Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To Be Equals Not to Be

A friend of mine gave me a CD to listen to while driving.  It was a recording of speeches made at a conference at Clear Creek on John Senior and the Integrated Humanities Program at KU, a program that made so many Catholic converts over the years.

One of the presenters made an interesting comment.  He said that Modernity is an attack on Being.

Senior had come to this conclusion, more or less, especially after tracing the influence of the Occult on modern art and literature.  Senior defined the philosophy that lies behind the Occult.  This philosophy has at its core the belief that subject and object are identified, if not identical.  And I can tell you that that kind of thinking is all over the writings of Carl Jung, for example.

"Magic" works in the Occult because not only can we say, as Sister Mary Reginald of Our Lady of the Pants-suit says, "We are Church"; but we can also say, as the initiates into the realms of darkness say, "We are God". 

But the heresy does not stop there.  Not only are we God, but there is no God.  Atheism meets Magic meets Nihilism - welcome to the modern world.

Modernity denies the reality of things. 

It denies the reality of being. 

It denies the law of non-contradiction, which is a corollary to the reality of being. 

It asserts an utter subjectivity, even a kind of solipsism.  There is no there there.  There is no here here.  All is one, and the One is Zero.  To Be and Not to Be are indistinguishable.

This is a diabolical philosophy, for its stupidity if for no other reason. 

What saved John Senior, what made him a Catholic, and what saved G. K. Chesterton for that matter, was the primary assent to the first Fact of Being - THINGS EXIST.  Start with that and you can't go too far wrong.  Start anywhere else, and you're bound to go badly astray.

***

This same presenter made another interesting comment, one I'm not sure I agree with.  He said that the opposite of Being was not Nothingness, for Nothingness has potential (at least nothingness if viewed as empty space created by God).  No, he said.  The opposite of Being was Falsehood, Pretense, or what I would call Unreality.

To Be or to Fake It, that is the question.

One thing we do know - Modernity fakes it.  For the moderns 2 + 2 is fill-in-the-blank, and 1 is equal to zero - in a very profound and horrifying sense.

3 comments:

Bob Drury said...

The presenter is right, that the opposite of being is not nothingness, but wrong to identify nothingness as something, namely, potential. In a parallel application of arithmetic, on pages 50-51 of “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins errs by identifying the opposite of plus one as zero, rather than minus one. Dawkins assigns plus one to the positive form of a statement and zero to the negative form of the statement.
Bob Drury

Kevin O'Brien said...

If the opposite of being is NOT nothingness, what is it? Anti-being? If so, what is that?

Stan Metheny said...

For St Thomas, the opposite of being does not exist. I'm not able to provide a brief summary of his philosophy of being, but perhaps his classic definition of evil will help.

[E]vil is simply a privation of something which a subject is entitled by its origin to possess and which it ought to have, . . . privation is not an essence; it is, rather, a negation in a substance. Therefore, evil is not an essence in things. [Summa contra Gentiles, III, 7.3]

Of course, modernists cannot logically accept that being really exists. If one accepts that, the rest of their positions dissolve. The speaker you heard is spot on.