Descartes must have had a lot of faith to form his work and stay honest and not fall prey to the sceptics’ probable attempts to change his faith, which was most probably his salvation.


‘.. the most astonishing global shift of all had now dawned on the cultural psyche: the Earth moves. The straightforward evidence of the naive senses, the theological and scientific certitude of the naive centuries, that the Sun rises and sets and that the Earth beneath one’s feet is utterly stationary at the center of the universe, was now overcome through critical reasoning, mathematical calculation, and technologically enhanced observation.


‘While the cosmology of the classical era was geocentric, finite, and hierarchical, with the surrounding heavens the locus of transcendent archetypal forces that defined and influenced human existence according to the celestial movements, and while the medieval cosmology maintained this same general structure, reinterpreted according to Christian symbolism, the modern cosmology posited a planetary Earth in a neutral infinite space, with a complete elimination of the traditional celestial-terrestrial dichotomy. The heavenly bodies were now moved by the same natural and mechanical forces and composed of the same material substances as those found on the Earth. With the fall of the geocentric cosmos and the rise of the mechanistic paradigm, astronomy was finally severed from astrology. In contrast to both the ancient and the medieval world views, the celestial bodies of the modern universe possessed no numinous or symbolic significance; they did not exist for man, to light his way or give meaning to his life. They were straightforwardly material entities whose character and motions were entirely the product of mechanistic principles having no special relation either to human existence <p.288> per se or to any divine reality. All specifically human or personal qualities formerly attributed to the outer physical world were now recognized as naive anthropomorphic projections and deleted from the objective scientific perception. All divine attributes were similarly recognized as the effect of primitive superstition and wishful thinking, and were removed from serious scientific discourse. The universe was impersonal, not personal; nature’s laws were natural, not supernatural. The physical world possessed no intrinsic deeper meaning. It was opaquely material, not the visible expression of spiritual realities.’


‘As the Earth had been removed from the center of creation to become another planet, so now was man removed from the center of creation to become another animal.’


‘The structure and movement of nature was the result not of God’s benevolent design and purpose, but of an amoral, random, and brutal struggle for survival in which success went not to the virtuous but to the fit. … Humans, animals, plants, organisms, rocks and mountains, planets and stars, galaxies, the entire universe could now be understood as the evolutionary outcome of entirely natural processes. …

The Christian doctrine of Christ’s divine intervention in human history—the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Adam, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Second Coming—seemed implausible in the context of an otherwise straightforward survival-oriented Darwinian evolution in a vast mechanistic Newtonian cosmos.’


‘The Christian doctrine of spiritual redemption as based on the historical manifestation of Christ and his future apocalyptic Second Coming was first reconceived as coinciding with the progressive advance of human civilization under divine providence, conquering evil through man’s God-given reason, and then was gradually extinguished altogether in light of the belief that man’s natural reason and scientific achievements would progressively realize a secular utopian era marked by peace, rational wisdom, material prosperity, and human dominion over nature. The Christian sense of Original Sin, the Fall, and collective human guilt now receded in favor of an optimistic affirmation of human self-development and the eventual triumph of rationality and science over human ignorance, suffering, and social evils.’ (see p.289 – contradiction)

Ancients and Moderns


‘It is no small irony that Aristotle, the greatest naturalist and empirical scientist of antiquity, whose work had served as the sustaining impulse of Western science for two millennia, was jettisoned by the new science under the impetus of a romantic Renaissance Platonism—from Plato, the speculative idealist who most systematically wished to leave the world of the senses. But with Aristotle’s transformation by the contemporary universities into a stultified dogmatist, the Platonism of the Humanists had succeeded in opening the scientific imagination to a fresh sense of intellectual adventure.’


Aristotle was an ancient empiricist and Plato an ancient rationalist. The Copernican was based on Plato’s and Pythagoras’s work. The Sun was thus exalted to God with the Platonic/Pythagorean influence. The empirical study of the natural world, being dependent on mathematics also has its origin in the Platonic/Pythagorean influence. The mystical Platonic/Pythagorean influence was however excluded by the empiricist emphasis on the natural world. (see p.291 – contradiction?)


‘The ancient birth of astronomy, and of science itself, had been inextricably tied to the primitive astrological understanding of the heavens as a superior realm of divine significance, with the planetary movements carefully observed because of their symbolic import for human affairs. In the ensuing centuries, astrology’s ties to astronomy had been essential for the latter’s technological progress, for it was the astrological presuppositions that gave astronomy its social and psychological relevance, as well as its political and military utility in matters of state.

… Copernicus made no distinction in the De Revolutionibus between astronomy and astrology, referring to them conjointly as “the head of all the liberal arts.’


‘While the original revolutionaries themselves called no attention to the problems the new paradigm posed for astrology, those contradictions soon became apparent for others. For a planetary Earth seemed to undermine the very foundation <p.296> of astrological thinking, since the latter assumed the Earth was the absolute central focus of planetary influences. It was difficult to see how without the privileged position of being the fixed universal center, the Earth could continue to deserve such a distinctive cosmic attention. … After Galileo and Newton, the celestial-terrestrial division could no longer be maintained, and without that primordial dichotomy, the metaphysical and psychological premises that had helped support the astrological belief system began to collapse. … After being the classical “queen of sciences” and the guide of emperors and kings for the better part of two millennia, astrology was no longer credible.

… That the gods were nothing more than colorful figments of pagan fantasy needed little argument from the Enlightenment on. Just as the Platonic Forms died out in philosophy, their place taken by objective empirical qualities, subjective concepts, cognitive categories, or linguistic “family resemblances,” so did the ancient gods assume the role of literary characters, artistic images, useful metaphors without any claim to ontological reality.

… Although in fact an astonishing variety of epistemological sources had converged to make possible the Scientific Revolution—the immense imaginative (and antiempirical) leap to the conception of a planetary Earth, (9) Pythagorean and Neoplatonic aesthetic and mystical <p.297> beliefs, Descartes’s revelatory dream and vision of a new universal science and his own mission to forge it, Newton’s Hermetically inspired concept of gravitational attraction, all the serendipitous recoveries of the ancient manuscripts (Lucretius, Archimedes, Sextus Empiricus, the Neoplatonists), the fundamentally metaphorical character of the various scientific theories and explanations—these were all later viewed as significant only in the context of scientific discovery.

The triumph of Secularism

Science and religion: The early Concord


‘For it was the <p.299> Scholastics’ exhaustive examination and criticism of those ideas, and their creation of new alternative theories and concepts—rudimentary formulations of inertia and momentum, the uniform acceleration of freely falling bodies, hypothetical arguments for a moving Earth—that allowed modern science from Copernicus and Galileo onward to begin forging its new paradigm. … Man’s intellectual relation to the creative Logos, his privileged possession of the divine light of the active intellect—Aquinas’s lumen intellectus agentis—was from the Christian perspective precisely what mediated the human understanding of the cosmos.

… After Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, that authority had been effectively impugned, and Scholasticism’s reputation never recovered. From then on, science and philosophy could move forward without theological justification, without recourse to a divine light in the human intellect, without the colossal supporting superstructure of Scholastic metaphysics and epistemology.

… Yet despite the unambiguously secular character of the modern science that eventually crystallized out of the Scientific Revolution, the original scientific revolutionaries themselves continued to act, think, and speak of their work in terms conspicuously redolent of religious illumination. <p.300> … In the De Revolutionibus, Copernicus celebrated astronomy as a “science more divine than human,” closest to God in the nobility of its character, and upheld the heliocentric theory as revealing the true structural grandeur and precision of God’s cosmos.’


‘Both Descartes and Newton constructed their cosmological systems on the assumption of God’s existence.’

Compromise and Conflict


‘What, then, caused this shift from the explicit religiosity of the scientific revolutionaries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the equally emphatic secularism of the Western intellect in the nineteenth and twentieth? Certainly the metaphysical incongruity of the two outlooks, the cognitive dissonance resulting from the attempts to hold together such innately divergent systems and sensibilities, eventually had to force the issues in one direction or the other. The character and the implications of the Christian revelation simply did not cohere well with those of the scientific revelation. … <p.304> water from rocks, partings of seas—all appeared increasingly improbable to the modern mind, bearing as they did too many similarities to other mythical or legendary concoctions of the archaic imagination.’


Reader postulates currently that the comfort, which the scientific world caused and the financial security also caused the split, due to no need for reliance on God. Another cause is the ‘singularity’ of God of truth, which meant only ‘One’ is honest. Honesties and truths as logical necessity of science require a rejection of religion in order to be scientific and not ‘singular’ God of truth.


‘With Luther, the monolithic structure of the medieval Christian Church had cracked. With Copernicus and Galileo, the medieval Christian cosmology itself had cracked. With Darwin, the Christian world view showed signs of collapsing altogether.’

Philosophy, Politics, Psychology

22 May 2013



‘In preference to traditional biblical Christianity, Enlightenment Deists like Voltaire argued in favor of a “rational religion” or a “natural religion.” Such would be appropriate not only to the rational apprehension of nature’s order and the requirement of a universal first cause, but also to the West’s encounter with other cultures’ religions and ethical systems—an encounter suggesting to many the existence of a universal religious sensibility grounded in common human experience.’


The above was already done with the idea that truth is a first principle of experiments and science.


‘With Descartes, God’s existence had been affirmed not through faith but through reason; yet on that basis God’s certain existence could not be indefinitely sustained, as Hume and Kant, the culminating philosophers of the Enlightenment, noted in their different ways. Much as Ockham had warned four centuries earlier, rational philosophy could <p.309> not presume to pronounce on matters that so far transcended the empirically based intellect.’


‘In the eighteenth century, Hume and Kant systematically refuted the unwarrantability of using causal reasoning to move from the sensible to the supersensible.’


The above is not true for reader because Kant had a very different view on causality than Hume. With both Humes’s and Kant’s philosophy God can be motivated because Hume said that God causes every single event and Kant said the way to the transcendent is through physical truths and honesties.


‘For Kant, God was an unknowable transcendent—thinkable, not knowable, only attending to man’s inner sense of moral duty.’


‘Human history could be understood as progressing from a mythical and theological stage, through a metaphysical and abstract stage, to its final triumph in science, based on the positive and concrete.’


‘Like his fellows in the vanguard of the Enlightenment, Rousseau argued with the weapons of critical reason and reformist zeal. Yet the progress of civilization they celebrated seemed to him the source of much of the world’s evil. Man suffered from the civilization’s corrupt sophistications, which alienated him from his natural condition of simplicity, sincerity, equality, kindness, and true understanding. Moreover, Rousseau believed religion was intrinsic to the human condition. He contended that the philosophes’ exaltation of reason had neglected man’s actual nature—his feelings, his depths of impulse and intuition and spiritual hunger that transcended all abstract formulae. Rousseau certainly disbelieved in the organized churches and clergy, … <p.313> Rousseau believed humanity could best learn to worship the Creator by turning to nature, for there lay a sublimity that all could understand and feel. … The deity recognized by Rousseau was not an impersonal first cause, but a God of love and beauty whom the human soul could know from within. Reverent awe before the cosmos, the joy of meditative solitude, the direct intuitions of the moral conscience, the natural spontaneity of human compassion, a “theism of the heart—these constituted the true nature of religion.

Rousseau thus set forth an immensely influential position beyond those of the orthodox Church and the skeptical philosophes, combining the religiosity of the former with the rational reformism of the latter, yet critical of both: if the one was constricting in its narrow dogmatism, the other was scarcely less so in its arid abstractions. And here lay the seed for contradictory developments, for at the same time that Rousseau reaffirmed man’s religious nature, he encouraged the modern sensibility in its gradual departure from Christian orthodoxy. He gave a rational reformist’s support to the lingering religious impulse of the modern mind, yet he gave that impulse new dimensions that served the Enlightenment’s undermining of the Christian tradition. Rousseau’s embrace of a religion whose essence was universal rather than exclusive, whose ground was in nature and man’s subjective emotions and mystical intuitions rather than in biblical revelation, initiated a spiritual current in Western culture that would lead first to Romanticism and eventually to the existentialism of a later age.’


Why the tendency to generalize about finding God in nature or in transcendence? Why not everywhere by accepting truths as leading factor? It could be argued according to Clouser’s philosophy that accepting truths as first principle implies a reductionist process to truths, but Clouser did it himself, whilst arguing against reduction. Somewhere it has to stop? Literal readings of Exodus 20:4 mean no correspondence is acceptable. False testimony is disallowed later in Exodus 20. That means only making false predictions was allowed by the pluralistic God of Genesis.


‘Despite their high-minded doctrines, the organized churches seldom seemed to concern themselves with the plight of workers or the poor. This seeming contradiction, Marx held, was in fact essential to the churches’ character, for the true role of religion was to keep the lower classes in order. … Organized religion formed an essential element in the bourgeoisie’s control of society, for religious beliefs lulled the proletariat into self-defeating inaction.

… It was no longer mandatory in Western society to be Christian, and in coincidence with this growing freedom, fewer members of the culture found the Christian belief system intrinsically compelling or satisfying. Both liberal utilitarian and radical socialist philosophies seemed to offer the contemporary age more cogent programs fro human activity than the traditional religions.’


The above statement by Tarnas points to utilitarianism at an extreme side and socialism another side. Intequinism is not between the two sides. Communism and capitalism has a(n) utilitarian society therefore the two sides Tarnas sees do not make sense to reader currently. Capitalism and communism were partly the same, even though communism destroyed religion. The two systems distributed the wealths of utilitarianism differently.


‘The traditional image of the Semitic-Augustinian-Protestant God, who creates man too weak to withstand evil temptation, and who predestines the majority of his human creatures to eternal damnation with little consideration of their good works or honest attempts at virtue, ceased to be either palatable or plausible to many sensitive members of modern culture.’


‘In the light of psychoanalysis, the Judaeo-Christian God could be seen as a reified psychological projection based on the child’s naive view of its libidinally restrictive and seemingly omnipotent parent. Reconceived in this way, many aspects of religious behavior and belief appeared to be comprehensible as symptoms of a deeply rooted cultural obsessive-compulsive neurosis. The projection of a morally authoritative patriarchal deity could be seen as having been a social necessity in earlier stages of human development, satisfying the cultural psyche’s need for a powerful “external” force to undergird society’s ethical requirements. But having internalized those requirements, the psychologically mature individual could recognize the projection for what it was, and dispense with it.’

The Modern Character


‘The new psychological constitution of the modern character had been developing since the high Middle Ages, had conspicuously emerged in the Renaissance, was sharply clarified and empowered by the Scientific Revolution, then extended and solidified in the course of the Enlightenment. By the nineteenth century, in the wake of the democratic and industrial revolutions, it had achieved mature form. The direction and quality of that character reflected a gradual but finally radical shift of psychological allegiance from God to man, from dependence to independence, from otherworldliness to this world, from the transcendent to the empirical, from myth and belief to reason and fact, from universals to particulars, from a supernaturally determined static cosmos to a naturally determined evolving cosmos, and from a fallen humanity to an advancing one.

Hidden Continuities


‘The religious faith in God’s eventual salvation of mankind—whether Israel’s arrival in the Promised land, the Church’s arrival at the millennium, the Holy Spirit’s progressive perfecting of humanity, or the Second Coming of Christ—now became an evolutionary confidence, or revolutionary belief, in an eventual this-worldly utopia whose realization would be expedited by the expert application of human reason to nature and society.’

VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era


23 May 2013


The Changing Image of the Human from Copernicus through Freud


The peculiar phenomenon of contradictory consequences ensuing from the same intellectual advance was visible from the start of the modern era with Copernicus’s dethroning of the Earth as the center of creation. In the same instant that man liberated himself from the geocentric illusion of virtually all previous generations of mankind, he also effected for himself an unprecedented fundamentally cosmic displacement. The universe no longer centered on man; his cosmic position was neither fixed nor absolute. And each succeeding step in the Scientific Revolution and its aftermath added new dimensions to the Copernican effect, further propelling that liberation while intensifying that displacement.

With Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, the new science was forged, a new cosmology defined, a new world opened to man within which his powerful intelligence could act with new freedom and effectiveness. Yet simultaneously, that new world was disenchanted of all those personal and spiritual qualities that for millennia had given human beings their sense of cosmic meaning. The new universe was a machine, a self-contained mechanism of force and matter, devoid of goals or purpose, bereft of intelligence or consciousness, its character fundamentally alien to that of man. The premodern world had been permeated with spiritual, mythic, theistic, and other humanly meaningful categories, but all these were regarded by the modern perception as anthropomorphic projections. Mind and matter, psyche and world, were separate realities. The scientific liberation from theological dogma and animistic superstition was thus accompanied by a new sense of human alienation from a world that no longer responded to human values, nor offered a redeeming context within which could be understood the larger issues of human existence.’


‘With the world no longer a divine creation, a certain spiritual nobility seemed to have departed from it, an impoverishment that also necessarily touched man, its erstwhile crown. … Man’s character, his mind and will, came from below, not above. … Man could now recognize that he rode forth at the crest of evolution’s advance, nature’s most complex and dazzling achievement; but he was also just an animal of no “higher” purpose. … The chief facts of human history until the present were fortuitously supportive biophysical circumstances and brute survival, with no apparent larger meaning or context, and with no cosmic security supplied by any providential design from above.


‘Freud thereby represented a brilliant culmination of the Enlightenment project, bringing even the human unconscious under the light of rational investigation.

Yet on the other hand, Freud radically undermined the entire Enlightenment project by his revelation that below or beyond the rational mind existed an overwhelmingly potent repository of nonrational forces which did not readily submit either to rational analysis or to conscious manipulation, and in comparison with which man’s conscious ego was a frail and fragile epiphenomenon.’


Historicism became a dominant way of explaining new formations with the philosophies of Darwin, Marx and Freud.


The Copernican heliocentric cosmos changed into a much vaster image with countless stars and constellations where distances are measured in light years and human significance diminished exponentially.


Historicism expanded to become determinism, which explained that everything including reason is only results of previous events.

The Self-Critique of the Modern Mind

From Locke to Hume


‘It was above all John Locke, Newton’s contemporary and Bacon’s heir, who set the tone for the Enlightenment by affirming the foundational principle of empiricism: There is nothing in the intellect that was not previously in the senses (Nihil est in intellectu quod non antea fuerit in sensu). … The mind is at first a blank tablet, upon which experience writes. <p.334> … From those impressions, the mind can build its conceptual understanding by means of its own introspective and compounding operations. The mind possesses innate powers, but not innate ideas. Cognition begins with sensation.

The British empiricist demand that sensory experience be the ultimate source of knowledge of the world set itself in opposition to the Continental rationalist orientation, epitomized in Descartes and variously elaborated by Spinoza and Leibniz, which held that the mind alone, through its recognition of clear, distinct, and self-evident truths, could achieve certain knowledge.’



I think Locke believed in being reborn because of his thoughts about a blank mind at birth.



Locke identified objects, appearances in mind, and thinking. He also distinguished between primary and secondary appearances. A primary appearance was represented by objective measurement of devices, using mathematical units. Weight identified, for example, was a primary appearance in mind. Secondary appearances in mind related to human senses for example smelling or seeing, which formed impressions in mind. Secondary appearances in mind were subjective and primary appearances in mind objective. Bishop Berkeley then argued that primary appearances are impressions in mind just as secondary appearances are in impressions in mind and therefore all appearances are equally subjective in mind.


Bishop Berkeley’s argument did not accept the values of mediating rationalities, which are represented by devices like scales and descriptive languages like mathematics. The objective measurement of a wave by a sensor can be standardized with devices. Standardization can cause mediation and agreement if production and distribution benefits of devices are shared in intequible ways.



‘.. Berkeley, a bishop of the church, sought to overcome the <p.336>  contemporary tendency toward “atheistic Materialism” which he felt had unjustifiably arisen with modern science. … All that can be known with certainty to exist is the mind and its ideas, including those ideas that seem to represent a material world. From a rigorously philosophical pint of view, “to be” does not mean “to be a material substance”; rather, “to be” means “to be perceived by a mind” (esse est percipi).’


It seams Berkeley meant to be conscious of own actions and body movements means “to be”. To be conscious of self (soul not body) is another consciousness, which Berkeley seems not to have perceived.



‘Yet Berkeley held that the individual mind does not subjectively determine its experience of the world, … the world and its order depend on a mind that transcends individual minds and is universal—namely, God’s mind.’


‘To begin his analysis, Hume made a distinction between sensory impressions and ideas: Sensory impressions are the basis of any knowledge, and they come with a force and liveliness that make them unique. Ideas are faint copies of those impressions. One can experience through the senses and impression of the color blue, and on the basis of this impression one can have an idea of that color whereby the latter can be recalled. The question therefore arises, What causes the sensory impression? If every valid idea has a basis in a corresponding impression, then to what impression can the mind point for its idea of causality? None, Hume answered. … The mind draws from its experience an explanation that in fact derives from the mind itself, not from the experience. The mind cannot really know what causes the sensations, for it never experiences “cause” as a sensation. It experiences only simple impressions, atomized phenomena, and causality per se is not one of those simple impressions. … <p.338> It [Cause – own insert] is the reification of a psychological expectation, apparently affirmed by experience but never genuinely substantiated.


Hume reified some “causes” as possible miracles of God, although he stated “causes” of causes as the unknown, it seems.



‘Part of Hume’s intention was to refute the metaphysical claims of philosophical rationalism and its deductive logic. In Hume’s view, two kinds of propositions are possible, one based purely on sensation and the other purely on the intellect. A proposition based on sensation concerns obvious matters of concrete fact (e.g., “it is a sunny day”), which are always contingent (they could have been different, though in fact they were not). By contrast, a proposition based purely on intellect concerns relations between concepts (e.g., “all squares have four equal sides”), and these are always necessary—that is, their denial leads to self-contradiction. But the truths of pure reason, such as those of mathematics, are necessary only because they exist in a self-contained system with no mandatory reference to the external world. … Hence the only truths of which pure reason is capable are tautological. Reason alone cannot assert a truth about the ultimate nature of things.’


‘.. for Hume, metaphysics was just an exalted form of mythology, of no relevance to the real world.

But another and, for the modern mind, more disturbing consequence of Hume’s critical analysis was its apparent undermining of empirical science itself, for the latter’s logical foundation, induction, was now recognized as unjustifiable. The mind’s logical progress from many particulars to a universal certainty could never be absolutely legitimated: no matter how many times one observes a given event-sequence, one can never be certain that that event-sequence is a causal one and will always repeat itself in subsequent observations.’


‘In the long evolution of the Western mind from the ancient idealist to the modern empiricist, the basis of reality had been entirely reversed: Sensory experience, not ideal apprehension, was the standard of truth—and that truth was utterly problematic.

… But with the more secular skepticism of Hume, nothing could be said to be objectively necessary—not God, not order, not causality, nor substantial existents, nor personal identity, nor real knowledge. All was contingent. … Thus did Hume articulate philosophy’s paradigmatic skeptical argument, one that in turn was to stimulate Immanuel Kant to develop the central philosophical position of the modern era.’


Although Hume, according to Tarnas promoted a world without metaphysics, i read Tarnas’s explanation of Hume as the opposite; as if Hume motivated God (first mover of Aristotle? In Venter’s book he elaborated on Hume’s analysis of art, i think with reference to Aristotle’s mimesis) as causing unknowns, later explained by Kant as noumena.





'The intellectual challenge that faced Kant in the second half of the eighteenth century was a seemingly impossible one: on the one hand, to reconcile the claims of science to certain and genuine knowledge of the world with the claim of philosophy that experience  could never give rise to such knowledge; on the other hand, to reconcile the claim of religion that man was morally free with the claim of science that nature was entirely determined by necessary laws.

… The mind required empirical evidence before it could be capable of knowledge, but God, immortality, and other such metaphysical matters could never become phenomena; they were not empirical. Metaphysics, therefore, was beyond the powers of human reason.'



'Kant himself had long been convinced that natural science was scientific to the precise extent that it approximated to the ideal of mathematics. Indeed, on the basis of such a conviction, Kant himself had made an important contribution to Newtonian cosmology, demonstrating that through strictly necessary measurable physical forces, the Sun and planets had consolidated and assumed the motions defined by Copernicus and Kepler.'


'By Hume's reasoning, with which Kant had to agree, the certain laws of Euclidian geometry could not have been derived from empirical observation. Yet Newtonian science was explicitly based upon Euclidian geometry. If the laws of mathematics and logic were said to come from within the human mind, how could they be said to pertain with certainty to the world? Rationalists like Descartes had more or less simply assumed a mind-world correspondence, but Hume had subjected that assumption to a damaging critique.'




'Kant's extraordinary solution was to propose that the mind-world correspondence was indeed vindicated in natural science, yet not in the naive sense previously assumed, but in the critical sense that the "world" science explicated was a world already ordered by the mind's own cognitive apparatus. For in Kant's view, the nature of the human mind is such that it does not passively receive sense data. … In the act of human cognition, the mind does not conform to things; rather, things conform to the mind.'




Geometry is based on physical, seen objects, for example triangles therefore it is based on nature, very basic simple nature.




How did Kant arrive at this epoch-making conclusion? He began by noting that if all content that could be derived from experience was withdrawn from mathematical judgments, the ideas of space and time still remained. From this he inferred that any event experienced by the senses is located automatically in a framework of spatial and temporal relations. …

<p.344> … Because mathematical propositions are based on direct intuitions of spatial relations, they are "a-priori"—constructed by the mind and not derived from experience—and yet they are also valid for experience, which will by necessity conform to the a priori form of space. It is true that pure reason inevitably becomes entangled in contradiction if it attempts to apply these ideas to the world as a whole—to ascertain what is true beyond all possible experience—as trying to decide whether the universe is infinite or finite either in time or space. But as regards the phenomenal world that man does experience, time and space are not just applicable concepts, they are intrinsic components of all human experience of that world, frames of reference mandatory for human cognition.'




'Although Kant criticized Leibniz and the rationalists for believing that reason alone without sense experience can calculate the universe (for, Kant argued, knowledge requires acquaintance with particulars), he also criticized Locke and the empiricists for believing that sense impressions alone, without a priori concepts of the understanding, could ever lead to knowledge (for particulars are meaningless without general concepts by which they are interpreted). Locke was correct to deny innate ideas in the sense of mental representations of physical reality, but wrong to deny innate formal knowledge. … Only in conjunction can understanding and sensibility supply objectively valid knowledge of things.'




'Man's knowledge, then does not conform to objects, but objects conform to man's knowledge. Certain knowledge is possible in a phenomenal universe because the human mind bestows to that universe its own absolute order. Thus Kant proclaimed what has been called his "Copernican revolution": As Copernicus had explained the perceived movements of the heavens by the actual movement of the observer, so <p.347> Kant explained the perceived order of the world by the actual order of the observer. (1)'




I recall that in Critique of pure reason Kant referred to Copernicus in a derogatory way as if his astronomy was make-belief.




'(1) On the basis of Kant's second preface to the Critique of Pure Reason, it has often been said that Kant called his insight a "Copernican revolution" (e.g., by Karl Popper, Bertrand Russel, John Dewey, and the fifteenth edition of the Ecyclopaedia Britannica, among many others). I. B. Cohen has pointed out (in Revolution in Science [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985], 237-243) that Kant does not appear to have made that specific statement. On the other hand, Kant explicitly compared his new philosophical strategy to Copernicus's astronomical theory, and although strictly speaking the term "Copernican revolution" may postdate both Copernicus and Kant, both the term and the comparison are accurate and illuminating.'




'Man knows, as indeed Aquinas and Aristotle had said, because he judges things through the medium of a priori principles; but man cannot know whether these internal principles possess any ultimate relevance to the real world, or to any absolute truth or being outside the human mind. … For the modern mind, the inevitable outcome of a critical rationalism and a critical empiricism was a Kantian subjectivism limited to the phenomenal world: Man had no necessary insight into the transcendent, nor into the world as such. … In retrospect, the long-term consequences of both the Copernican and the Kantian revolutions were fundamentally ambiguous, at once liberating and diminishing. Both revolutions awakened man to a new, more adventurous reality, yet both also radically displaced man—one form the center of the cosmos, the other from genuine cognition of that cosmos. Cosmological alienation was thereby compounded by epistemological alienation.

It could be said that in one sense Kant reversed the Copernican revolution, since he placed man again at the center of his universe by virtue of the human mind's central role in establishing the world order. …

<p.349> … Man was again at the center of his universe, but this was now only his universe, not the universe.'




Currently i describe phenomena as objective realities due to possible agreement amongst people about those realities and to metaphysical matters i refer to as subjective realities because of the difficulty in agreeing about noumena and definitions of God.




'For Kant's revolution had two sides to it, one focused on science, the other on religion: he wished to rescue both certain knowledge and moral freedom, both his belief in Newton and his belief in God. On the one hand, by demonstrating the necessity of the mind's a priori forms and categories, Kant sought to confirm the validity of science. On the other hand, by demonstrating that man can know only phenomena, not things in themselves, he sought to make room for the truths of religious belief and moral doctrine.

… , Kant argued that his limitation of science's competence to the phenomenal, his recognition of man's ignorance concerning things in themselves, opened up the possibility of faith. …

Kant thus held that although one could not know that God exists, one must nevertheless believe he exists in order to act morally. … With the advances of scientific and philosophical knowledge, the modern mind could no longer base religion on a <p. 350> cosmological or metaphysical foundation, but instead it could base religion in the structure of the human situation—and it was through this decisive insight that Kant, following the spirit of Rousseau and of Luther before him, defined the direction of modern religious thought. …

… Here the Humean and Newtonian influences in Kant's philosophical development were countered by the universal humanitarian moral ideals of Rousseau, who had stressed the priority of feeling over reason in religious experience, and whose works had made a considerable impression on Kant, reinforcing the deeper roots of Kant's sense of moral duty coming from his strict Pietist childhood.'




Charles Taylor and Richard Tarnas opined that Kant followed Rousseau's spirit. In my 3rd History of contemporary/modern philosophy (FILM 878) assignment submitted to Prof. Heyns, i disagreed with their opinion. The difference between Kant and Rousseau was also highlighted in Accounting of ideas submitted to Journal of philosophy and to Phronimon. Last year i highlighted the difference in a History of philosophy (PHIL212) assignment, if i remember correctly.




'It is clear that at heart, Kant believed that the laws moving the planets and stars ultimately stood in some fundamental harmonious relation to the moral imperatives he experienced within himself: "Tow things fill the heart with ever new and always increasing awe and admiration: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."




'Kant's penetrating critique had effectively pulled the rug out from under the human mind's pretensions to a certain knowledge of things in themselves, eliminating in principle any human cognition of the ground of the world. Subsequent developments in the Western mind—the deepening relativisms introduced not only by Einstein, Bohr … and a host of others—radically magnified that effect, altogether eliminating the grounds for subjective certainty still felt by Kant. … In the wake of Kant's Copernican revolution, science, religion, and philosophy all had to find their own bases for affirmation, for none could claim a priori access to the universe's intrinsic nature.'


The Decline of Metaphysics


24 May 2013




'The course of modern philosophy unfolded under the impact of Kant's epochal distinctions. At first, Kant's successors in Germany pursued his thinking in an unexpectedly idealist direction. In the Romantic climate of European culture in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel suggested that the cognitive categories of the human mind were in some sense the ontological categories of the universe—i.e., that Human knowledge did not point to a divine reality but was itself that reality—and on that basis constructed a metaphysical system with a universal Mind revealing itself through man.'




Still the One, outside of humanity, but did that One or Absolute of Hegel have only one representative amongst humans or more than one?




'.. because materialism, or at least naturalism—the position holding that all phenomena could ultimately be explained by natural causes—appeared most congruent with the scientific account of the world, it constituted a more compelling conceptual framework than did idealism.'




'In the end, the human mind could not be relied upon as an accurate judge of reality. The original Cartesian certainty, that which served as foundation for the modern confidence in human reason, was no longer defensible.

Henceforth, philosophy concerned itself largely with the clarification of epistemological problems, with the analysis of language, with philosophy of science, or with phenomenological and existentialist analyses of human experience. Despite the incongruence of aims and predispositions among the various schools of twentieth-century philosophy, there was general agreement on one crucial point: the impossibility of apprehending an objective cosmic order with the human intelligence.'

The Crisis of Modern Science




'With both philosophy and religion in such problematic condition, it was science alone that seemed to rescue the modern mind from pervasive uncertainty. Science achieved a golden age in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with extraordinary advances in all its major branches, with widespread institutional and academic organization of research, and with practical applications rapidly proliferating on the basis of a systematic linkage of science of technology.'




Thus, truths progressed with correspondences being common enough to advance science.




'But two developments in the course of the twentieth century radically changed science's cognitive and cultural status, one theoretical and internal to science, the other pragmatic and external.

… In the first instance, the classical Cartesian-Newtonian cosmology gradually and then dramatically broke down … Maxwell's .. Michelson-Morley .. Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity .. Planck's isolation of quantum phenomena and Einstein's special and general theories of relativity, and culminating in the 1920s with the formulation of quantum mechanics by Bohr, Heisenberg, and their colleagues, the long-established certainties of classical modern science were radically <p.356> undermined. …

… The planets moved in their orbits not because they were pulled toward the Sun by an attractive force acting at a distance, but because the very space in which they moved was curved. … The uncertainty principle radically undermined and replaced strict Newtonian determinism. …

… <p.357> Matter's former hard substantiality had given way to a reality perhaps more conducive to a spiritual interpretation. … The deep interconnectedness of phenomena encouraged a new holistic thinking about the world, with many social, moral, and religious implications. … The reductionist program, dominant since Descartes, now appeared to many to be myopically selective, and likely to miss that which was most significant in the nature of things.

… Nevertheless, many felt that the old materialistic world view had been irrevocably challenged, and that the new scientific models of reality offered possible opportunities for a fundamental rapprochement with man's humanistic aspirations.'




'Yet these ambiguous possibilities were countered by other, more disturbing factors. … objects that were not really things at all but processes or patterns of relationships; phenomena that took no decisive shape until observed; particles that seemed to affect each other at a distance with no known causal link; the existence of fundamental fluctuations of energy in a total vacuum.

… Thus in certain respects the intellectual contradictions and obscurities of the new physics only heightened the sense of human relativity and alienation growing since the Copernican revolution. … <p.359> Philosophy's conclusion was becoming science's as well: Reality may not be structured in any way the human mind can objectively discern. Thus incoherence, unintelligibility, and an insecure relativism compounded the earlier modern predicament of human alienation in an impersonal cosmos.'






'The fundamental Kantian a prioris—space, time, substance, causality—were no longer applicable to all phenomena. The scientific knowledge that had seemed after Newton to be universal and absolute had to be recognized after Einstein, Bohr, and Heisenberg as limited and provisional. So too did quantum mechanics reveal in unexpected fashion the radical validity of Kant's thesis that the nature described by physics was not nature in itself but man's relation to nature—i.e. nature as exposed to man's form of questioning.'




'.. while Popper maintained the rationality of science by upholding its fundamental commitment to rigorous testing of theories, its fearless neutrality in the quest for truth, Kuhn's analysis of the history of science tended to undercut even that security. … To an extent never consciously recognized by scientists, the nature of scientific practice makes its governing paradigm self-validating. …

<p.361> Kuhn further argued that when the gradual accumulation of conflicting data finally produces a paradigm crisis and a new imaginative synthesis eventually wins scientific favor, the process by which that revolution takes place is far from rational. It depends as much on the established customs of the scientific community, on aesthetic, psychological, and sociological factors, on the presence of contemporary root metaphors and popular analogies, on unpredictable imaginative leaps and "gestalt switches," even on the aging and dying of conservative scientists, as on disinterested tests and arguments. … Each paradigm creates its own gestalt, so comprehensive that scientists working within different paradigms seem to be living in different worlds. … Whereas Popper had attempted to temper Hume's skepticism by demonstrating the rationality of choosing the most rigorously tested conjecture, Kuhn's analysis served to restore that skepticism.'






'As early as the nineteenth century, Emerson had warned that man's technical achievements might not be unequivocally in his own best interests: "Things are in the saddle and ride mankind.'




'The West was again losing its faith, this time not in religion but in science and in the autonomous human reason.

Science was still valued, in many respects still revered. But it had lost its untainted image as humanity's liberator.'

Romanticism and Its Fate

The two Cultures




'To be sure, the Romantic temperament shared much with its Enlightenment opposite, and their complex interplay could be said to constitute the modern sensibility. Both tended to be "humanist" in their high estimate of man's powers and their concern with man's perspective on the universe.'




'Whereas the Enlightenment temperament's high valuation of man rested on his unequaled rational intellect and its power to comprehend and exploit the laws of nature, the Romantic valued man rather for his imaginative and spiritual aspirations, his emotional depths, his artistic creativity and powers of individual self-expression and self-creation. …

Whereas for the Enlightenment-scientific mind, nature was an object for observation and experiment, theoretical explanation and technological manipulation, for the Romantic, by contrast, nature was a live vessel of spirit, a translucent source of mystery and revelation.'




'Truth discovered in divergent perspectives was valued above the monolithic and univocal ideal of empirical science. For the Romantic, reality was symbolically resonant through and through, and was therefore fundamentally multivalent, a constantly changing complex of many leveled meanings, even opposites.'




'And so the limits of knowledge established by Locke, Hume, and the positivist side of Kant were boldly defied by the Idealists and Romantics of the post-Enlightenment.'




'As time passed, what had been the medieval dichotomy between reason and faith, which was followed by the early modern dichotomy between secular science and the Christian religion, now became a more general schism between scientific rationalism on the one hand and the multifaceted Romantic humanistic culture on the other, with the latter now including a diversity of religious and philosophical perspectives loosely allied with the literary and artistic tradition.'


The divided World View




'The faith-reason division of the medieval era and the religion-science division of the early modern era had become one of subject-object, inner-outer, man-world, humanities-science. A new form of the double-truth universe was now established.'




'In the longer run, however, the early Romantic sense of harmony with nature underwent a distinct transformation as the modern era grew old. Here the Romantic temperament was complexly influenced by its own internal developments, by the sundering effects of modern industrial civilization and modern history, and by science's view of nature as impersonal, non-anthropocentric, and random.'


Attempted Syntheses: From Goethe and Hegel to Jung




'At the foundation of Hegel's thought was his understanding of dialectic, according to which all things unfold in a continuing evolutionary process whereby every state of being inevitably brings forth its opposite. The interaction between these opposites then generates a third stage in which the opposites are integrated—they are at once overcome and fulfilled—in a richer and higher synthesis, which in turn becomes the basis for another dialectical process of opposition and synthesis. (5) …

… While Kant had argued that reason could not penetrate the veil of phenomena to reach the ultimate reality, since man's finite reason inevitably became caught in contradiction whenever it attempted to do so, Hegel saw human reason as fundamentally an expression of a universal Spirit or Mind (Geist), through the power of which, as in love, all opposites could be transcended in a higher synthesis.'




'Whereas for Plato the immanent and secular was ontologically dismissed in favor of the transcendent and spiritual, for Hegel this world was the very condition of the Absolute's self-realization. In Hegel's conception, both nature and history are ever progressing toward the Absolute: The universal Spirit expresses itself in space as nature, in time as history.'




'Just as it was only through the experience of alienation from God that man could experience the joy and triumph of rediscovering his own divinity, so it was only through the process of God's becoming finite, in nature and in man, that God's infinite nature could be expressed. For this reason, Hegel declared that the essence of his philosophical conception was expressed in the Christian revelation of God's incarnation as man, the climax of religious truth.

… Man is not the passive spectator of reality, but its active co-creator, his history the matrix of its fulfillment. The universal essence, which constitutes and permeates all things, finally comes to consciousness of itself in man.

… Hegel's influence was considerable, first in Germany and later in English-speaking countries, encouraging a renascence of classical and historical studies from an Idealist perspective and providing a metaphysical bulwark for spiritually disposed intellectuals grappling with the forces of secular materialism. A new attentiveness to history and to the evolution of ideas was thereby engendered, with history seen as motivated ultimately not simply by political or economic or biological—i.e., material—factors, though these all played a role, but rather by consciousness itself, by spirit or mind, by the self-unfoldment of thought and the power of ideas.'




'His abstract metaphysical certitudes seemed to avoid the grim reality of death, and to disregard the human experience of God's remoteness and inscrutability.'




'In the course of analyzing a vast range of psychological and cultural phenomena, found evidence of a collective unconscious common to all human beings and structured accordingly to powerful archetypal principles.'




'A new dimension to Hegel's understanding of historical dialectic emerged with Jung's insight into the collective psyche's tendency to constellate archetypal oppositions in history before moving toward a synthesis in a higher level.'




'.. depth psychology ..'


Existentialism and Nihilism




'Just as man had become a meaningless speck in the modern universe, so had individual persons become insignificant ciphers in modern states, to be manipulated or coerced by the millions.'

The Postmodern Mind


27 May 2013




'Each great epochal transformation in the history of the Western mind appears to have been initiated by a kind of archetypal sacrifice. … suffered at the birth of the postmodern by Nietzsche, who signed his last letters "The Crucified," and who died at the dawn of the twentieth century.'


'There is an appreciation of the plasticity and constant change of reality and knowledge, a stress on the priority of concrete experience over fixed abstract principles, and a conviction that no single a priori thought system should govern belief or investigation.'




'Reality is not a solid, self-contained given but a fluid, unfolding process, an "open universe", continually affected and molded by one's actions and beliefs. … The knowing subject is never disengaged from the body or from the world, which form the background and conditions of every cognitive act.

… The mind is not the passive reflector of an external world and its intrinsic order, but is active and creative in the process of perception and cognition. Reality is in some sense constructed by the mind, not simply perceived by it, and many such constructions are possible, none necessarily sovereign.'


28 May 2013




'The most prominent philosophical outcome of these several converging strands of postmodern thought has been a many-sided critical attack on the central Western philosophical tradition from Platonism onward. The whole project of that tradition to grasp and articulate a foundational Reality has been criticized as a futile exercise in linguistic game playing, a sustained but doomed effort to move elaborate fictions of its own creation. More pointedly, such a project has been condemned as inherently alienating and oppressively hierarchical—an intellectually imperious procedure that has produced an existential and cultural impoverishment, and that has led ultimately to the technocratic domination of nature and the social-political domination of others. The Western mind's overriding compulsion to impose some form of totalizing reason—theological, scientific, economic—on every aspect of life is accused of being not only self-deceptive but destructive.'




'"… To think well, to feel well, to act well, to read well, according to the épistème of unmaking, is to refuse the tyranny of wholes; totalization in any human endeavor is potentially totalitarian."(8) …

Properly speaking, therefore, there is no "postmodern world view," nor the possibility of one.'




'8.        Ihab Hassan, quoted in Albrecht Wellmer, "On the Dialectic of Modernism and Postmodernism," Praxis International 4 (1985): 338. See also Richard J. Bernstein's discussion of the same passage in his 1988 Presidential Address to the Metaphysical Society of America ("Metaphysics, Critique, Utopia, " Review of Metaphysics 42 [1988]: 259-260), where he characterizes the postmodern intellectual attitude as sometimes resembling Hegel's description of a self-fulfilling abstract skepticism, "which only ever sees pure nothingness in its result … [and] cannot get any further from there, but must wait to see whether something new comes along and what it is, in order to throw it too into the same empty abyss" (G,W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, translated by A.V. Miller [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977], 51).'



'Everything could change tomorrow. Implicitly, the one postmodern absolute is critical consciousness, which, by deconstructing all, seems compelled by its own logic to do so to itself as well. This is the unstable paradox that permeates the postmodern mind.'






'The postmodern collapse of meaning has thus been countered by an emerging awareness of the individual's self-responsibility and capacity for creative innovation and self-transformation in his or her existential and spiritual response to life.'




'Imagination is no longer conceived as simplistically opposed to perception and reason; rather, perception and reason are recognized as being always informed by the imagination. With this awareness of the fundamental mediating role of the imagination in human experience has also come an increased appreciation of the power and complexity of the unconscious, as well as new insight into the nature of archetypal pattern and meaning. The postmodern philosopher's recognition of the inherently metaphorical nature of philosophical and scientific statements (Feyerabend, Barbour, Rorty) has been both affirmed and more precisely articulated with the postmodern psychologist's insight into the archetypal categories of the unconscious that condition and structure human experience and cognition (Jung, Hillman). The long-standing philosophical problem of universals, which had been partly illuminated by Wittgenstein's concept of "family resemblances"—his thesis that what appears to be a definite commonality shared by all instances covered by a single general word in fact often comprises a whole range of indefinite, overlapping similarities and relationships—has been given new intelligibility through depth psychology's understanding of archetypes.'




Feminism has made significant inroads.






'The postmodern era is an era without consensus on the nature of reality, but it is blessed with an unprecedented wealth of perspectives with which to engage the great issues that confront it.'




'The intellectual question that looms over our time is whether the current state of profound metaphysical and epistemological irresolution is something that will continue indefinitely, taking perhaps more viable, or more radically disorienting, forms as the years and decades pass; whether it is in fact the entropic prelude to some kind of apocalyptic denouement of history; or whether it represents an epochal transition to another era altogether, bringing a new form of civilization and a new world view with principles and ideals fundamentally different from those that have impelled the modern world through its dramatic trajectory.'


At the Millennium



"'Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. …


Surely some revelation is at hand.


William Butler Yeats

"The Second Coming"'"




'Nietzsche, in whom "nihilism became conscious for the first time" (Camus), who had foreseen the cataclysm that would befall European civilization in the twentieth <p.412> century, realized within himself the epochal crisis that would finally come when the modern mind became conscious of its destruction of the metaphysical world, "the death of God":



'"What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? (10)"'




'10.      Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, translated by W. Kaufman (New York: Random House, 1974), 181.'




'"Only a god can save us," said Heidegger at the end of his life. And Jung, at the end of his, comparing our age to the beginning of the Christian era two millennia ago, wrote: '… … [own abstract of Tarnas's quote follows] Does the individual know that he is the makeweight that tips the scales? (12)'




'12.      Carl G. Jung, "The Undiscovered Self," in Collected Works of Carl Gustav Jung, vol. 10, translated by R.F.C. Hull, edited by H. Read et al. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), pars. 585-586.'




'If ever boldness, depth, and clarity of vision were called for, from many, it is now. Yet perhaps it is this very necessity that could summon forth from us the courage and imagination we now require.'


VII. Epilogue


22 June 2013




'I believe that the West's restless inner development and incessantly innovative masculine ordering of reality has been gradually leading, in an immensely long dialectical movement, toward a reconciliation with the lost feminine unity, toward a profound and many-leveled marriage of the masculine and feminine, a triumphant and healing reunion.'




'Today we are experiencing something that looks very much like the death of modern man, indeed that looks very much like the death of Western man. Perhaps the end of "man" himself is at hand. But man is not a goal. Man is something that must be overcome—and fulfilled, in the embrace of the feminine.'

Notes - Introduction


13 June 2013




'When major thinkers and writers of the past used the word "man" or other masculine generics to indicate the human species—as, for example, in The Descent of Man (Darwin, 1871), or De hominis dignitate oratio ("Orations on the Dignity of Man," Pico della Mirandolo, 1486), or Das Seelenproblem des modernen Menschen ("The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man," Jung, 1928)—the meaning of the term was pervaded by fundamental ambiguity. It is usually clear that a writer who employed such an expression in this kind of context intended to personify the entire human species, not only members of the male sex. Yet it is also evident from the larger framework of understanding within which the word appears that such a term was generally intended to denote and connote a decisively masculine contour in what the writer understood to be the essential nature of the human being and the human enterprise. This shifting but persistent ambiguity of diction—both gender-inclusive and masculine-oriented—must be accurately conveyed if one is to understand the distinctive character of Western cultural and intellectual history. The implicit masculine meaning of such terms was not accidental, even if it was largely unconscious. If the present narrative were to attempt to convey the mainstream traditional Western image of the human enterprise by systematically and unvaryingly using gender-neutral expressions such as "humankind," "humanity," "people," "persons," "women and men," and "the human being" (along with "she or he" and "his or her"), instead of what would actually have been used—man, anthrōpos, andres, homines, der Mensch, etc.—the result would be roughly comparable to the work of a medieval historian who, when writing about the ancient Greek view of the divine, consciously substituted the word "God" every time the Greeks would have said "the gods," thereby correcting a usage that to medieval ears would have seemed both wrong and offensive."

[1]           P472: 'From this important fragment from Xenophanes, W.K.C. Guthrie states: "The emphasis on personal search, and on the need for time, marks this as the first statement in extant Greek literature of the idea of progress in the arts and sciences, a progress dependent on human effort and not—or at least not primarily—on divine revelation" (A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 1, The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962], 399-400).'


[2]           P472: 'The evolution of the Greek view of human history and of the human relation to the divine can be discerned in the shifting nature and status of the mythological Prometheus. Hesiod's earlier depiction of Prometheus as the trickster who stole fire from Olympus for mankind against Zeus's wishes was greatly expanded by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound, whose titanic protagonist gave mankind all the arts of civilization and thereby brought it from a state of primitive savagery to intellectual mastery and dominion over nature. Hesiod's seriocomic figure became for Aeschylus a tragic hero of universal stature; and while Hesiod had viewed human history as an inevitable regress from an aboriginal golden age, Aeschylus's Prometheus celebrated mankind's progress to civilization. … While it is difficult to ascertain Aeschylus's precise view of the myth's ontological significance, it would seem that he conceived of Prometheus and man in essentially mythopoeic terms as a symbolic unity.

… See E.R. Dodds, "Progress in Classical Antiquity," in Dictionary of the History of Ideas, edited by Philip P. Weiner (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973) 3: 623-626.'


[3]           P472-473: Tarnas referred here to other works in which explanations were given about Plato's explanations of connections between irrationality and femininity; rationality and male sexuality. He also refers to homoeroticism in Plato's works especially in Symposium. Tarnas wrote that Vlastos wrote that Plato wrote in the climactic argument of Symposium how '.. a homosexual paradigm changes to a procreative heterosexual one when Diotima describes the highest fulfillment of Eros as the philosopher's conjugal union with the Idea of Beauty, which brings forth the birth of wisdom.'

[4]           Pagina 474: 'The philosophical integration of Hellenism with Judaism was initiated by Philo of Alexandria (b.c. 15-10 B.C.), who identified the Logos in Platonic terms as the Idea of Ideas, as the summation of all Ideas, and as the source of the world's intelligibility; and in Judaic terms as God's providential ordering of the universe and as mediator between God and man. The Logos was thus both the agent of creation and the agent by which God was experienced and understood by man. Philo taught that the Ideas were God's eternal thoughts, which he created as real beings prior to the creation of the world. Later Christians held Philo in high regard for his views of the Logos, which he called the first-begotten Son of God, the man of God, and the image of God. Philo appears to have been the first person to have attempted to integrate revelation and philosophy, faith and reason—the basic impulse of Scholasticism. Little recognized in Judaic thought, he had a marked influence on Neoplatonism and medieval Christian theology.'


[5]           P475: 'Enchiridion, in Augustine, Works, vol. 9, edited by M. Dods (Edinburgh: Clark, 1871-77), 180-181.'

[6]           P484: 'Ockham himself used formulations, somewhat different from that now known as Ockham's razor, such as "Plurality is not to be assumed without necessity" and "What can be done with fewer [assumptions] is done in vain with more." '

[7]           p484: 'Translated by Mary Martin McLaughlin in The Portable Renaissance Reader, edited by J.B. Ross and M.M. McLaughlin (New York: Penguin, 1977), 478.'