The Concept of Decline in the West

I’m interested in history as a narrative by philosophers of history, such as Hegel and Spengler. In this post I’ll go over the observations of two twentieth century thinkers: Oswald Spengler and Emil Cioran. Continue reading The Concept of Decline in the West

Creation, by Gore Vidal

In the beginning…

A historical novel by Gore Vidal, Creation is an Odysseus styled dialectic on religious dogma. The main character, Cyrus Spitama, is the grandson of Zarathustra, and his encounters with other 5th century sages are clearly the highlights of the novel. Cyrus is fixated on the question of creation, or the origin of the universe or human existence. Initially he was indoctrinated by Zarathustra, specifically the dualistic ontology of Zoroastrianism. Convinced with this religious truth, he sets out to test the alternative answers or non-answers of other wise men, such as those from the East: the Buddha, Confucius, Lao-Tze, and the West: Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and etc. However, the book demonstrates how much of a fatal flaw the question of creation was for Western philosophy, because it always was the wrong question. Continue reading Creation, by Gore Vidal

Dialogue of Kings: a clash of moralities

Left to right: Archer, Saber & Rider

I have been enjoying the ongoing Japanese anime Fate/Zero, & episode 11 consists of a dialogue between three legendary kings who expressed philosophical differences about ruling. The interlocutors are Saber (King Arthur), Rider (Alexander the Great) and Archer (Gilgamesh), but the most interesting aspect was the diametrically opposite approach between Arthur and Alexander regarding how to rule. It was fascinating enough to inspire a lengthy rant on morality, Nietzsche, and representation. Continue reading Dialogue of Kings: a clash of moralities

History according to pessimism

Marvin, the pessimistic android

After hearing about Fukuyama’s End of History thesis, I began to wonder:

Were there truly an “end” of history, a post-history, the possibility of all events coming to an end, who would be a competent historian to observe this end of all cycles?

This does not refer to theoreticians of the “end of history,” but of a different type – a true historian looking back after all histories had ended, a post-historian observing that there are no more events to record, except perhaps the act of recording for the unknown readers of the future. The end of history is the end of the fall into time – when man became historical after being exiled from paradise. Continue reading History according to pessimism

The Gospels are not Historical

Christians are prone to overstatements such as the simple claim that the New Testament is a historical document. However, this is incorrect, since they are religious works, not historical documents. There is a reason why your public or university library has the Gospels classified as religion, not history. Your public university does not include the Gospels in Ancient History 100 courses. Continue reading The Gospels are not Historical

The tragic fate of Tragedy…

A Beautiful Tragedy by Carbine

Recently I’ve thought about how tragedy has been minimized in modern culture if not totally eliminated. If tragedy is supposed to be the aesthetic experience par excellence, the most divine product, then its slow fade to black is worth investigating. It is a given that the greatest of literary geniuses of the modern era consistently fail to produce a contemporary account of tragedy, and the reasons are legion. Continue reading The tragic fate of Tragedy…

The irony of the Enlightenment

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery, by Joseph Wright of Derby

The irony of the Enlightenment: Immanuel Kant, the late 18th century thinker, was indisputably the greatest philosopher of Enlightenment. But it is also interesting to note that his critical philosophy project resulted in a devastating blow to the foundation of Enlightenment itself- our trust in reason. The faculty of reason is essentially an impulse for the unconditioned condition, and constantly urges our understanding on. Kant made it clear that man will never know the true nature of reality, and is limited to mere appearances. Despite being championed as the great icon of Enlightenment, with his transcendentalism he set the ball rolling down the mountain of truth and shattered the ideals of the gilded age at the bottom, in the gulch of the 20th century.

We are picking among the remnants for whatever remains salvageable. The consequences of such absurd praise of reason or rationalism in Enlightenment resulted in two great wars in the 20th century, which were committed at the source of naturalistic humanism. Reason and rationalism, secular reasoning especially never achieved its vast promise of transforming a superstitious culture into a rational utopia. At least some of us realize that within this massive failure, liberation is never of the human, but always and only in a negatory manner: from the human. Where does that leave us? The ghost of a lost innocence haunts the age in the form of postmodernist reflections.