The De-Souling of Culture

Civilisation             -                      Culture
Atheistic                 -                      Theistic 
Intelligence             -                      Wisdom 
Profane                   -                      Sacred 
Machine                  -                      Organism 
Quantity                  -                      Quality 
Static                       -                      Dynamic 
Objective                -                      Subjective
Material                   -                      Spiritual 

Atheism, rightly understood, is the necessary expression of a spirituality that has accomplished itself and exhausted its religious possibilities, and is declining into the inorganic.

Atheism comes not with the evening of the Culture but with the dawn of the Civilization. It belongs to the great city, to the "educated man" of the great city who acquires mechanistically what his fore fathers the creators of the Culture had lived organically.

Men continue to experience the outer world that extends around them as a cosmos of well-ordered bodies or a world-cavern or efficient space, as the case may be, but they no longer livingly experience the sacred causality in it. They only learn to know it in a profane causality that is, or is desired to be, inclusively mechanical.

There are atheisms of Classical, Arabian and Western kinds and these differ from one another in meaning and in matter. Nietzsche formulated the dynamic atheism on the basis that "God is dead," and a Classical philosopher would have expressed the static and Euclidean by saying that the "gods who dwell in the holy places are "dead," the one indicating that boundless space has, the other that countless bodies have, become godless.

But dead space and dead things are the "facts" of physics. The atheist is unable to experience any difference between the Nature-picture of physics and that of religion.

Language, with a fine feeling, distinguishes wisdom and intelligence - the early and the late, the rural and the megalopolitan conditions of the soul. Intelligence even sounds atheistic. No one would describe Heraclitus or Meister Eckart as an intelligence, but Socrates and Rousseau were intelligent and not “wise" men. There is something root-less in the word. 

It is only from the standpoint of the Stoic and of the Socialist, of the typical irreligious man, that want of intelligence is a matter for contempt.

The spiritual in every living Culture is religious, has religion, whether it be conscious of it or not. That it exists, becomes, develops, fulfils itself, is its religion. It is not open to a spirituality to be irreligious; at most it can play with the idea of irreligion as Medicean Florentines did.

But the megalopolitan is irreligious; this is part of his being, a mark of his historical position. Bitterly as he may feel the inner emptiness and poverty, earnestly as he may long to be religious, it is out of his power to be so.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 408-9

Humanity's existential lesion is generally explained as an effect of material, economic organization in a society such as the capitalist one.

The true remedy, the start of a “new and authentic humanism,” a human integrity and a “happiness never known before,” would then be furnished by the setting up of a different socioeconomic system, by the abolition of capitalism, and by the institution of a communist society of workers, such as is taking place in the Soviet area.

Karl Marx had already praised in communism “the real appropriation of the human essence on the part of man and for the sake of man, the return of man to himself as a social being, thus as a human man," seeing in it the equivalent of a perfect naturalism and even a true humanism.

In its radical forms, wherever this myth is affirmed through the control of movements, organizations, and people, it is linked to a corresponding education, a sort of psychic lobotomy intended methodically to neutralize and infantilize any form of higher sensibility and interest, every way of thought that is not in terms of the economy and socioeconomic processes.

Behind the myth is the most terrible void, which acts as the worst opiate yet administered to a rootless humanity. Yet this deception is no different from the myth of prosperity, especially in the form it has taken in the West. Oblivious of the fact that they are living on a volcano, materially, politically, and in relation to the struggle for world domination, Westerners enjoy a technological euphoria, encouraged by the prospects of the "second industrial revolution" of the atomic age.

At all events, the error and the illusion are the same in both socioeconomic ideologies, namely the serious assumption that existential misery can be reduced to suffering in one way or another from material want, and to impoverishment due to a given socioeconomic system.

They assume that misery is greater among the disinherited or the proletariat than among those living in prosperous or privileged economic conditions, and that it will consequently diminish with the "freedom from want" and the general advance of the material conditions of existence.

The truth of the matter is that the meaning of existence can be lacking as much in one group as in the other, and that there is no correlation between material and spiritual misery.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 28-9

It would be good to look further into the kind and presuppositions of [scientific] “knowing.”

The cosmic constant is a purely mathematical concept; in using it to speak of the speed of light, one no longer imagines speed, light, or propagation, one must only have in mind numbers and symbols. If someone were to ask those scientists what is light, without accepting an answer in mathematical symbols, they would look stupefied and not even understand the request.

Ever since [modern man] has been subject to compulsory education, his mind has been stuffed with “positive" scientific notions; he cannot avoid seeing in a soulless light everything that surrounds him, and therefore acts destructively.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 133, 138

This is why atomistic thinking led people to metaphysical materialism, to the rather mysterious idea that only matter is real. The Greek atomists were the first people who seriously made this striking claim, the first real materialists.

Their Ionian predecessors such as Thales had taken for granted that life and spirit were included as properties of their primal substance - water, air or fire. Instead, the atomists seriously tried to show how life and consciousness could emerge from a world consisting only of static, inert atoms and the void.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.89

The “natural conscience” of mankind, Edwards says, "should approve and condemn the same things that are approved and condemned by a spiritual sense or virtuous taste.”

Those who take a purely behavioral view of morality will see this as an admission that the distinctions Edwards is so eager to establish—the distinction between “true virtue" and "secondary virtue," between the "gratitude that is truly virtuous” and the gratitude that comes from “loving those which love us," or again between "remorse of conscience" and genuine repentance - have no practical consequences and are therefore completely irrelevant to moral philosophy.

If “natural conscience ... concurs with the law of God," why do we need the law of God at all? Man-made morality appears to be enough for practical purposes.

Indeed the man-made morality outlined by Edwards, apparently indistinguishable in its content from the morality that issues from a love of God, itself appears to hold up an impossibly exalted standard of conduct, one that most people will inevitably fall short of. What good does it do to hold up a standard higher still, especially when we cannot show that it will improve the way anyone actually behaves? Edwards seems to prescribe a morality more suited to angels than to human beings, as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed.

Perry Miller points out in his biography of Edwards that Edwards would have agreed with this description of his morality, though not with the corollary that his morality was therefore irrelevant to human purposes. Civic order and social peace, we might add, are simply not the human purposes Edwards chiefly has in mind.

Important as these are, they do not exhaust the concerns that ought to be addressed by a well-conceived ethical theory.

In Edwards's view, the regulation of collective behavior remains a secondary concern. A more important concern is what men have to do in order to achieve a state of grace—the condition described only imperfectly as peace of mind, inner assurance, trust, overflowing vitality, and spiritual health.

Curiously enough, the concept of happiness, that eighteenth-century obsession, may explain as well as any other why the virtue that enables us to live in peace with our neighbors matters so much less, in Edwards's scheme of things, than the virtue that "softens and sweetens the mind” and thus enables us to live in peace with God—who “himself,” Edwards reminds us, "is in effect being in general.”

Secondary virtue cannot make us happy (to put the point in terms intelligible to the modern mind). It cannot overcome our resentment of the world's imperfections. It cannot solve the “problem of evil.” It cannot explain why we should be expected to love life when it is full of pain and suffering, heartbreakingly short, and bounded on either side by darkness.

Only "repentance” and “consent" can do that: such is Edwards's answer to the eighteenth-century "pursuit of happiness."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.255-6

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