Monday, November 07, 2011

The Grounding of Reason on the Experience of the Self-Transcending Self (Ultimately, Christian Faith).

"The most difficult element to convey in articulating the foundation of morality, is... the sense of ultimate rightness that underpins it. No matter how persuasive we may be in framing arguments, whether based on teleology, irreducible axioms, or natural law, they remain ineffective until we can respond to the Nietzschean question: Why should I regard such principles as right? Arguments beg the question, for they always bring us back to the problem of justifying the choice of starting point. The ideological mass movements may in a certain respect be regarded as an expression of desperation, the pathetic inclination to latch on to something, anything, greater than ourselves, in order to infuse our actions with a sense of reality and purpose. As Nietzsche understood, human beings would rather will nothing than not will. When no ultimate foundation to existence can be found, then we will throw ourselves into false absolutes rather than admit the vacuum within ourselves. Even the futility of an illusory foundation is preferable to living without a sense of ultimate rightness. Although Nietzsche was unsuccessful in his search for this more authentic reality, he nevertheless pointed the way. Unless we recover a sense of what is transcendentally right, then our actions will be neither moral nor effective.

"It is not enough to assert the rightness of one's principles. Their rightness must be grasped as an overwhelming truth within the experiential movement toward transcendent reality. This is why Voegelin abandoned his work on the history of political ideas, and sought to penetrate to the underlying experiences behind the symbolic forms. He did not regard a restoration of natural law or of the classical right by nature to be sufficient, because in such dogmatic formulations the link with the engendering experience is no longer present. Instead he emphasized the recovery of that original experience. By reconstructing the infrastructure of classical philosophy he discovered that the science of ethics and politics, which the Greeks invented, was not based on propositions about order. It was rooted in the living experience of the soul making its ascent toward the divine Good, which is 'beyond being,' exceeding it in dignity and power' (Republic, 509b).

David Walsh, "After Ideology" CUA Press (1995) 194-195.

I [blogger] would add to that the Greeks of the experience of reaching to the Absolute came from their contact with Abrahamic faith in Babylon in 6th c. B.C. And I would add that Plato's theory of reminiscence = anamnesis is Judaic faith-experience that was Abraham's and lived out among the Jews and that became the text of Genesis in the same period. So, it seems that it is not enough to seek the roots in the living experience of the soul but in the self-transcendence that is Judeo-Christian faith.

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