Mundane Metaphysics

Today, many varieties of metaphysical attitude exist in a secularized form. To a great extent, it holds true that different and, indeed, mundane factors have taken the place of God: humanity, the nation, the individual, historical development, or even life as life for its own sake, in its complete spiritual emptiness and mere dynamic.

This does not mean that the attitude is no longer metaphysical. The thought and feeling of every person always retain a certain metaphysical character. Metaphysics is something that is unavoidable, and - as Otto von Gierke has aptly remarked - we cannot escape it by relinquishing our awareness of it.

What human beings regard as the ultimate, absolute authority, however, certainly can change, and God can be replaced by mundane and worldly factors. I call this secularization.

That is the issue here, not the equally significant but comparatively superficial cases that directly impress themselves on the historical and sociological observer: for example, the fact that the Church is replaced by the theater, the religious is treated as material for a drama or an opera, and the house of God is treated as a museum; the fact that in modern society the artist, at least in relation to his public, sociologically avails himself of certain functions of the priest, often in a comically deformed manner, and turns a stream of emotions that belong to the priest onto the genius of his own private person; the fact that a poetry arises that lives off cultic and liturgical aftereffects and reminiscences that it squanders away into the profane — and also a music, of which Baudelaire said, in a phrase almost apocalyptic, that it undermines heaven.

The transformations in the metaphysical sphere lie even deeper than such forms of secularization [...] Here, ever new factors appear as absolute authorities, even though the metaphysical structure and attitude remain.

[Carl Schmitt]
Political Romanticism, p. 17-18

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