On Greek Spirit, Hegel

The Greek Spirit:

For the Greeks only *watch* the objects of Nature, and form *surmises* respecting them; inquiring, in the depths of their souls, for the hidden meaning. According to Aristotle’s dictum, that Philosophy proceeds from Wonder, the Greek view of Nature also proceeds from wonder of this kind. Not that in their experience, Spirit meets something extraordinary, which it compares with the common order of things; for the intelligent view of a regular course of Nature, and the reference of phenomena to that standard, do not yet present themselves; but the Greek Spirit was excited to wonder at the *Natural* in Nature. It does not maintain the position of stupid indifference to it as something existing, and there an end of it; but regards it as something in the first instance foreign, in which, however, it has a presentiment of confidence, and the belief that it bears something within it which is friendly to the human Spirit, and to which it may be permitted to sustain a positive relation. This *Wonder* and this *Presentiment*, are here the fundamental categories; though the Hellenes did not content themselves with these moods of feelings, but projected the hidden meaning, which was the subject of the surmise, into a distinct conception as an object of consciousness. The Natural holds its place in their minds only after undergoing some transformation by Spirit– not immediately.

~Hegel’s *Philosophy of History*



I am gluttonous for life and all things

/////// contrary to popular opinion,
never comes from something else
but always rather
///////// in some fundamental way
from nothing.

(hovering over the waters)

out of the emptiness
/////////////// comes potential
///// ——— realized,
////////////////// Now.

c. Kate Gough, 2015

A New Proposition

“Faith is not being sure. It is not being sure, but betting with your last cent… Faith is not a series of gilt-edged propositions that you sit down to figure out, and if you follow all the logic and accept all the conclusions, then you have it. It is crumpling and throwing away everything, proposition by proposition, until nothing is left, and then writing a new proposition, your very own, to throw in the teeth of despair…

Faith is not making religious-sounding noises in the daytime. It is asking your inmost self questions at night and then getting up and going to work…

Faith is thinking thoughts and singing songs and making poems in the lap of death.”

–Mary Jean Irion, 1970

Everything Unresolved

“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

–Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 [Letters to a Young Poet]

Memo #5

Memo #5 ~ Simone Weil and Stringfellow

The nature of Love is, enigmatically, found in perpetual Act, defined in the solitude granted within the oneness of intimacy, elusive as vapor and yet as ever-present and powerful as well. The nature of Love is dialectical, overpowering and underwhelming at the same time, in the tiny details and thus almost unnoticable yet all-pervasive, both overflowing with Life and drawn to death, giving life and accepting death, transformative and restorative, peacable and yet bearing the Sword of Truth, both strong and broken. Power under control. Meekness. Like a body-builder holding a premature newborn gently in his arms.

Simone Weil’s conception of the madness of love and the role of consent within it made me want to dance and run and skip like a toddler. Her thoughts on relationship between us and God as being centered so around consent was such a monumental shift in language to me– she was not talking about choice, she was not talking about petition, about power, about free will; none of the structurally hierarchical language that dominates the conversation about our relating to God today even makes an appearance in her work as important or relevant. The relational language of love dominates in her writing, and rights are not the issue; sacrifice is. Listening, understanding, accepting, sharing burdens– it is the language of conpanionship: friendship. He has called us friends.

We are so easily side-tracked with squabbles and fighting (without His aid, I might add) the influences other than Him in the world. We feel we have the power ourselves to subvert Death, when really we need Him, because Jesus Christ is the Life. He is the Sword of Truth that will cut flesh from soul and expose the deceptions at work for Death in our lives for what they are. I feel that Simone would tell us to sit down with God and consent as consciously and wholly as we know how, as honestly as we can and with as much internal awareness and attention as possible, to His influence in our lives. She would tell us to open ourselves to Truth as an active Being, to trust its ways, mysterious though they are, and dedicate ourselves solely to Truth, who is was, and will always be God’s Word. The Word of Love.

Stringy wants us to be human in this world, in the midst of chaos, in the face of the fallen principalities and powers, to separate ourselves holy people by small efforts of Resistance to Death ~ most especially the death of conscience. Step by step, like Paul Farmer fighting all his life a long defeat with no logical hope of victory– and yet not as we might think, because Stringy believes the requirement of consistency not to be born of the biblical mind. . . this is simply because the spontaneous nature of Love is something only God can sustain, and only when we are truly and fully rooted in Him do we have the power to sustain it as well. That is not entirely possible in this world Love cannot happen, the Jerusalem church cannot happen, those moments of Life— they originate in Him. The thought that we have power over them is yet another deception that Death twists to his taste and our own failures serve to immobilize us with despair and make us forget where our power actually stems from.

Both Simone and Stringy wish for us to seek Christ. Simone says seek the Truth with rigorous intellectual honesty. Stringy says seek Life with the Word of God as He speaks. For both, the result is a familiarty with Love. Christ says if you know me, you know my father, and if you know my father you know me. There is nothing that sword cannot cut– if you’re not with Him you’re against Him, and if you’re not against Him, you’re with Him.

The 2nd Adam.

The Word Incarnate:

Humanly Lived Life.

We have to be ready to consent with Him.

To life.

To love.

~Marykathryn Huffman 10/6/05
c. Mary Kathryn Gough (Huffman, maiden)

Kant Journal #5

Immanuel Kant on Reason, God, and Morality

Kant now takes himself to have waged a devastating critique of rational theology in the Transcendental Dialectic, and yet we find in the Canon of Pure Reason that we are still justified, according to him, in believing that there is an omniscient and omnipotent God, and that the soul is immortal- on other than theoretical grounds. “If then, these three cardinal propositions [the three unconditioned ideas] are not at all necessary for our knowing, and yet are insistently recommended to us by our reason,” he says, “their importance must really concern the practical” (B 828, p. 674). Making the distinction between pragmatic law and moral law, Kant places moral law within the realm of the practical, because between the two laws, the moral law is the only one which “permits a canon” (p.674). It is upon this ground, that of the idea of the moral law, that Kant begins to build his ethics and the justification for belief in an all-powerful God (which will later grow into his Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone, for which he is made to apologize and recant).

Humankind has a naturally occurring deep and real sense of morality according to Kant- an objectively valid experience of a moral life and the way things ‘ought to be’ which is necessary in order for the universe to make any unified sense at all. This common experience of the moral law within each of us is the practical importance of reason’s ever-reaching upwards toward realms it cannot fly in. Three questions concern it most, three questions it is always asking, and these are: What can I know? What can I do? And what can I hope? (B 833, p. 677). The first he dismisses (the purely theoretical), having already discussed it at length in the rest of the Critique. It is helpless on its own and we can find nothing for us in it. The second, Kant says, is not transcendental, but purely moral (practical), and therefore dismisses it. It as well is helpless on its own, and of no use or interest to us. The third, however, is both “practical and theoretical, so that the practical leads like a clue to a reply to the theoretical question and in its highest form…” (p. 677, emphasis added).

What can I hope? we ask, after Kant. All hope concerns happiness according to him(p. 677), and one can always either concern one’s self with the pragmatic (practical) approach, bent on acquiring that happiness, or with the moral approach, which “has no other motive than the worthiness to be happy” (p.677).

In an ‘ideal’ world (in the conventional sense of the term), a world “in which we have abstracted from all hindrances to morality”, one’s worthiness to be happy would perfectly coincide with one’s degree of happiness; however, says Kant,

this system of self-rewarding morality is only an idea, the realization of which rests on the condition that everyone do what he should, i.e., that all actions of rational beings occur as if they arose from a highest will that comprehends all private choice in or under itself” (p. 679).

Through discerning the way things ought to be from out of a comparison with our inner sense of the moral law, we see that while we are constituted in such a way as to fit in such a world, our senses and tell us this is nothing like where we now are. “To regard ourselves as in the realm of grace,” says Kant, “where every happiness awaits us as long as we do not ourselves limit our share of it through the unworthiness to be happy, is a practically necessary idea of reason,” and yet we live in the realm of nature (Leibniz) where, although we “stand under moral laws[, we] cannot expect any successes for [our] conduct except in accordance with the course of nature in our sensible world” (p.680-681). Since this moral world cannot come to be on this earth (as we humans are far more disposed to go our own directions than anyone else’s, moral or not), it is clear that if the hope of happiness necessarily linked and equal with the striving to be worthy of that happiness is to survive, we must believe in an afterlife where this is possible. Pure reason imposes this belief on us.

The system of morality itself, being a system, is cohesively one, and our conception of it must be policed in such a manner as to make sure it is able to remain whole. Kant says that the coherence of the moral law requires the existence of a God-like being to make the moral laws commands by enforcing them and endowing them with the consequences appropriate to (or even dictated by?) their nature. Thus pure reason shows us the necessity of supposing a commanding ‘highest reason’, or ‘highest good’, a being “which alone can make possible such a purposive unity” (B840, p.680).

In this way, Kant has achieved the construction of an argument for compelled belief in God and the afterlife, built from the ground of the common experience of the moral law up. Without these two beliefs, “the majestic ideas of morality are, to be sure, objects of approbation and admiration but not incentives for resolve and realization.” (p.681). But with a God there to make good on the ‘promises and threats’ involved in the consequences of the moral law, it is clear why our moral disposition must come first and open the door to happiness rather than the desire for happiness instituting the moral disposition within us (p.681). According to Kant, we are convinced of this concept of the divine being,

not because speculative reason convinces us of its correctness but because it is in perfect agreement with the moral principles of reason… we will not hold actions to be obligatory because they are God’s commands, but will rather regard them as divine commands because we are internally obligated to them” (p.683-684).

c. Mary Kathryn Gough

Katie Huffman (married, Gough)/ 5.21.04 /Kant / Professor Hardy / Journal # 5