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The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis

 

Exordium

What I have previously described as the ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ and the ‘way of pathei-mathos’ is simply my own weltanschauung, a weltanschauung developed over some years as a result of my own pathei-mathos. Thus, and despite whatever veracity it may or may not possess, it is only the personal insight of one very fallible individual, a fallibility proven by my decades of selfishness and by my decades of reprehensible extremism both political and religious.

Furthermore, and according to my admittedly limited understanding and limited knowledge, this philosophy does not – in essence – express anything new. For I feel (and I use the word ‘feel’ intentionally) that I have only re-expressed what so many others, over millennia, have expressed as result of (i) their own pathei-mathos and/or (ii) their experiences/insights and/or (iii) their particular philosophical musings.

Indeed, the more I reflect upon my (perhaps pretentiously entitled) ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’ the more I reminded of so many things, such as (i) what I intuitively (and possibly incorrectly) understood nearly half a century ago about Taoism when I lived in the Far East and was taught that ancient philosophy by someone who was also trying to instruct me in a particular Martial Art, and (ii) what I as a Catholic monk felt “singing Gregorian chant in choir and which singing often connected me to what JS Bach so often so well expressed by his music; that is, connected me to what – in essence – Christianity (the allegory of the life and crucifixion of Christ) and especially monasticism manifested: an intimation of some-thing sacred causing us to know beyond words what ‘the good’ really means, and which knowing touches us if only for an instant with a very personal humility and compassion”, and (iii) what I learnt from “my first few years as a Muslim, before I adhered to a harsh interpretation of Islam; a learning from being invited into the homes of Muslim families; sharing meals with them; praying with them; learning Muslim Adab; attending Namaz at my local Mosque, and feeling – understanding – what their faith meant to them and what Islam really meant, and manifested, as a practical way of living”, and (iv) of what I discovered from several years, as a teenager, at first in the Far East and then in England, of practising Hatha Yoga according to the Pradipika and Patanjali, and (v) of what I intuited regarding Buddhism from over a year of zazen (some in a zendo) and from months of discussions with Dom Aelred Graham who had lived in a Zen monastery in Japan, and (vi) what I so painfully, so personally, discovered via my own pathei-mathos.

As a weltanschauung derived from a personal pathei-mathos, my ‘philosophy/way of pathei-mathos’ is therefore subject to revision. Thus this essay summarising my weltanschauung includes a few (2013-2014) slight revisions – mentioned, or briefly described, in some of my more recent effusions – of what was expressed in previous works of mine such as The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos (ISBN 9781484096642) and Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos: Essays and Letters Regarding Spirituality, Humility, and A Learning From Grief (ISBN 9781484097984).

°°°

 

The Way Of Pathei-Mathos

1. Ontology

The ontology is of causal and acausal being, with (i) causal being as revealed by phainómenon, by the five Aristotelian essentials and thus by science with its observations and theories and principle of ‘verifiability’, and (ii) acausal being as revealed by συμπάθεια – by the acausal knowing (of living beings) derived from faculty of empathy [1] – and thus of the distinction between the ‘time’ (the change) of living-beings and the ‘time’ described via the measurement of the observed or the assumed/posited/predicted movement of ‘things’ [2].

2. Epistemology

a. The primacy of pathei-mathos: of a personal pathei-mathos being one of the primary means whereby we can come to know the true φύσις (physis) of Being, of beings, and of our own being; a knowing beyond ‘abstractions’, beyond the concealment implicit in manufactured opposites, by ipseity (the separation-of-otherness), and by denotatum.

b. Adding the ‘acausal knowing’ revealed by the (muliebral) faculty of empathy to the conventional, and causal (and somewhat masculous), knowing of science and logical philosophical speculation, with the proviso that what such ‘acausal knowing’ reveals is (i) of φύσις, the relation between beings, and between beings and Being, and thus of ‘the separation-of-otherness’, and (ii) the personal and numinous nature of such knowing in the immediacy-of-the-moment, and which empathic knowing thus cannot be abstracted out from that ‘living moment’ via denotatum: by (words written or spoken), or be named or described or expressed (become fixed or ‘known’) by any dogma or any -ism or any -ology, be such -isms or -ologies conventionally understood as political, religious, ideological, or social.

c. Describing a human, and world-wide and ancestral, ‘culture of pathei-mathos’ [3], and which culture of pathei-mathos could form part of Studia Humanitatis and thus of that education that enables we human beings to better understand our own φύσις [4].

3. Ethics

a. Of personal honour – which presences the virtues of fairness, tolerance, compassion, humility, and εὐταξία – as (i) a natural intuitive (wordless) expression of the numinous (‘the good’, δίκη, συμπάθεια) and (ii) of both what the culture of pathei-mathos and the acausal-knowing of empathy reveal we should do (or incline us toward doing) in the immediacy of the personal moment when personally confronted by what is unfair, unjust, and extreme [5].

b. Of how such honour – by its and our φύσις – is and can only ever be personal, and thus cannot be extracted out from the ‘living moment’ and our participation in the moment; for it only through such things as a personal study of the culture of pathei-mathos and the development of the faculty of empathy that a person who does not naturally possess the instinct for δίκη can develope what is essentially ‘the human faculty of honour’, and which faculty is often appreciated and/or discovered via our own personal pathei-mathos.

4. One fallible, personal, answer regarding the question of human existence

Of understanding ourselves in that supra-personal, and cosmic, perspective that empathy, honour, and pathei-mathos – and thus an awareness of the numinous and of the acausal – incline us toward, and which understanding is: (i) of ourselves as a finite, fragile, causal, viatorial, microcosmic, affective effluvium [6] of Life (ψυχή) and thus connected to all other living beings, human, terran, and non-terran, and (ii) of there being no supra-personal goal to strive toward because all supra-personal goals are and have been just posited – assumed, abstracted – goals derived from the illusion of ipseity, and/or from some illusive abstraction, and/or from that misapprehension of our φύσις that arises from a lack of empathy, honour, and pathei-mathos.

For a living in the moment, in a balanced – an empathic, honourable – way, presences our φύσις as conscious beings capable of discovering and understanding and living in accord with our connexion to other life; which understanding inclines us to avoid the hubris that causes or contributes to the suffering of other life, with such avoidance a personal choice not because it is conceived as a path toward some posited thing or goal – such as nirvana or Jannah or Heaven or after-life – and not because we might be rewarded by God, by the gods, or by some supra-personal divinity, but rather because it manifests the reality, the truth – the meaning – of our being. The truth that (i) we are (or we are capable of being) one affective consciously-aware connexion to other life possessed of the capacity to cause suffering/harm or not to cause suffering/harm, and (ii) we as an individual are but one viator manifesting the change – the being, the φύσις – of the Cosmos/mundus toward (a) a conscious awareness (an aiding of ψυχή), or (b) stasis, or (c) as a contributor toward a decline, toward a loss of ψυχή.

Thus, there is a perceiveration of our φύσις; of us as – and not separate from – the Cosmos: a knowledge of ourselves as the Cosmos presenced (embodied, incarnated) in a particular time and place and in a particular way. Of how we affect or can affect other effluvia, other livings beings, in either a harmful or a non-harming manner. An apprehension, that is, of the genesis of suffering and of how we, as human beings possessed of the faculties of reason, of honour, and of empathy, have the ability to cease to harm other living beings. Furthermore, and in respect of the genesis of suffering, this particular perceiveration provides an important insight about ourselves, as conscious beings; which insight is of the division we mistakenly but understandably make, and have made, consciously or unconsciously, between our own being – our ipseity – and that of other living beings, whereas such a distinction is only an illusion – appearance, hubris, a manufactured abstraction – and the genesis of such suffering as we have inflicted for millennia, and continue to inflict, on other life, human and otherwise.

David Myatt
September 2014

Notes

[1] Refer to: (i) The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A Philosophical Compendiary (pdf, Third Edition, 2012), and (ii) Towards Understanding The Acausal, 2011.

[2]Refer to Time And The Separation Of Otherness – Part One, 2012.

[3] The culture of pathei-mathos is the accumulated pathei-mathos of individuals, world-wide, over thousands of years, as (i) described in memoirs, aural stories, and historical accounts; as (ii) have inspired particular works of literature or poetry or drama; as (iii) expressed via non-verbal mediums such as music and Art, and as (iv) manifest in more recent times by ‘art-forms’ such as films and documentaries.

[4] Refer to Education and The Culture of Pathei-Mathos, 2014.

[5] By ‘extreme’ is meant ‘to be harsh’, unbalanced, intolerant, prejudiced, hubriatic.

[6] As mentioned elsewhere, I now prefer the term effluvium, in preference to emanation, in order to try and avoid any potential misunderstanding. For although I have previously used the term ’emanation’ in my philosophy of pathei-mathos as a synonym of effluvium, ’emanation’ is often understood in the sense of some-thing proceeding from, or having, a source; as for example in theological use where the source is considered to be God or some aspect of a divinity. Effluvium, however, has (so far as I am aware) no theological connotations and accurately describes the perceiveration: a flowing of what-is, sans the assumption of a primal cause, and sans a division or a distinction between ‘us’ – we mortals – and some-thing else, be this some-thing else God, a divinity, or some assumed, ideated, cause, essence, origin, or form.


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Time and The Separation of Otherness

Part One
 

Causal Time and Living Beings

In the philosophy of pathei-mathos, Time is considered to be an expression of the φύσις of beings [1], and thus, for living beings, is a variable emanation of ψυχή, differing from being to being and representing how a living being can change or may change or has changed, which such change being a-causal [2].

Thus, Time – as conventionally understood and as measured/represented by a terran-calendar with durations marked hours, days, weeks, and years – is regarded as an abstraction [3], and an abstraction which attempts to interpret living beings as functions of or as limited to a linear cause-and-effect described by separated moments progressing from a past to a present and thence to some future ‘time’. Such conventional measured causal time may therefore be said to contribute to the concealment of the nature of living beings.

This conventional idea of time can be conveniently described as linear or causal-time, and considered as aptly represented by the term duration, a term which is a better translation of the Greek χρόνος than the English word ‘time’, as for example in Oedipus Tyrannus vv. 73-75:

καί μ᾽ ἦμαρ ἤδη ξυμμετρούμενον χρόνῳ
λυπεῖ τί πράσσει: τοῦ γὰρ εἰκότος πέρα
ἄπεστι πλείω τοῦ καθήκοντος χρόνου

But I have already measured the duration
And am concerned: for where is he? He is longer than expected
For his absence is, in duration, greater than is necessary.

Such causal-time is the time of sciences such as physics and astronomy, with the universe, for instance, considered to be an entity ‘expanding’ as such expansion is measured by fixed linear points termed past, present, and future. Similarly, space itself is construed as a causal, dimensional, space-time manifold [4]. Thus and conventionally, to understand matter/energy is to ‘know’ (to observe or to theorize) how causal entities – such as elementary particles, or physical objects such as planets and stars – move and change and relate to each other (and other matter/energy in terms of composition and interactions) in this posited space-time manifold. There is thus a sense of physical order; a hierarchy of sub-atomic » atomic » ‘classical mechanics’ » gravitational » cosmological, with events occurring in the causal sequence past-present-future, and with interactions described in terms of certain fundamental physical forces, be such descriptions based on ‘string theory’, quantum theory [5], relativity theory, classical mechanics, or some theory which attempts to unify current descriptions of the aforementioned causal hierarchy.

This causal time is a quantity; a measurement of the observed or the assumed/posited/predicted movement of ‘things’ according to a given and a fixed pre-determined scale, and which measurement and fixed scale allows comparisons to be made regarding the movement or ‘change’ in position of ‘things’.

While this understanding of time, and of space, has provided a useful understanding of the external world and aided the construction of machines and the development of a modern technology – and thus enabled humans to set foot on the Moon and send spacecraft to photograph the planets in our solar system – it is nonetheless limited in respect of revealing and understanding the φύσις of beings and thus the relation between living beings.


The Error of Causality As Applied to Living Beings

The understanding of Time as a manifestation of the φύσις of beings is derived from the acausal knowing that empathy provides [6]; and a knowing that allows us to make a philosophical distinction, in respect of Time, between an observed or posited movement and ‘a change’; with the former – movement – applicable to observed or posited physical things and the latter – change – to living beings. For example ‘change’ describes how a tree – a living organism – grows and which change includes, but is not limited to, the measured movement (in causal time and causal space) of its branches and its trunk as measured in fixed units such as girth and height and the position and size of branches in relation to other branches and nearby objects.  Such change – of a living being – is an effluvium, a fluxion [7].

That is, living beings possess or manifest a type of Time – a species of change, manifest as a fluxion – that is different from the movement (the time) of things and thus different from the time used in sciences such as physics.

Furthermore, there is not only a distinction between a living being and a thing, but also the distinction regarding the assumed separation of beings. As a finite emanation (or presencing) of ψυχή, a living being is not, according to its φύσις, a separate being; as such, it cannot be ‘known’ – its nature cannot be understood – by external causal observations or by ‘measuring’/describing it (in terms of ‘space’) in relation to other living beings or to ‘things’ and/or by using such observations/observational-classifications/measurements/descriptions to formulate a theory to characterize a ‘type’ (or genus or species) that such a living being is regarded as belonging to. For its φύσις is manifest – known – by its acausal relation to other living beings and by the acausal interconnectivity of such beings. Such a knowing is numinous; that is, an awareness of living (and often dependant) connexions and of the unity of Life beyond the finite, mortal, emanation we, as an individual human being, are.

In personal terms, the error of applying causal time, and the perception derived therefrom, to living beings is most evident in causal abstractions, and in what we may refer to as the dialectic of egoism: of ourselves as one distinct, self-interested, human being contrasted with (or needing to be contrasted with) and often opposed to (or needing to be opposed to or seen to be opposed to) other humans. Thus, for millennia we have manufactured causal abstractions and identified with one or more of them, saught to bring them into being; as we have opposed other abstractions and especially those humans who identify with some abstraction or whom we have assigned to some abstraction, such as some group or some faith or some nation or some ethnicity or some ideology regarded as ‘inferior’ to ‘ours’ or as ‘bad’ compared to ‘ours’. Similarly, we humans have for millennia often felt compelled to place our own self-interest, our welfare, before that of other humans – and before the welfare of Nature [8] – just as we have been often compelled and often are still compelled to strive, competitively or otherwise, against other humans in order to establish or reaffirm our personal identity, our difference from them (or their ‘inferiority’ compared to us). Thus has there been, and thus is there, hubris and suffering. Thus has there been, and thus is there, a lack of appreciation of the numinous and a lack of understanding of our φύσις and that of the φύσις of the other living beings (including other humans) who share this planet with us.

In summary, applying causal time to living beings creates and maintains division and divisiveness; while the perception of acausal time brings an appreciation of the numinous and thus a knowing of the inherent unity behind our ordinary understanding of separate living beings.

David Myatt
November 2012

Notes

[1] While it is convenient to understand φύσις simply as the ‘nature’ of a being, the term, as used in the philosophy of pathei-mathos, implies a revealing of not only the true ‘nature’ of beings but also of the relationship between beings, and between beings and Being.

[2] In respect of the acausal, refer to my texts Some Notes On The Theory of The Acausal (2010) and Toward Understanding the Acausal (2011).

Furthermore, it is useful to make a distinction, in terminology, between living beings/existents and non-living beings/existents. Thus, a ‘thing’ is used to describe matter or objects (natural or constructed) which do not possess the quality termed life, and which life is possessed by organisms. Currently, we observe or assume life by the following seven attributes: a living organism respires; it moves or can move without any external force being applied as cause of such movement; it grows or changes; it excretes waste; it is sensitive to, or aware of, its environment; it can reproduce itself, and it can nourish itself.

ψυχή is ‘Life qua being’, with our own being (as a human) understood as a mortal emanation of ψυχή. Thus ψυχή is what ‘animates’ us and what gives us our φύσις, as human beings. ψυχή is also how we can begin to apprehend Being and how we relate to Being.

[3] An abstraction is defined, in the philosophy of pathei-mathos, as:

“A manufactured generalization, a hypothesis, a posited thing, an assumption or assumptions about, an extrapolation of or from some-thing, or some assumed or extrapolated ideal ‘form’ of some-thing. Sometimes, abstractions are generalization based on some sample(s), or on some median (average) value or sets of values, observed, sampled, or assumed.Abstractions can be of some-thing past, in the present, or described as a goal or an ideal which it is assumed could be attained or achieved in the future.

All abstractions involve a causal perception, based as they are on the presumption of a linear cause-and-effect (and/or a dialectic) and on a posited or an assumed category or classification which differs in some way from some other assumed or posited categories/classifications, past, present or future. When applied to or used to describe/classify/distinguish/motivate living beings, abstractions involve a causal separation-of-otherness; and when worth/value/identity (and exclusion/inclusion) is or are assigned to such a causal separation-of-otherness then there is or there arises hubris.” Vocabulary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (2012)

The separation-of-otherness is a term used to describe the implied or assumed causal separateness of living beings, a part of which is the distinction we make (instinctive or otherwise) between our self and the others. Another part is assigning our self, and the-others, to (or describing them and us by) some category/categories, and to which category/categories we ascribe (or to which category/categories has/have been ascribed) certain qualities or attributes.

Given that a part of such ascription/denoting is an assumption or assumptions of worth/value/difference and of inclusion/exclusion, the separation-of-otherness is the genesis of hubris; causes and perpetuates conflict and suffering; and is a path away from ἁρμονίη, δίκη, and thus from wisdom.

The separation-of-otherness conceals the nature of Beings and beings; a nature which empathy and pathei-mathos can reveal.

[4] Current exotic theories – such as ‘string theory’ (including M-theory) – are still based on an ideation of space-time that involves a causal-only time (time as a measurable and a separate quantity).

‘String’ theories posit not only transformations of a non-zero ‘string’ or strings in a causal space-time instead of a ‘zero-dimensional point’ (or points) as in a classical three-dimensional Lorentz transformation or a four-dimensional Riemannian space, but also in possible manifolds whose dimensions are > 4 (as in a Hilbert space). Also, while they do not describe space-time as a Riemannian manifold (as general relativity does), such theories posit manifolds or structures – such as H-flux and topological ‘branes’ – which, and whose changes, are described by or come to be described by mathematical equations which involve a causal time – a measured or measurable movement – in relation to other properties (such as extension/space), be those other properties mathematical (as in a topology) or physical (as in a metric, Riemannian or otherwise). Thus, in perturbation theory and in order to consider possible experimental results of the theory, a space-time is posited consisting of a four-dimensional extended Minkowksi space combined with a compact Riemannian manifold; and as in M-theory where an 11-dimensional Minkowksi space has been assumed with the extra seven dimensions being ‘compacted’ or compactable.

All such theories are currently ‘exotic’ because they have not yet [as of 2012] led to any unique predictions that could be experimentally verified.

[5] Like ‘string theory’ and cosmological theories (such as general relativity) quantum mechanics is based on a posited causal space-time. Therefore, a quantum theory cannot be used to describe the φύσις of living beings or acausality.

[6] In respect of acausal knowing, see ‘The Nature and Knowledge of Empathy’ in The Way of Pathei Mathos: A Philosophical Compendium.

[7] The use of the term fluxion dates from the sixteenth century (ce) with the term describing a change that occurs naturally and also one that arises from or because of itself (an effluvium). A description used by John Davies in his 1616 (ce) work Mirum in Modum: “If the fluxion of this instant Now Effect not That, noght wil that Time doth know.”

As used here, fluxion describes how a particular living being not only changes/develops/manifests (that is, in an acausal manner) but also the fact of its (acausal) relation to other living beings and to Being.

[8] Nature is here understood as ‘the creative force’ that is the genesis of, and which maintains the balance of, the life which inhabits the Earth, and which life includes ourselves. This ‘creative force’ (or manifestation/presencing of ψυχή) can be and often has been understood as a particular type of living being, as ‘Nature’ personified.


Image credit: NASA Blue Marble Earth


Soli Deo Gloria
Being extracts from a letter written in reply
to someone enquiring about the philosophy of The Numinous Way.

 

Since you enquire about the veracity of my Numinous Way, I should perhaps emphasize – as I have mentioned several times over the past few years – that this Way represents only my own fallible answers born from my own pathei-mathos, and that I am acutely aware that the answers of many other Ways, such as Buddhism and the answers of conventional religions such as Catholicism, also in their own particular harmonious manner express something of the numinous and may thus for many people provide a guide to living in a more numinous way.

As I wrote many years ago:

The Numinous Way is but one answer to the questions about existence, [and] does not have some monopoly on truth, nor does it claim any prominence, accepting that all the diverse manifestations of the Numen, all the diverse answers, of the various numinous Ways and religions, have or may have their place, and all perhaps may serve the same ultimate purpose – that of bringing us closer to the ineffable beauty, the ineffable goodness, of life; that of transforming us, reminding us; that of giving us as individuals the chance to cease to cause suffering, to presence the good, to be part of the Numen itself. For what distinguishes a valuable, a good, a numinous Way or religion, is firstly this commitment, however expressed, to the cessation of suffering through means which do not cause more suffering; secondly, having some practical means whereby individuals can transform themselves for the better, and thirdly, possessing some way of presenting, manifesting, presencing what is sacred, what is numinous, thus reconnecting the individual to the source of their being, to their humanity.

In my fallible view, any Way or religion which manifests, which expresses, which guides individuals toward, the numinous humility we human beings need is good, and should not be stridently condemned.

For such personal humility – that which prevents us from committing hubris, whatever the raison d’être, the theology, the philosophy – is a presencing of the numinous. Indeed, one might write and say that it is a personal humility – whatever the source – that expresses our true developed (that is, rational and empathic) human nature and which nature such Ways or religions or mythological allegories remind us of. Hence the formulae, the expression, Soli Deo Gloria being one Western cultural manifestation of a necessary truth, manifesting as it does one particular numinous allegory among many such historical and cultural and mythological allegories. Just as, for example, the sight of King Louis IX walking barefoot to Sainte Chapelle was a symbol of the humility which the Christian faith, correctly understood, saught to cultivate in individuals.

As I mentioned in my essay Humility, Abstractions, and Belief,

One of the great advantages – a manifestation of humanity – of a Way such as Islam and Christianity and Buddhism is that they provide, or can provide, us with the supra-personal perspective, and thus the humility, we human beings require to prevent us veering into and becoming subsumed with the error of hubris.

As it says in the Rule of Saint Benedict:

“ The peak of our endeavour is to achieve profound humility…” Chapter 7, The Value of Humility

As it says in the Quran:

“ The ‘Ibaad of Ar-Rahman [Allah] are those who walk on earth in humility.” 25:63

As it says in the Dhammapada:

“ Yo bâlo maññati bâlyaè paúóitovâpi tena so bâlo ca paúóitamânî sa ve bâloti vuccati.”

” Accepting of themselves, the simple person in their simplicity is wise, although if they pride themselves they are wise, they are simply full of pride. “

Furthermore, such Ways provide such a supra-personal perspective in a manner which is living – that is, these Ways are presented to us as something which has a historical genesis and which lives among us, in our own times, in and through those devoted to them in that dignified manner which makes such people living examples of those tenets, of those Ways. That is, the dignified people who follow such Ways – who are inspired by those Ways to practice humility in their own lives – thus manifest the numinous, the sacred, among us, and so can provide us with practical, and personal, guidance, and a sense of belonging.

Thus, I now have, partly from practical experience, come to apprehend a certain unity, a certain common insight, behind many outwardly differing Ways and religious forms, to the extent that I personally have been considered by some people to be some kind of Buddhist-Taoist-Muslim-Sufi-Catholic-NuminousWay-pagan-mystic hybrid. But in truth, I am merely someone who as a result of pathei-mathos knows their limitations, their fallibility, and thus who empathically resonates with past and present emanations of the numinous, often because of struggling to answer certain questions about our human nature, about our mortal existence, and about the nature of Reality which many others over millennia have also saught to answer.

Since you especially ask about Catholicism in relation to the Numinous Way, all I can say in my experience – having been raised a Catholic and having spent some time as a Catholic monk – is that Catholicism did manifest, and to an extent still does manifest, aspects of the numinous and therefore this particular guide to human living is one which I understand and appreciate as one style of earthly-harmony.

As I wrote a year or so ago:

” The Latin Tridentine Mass of the Catholic Church […] evolved over a certain period of causal time, and became, for many Catholics, the main ritual, or rite, which imbued their ordinary lives with a certain numinosity – a certain awareness of the sacred, with attendance at this rite involving certain customs, such as modest and clean dress, and women covering their heads with a veil. This rite was, in essence, a Mysterium – that is, it embodied not only something holy and somewhat mysterious (such as the Consecration and Communion) but also was wordlessly un-mundane and so re-presented to most of those attending the rite, almost another world, with this re-presentation aided by such things as the use of incense, the ringing of the Sanctus bell, and the genuflexions. In addition, and importantly, the language of this rite was not that of everyday speech, and was not even, any longer, a living changing language, but rather had in many ways become the sacred language of that particular Way.

The Catholic rite endured for centuries and, indeed, to attend this particular rite marked, affirmed and re-affirmed one as a Catholic, as a particular follower of a particular Way, and a Way quite distinct from the schism that became Protestantism [1], a fact which explained, for instance, the decision, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First of England, to punish by fine or imprisonment those who attended this rite, and to persecute, accuse of treason, and often execute, those who performed this rite.

However, the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican replaced this numinous rite, this Mysterium, with rites and practices redolent of un-numinous Protestantism. Why? Most probably because those involved in such planning and producing and implementing such reforms were swayed by the causal abstractions of “progress” and “relevancy” – desiring as they did and do to be in accord with the causal, material, Zeitgeist of the modern West where numbers of adherents, and conformity to trendy ideas and theories, are regarded as more important than presencing The Numen in a numinous manner. When, that is, some profane causal abstractions come to be regarded as more relevant than experiencing and manifesting the sacred as the sacred.

Yet this does not mean that Catholicism, before the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, was or remained a Way, per se. Only that, of all the variants of what are now termed Christianity, it retained a certain numinosity expressed by the original Way; that, through its Mysteriums such as the Tridentine Mass, it still presenced something of The Numen; and that it managed to avoid the worst excesses of the religious attitude, maintaining as it did a monasticism which by its own particular way of life encouraged the cultivation of a genuine, non-dogmatic, humility.” Source – Concerning The Nature of Religion and The Nature of The Numinous Way

As this quote – and the associated footnote – make clear, it is my personal opinion that traditional Catholicism, with its Tridentine Mass and its particular conservative traditions, was a somewhat better, more harmonious, expression of the numinous (a necessary and relevant expression of the numinous), than both Protestantism and the reforms introduced by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, and which reforms served only to undermine the numinous, to untwist the threads that held together its “hidden soul of harmony”.

 
However, what really matters in my view in respect of considering how we judge and evaluate other Ways and other styles of earthly-harmony (that is, what are often regarded as religious expressions of the numinous), is not so much their veracity as perceived and/or assumed by us during one span or certain spans of causal Time, but rather how those Ways, those expressions, affect people and predispose them toward or guide them toward living in a more numinous manner. That is, by criteria such as humility, avoidance of hubris, compassion, fairness toward others: by those things which express, which manifest, the numinous in us, in terms of our character, our behaviour. Not, that is, by some abstract criteria which we posit and which we with arrogance use to condemn or malign, often based on some vainglorious assumption or need that our own beliefs, our own answers, are the correct ones.

There is thus a tolerance, a respect; a desire not to stridently condemn; an awareness of our own fallibility deriving from our own pathei-mathos and from the numinous perspective, the silent wordless clarity, that such a personal learning from the suffering of experience brings.

All I have tried to do in respect of The Numinous Way is present what I hope is an alternative style of earthly-harmony, and saught to clarify how this alternative differs from others. For instance, in the matter of empathy, of honour, and of seeking to avoid the dogma arising from some causal abstraction or other. As to the veracity of my personal answers, I admit I do not know.

 

David Myatt
June 2011 CE

 

Footnotes:

[1] Catholicism (before the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican) represented, in my view, the original Way known as Christianity, and was – at least before those reforms – quite distinct from those schisms which are now known as Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity.  Indeed, distinct enough – until those reforms – to be considered a different Way of Life, a Way evident, for example, in Catholic rites (such as the Tridentine Mass), in monasticism, in Papal authority, in the use of Latin, and in the reverence accorded The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Furthermore, it is my view that the schism now termed Protestantism was a classic example of the religious attitude predominating over numinosity – and thus that it is and was redolent of attempts to reduce The Numen to linear causal abstractions. Thus, Mysteriums such as the Tridentine Mass became replaced with recitation of Scripture in the vernacular and with attempts to rationally explain – according to some abstract causal theory – the mystery of the consecration.

 



A pdf version of this article is available here – Heraclitus-Fragment80


Some Notes on Πόλεμος and Δίκη in Heraclitus B80

εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών]. Fragmentum 80.

This fragment, attributed to Heraclitus, is generally considered to mean something rather abstract such as: war is everywhere and strife is justice and all that is arises and passes away because of strife.

That is, πόλεμος is regarded as a synonym for either kampf, or more generally, for war. However, I incline toward the view that this older understanding of – the accepted rendition of – πόλεμος is a misinterpretation , and that rather than kampf (struggle), or a general type of strife, or what we now associate with the term war, πόλεμος implies what I have elsewhere termed the acausality (a simultaneity) [1] beyond our causal ideation, and which ideation has separated object from subject, and often abstracted them into seemingly conflicting opposites [2]. Hence my particular interpretation of Fragmentum 53:

Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.

Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

Hence my interpretation of Fragment 80 – εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών] – as:

One should be aware that Polemos pervades, with discord δίκη, and that beings are naturally born by discord. [3]

Here, I have deliberately transliterated (instead of translated) πόλεμος, and left δίκη as δίκη – because both πόλεμος and δίκη (written Πόλεμος and, I suggest, Δίκα) should be regarded, like ψυχή (psyche/Psyche) as terms or as principles in their own right (hence the capitalization), and thus imply, suggest, and require, interpretation and explanation, something especially true, in my opinion, regarding Δίκα. To render them blandly by English terms such as ‘war’ and ‘justice’ – which have their own now particular meaning(s) – is in my view erroneous and somewhat lackadaisical. δίκη for instance could be, depending on context: the custom(s) of a folk, judgement (or Judgement personified), the natural and the necessary balance, the correct/customary/ancestral way, and so on.

In respect of Δίκα, I write it thus to intimate a new, a particular and numinous, philosophical principle, and differentiate it from the more general δίκη. As a numinous principle, or axiom, Δίκα thus suggests what lies beyond and what was the genesis of δίκη personified as the goddess, Judgement – the goddess of natural balance, of the ancestral way and ancestral customs.

Thus, Δίκα implies the balance, the reasoned judgement, the thoughtful reasoning – σωφρονεῖν – that πάθει μάθος brings and restores, and which accumulated πάθει μάθος of a particular folk or πόλις forms the basis for their ancestral customs. δίκη is therefore, as the numinous principle Δίκα, what may be said to be a particular and a necessary balance between ἀρετή and ὕβρις – between the ὕβρις that often results when the personal, the natural, quest for ἀρετή becomes unbalanced and excessive.

That is, when ἔρις (discord) is or becomes δίκη – as suggested by Heraclitus in Fragment 80.

In respect of Πόλεμος, it is perhaps interesting that in the recounted tales of Greek mythology attributed to Aesop, and in circulation at the time of Heraclitus, a personified πόλεμος (as the δαίμων of kindred strife) married a personified ὕβρις (as the δαίμων of arrogant pride) [4] and that it was a common folk belief that πόλεμος accompanied ὕβρις – that is, that Polemos followed Hubris around rather than vice versa, causing or bringing ἔρις.

As a result of ἔρις, there often arises πάθει μάθος – that practical and personal knowing, that reasoned understanding which, according to Aeschylus [5] is the new law, the new understanding, given by Zeus to replace the older more religious and dogmatic way of fear and dread, often viewed as Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες [6]. A new understanding which Aeschylus saught to explain in the Oresteia.

Therefore one can perhaps understand and appreciate the true and acausal nature of Πόλεμος which, as suggested by Fragment 53, is a natural principle (or ‘energy’ or a manifestation of Being) which affects, or governs, all mortals and which, as suggested by Fragment 80, causes the manifestation of beings from Being (the causal separation of beings) and which natural separation results in ἔρις and thence, as suggested by Fragment 123 [7] a return to Being; a return which can result, as suggested by Fragment 112 [8] arise from thoughtful reasoning [σωφρονεῖν] – and which thoughtful, balanced, reasoning can incline us toward not committing ὕβρις.

David Myatt
April 2011 CE

Notes

[1] For the axiom of acausality, see my Introduction to The Philosophy of The Numen.

[2] For an outline of opposites, refer to my essay The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic.

[3] Some alternative renderings of this fragment are:

One should be aware that polemos is pervasive; and discord δίκη, and that beings [our being] quite naturally come-into-being through discord

One should be aware that polemos pervades; with discord δίκη, and that all beings are begotten because of discord.

[4] A δαίμων is not one of the pantheon of major Greek gods – θεοί – but rather a lesser type of divinity who might be assigned by those gods to bring good fortune or misfortune to human beings and/or watch over certain human beings and especially particular numinous (sacred) places.

Furthermore, Polemos was originally the δαίμων of kindred strife, whether familial, or of one’s πόλις (one’s clan and their places of dwelling). Thus, to describe Polemos, as is sometimes done, as the god of conflict (or war), is doubly incorrect.

[5] Agamemnon,174-183.  qv. my essay, From Aeschylus To The Numinous Way – The Numinous Authority of πάθει μάθος

[6] Aeschylus (attributed), Prometheus Bound, 515-6

[7] Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖConcealment accompanies Physis. See my Physis, Nature, Concealment, and Natural Change.

[8] σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας

For this fragment, see my essay The Balance of Physis – Notes on λόγος and ἀληθέα in Heraclitus.