M31-SW-Subaru-HST-S1024

My weltanschauung – otherwise known as ‘the philosophy of pathei-mathos’ – is currently (2014-2015) outlined in the following four works, available both in printed format and as pdf files:

° David Myatt: The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 2013. 82 pages. ISBN 978-1484096642

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos. 2013. 60 pages. ISBN 978-1484097984

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/myatt-religion-and-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings. 2014. 46 pages. ISBN 978-1502396105.

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/one-vagabond-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: Sarigthersa: Some Recent Essays. 50 pages. ISBN 978-1512137149

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/dwmyatt-sarigthersa-v7.pdf

°°°

Also of interest may be:

° David Myatt: Understanding And Rejecting Extremism. 58 pages. ISBN 978-1484854266

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/dwm-rejecting-extremism-v3.pdf

° J.R. Wright & R. Parker: The Mystic Philosophy of David Myatt. 56 pages. ISBN 978-1523930135

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/mystic-philosophy-myatt-v1a.pdf

A collection of four essays which, a few caveats notwithstanding, provide an introduction to the philosophy of pathei-mathos.


Image credit: NGC 206, Hubble Space Telescope


STS107-columbia-2003-atlantic-earth-moon

A pdf version (647 kB) of the final draft of the first edition of my Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God is available here:

Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God

Contents

Part One
°Good and Evil – An Early Christian Perspective
Part Two
°Good and Evil – A Muslim Perspective
°Jurisprudence and Society
°The Modern State
°Good and Evil – The Perspective of Pathei-Mathos
Part Three
°Religion, Law, and The Reformation of Individuals
°Good, Evil, and The Criteria of Progress
Part Four
°Ontology and Denotatum
°The Simple Way of Harmony
Part Five
°A Very Personal Conclusion

°°°

Image credit: NASA-STS107 (Columbia) – Moon over the Atlantic Ocean


Attic Red Figure Vase c. 480 BCE, depicting Athena, in Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Concerning The Development Of The Numinous Way

Background

What I term The Numinous Way, as a philosophy and as a way of life, was not the result of a few or many moments of inspiration striking close together in causal Time as measured by a terran-calendar and thus separated from each other by days, weeks, or even a few years.

Rather, it resulted from some nine years of reflexions, intuitions, and experiences, beginning in 2002 when – for quite a few months – I wandered as a vagabond in the hills and fells of Westmorland and lived in a tent, and during which time I communicated some of my musings, by means of handwritten letters, to a lady living in Oxford whom I had first met well over a decade before.

These musing concerned Nature, our place – as humans – in Nature and the Cosmos; the purpose, if any, of our lives; whether or not the five Aristotelian essentials gave a true understanding of the external world; and whether or not God, or Allah, or some sort of divinity or divinities, existed, and thus – if they did not – whence came mystical insight, knowledge, and understanding, and what value or validity, if any, did such mystical insight, knowledge, and understanding, possess.

During the previous thirty or more years I had occasional intuitions concerning, or feelings, regarding, Nature, divinity, the Cosmos, and ‘the numinous’; insights and feelings which led me to study Taoism, Hellenic culture, Buddhism, the Catholic mystic tradition, and become a Catholic monk. Later on, such intuitions concerning the numinous – and travels in the Sahara Desert – led me to begin a serious study of Islam and were part of the process that led me to convert to that way of life.

But these intuitions, feelings – and the understanding and knowledge they engendered – were or always eventually became secondary to what, since around 1964, I had considered or felt was the purpose of my own life. This was to aid, to assist, in some way the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and it was enthusiasm for – the inspiration of – that ideal which led me to seriously study the science of Physics, and then to seek to find what type of society might be able to make that ideal a reality, a seeking initially aided by my study of and enthusiasm for Hellenic culture, a culture – manifest in Greek heroes such as Odysseus and in the warrior society home to the likes of the sons of Atreus – which I came to regard as the ideal prototype for this new society of new explorers and new heroes.

After considering, and then rejecting, the communist society of the Soviet Union [1], an intuition regarding National-Socialist Germany [2] led me to seriously study that society and National-Socialism, a study ended when I peremptorily concluded that I had indeed found the right type of modern society. Thus I became a National-Socialist, with my aim – the purpose of my life – being to aid the foundation of a new National-Socialist State as a prelude to the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and thus the creation of a Galactic Imperium, a new Galactic, or Cosmic, Reich.

As I wrote in part one of some autobiographical scribblings issued in 1998 and which were based on some writings of mine dating back to the 1970’s:

“It is the vision of a Galactic Empire which runs through my political life just as it is the quest to find and understand our human identity, and my own identity, and our relation to Nature, which runs through my personal and spiritual life, giving me the two aims which I consistently pursued since I was about thirteen years of age, regardless of where I was, what I was doing and how I was described by others or even by myself…”

For it was this aim of the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and my rather schoolboyish enthusiasm for it, which – together with the enjoyment of the struggle – inspired my fanaticism, my extremism, and which re-inspired me when, as sometimes occurred during my NS decades, my enthusiasm for politics, for a political revolution, waned, or when my intuitions, my feelings, concerning the numinous and my love of women – the dual inspiration for most of my poetry – became stronger than my political beliefs and my revolutionary fervour.

The aim, the purpose, this idealization, regarding Outer Space even partly motivated my study of and thence my conversion to Islam in 1998. For example, not long before that conversion, in an essay entitled Foreseeing The Future, I wrote:

” I firmly believe that Islam has the potential to create not only a new civilization, governed according to reason, but also a new Empire which could take on and overthrow the established world-order dedicated as this world-order is to usury, decadence and a god-less materialism […] I also believe that a new Islamic Empire could create the Galactic Empire, or at least lay the foundations of it. Perhaps the first human colonies on another world will have as their flag the Islamic crescent, a flag inscribed with the words, in Arabic, In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful.”

Thus, as when a National-Socialist, I dedicated myself to my ‘new cause’, to an ideal I idealistically carried in the headpiece of my head: the cause of Jihad, of disrupting existing societies as a prelude to manufacturing a new one. In this instance, a resurgent Khilafah.

As with National-Socialism, it was the ideal, the goal, the struggle, which was paramount, important; and I – like the extremist I was – hubriatically placed that goal, that ideal, that struggle for victory, before love, fairness, compassion, reason, and truth, and thus engendered and incited violence, hatred, and killing.

In addition, I always felt myself bound by honour to be loyal to either a cause, an ideology, or to certain individuals and so do the duty I had sworn by oath to do and be loyal to those I had sworn to be loyal to. Hence when doubts about my beliefs arose during my decades as a nazi I always had recourse to honour and so considered myself – even during my time as a monk – as a National-Socialist, albeit, when a monk, as a non-active one for whom there was ultimately no contradiction between the NS ethos and the ethos of a traditional Catholicism, for there was the Reichskonkordat andthe agreement Pope Pius XII reached with Hitler.

During my Muslim years I felt bound by the oath of my Shahadah; an oath which negated my NS beliefs and led me to reject racism and nationalism, and embrace the multi-racialism of the Ummah; and which general oath, together (and importantly) with a personal oath sworn a few years after my conversion, would always – until 2009 – bring me back, or eventually cause me to drift back, to Islam and always remind me of the duty I felt I was, as a Muslim, honour-bound to do.

2002-2006

This drift back toward Islam is what occurred after my musings in 2002. I tried to forget them, a task made difficult when later that year I went to live on a farm and also work on another nearby farm. For that living and such work brought a deep personal contentment and further intuitions and feelings, and a burgeoning understanding, regarding the numinous, and especially concerning Nature; some of which intuitions and feelings I again communicated by means of handwritten letters, mostly to the aforementioned lady.

For a while I saught to find a synthesis, studied Sufism, but was unable to find any satisfactory answers, and thus began an interior struggle, a personal struggle I made some mention of in Myngath. A struggle, a conflict, between my own intuitions, insights, and burgeoning understanding – regarding the numinous and human beings – and the way of faith and belief; between what I felt was a more natural, a more numinous way, and the necessary belief in Allah, the Quran, the Sunnah that Islam, that being Muslim, required.

For a while, faith and belief and duty triumphed; then I wavered, and began to write in more detail about this still as yet unformed ‘numinous way’. Then, yet again honour, duty, and loyalty triumphed – but only a while – for I chanced to meet and then fell in love with a most beautiful, non-Muslim, lady. And it was our relationship – but most of all her tragic death in May 2006 – that intensified my inner struggle and forced me to ask and then answer certain fundamental questions regarding my past and my own nature.

As I wrote at the time:

” Thus do I feel and now know my own stupidity for my arrogant, vain, belief that I could help, assist, change what was […] I know my blame, my shame, my failure, here. Thus am I fully humbled by my own lack of insight; by my lack of knowing; by an understanding of my selfishness and my failure – knowing myself now for the ignorant, arrogant person I was, and am. How hypocritical to teach, to preach, through writings, feeling as I do now the suffering of words.”

I did not like the answers about myself that this tragedy forced me to find; indeed, I did not like myself and so, for a while, clung onto Islam, onto being Muslim; onto the way of faith, of God, of ignoring my own answers, my own feelings, my own intuitions. For there was – or so it then seemed – expiation, redemption, hope, and even some personal comfort, there. But this return to such surety just felt wrong, deeply wrong.

2006-2009

For there was, as I wrote in Myngath,

” …one uncomfortable truth from which even I with all my sophistry could not contrive to hide from myself, even though I tried, for a while. The truth that I am indebted. That I have a debt of personal honour to both Fran and to Sue, who died – thirteen years apart – leaving me bereft of love, replete with sorrow, and somewhat perplexed. A debt to all those other women who, over four decades, I have hurt in a personal way; a debt to the Cosmos itself for the suffering I have caused and inflicted through the unethical pursuit of abstractions.

A debt somehow and in some way – beyond a simple remembrance of them – to especially make the life and death of Sue and Fran worthwhile and full of meaning, as if their tragic early dying meant something to both me, and through my words, my deeds, to others. A debt of change, of learning – in me, so that from my pathei-mathos I might be, should be, a better person; presencing through words, living, thought, and deeds, that simple purity of life felt, touched, known, in those stark moments of the immediacy of their loss.

But this honour, I have so painfully discovered, is not the abstract honour of years, of decades, past that I in my arrogance and stupid adherence to and love of abstractions so foolishly believed in and upheld, being thus, becoming thus, as I was a cause of suffering. No; this instead is the essence of honour, founded in empathy; in an empathy with and thus a compassion for all life, sentient and otherwise. This is instead a being human; being in symbiosis with that-which is the essence of our humanity and which can, could and should, gently evolve us – far away from the primitive unempathic, uncompassionate, beings we have been, and unfortunately often still are; far away from the primitive unempathic, uncompassionate, often violent, person I had been.”

Thus I was prompted – forced – to continue to develope my understanding in what began to be and became my own ‘numinous way’ and which thus and finally and, in 2009 publicly, took me away from Islam and my life as a Muslim.

2009-2012

Given that the essence of The Numinous Way is individual empathy, an individual understanding, the development of an individual judgement, and the living of an ethical way of life where there is an appreciation of the numinous, the more I reflected upon this ‘numinous way’ between 2011 and Spring 2012, the more I not only realized my mistakes, but also that it was necessary to remove, to excise, the detritus that had accumulated around the basic insights and the personal pathei-mathos that inspired me to develope that ‘numinous way’. Mistakes and detritus because for some time, during the development of that ‘numinous way’, I was still in thrall to some abstractions, still thinking in terms of categories and opposites, and still fond of pontificating and generalizing, especially about The State [3]. I therefore began to re-express, in a more philosophical manner, the personal, the individual, the ontological, the ethical and spiritual nature, of The Numinous Way, and thus emphasized the virtues of humility, love, and of wu-wei – of balance, of tolerance, of non-interference, of individual interior (spiritual) reformation, of non-striving, of admitting one’s own uncertitude of understanding and of knowing.

The year-long [2011-2012] process of refinement, correction, and reflexion resulted in me re-naming what remained of my ‘numinous way’ the ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’, and which philosophy I attempted to outline in the two texts Recuyle of the Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos and Summary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos, the latter of which was also published under the title Conspectus of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.

As I mentioned in Society, Politics, Social Reform, and Pathei-Mathos [Part Four of Reculye of the Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos] –

“Given that the concern of the philosophy of pathei-mathos is the individual and their interior, their spiritual, life, and given that (due to the nature of empathy and pathei-mathos) there is respect for individual judgement, the philosophy of pathei-mathos is apolitical, and thus not concerned with such matters as the theory and practice of governance, nor with changing or reforming society by political means […]

This means that there is no desire and no need to use any confrontational means to directly challenge and confront the authority of existing States since numinous reform and change is personal, individual, non-political, and not organized beyond a limited local level of people personally known. That is, it is of and involves individuals who are personally known to each other working together based on the understanding that it is inner, personal, change – in individuals, of their nature, their character – that is is the ethical, the numinous, way to solve such personal and social problems as exist and arise. That such inner change of necessity comes before any striving for outer change by whatever means, whether such means be termed or classified as political, social, economic, religious. That the only effective, long-lasting, change and reform is understood as the one that evolves human beings and thus changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate.

In practice, this evolution means, in the individual, the cultivation and use of the faculty of empathy, and acquiring the personal virtues of compassion, honour, and love. Which means the inner reformation of individuals, as individuals.

Hence the basis for numinous social change and reform is aiding, helping, assisting individuals in a direct and personal manner, and in practical ways, with such help, assistance, and aid arising because we personally know or are personally concerned about or involved with those individuals or the situations those individuals find themselves in. In brief, being compassionate, empathic, understanding, sensitive, kind, and showing by personal example.”

The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos

It is the philosophy of pathei-mathos which represents my weltanschauung. For I now consider that most of my writings, my pontifications, concerning ‘the numinous way’ – written haphazardly between 2002 and Spring 2012 – are unhelpful; or of little account; or irrelevant; or hubriatic; or detract from or obscure the basic simplicity of my weltanschauung, a simplicity I have endeavoured to express in Conspectus of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.

 

David Myatt
24th April 2012
(Revised November 2012)

Notes

[1] During this study of communism, in the 1960’s, I began to learn Russian and would regularly listen to communist radio broadcasts such as those from Rundfunk der DDR, something I continued to do for a while even after becoming a National-Socialist. Indeed, on one occasion I wrote a letter to Radio Berlin which, to my surprise, was read out with my questions answered and this – occurring as it did during the Cold War – may well have been when I first came to the attention of the British security services.

[2] As I have mentioned elsewhere – for example, in Myngath – this intuition regarding the Third Reich arose as a result of me reading an account of the actions of Otto Ernst Remer in July of 1944. For I admired his honour and his loyalty and his commitment to the duty he had sworn an oath to do. Here, I felt, was a modern-day Greek hero.

[3] These un-numinous, errorful, hubriatic, pontifications about ‘the state’ included essays such as the reprehensible January 2011 text The Failure and Immoral Nature of The State and the February 2011, text A Brief Numinous View of Religion, Politics, and The State.

Among the abstractions (categories) which needed to be excised from a supposedly abstraction-less and empathic numinous way were ‘the clan’, and ‘culture’, and the divisive category ‘homo hubris’, a divisive category I hubriatically pontificated about in essays such as the 2009 text Homo Hubris and the Disruption of the Numinous, based as that text was on an earlier, 2002, essay.

◊◊◊

A pdf version of this text (c 245 kB) is available here – development-of-the-numinous-way.pdf


Acknowledgements:
This article is based on – and summarizes and/or quotes from – several replies
sent to various correspondents during April of this year (2012)

cc David Myatt 2012
(Second Edition)
This item is covered by the Creative Commons
(Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0) License
and can be freely copied and distributed, under the terms of that license.
Image credit: Attic Vase c. 480 BCE, depicting Athena (Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany)

The Day's Consecration: A painting by Richard Moult

Race and Individuality in The Philosophy of The Numinous Way

Introduction

The intention of this essay is to provide an overview of The Numinous Way in relation to matters such as race, individuality, change, and what is sometimes termed ‘the civilizing process’.

Given the social and political importance of these matters, and the interest in them by those curious about my philosophy of The Numinous Way, I considered such a summary might be useful especially since my treatment of these topics is contained in many separate essays written over a period of some years, with many of those essays making use of terms from Ancient Greek [1].

The Ethics of Empathy

Empathy, and the natural humility that arises from empathy, may be said to be essence of The Numinous Way, and the ethics of this Way result from individuals using their faculty of empathy [2]. That is, such ethics are,

“… a consequence of the insight and the understanding that empathy provides for individuals in the immediacy-of-the-moment. This insight and knowledge is of how we are not isolated human beings, but rather only one fragile microcosmic nexion and thus connected to all Life, sentient and otherwise, human and otherwise, of this planet and otherwise. Consequently, there is a cosmic perspective – a cosmic ethic – and compassion: that is, the human virtue of having συμπάθεια with other living beings, and the feeling, the knowledge, that we should treat other human beings as we ourselves would wish to be treated: with fairness, dignity, and respect.” [3]

This numinous morality is thus a personal and direct one, free of dogma and assumptions, and does not require any faith or any belief, political, social, or religious. Hence it is individuals who possess certain virtues – such as compassion, fairness, tolerance, and honour – who represent, who are, the cosmic ethics of The Numinous Way.

What is ethical is therefore what is compassionate, fair, tolerant, respectful, honourable. Thus it is unethical – unfair – to prejudge a person without knowing and interacting with them personally; immoral to judge someone on the basis of some prejudice or on some assumption about them such as their appearance or what others may have said/written about them. Thus it is wrong to judge someone on the basis of their perceived or their assumed ethnicity, or on their perceived or their assumed or their stated sexual orientation/preference.


The Question of Race

As I saught to explain in my essay Empathy and the Immoral Abstraction of Race, race is a causal ideation, an abstraction, and, as a manifestation of the causal separation-of-otherness, it contradicts empathy and the intuitive knowing of and sympathy with the living other that individual empathy provides or can make us aware of.

In essence, the notion of race separates, divides, human beings into manufactured lifeless categories which nullify the empathic knowing of individual human beings.

Such assignment of individuals to a posited abstract category – some assumed ‘race’ or sub-race – is irrelevant, since individual human beings are or have the potential to be unique individual human beings, so that such an assignment, whatever the alleged reason, is a dehumanizing of those individuals. For our humanity is expressed by an individual and personal knowing of individuals, by a personal interaction with others on the basis of respect, tolerance, reason, and honour, and which personal knowledge of them renders their alleged or assumed ethnicity or ancestry irrelevant.

In addition, to ascribe some value or some worth – how/low, civilized/uncivilized, evolved/primitive – to these abstract categories termed ‘race’, and thence to the individuals alleged or assumed to belong to such categories, is immoral because value and worth are themselves lifeless un-numinous divisive abstractions which cannot, should not, be applied to human beings, or to any living being. Which in essence means that all life is numinous, worthy – and cannot and should not be sub-divided into categories of value or worth.

Similarly, to judge – prejudge – individuals or some group on the basis of the assumed or the alleged ‘character’ or generalized nature assigned to some ‘race’ is immoral because dehumanizing, usurping as such prejudice does the personal knowing of individuals that is the human, the empathic, the honourable, the moral, the right, thing to do.

In practical terms, this means: (i) that the concept of ‘race’ is not only irrelevant but an immoral aberration; (ii) that the alleged or the assumed ethnicity of a person is irrelevant; and (iii) that treating/mistreating people, hating people or causing suffering to people, on the basis of their alleged or assumed ‘race’ is immoral, reprehensible.

For what matters is the person, the individual as an individual human being who is unique or who has the potential to be unique. What matters, what is human and moral, is a personal knowing of individuals and treating others with fairness, and tolerance, on the basis of equality.

Destiny and The Civilizing Process

The idea of and the belief in some individuals having a special personal ‘destiny’ – or being chosen by ‘fate’ or by the gods or by God in some way – is a pernicious immoral abstraction, a great cause of suffering. For the person so believing this assumed destiny always assigns to themselves and their judgement a higher value than they give to other human beings and thus they treat or end up treating others in an uncompassionate, dishonourable, way. In addition, in order to achieve ‘their destiny’ or accomplish their ‘mission’ such people will use brutal force and, almost invariably, resort to killing and to war.

Such a personal belief is a manifestation of hubris, of the tyrannos. From Hitler and Stalin to Napoleon to Ivan the Terrible to Genghis Khan to Peter the Hermit to Alexander of Macedon and before, the immoral pride and arrogance of such men has caused immense human suffering. As has occurred when the concept, the ideation, of destiny – or fate, or some ‘divinely sanctioned mission’ – is or has been assigned to some other abstraction, such as a nation, a people, a race, or a religious group. Thus the chosen abstraction – the alleged chosen instrument of fate/destiny/god – is believed to be superior to others and believed to empower those belonging to it with ‘the right’ to dominate, kill, and if necessary subdue with force, other nations/peoples/races/groups, with the classic examples being racism, the nazi doctrines of Hitler, and The Inquisition.

A similarly pernicious, though less obvious, immoral abstraction is that sometimes termed ‘the civilizing process’. This was the abstraction, for example, that was the raison d’etre of European colonialism. Inherent in this disruptive abstraction is the ideation of a linear progress. This ‘civilizing process’ involves:

“…constant change and a continuing development. This is the acceptance of the idea that there is ‘something’, in some future – near or distant – that can be and should be striven toward, and this ‘something’ is always some ideal, or more perfect, form of something that either already exists or which, it is alleged, can be manufactured (brought into being) if certain things (within one’s self, or within society, for instance) are changed in accord with some other manufactured idea or abstraction, or deriving from some -ism or some -ology (be these deemed to be political, social or religious). ” [4]

As I also mentioned in On The Nature of Abstraction:

“…the very notion of ‘civilization’ is unethical, because it both classifies, and excludes, based on some abstract criteria, some abstract non-empathic judgement of others; that is, of who and what is deemed to be ‘civilized’ […] The very notions of ‘progress’ and of some ‘civilizing process’ are unethical because they predispose individuals toward the unbalanced disruption of and the striving for some type of perfection or ideal, and which striving (because it is a causal striving) always entails placing that ideal or that abstraction before the compassion born of empathy, and which always tends toward creating suffering, and always involves a loss of numinosity: of that delicate, reasoned, balance that an empathic awareness brings to we human beings. “

In brief, this ‘civilizing process’ – this desire for some assumed progress – usurps the individual empathy of the immediacy of the moment, and the compassion and the wu-wei that naturally arise from such empathy. Both the ‘civilizing process’ and the desire for some assumed future perfection (progress) are or lead to ὕβρις, to the disruption of the natural balance and which disruption inevitably is the genesis of suffering and strife.


Individuality, Morality, and Change

As outlined in the essay Authority and Legitimacy in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way, empathy and thence the morality that derives from it implies an individual judgement and an individual authority. That is, that The Numinous Way establishes a new type of authority, and thence a new type of legitimacy, different from those assumed by the modern nation-State, by governments, and previously assumed by monarchs, potentates, and tyrants.

This is the moral authority and the moral legitimacy of the individual manifest in self-responsibility and honour. There is therefore no desire for – or ultimately no need for – authority over others but rather the inclination toward self-reliance, toward the authority, the freedom, of the individual and a respect for the freedom, the self-reliance, of others.

In practice, this means no desire for rapid exterior change, or change based upon some abstraction. Instead, there is wu-wei, and the necessary inner change of individuals:

” The Numinous Way approach to the problems of society – to reform and change – is an individual one, deriving from the faculty of empathy, and from the uniquely individual authority and personal judgement that empathy and a personal knowing reveal in the immediacy-of-the-moment.

This means that reform and change is personal, direct; of and involving individuals who are personally known; and begins with the necessary inner change in the individual. That inner, personal, change – in individuals, of their nature, their character – is understood as the means to solving such personal and social problems as exist and arise. That such inner change of necessity comes before any striving for outer change by whatever means, whether such means be termed or classified as political, social, economic, religious. That the only effective, long-lasting, change and reform is the one that evolves human beings and thus changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate.

In practice, this evolution means, in the individual, the cultivation and use of the faculty of empathy, and acquiring the personal virtues of compassion, honour, and love. Which means the inner reformation of individuals, as individuals.” [6]

Conclusion

Empathy inclines us – by its revealing of others, its revealing of ourselves as we really are, its revealing of us as an affective and effecting connexion to other human beings and other life – toward humility. Thus we are moved away from prejudices and prejudgement and hate toward gentleness, kindness, love, compassion, and fairness; that is, toward the virtues that express our humanity and thus toward the cessation of suffering.

Empathy by its personal, immediate, nature manifests a new type of authority; that of the individual whose concern is not power over others but rather over themselves through the development and exercise of those virtues that express our humanity.

Empathy also inclines us toward wu-wei; toward interior reflexion, toward neither acting with haste nor on the basis of abstractions and unbalanced feelings. It moves us instead toward a knowing that real change is interior, personal, change – of character, of behaviour, of feelings, of thought, of intent; of removing prejudice and intolerance.

Thus there is, in The Numinous Way, a complete rejection of the intolerance of racism, of authoritarianism, of violent political, social, or religious, change, and instead the individual interior way of a quiet desire to live numinously, ethically, harmoniously, in accord with wu-wei, in accord with the natural balance of Life.

David Myatt
February 2012 ce

Notes

[1] As I mentioned in the Preface to the compilation Prolegomenas to The Philosophy of The Numinous Way:

“I have sometimes used terms from Ancient Greek because such terms, in my view, are informative and comparative, with there thus being a link between the philosophy of The Numen and the weltanschauung of early Hellenic culture, embodied in and manifest as this was by the works of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Heraclitus, Sappho, and many others. Thus, it would be fair to assume that the ethos of my weltanschauung is both indebted to and a development of the ethos of that Hellenic culture; an indebtedness obvious in the centrality, in the Numinous Way, of personal honour and notions such as δίκη, and a development manifest in notions such as empathy.”

[2] Terms such as empathy are explained below, in the Appendix – Notes on Some Terms Used. In respect of humility, see – for example – my essays (i) Numinous Expiation, (ii) Humility, Abstractions, and Belief, and (iii) From Aeschylus To The Numinous Way – The Numinous Authority of πάθει μάθος

[3] War and Violence in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way.

[4] On The Nature of Abstractions.

[5] Authority and Legitimacy in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way.

[6] Society, Social Reform, and The Numinous Way



Appendix

Notes on Some Terms Used

Abstraction

An abstraction is a manifestation of the primary error of conventional causal thinking; that is, of assuming only a causal linearality – of using causal reductionism: that simple cause-and-effect that excludes the acausal knowing that empathy provides and which knowing the numinous is a manifestation of. Implicit in abstractions is the notion of – the illusion of – the separateness of beings.

An abstraction is the manufacture, and use of, some idea, ideal, ‘image’ or category, and thus some generalization, and/or some assignment of an individual or individuals – and/or some being, some ‘thing’ – to some group or category with the implicit acceptance of the separateness, in causal Space-Time, of such being/things/individuals. The positing of some ‘perfect’ or “ideal” form, category, or thing, is part of abstraction.

Abstraction-ism – and the ideation that derives from it – can be philosophically defined as the implementation, the practical application, of ὕβρις.

Compassion

The English word compassion dates from around 1340 ce and the word in its original sense (and as used in the philosophy of The Numinous Way) means benignity. Hence, compassion is being kindly disposed toward and/or feeling a sympathy with someone (or some living being) affected by pain/suffering/grief or who is enduring vicissitudes.

The word compassion is derived from com, meaning together-with, combined with pati, meaning to-suffer/to-endure, and thus useful synonyms for compassion, in this original sense, are compassivity and benignity.

Empathy

Etymologically, this fairly recent English word, used to translate the German Einfühlung, derives, via the late Latin sympathia, from the Greek συμπάθεια – συμπαθής – and is thus formed from the prefix σύν (sym) together with παθ- [root of πάθος] meaning enduring/suffering, feeling: πάσχειν, to endure/suffer.

As used and defined by The Numinous Way, empathy – ἐμπάθεια – is a natural human faculty: that is, a noble intuition about another human being or another living being. When empathy is developed and used, as envisaged by The Numinous Way, it is a specific and extended type of συμπάθεια. That is, it is a type of and a means to knowing and understanding another human being and/or other living beings – and thus differs in nature from compassion.

Honour

The English word honour dates from around 1200 ce, deriving from the Latin honorem (meaning refined, grace, beauty) via the Old French (and thence Anglo-Norman) onor/onur. As used by The Numinous Way, honour means an instinct for and an adherence to what is fair, dignified, and valourous. An honourable person is thus refined: that is, they are noble and cultured and hence distinguished by virtue of their character, which is one of manners, fairness, natural dignity, culture, and valour.

Hubris ( ὕβρις )

ὕβρις is the error of personal insolence, of going beyond the proper limits set by: (a) reasoned (balanced) judgement – σωφρονεῖν – and by (b) an awareness, a personal knowing, of the numinous, and which knowing of the numinous is provided by empathy and πάθει μάθος.

Hubris upsets the natural balance – is contrary to ἁρμονίη – and often results from a person or persons striving for or clinging to some causal abstraction.

Pathei-Mathos ( πάθει μάθος )

The Greek term πάθει μάθος derives from The Agamemnon of Aeschylus (written c. 458 bce), and can be interpreted, or translated, as meaning learning from adversary, or wisdom arises from (personal) suffering; or personal experience is the genesis of true learning.

Wu-Wei

Wu-wei is a Taoist term used in my philosophy of The Numinous Way to refer to a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, is ὕβρις. In practice, this is the cultivation of a certain (an acausal, numinous) perspective – that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future. Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature of things/beings/ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.


cc David Myatt 2012 ce
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The Day’s Consecration: A painting by Richard Moult

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.


Attic red-figure vase, c. 500-450 BCE, depicting The Horae. Antikenmuseen, Berlin
The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic

I – Opposites and Dialectic as Abstractions
II – The Error of Polemos as Kampf
III – Being and Empathy

I – Opposites and Dialectic as Abstractions

For well over a hundred years there has been a belief that some kind of process, or dialectic, between or involving certain, particular, opposites might lead us to answer questions such as Quid est Veritas?, could lead to a certain understanding of ourselves, and may well express something of the true nature of reality, of Being itself. In varying degrees this belief is evident, for instance, in Hegel, Nietzsche (with his Wille zur macht), Marx, and those espousing the doctrine that has been termed Social Darwinism.

In addition, and for a much greater span of causal Time, this belief has been an essential part of certain religions where the process is often expressed eschatologically and in a conjectured conflict between the abstract opposites of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, God and Devil, and such things as demons and angels.

This notion of opposites, of two distinct, separate, things is much in evidence in Plato, and indeed, philosophically, the separation of beings from Being by the process of ideation and opposites may be said to have begun with Plato. For instance, he contrasts πόλεμος with στάσις (Conflict/strife contrasted with stasis/stability) thus:

ἐπὶ μὲν οὖν τῇ τοῦ οἰκείου ἔχθρᾳ στάσις κέκληται, ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ τοῦ ἀλλοτρίου πόλεμος. Rep. V 470b

In respect of these two forms, Plato tries to explain that while there are two terms, two distinct namings – πόλεμος and στάσις – what are so denoted are not just two different names but express what he regards as the reality – the being, οὐσία – of two differing contrasted beings; that is, he posits what we would call two different ideations, or abstractions, creating an abstract (idealized) form for one and an abstract (idealized) form for the other.

Some centuries later, Diogenes Laërtius – apparently paraphrasing Heraclitus – wrote in his Lives of Eminent Philosophers:

πάντα δὲ γίνεσθαι καθ᾽ εἱμαρμένην καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας ἡρμόσθαι τὰ ὄντα (ix. 7)

All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia [1].

Which might seem to suggest that a certain mis-understanding of Heraclitus [2]. the ideation of Plato and of later philosophers and theologians, was the genesis of abstractions and of this belief that a so-called conflict of opposites can lead to ‘truth’, and explain the nature of Being and beings.

However, this ideation, this development of abstractions, and this process of a dialectic, led to the philosophical error of the separation of beings from Being so that instead of the revealing that would answer Quid est Veritas? there is ὕβρις with the numinous authority of an individual πάθει μάθος replaced by adherence to some dogmatic dialectical process involving some assumed struggle/conflict. That is, by considering ἀρχὴ as the cause of the abstractions which are opposites and the origin of a dialectic, and which opposites, and which dialectic involving them, are said to manifest the nature of both our being and of Being itself.

This is an error because Πόλεμος is neither kampf nor conflict, but rather – as the quote from Diogenes Laërtius suggests – what lies behind or beyond Phainómenon; that is, non-temporal, non-causal, Being which, though we have have a natural tendency to separate into portions (that is, to perceive beings as only beings), beings themselves become revealed as bound together again by us facing up to the expected contest: that is, to our human nature and to knowing, to developing, to using, our faculty of reasoned judgement – σωφρονεῖν – to uncover, to reveal, via λόγος, the true nature of Δίκα and thus restore ἁρμονίη [3].

That is, instead of this abstraction of a dialectic there is, as I have suggested elsewhere:

A natural process of Change, of ἀρχὴ which we apprehend as Φύσις – as Heraclitus expressed in fragment 112:

σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας.

This suggests that what is most excellent [ ἀρετὴ ] is thoughtful reasoning [σωφρονεῖν] – and that such thoughtful reasoning is a process which not only expresses and uncovers meaning, but which is also in accord with, in harmony or in sympathy with, φύσις – that is, with our own nature as mortals and with the nature of Being itself. [4]

II – The Error of Polemos as Kampf

In a fragment attributed to Heraclitus [5] Πόλεμος is generally regarded as a synonym for either kampf, or more generally, for war; with the fragment then considered to mean something such as: strife (or war) is the father of every-thing. This interpretation is said to compliment another fragment attributed to Heraclitus:

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

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

However, I contend that this older understanding of – the accepted rendition of – Πόλεμος is a misinterpretation of Πόλεμος [6], and that rather than kampf (struggle), or a general type of strife, or what we now associate with the term war, Πόλεμος implies the acausality (a simultaneity) beyond our causal ideation, and which ideation has separated object from subject, and often abstracted them into seemingly conflicting opposites. Hence my 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 also my interpretation of 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. [7]

Thus the suggestion is that Πόλεμος is not some abstract ‘war’ or strife or kampf, but not only that which is or becomes the genesis of beings from Being, but also that which manifests as δίκη and accompanies ἔρις because it is the nature of Πόλεμος that beings, born because of and by ἔρις, can be returned to Being (become bound together – be whole – again).

For 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) [8] 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 [9] 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 [10]. A new understanding which Aeschylus saught to explain in the Oresteia.

III – Being and Empathy

This understanding is basically that of a particular balance, born from πάθει μάθος (from the personal knowing of the error, the unbalance, that is ὕβρις) and from using reasoned judgement (σωφρονεῖν), and both of which make us aware of the true nature of our φύσις and of Φύσις itself.

In addition, by cultivating and by using our natural faculty of empathy, we can understand both φύσις and Πόλεμος, and thus apprehend Being as Being, and the nature of beings – and in particular the nature of our being, as mortals. For empathy reveals to us the acausality of Being [11] and thus how the process of abstraction, involving as it does an imposition of causality and separation upon beings (and the ideation implicit on opposites and dialectic), is a covering-up of Being and of Πόλεμος and thus involves a mis-understanding of both Δίκα and of φύσις.

In place of the numinosity of ψυχή – of Life qua being – there is, for the apprehension that is a dialectic of opposites, the hubris of abstractions, and thus a loss of our natural balance, a loss of ἁρμονίη [12] and συμπάθεια.

David Myatt
2011
(Revised 2012)

Notes:

[1] I have used a transliteration of the compound Greek word – ἐναντιοδρομίας – rather than given a particular translation, since the term enantiodromia in my view suggests the uniqueness of expression of the original, and which original in my view is not adequately, and most certainly not accurately, described by a usual translation such as ‘conflict of opposites’. Rather, what is suggested is ‘confrontational contest’ – that is, by facing up to the expected/planned/inevitable contest.

Interestingly, Carl Jung – who was familiar with the sayings of Heraclitus – used the term enantiodromia to describe the emergence of a trait (of character) to offset another trait and so restore a certain psychological balance within the individual.

[2] Refer to my Heraclitus – Some Translations and Notes. (Fifth Edition, 2012)

[3] While Φύσις (Physis) has a natural tendency to become covered up (Heraclitus, Fragment 123) it can be uncovered through λόγος and πάθει μάθος.

[4] In Empathy and The Immoral Abstraction of Race

[5] Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους. Fragmentum 53.

[6] See my Heraclitus – Some Translations and Notes (Fifth Edition, 2012) where I suggest a new interpretation of Fragmentum 53: Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

[7] I have deliberately transliterated (instead of translated) polemos, and left δίκη as δίκη.

Alternative renderings of the fragment are:

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

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

[8] Correctly understood, 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.

In addition, 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.

It is interesting to observe how the term δαίμων – with and after Plato, and especially by its use by the early Christian Church – came to be a moral abstraction, used in a bad sense (as ‘demon’), and contrasted with another moral abstraction, that of ‘angels’. Indeed, this process – this change – with this particular term is a reasonable metaphor for what we may call the manufacture and development of abstractions, and in which development the ontology and theology of an organized monotheistic religion played a not insignificant part.

[9] Agamemnon,174-183. qv. Pathei-Mathos as Authority and Way in The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

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

[11] qv. The Nature of Being and of Beings in The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

[12] The numinous is what predisposes us not to commit ὕβρις – that is, what continues or maintains or manifests ἁρμονίη and thus καλλός; the natural balance – sans abstractions – that enables us to know and appreciate, and which uncovers, Φύσις


Image credit:

Attic red-figure vase, c. 500-450 BCE, depicting The Horae. Antikenmuseen, Berlin