The Book: Being and Incarnation
Part 1: Being and Incarnation
Part 2: The Immediacy of Love
Part 3: Awakening from Sleep
Part 4: The Christ Beyond Religion
PAPER 1: An Interpretation of Quantum Theory
PAPER 2: “Non-Being & Time”: Awakening Heidegger from Sleep
PAPER 3: Karl Barth and the Unproclaimed Word
PAPER 4: Beyond Psychoanalysis and the Interpretation of Dreams
PAPER 5: A Commentary on St John’s Gospel (Chapters 1-11)
PAPER 6: Beyond Feminism and the Gender Debate
PAPER 7: A Solution to the Problem of Grace and Nature
PAPER 8: Derrida and Beyond the Text
PAPER 9: Ziziolous and the Lost Communion between East and West
PAPER 10: The Good beyond the Moral Law
PAPER 11: Wittgenstein and the Nature of Language
PAPER 12: Postmodernisn and The Return of the Prodigal Son
PAPER 13: A Commentary on St Mark’s Gospel
PAPER 14: Summary of My Work (2018)
PAPER 15: Summary of My Work (2020)
The world is not what it seems, it holds a mystery which it is reluctant to give up. Since man evolved to the age of reason and self-consciousness, he has endeavoured to find the Holy Grail, which unlocks the mystery of his existence and the nature of the world he lives in. Thousands of years before the golden era of Greek philosophy, before the first great Western philosophers set their minds to grapple with these mysteries, primitive man expressed his being-in-the-world through art, religious rituals, sacrifices and various forms of mythology. His culture took him beyond the mere necessities of survival via-a-vis the harsh realities of life, to explore the tension that existed in his inner being between his immediate world of mind and senses and his deeper need to fulfil himself in an invisible cosmic relation, which united the particular of his existence with a universal reality. The world of his experiences did not have the final word, there was a gap, or yearning, which kept him restless, always looking for something more, a yearning which marked him out from all other creatures.
This yearning in man has driven him on in search of something, which has not yet happened in the process of evolution, something which will close the circle of his eternal recurrences, and quench his insatiable thirst to find peace and personal happiness. The transcendental forms of the Good, the Beautiful and the True have been his motivation and guide in pursuit of a final unity-of-being or absolute form, of which he catches glimpses in his ecstatic moments. The masterpieces of art and music of bygone eras, are a permanent reminder of man’s longing to unite himself to a deeper current in life, which he sat and pondered in the silence of his heart, before giving expression to it in an outpouring of creativity. In more recent times, from a diversity of fields, including Religion, Philosophy and Science, there have arisen spiritual, learned and prophetic people who have foreseen a new era, in which this yearning will be realised in a New Man, through some sort of break through to a higher state of consciousness. They believe that this development will provide a new way of engaging the world, which will bring with it man’s personal fulfilment and a new world order of peace and harmony; the world is now seen to be suffering the birth pangs, as it awaits the arrival of this new age.
Some look to the new sciences to usher in this era with its startling insights into the nature of the world, insights which are proving to be radically different to man’s perception of the world in the post-Newtonian age of Quantum Physics. Others look to Eastern practices, such as Yoga and Meditation, which have evolved from ancient wisdom, with its insights into the nature of human desire, suffering and conflict. These practices seek to bring harmony between the elements which make up man’s world, both interior and exterior, overcoming the dualism which underlies all conflict. Others too look to the insights offered by more modern disciplines, such as Psychoanalysis, which seek to go beyond the “male” rational concepts of human thinking, to the “female” archetypes of the unconscious. These more archaic, collective and universal symbols, are more prevalent and active in our world than rational man had previously realised, and they may hold the key to understanding man’s true nature and relationship with the world, while offering possible solutions to his predicament.
However, not everybody shares this optimism of the dawn of a new humanity and an ecological harmony between man and earth. Technology has not only reduced the vast world to a global village, but it has set itself up as the new god, to be worshipped and served in that village. This god, which was made by human hands has, like a Frankenstein, broken free and taken the power into its own hands, making his creator its servant, in the modern day slavery of capitalism. Any sacred bonds which existed between man and the earth have been severed, as man now toils the land, to exploit its resources, to feed the insatiable greed of his new master. While technology is here to stay, and brings with it some obvious benefits, it is accompanied by a false sense of security, well-being and self-sufficiency. This very self is a child of its times, rooted in a self-ism, which is not the sign of a new maturity and independence, but the product of a lost identity. Modern day catchphrases such as “freedom of choice”, or “buy now pay later”, ensure that man’s identity is shaped by consumerism, backed up by a relentless campaign of advertisement and easy credit, which tells him, “you should have it because you’re worth it”. However, this freedom to choose from an ever increasing, and ever present array of brands, only belies an increasing sense of lost freedom and alienation. Maybe this is best exemplified in the modern day adolescent who has the latest piece of technology attached to his hand, not only as an extension of his body but of his very self, as it determines and programmes his thoughts, feelings, actions, and sensory movements throughout the day. The scenario of a family night out, where they all sit around the table at a restaurant, each silently mesmerised by a piece of hand held technology, with no exchange of glances or words, during the meal could be a scene from George Orwell’s book 1984, with its chilling prophecy and haunting vision of the future.
While modern man also takes up a sedentary position, like his fore-bearers, it is not to be an instrument of a creative, mysterious power which takes hold of him from within, but rather it is to be fed on a shallow diet of mass media and internet entertainment from without. It is not that the deeper yearning of human nature has gone away, or that man has finally found what can satisfy his needs, but rather it has been overlaid by the constant bombardment of his mind and senses, by a world which has continuous access to him. The hollow space in man’s being, which was his source of creativity, born out of a fundamental gap between who he was and who he ought to be, has been resourced out to advertisement in a materialistic, hedonistic age, that likes to remind him of what he has and what he ought to have. The tension within of not yet being, which left him undefined and in search of being, has become a dreaded place of boredom and angst, which must be filled by a continuous influx of junk mail, which provides cheap answers to the priceless question: who am I? Maybe this dilemma can be characterised by the disillusioned middle class American adolescent who, despite years of personal therapy and having all that money can buy, uses social media to proclaim the day of retribution before turning the family guns on those who failed him. Even though social stability, family life and personal happiness have had to contend with many challenges and difficulties in the past, Western civilisation seems to be in an age of increasing dependence on anti-depressants and therapies, which are the direct consequence of the depersonalizing effects of a society in which humans are seen as a means to an end, a mere resource at the service of large impersonal, corporate forces.
Those who have the time or inclination to step back and view the present epoch of man’s history, quickly come to realise that, in this post modern era, thinkers reject the “tyranny of wholes”. They no longer believe in overarching theories and universal solutions to the world’s problems, as history still bears the scars of unfulfilled promises and the bloody genocide of ideologies, which have also left man sceptical about any attempt to return to the past or to learn from it. Yet many would argue that the signs of our times behove mankind to find answers, and quickly, to some of its fundamental questions, if it is to avert an apocalyptic era, where global violence, natural disasters, environmental damage and social fragmentation reach unprecedented and irreversible levels. Socrates, the eminent Greek philosopher, who was considered the wisest of all men on earth, declared “an unexamined life is not worth living”. He saw how easy it was for humans to simply accept life as it presented itself, without questioning its underlying assumptions and conditioning. He believed that such a modus vivendi, deprived people of the understanding and inner strength needed to live a truly human life, which in turn would have adverse effects on society. Arguably, this lesson has never been more applicable than today, when technology ensures that mass media creates the news that humans should be talking about, while surreptitiously programming them with the questions and answers to their free-thinking minds. People are not encouraged to think for themselves, but only about their self, within the context of a modern world which has the power to first determine that self.
This crisis in thinking is evident in education, which doesn’t so much train people to think as to develop certain thinking skills which will be useful to the corporate machinery that they will serve. Even modern day Philosophy, with its emphasis on linguistic analysis, has been reduced to the housemaid of the positivist Sciences, where its task is to tidy up and suitably arrange the mental laboratories, so that Science can more effectively do its work. There is a renunciation of truth itself and a reliance upon what is verifiable and correctness of method, a characteristic of Science, which determines the form of modern day Philosophy; Philosophy is reduced to experiments in logic, chiefly in linguistic analysis, where man only operates within his own shell, a prisoner of his own methods. The Philosophy which was born out of man’s existential angst and fundamental desire to understand the nature of things, some 2500 years ago, now feels self-conscious and embarrassed to ask those questions in front of its academic peers, who have never shared their sense of philosophical crisis, since for them, philosophy is just a job. To dare ask metaphysical questions about the nature of things, the meaning to life, or why there is something rather than nothing, is deemed unfashionable at best, or simply to be pitied, like a mad scientist who still thinks the world is flat. These troubling questions have never found universally agreed answers and anything that can’t be answered is seen to be a waste of time, in an modern era where knowledge serves efficiency and productivity. To dwell on such questions might be considered a form of illness, an unresolved psychological complex due to a troubled past, just as a psychoanalyst might look with pity on a patient who believes in God, adjudging his belief to be the result of a fixation on an infantile father figure.
Another great Greek philosopher, Plato, also recognized the difficult task facing humans to understand their nature and predicament, and yet he deemed the enterprise essential to authentic living. He depicted this in his allegory of the cave, in which people live chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing another blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and they begin to designate names to these shadows; the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who manages to get free and leave the cave and consequently he comes to understand that the shadows on the wall of the cave are not reality, as he can now perceive the true form of reality beyond the cave. It becomes the philosophers task to return to the cave to try and convince the people of this reality which lies beyond their senses, but which the majority won’t accept because they are accustomed to the world they live in and they won’t accept the risk or burden of change. According to Plato, it is Ideas in the Mind rather than the material world of change, known to us through the senses, which possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. Although most people today would not consider their thoughts, and the contemplation of them, the ultimate reality, few would doubt that ideas and their manipulation are central to both personal human development, and the history of mankind. They are the building blocks of mankind’s civilisation, and the touch paper from which ideologies have ignited bloody revolutions in the name of freedom. It seems that whoever would seek to resolve the mystery of life, will need to find an appropriate answer to the tension that exists between the abstracted and universal ideas in man’s mind and the world of concrete and particular objects to which they relate.
Whatever a person’s position in life may be, he shares the common experience of all humans, of being thrown into a world that he did not choose to be in, one in which he is “condemned to be free”, according to Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher. Regardless of his temperament, upbringing and cultural background, he cannot escape taking a position with regards to life, and its fundamental philosophical questions, even if it is done unthinkingly and unconsciously. His manner of living life, the values and priorities he gives to things, reflects his fundamental beliefs about how the world is. The philosophy of those who live in the Western world today can largely be described as secularist, materialist and utilitarian; secularist, in that man, not God, is the measure of things; materialist, in that what one has determines who one is; and utilitarian, in that nothing has an intrinsic or absolute value but rather its worth is based on its usefulness. For those who stop to ask more philosophical questions about their life on earth, the disconcerting fact is that philosophers seem no nearer to agreeing to the answers to these questions than they did 2500 years ago. In fact, the many branches of philosophy seem as varied as the personalities which wrote them, and the content of which may say more about those personalities than it does about any objective, universal reality, which they seek to address. Nietzsche, a German philosopher of the nineteenth century, challenged and undermined the pretentious claims of Philosophy by arguing that “there are no facts only interpretation”. His philosophy railed against what he saw as a pernicious lie, that there is a neutral vantage point from which to view the world and so to attain to objective truth. He saw this belief as an unconscious, man-made control mechanism used to keep humans subjugated and preventing them from reaching their true potential.
If we have never considered ourselves philosophers, then maybe even less so have we considered ourselves mathematicians, and yet, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras believed the world was governed by numbers, which seek a harmonious whole like a musical symphony, of which humans play a part. At the heart of man’s experience of being in the world are experiences of more-less, from-here-to-there, which constitute the basic elements of the Arithmetic and Geometry that he learnt at School. Man is in a constant state of reaction to numbers, as his life is lived out along the geometrical x-y plane of space and time, and its content, where he is always in a rush to get somewhere; his life governed by goals and targets. He seeks to find his position in that world and to position everything else relative to him; those things that have increasing value are drawn close and those that lose their value are gradually pushed away, obeying mathematical laws of attraction and repulsion. Occasionally, he will make a conscious effort to think about numbers, like when he negotiates his salary or pays the bills, but more often than not his response to numbers are unconscious, programmed reactions to the values he gives to the things which make up his life. When he is ill from the stress of numbers, he will be analysed by a doctor who will gauge his illness according to further numbers; blood pressure, heart beat, levels of substances in the blood etc. He will often feel that he is not being treated as a person, but as an object made up of parts to be fixed, somebody who is known by the number of the bed in the hospital, or the number he was assigned when he entered the waiting room.
A child that begins to learn a musical instrument will have to consciously count the beats, and make a conscious effort to span the distance, with his hand, between one note and another. However, when he becomes a concert pianist, he will do the same movements with the agility of an eagle that glides through the air. It is as if he can finally let go of the numbers that tied him to the earth and enter into a new reality, through a “love for music”, which binds the discrete notes and numbers into a unity of being, made possible in his own self. People who listen to great classical pieces of music can experience being transported out of this world into a transcendent reality, through an appreciation of the music, which came from the soul of the composer. Einstein spoke of a similar thing when in reference to his scientific insights, he attributed the breakthrough to a “love of objects”; the working of great minds, laboriously sifting through numbers, experimental data and formulae, gives way to a higher reality, where the two are joined as one in a transcendent reality, which reveals itself in an immediacy of love, like two soulmates meeting for the first time, a reality which lies beyond the mind. Many people today feel their freedom has been taken away by a debt to numbers; they live in hope of winning the lottery so that they can find some sort of redemption from numbers, freeing themselves from its tyranny and entering into a new reality where they can know true freedom. However, for those who win the lottery, they soon come to realise that money cannot buy happiness, and that the sum to infinity of money does not add up to the unity-of-being, which their heart craves.
Philosophy and Mathematics have become abstracted, formal disciplines, but they find their origins in primitive human nature before reason was born, when answers and numbers were not important for passing exams, but were a matter of life and death. For the average person, Maths and Philosophy are too important to be abstracted, or left to specialists, as they belong where they originated, at the heart of their experience of being-in-the-world. In some Eastern philosophies the focus is on finding a Middle Way, or a harmony between opposites, like solving an equation for living, which enables them to attain to happiness. Just as the perfect cake is made from the right quantities of ingredients, the appropriate oven temperature and the correct position in the oven, so too humans seek the perfect recipe to living. In this book I would like to put forward a philosophical answer and mathematical solution to the mystery of man, which has not come out of my abstracted studies of both disciplines, but from my ordinary lived experience. My reasons for once studying these disciplines largely came out of my own philosophical crisis of being-in-the-world and my search for meaning, but when I came to realise that the formal study of them both replaced life itself rather than addressed it, I gave them up and set sail again on the stormy seas of uncertainty, like an intrepid explorer, one man in search of his being. It is only many years later, when I decided to jump ship that life gave up its mystery. Like a shipwrecked man washed ashore, I vomited out the remnants of the sea which had carried me along for so many years, only to regain consciousness and know life, as it really is, for the first time.
BRIDGING THE GAP
A lot of ink has been spilt on the debate between nature and nurture, that is, the extent to which our genes determine who we are and how we relate to the world, and the extent to which parenting and culture have an influence. The final allocation and distribution may yet have to be decided but one thing is for sure, the manner in which people engage the world, their priorities, interests and outlook are dependent on their personal character. Each person is unique in that respect, often to the annoyance of those in authority or those in charge of their development, as people have a tendency to impose uniformity, or at least their expectations, on those beneath them. It is only in recent times that education has begun to recognise the individuality of the student and the need for differentiation in terms of how a students learn; it is no longer a case of one model fits all. One evident example of how personality determines outlook on life can be seen in how students choose their optional subjects, particularly in their preference for the arts or sciences. While those drawn towards the arts may be more expressive, original and creative, those who focus on the sciences tend to be more precise, practical and intellectual. A similar distinction was made in Greek mythology between the gods, Dionysus and Apollo, which Nietzsche saw as the two opposing central principles in Greek culture. While Apollo is associated with the structure and form that individualizes things, typified in rational man, Dionysus breaks down the barriers of such forms and seeks to reach up to the greater whole through all forms of enthusiasm and ecstasy. Man’s historical search for reality can be seen as multifarious expressions of these two driving forces in his personality, the one expressed in aesthetics and the search for Beauty, and the other in understanding and the search for Truth.
Whatever a persons personality type or cultural upbringing, there seems to be an intrinsic problem at the heart of man’s experience, to which everything else is a response or reaction, and that is, dualism. We live in a world of I-and-Thou, subject-object, the world within and the world without, between the universal ideas in the mind and the particular objects in the world. Man has relentlessly bombarded this problem in a vain attempt to overcome it, solve it or dissolve it, as he senses that the answer to his own alienation lies in it. A person with an “apollonian” personality may seek to fill the gap through rational thought, logical arguments or scientific explanations based on cause and effect. One such person was the famous German, idealist philosopher Hegel, who wrote a dialectical philosophy, which predicted that the world was evolving to a final single state of Absolute Mind, which would bring an end to the continuous tension between opposites. Karl Marx based his own materialist philosophy on Hegel’s work, believing that the dialectical tension was due to material alienation in the capitalist system, which would finally collapse into a proletariat utopia. The apollonian drive seeks to dissect the world, analyse its parts and put it together again in an ever growing encyclopedia of knowledge, which it then imposes on the world, in an attempt to create uniformity. It attempts to understand the nature of the chaotic world of change and uncertainty, by stripping away the particularity of existence and imposing universal ideas which explain everything. That which can’t be explained is ignored or eliminated, which results in totalitarian regimes and social engineering, which devastate the actual reality of human living in favour of an idealistic truth, which only those in power, the privileged few, can understand.
The person with a “dionysian” personality, in contrast, will seek to overcome the duality inherent in nature through some form of artistic expression or ascetical practice. They will attempt to break down the barrier between the subject and object, and overcome the rigid categories created by words and ideas, which impose a narrow vision of reality upon the unsuspecting world. The artist realises that such cold, rational concepts have been sanitised from a more archaic man and archetypal world, which is more true to reality and which is the source of his artistic expression. He seeks to merge the concepts and objects of the world, filling them with the rich colours, emotions and meaning, which they once had in a previous dynamic context, before they were abstracted and made to stand alone at the service of logic. Eastern spiritualities and philosophies embark on a similar enterprise, but by means of ascetical practices and meditations. They perceive an illusory nature to the world of the senses, with its boundaries and dualistic concepts. They seek to transcend the limits of the mind and senses, arriving at a transcendental state of oneness, in a higher form of consciousness, which is not based on an accumulation of knowledge, but on a self-emptying way of “unknowing”, in which the self is also perceived as an illusion, a product of the world of dualism. This “apophatic” spirituality, of going by a way of unknowing to arrive at knowing has an important place in all major religions. Even the great Socrates declared that one could only get to true knowledge by first realising ones own ignorance, a task he embarked on through a dialectic process of questioning peoples assumptions, revealing their ignorance about what they thought they knew. This would unsettle people in the ground of their convictions, but in so doing he would lead them to a deeper appreciation of the world they lived in. However, it also led to his death, as he was seen to be undermining the very foundations of society and so corrupting the young, a death he happily accepted as the ultimate finale and necessary outcome of his philosophy.
The history of philosophy has seen great thinkers come up with ingenious ways of trying to overcome the problem of dualism, or at least to reconcile its opposites through mapping ideas to objects in an elaborate philosophical system of explanations. Some, like Plato, have focused more on the mind and its ideas, while others, like Aristotle, have focused on the world and its objects as the unifying or locus point for reality. One of the first known philosophical problems that challenged the earliest pre-socratic thinkers, was to find a single, underlying substance, which unified the diversity of things in the world, and which could explain the world of change and flux. The first substances put forward were air, water, fire and earth, and then later philosophers suggested more abstracted or invisible elements, such as atoms, numbers, mind or will. No one school of thought has stood the test of time, all have been reduced to mere expressions of their time, with none of them able to stand outside the flux as a permanent reality for all ages. All that is left of them are ancient monuments of man’s intellectual endeavours and aspirations, to build towers of Babel, in a vain attempt to reach the Absolute. It seems that whatever the Truth about life is, each of the schools of thought will make its own contribution as a patch on its motley coloured robe. Bertrand Russell, an English analytical philosopher, who failed in his own attempt to find a unifying structure to all Mathematics, declared at the end of his life, that whatever the truth of life is, it must be a paradox, which brings us back to the problem of life’s hidden mystery. Post modern thinkers have largely given up on the possibility of finding an underlying, unifying system of thought, and propose instead that thinkers should be content with dialogue and inter-disciplinary work in order to further man’s understanding of the increasingly complex and differentiated structures which make up his world. However, this response seems unsatisfactory as there is a collective, unconscious sense amongst humans, that reality does have a unifying element even if it has not yet been found.
If this unifying force, idea or system exists, then Philosophers have failed to arrive at it by approaching the problem head on, with mind and senses. Artists have, at best, only given us momentary glimpses of it, and ascetics have made it such an elitist, abstracted enterprise, that it has nothing to say to the common man. So maybe it needs to be approached from a wholly different angle, or from no angle at all. Maybe it is like a Harry Potter 9 ¾ platform, something that is very present in our midst if only we had the means to see it, like a parallel universe. If the philosopher has run out of original ideas and finds himself in an nietzschean “eternal recurrence”, where mind and will don’t avail him in solving the riddle of life, then maybe the answer lies in a paradox like an “unthinkable thought”, which cannot be thought otherwise it would not be unthinkable. This may not be as absurd as it first sounds, as the insights of therapy have shown, that often a therapist has to carry a feeling or thought of a patient, which the patient has projected into him from his unconscious because it is too painful to bear for himself; given time and the right supporting environment, the patient can finally reclaim the experience, and think the unbearable thought, a process which is fundamental to the healing process. The 17th century philosopher Berkeley suggested something along the same lines, when he sought to get around awkward philosophical questions about perception, by proposing that when man is not perceiving something, it is kept in existence through the mind of God, who perceives all things.
If all that humans have are mere perspectives on life with no objective ground, as Nietzsche suggested, then the elusive “objective perspective”, if it is to exist, must be “wholly other”, lying beyond all human perspectives. If this was the case, then all human effort of mind-and-will would be futile in attaining to it, and this perspective could only be viewed through some form of “gift”. This may again sound strange but one wouldn’t have to look any further than the mystery of love to find an analogy. One can’t force somebody to love them, and one might be taken aback when somebody who they admired from a distance for many years, suddenly declares their undying love for them, as they feel they haven’t merited it and there is nothing about them which is deserving of such love. Their initial feelings of astonishment and bewilderment are later replaced by ones of anxiety and fear of losing that love. What are they to do to retain it as they didn’t do anything in the first place to merit it? They might begin to try and earn that love that was once a free gift, which in turn can change their whole personality as they become a jealous, controlling person, losing the self that was loved gratuitously in the process of trying too hard to earn that love, which may result in them losing it. In this book I propose to share with you what I believe is that gift, which is both a paradox and a unifying element which unlocks the mystery of living. It is not based on rational argument, even though it is not irrational, rather it embraces both aspects of man’s nature, the apollonian and the dionysian, so I recommend that you read the rest of this book like a little child, one who follows the way of unknowing, with an openness to be Surprised.
FINDING HIS PLACE IN THE WORLD
Modern, and not so modern, discoveries have left man feeling increasingly displaced and uncertain about his place in the universe, in the world and even within his own self. The Copernican Revolution of the sixteenth century revealed to man the disconcerting fact that the earth is not the centre of the universe, a belief that he had held, largely unquestioningly, throughout the history of astrology until the sixteenth century, based on the observation that the Sun, stars and planets seem to revolve around the earth each day. Darwin’s discovery of natural selection in the nineteenth century, led to the theory of evolution, which explained the existence of man as the end product of a very slow evolutionary process, which lasted millions of years, in which higher forms of life evolved from lower forms, with man himself evolving from primates. Such discoveries caused great consternation in the Christian Church, as they challenged some fundamental beliefs that Christians had long held, based on a literal reading of the Bible. Freud’s psychoanalytical work on the unconscious, in the same century, also debunked the myth that man is fundamentally a rational, conscious being with free-will. This aspect of man’s character was revealed to be merely the tip of an iceberg, with the other 90% of his nature hidden beneath the depths of his consciousness, in the realm of blind, irrational, chaotic emotions and drives. Man, in effect, was not lord over his own actions, choices, interests etc, as these were seen as a bi-product of deterministic, unconscious processes, which have their roots in experiences and events of his early life. This was exemplified in the proverbial “freudian slip”, where a word or action disclosed an unconscious wish or motive, which lurked beneath the façade of a person’s words and actions.
Man’s exact position and role in things may have become less certain, but with these insights had come a greater awareness of man’s participation in his environment. He doesn’t merely stand on some high point to view the world, like a king admiring his kingdom, he is profoundly involved in it, such that his very claim to objectivity collapses. Nietzsche’s philosophy of “perspectivism” gains further support from the insights of Psychoanalysis and Science. Psychoanalysis has shown that a person’s history cannot be left behind, as one might like to shrug off the past by saying “forget it”. It may be an event of the past but it is not a thing of the past, one can’t walk away from it, nor switch it off at the source. As mentioned already, the experiences buried in the unconscious help to shape and determine the way people experience the world and how they choose to live their lives, which lends truth to the saying that, people become more like their parents as they get older. Einstein’s discovery of the theories of Relativity, also undermined the claim to an objective reality put forward by the mechanistic world described by Newton’s laws, whereby the universe operated like a clock, independent of its maker. That scientific worldview is now seen as an imposition of a particular perspective, based on certain beliefs and assumptions, which have since been disproved or absorbed into a broader context. Quantum physics informs us that a system exists in superposition, that is, in all possible states, until one makes an observation, when it reveals one specific state. The upshot is that the new Science denies that reality is “out there” as it blurs the line between the observer and the system being observed, in other words, the observer determines the outcome of the experiment. The very nature and bonds between space, time, subject and object are now seen to be far more interrelated and complex than humans realized. In a sense, man is back at the centre of his universe, as he seems to be the chief protagonist of a play that wouldn’t make sense, or even exist, without him.
Heidegger, a twentieth century German philosopher, believed that at the centre of Philosophy’s failed attempt to provide an adequate understanding of man’s situation lay a fundamental error, a false move by mind to claim Being, which occurred when the “beings” of objects in the world became confused with Being itself. He believed the problem lay in a misuse of concepts, which began with Greek philosophy and has continued for over 2000 years; he sought to rectify the problem by going back to the origin of the error and correcting it, by writing a new philosophy free of the erroneous concepts and language that it engendered. By so doing it, Heidegger hoped to reintegrate man back into the world, a world from which he had become alienated through abstract concepts, which had reduced him to being a mere observer, rather than a participant. I would agree that there has been a fundamental mistake in Philosophy’s understanding of Being, but the solution I propose is quite different from Heidegger’s as the problem does not lie in a mistaken use of concepts, which can be simply resolved by the mind, and by writing more philosophy. I am not going to look for the origin of the problem at the beginning of Philosophy’s history, as Heidegger did, but rather at the beginning of each person’s own history, namely, at their conception in their mother’s womb; I don’t believe the error belongs to concepts, or the mind, but to man himself. I am going to start my analysis of man’s predicament here, as the early formative experiences of life set the paradigm and parameters for man’s later conscious awareness of self-in-the-world.
A baby starts life in a narcissistic state with no sense of the dualistic tensions between the interior-exterior, subject-object and body-mind etc. Even when the baby´s limbs explore the world around him, he experiences it as just an extension of his own undifferentiated state of omnipotent being. However, one day he comes to the realization that there is a world beyond himself, there is an I-and-Thou; his body is the boundary between a here-and-there, an inside and an outside; he finds himself trapped inside a body, looking out at a world of objects. This is a Copernican revolution for the baby, a moment of great disorientation and emotional turmoil. He is no longer the sole being, giving being to all other objects, but just another object thrown into a world of objects. When the baby realizes that some of these strange objects are attached to his own body and over which he has some control, namely, his limbs, he begins to explore his environment. He can touch his own body, within which he finds himself enclosed; he can also reach out to the objects in the world, exploring their boundaries while noticing that each one is separated from every other one by its own body. Confused and alone, the baby wants to go back to the world he once knew, where all of this formed a single world of being through him. Over time, the baby comes to realize that he has a power to think about the world out there, he can close his eyes and bring it inside. Maybe the solution to his problem lies here, maybe he can make the outside world disappear and just live in a world of thoughts and fantasy, regaining his once begotten omnipotence. However, he quickly realizes that this solution will not work, as the world outside will not go away, in fact, it seems to have more of a reality than the world inside, as over the latter he still has a certain power and control, which he doesn’t with the former.
After going through a depression and yearning for his lost-world, the baby finally accepts his fate; he will have to live in this new shared world, there is no going back, he is cast out of his garden of Eden, and he now settles down to try and make sense of it. The new world is initially more menacing as he has less control over it, he has to learn to survive in it, like a cast away on a strange island; maybe the inhabitants of this world could come and destroy him, as they have their own being and power. Gradually, the child comes to find his place in this new world, using the powers at his disposal. He can use his body for manipulating objects in his reach; his imagination and reason can be used for working things out and planning ahead, while his developing language skills can help to create a harmony between his inner and outer worlds; each object in the world corresponds to a name in his mind, which facilitates his interaction with others. By watching and listening to those who nurture and care for him, he adopts habits of living that suit his needs and enable him to live at peace and make the world his home. However, in his quieter moments, he realizes that the fundamental questions about his life have not been addressed. What is his purpose here? What lies beyond this life? What lay before it? He senses that he lost something when he came into this world, which people prefer not to dwell on, as they occupy themselves with the more practical and urgent matter of living in it.
The scenario described above is the sort of world that most people can relate to, that is, an embodied self with a mind and will, which is used to engage the world they find themselves in. This embodied self-consciousness has been the starting point of philosophers throughout history, as they have sought to make sense of their reality, whether it is from a more person-centered point of view, “I think therefore I am”, or from a more inter-relational point of view, “I am addressed therefore I am”. They believe that the world is governed by laws of reason, which in turn are based on a priori principles or transcendentals, which means that as long as they start from an indisputable vantage point within consciousness, they can come to understand man and the world he lives in. In more systematic disciplines, like the Sciences, they can even discover the laws that govern the behaviour of objects and so situate man within an objective reality. However, although Science has been able to provide accurate descriptions about object relations, the knowledge of which has made man Creator and Master of his environment, it limits itself to questions about those relations, avoiding the more metaphysical questions about existence itself and its meaning.
As previously mentioned, Psychoanalysis, over the past 150 years, and many modern philosophies, have presented us with a very different view of man-in-his-world. It has shown that man is not primarily a rational being with free will, a model adopted from the Greek philosophers, but rather irrational and driven by unconscious forces. Before the baby-child finds himself looking out at a world and trying to make sense of it by the use of reason, as described in the scenario above, the self and world are already filled and submerged in a complex interaction of life forces, from which they later emerge as separate, independent entities; in other words, there was a creativity prior to the dawn of reason, which remains below the radar of reason. Thales, the pre-socratic philosopher was known to have observed “the world is full of gods”, which could be rephrased today as “the world is full of self”; the self is never divorced from the world, which is what makes man’s experiences of life so personal, emotive and tragic, as if the world was full of gods. Some philosophers, most notably Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, have based their philosophy on this primal, archetypal energy, which existed before forms began to take shape in the light of reason; they have sought to get beyond all later accretions of rational man, to a more primitive state, from which they can have a better understanding of the intrinsic nature of man and his world. So let us look again at the first stages of a baby´s life in the light of psychoanalytical insights and in so doing, revise our original model, with its emphasis on consciousness.
“THROWN” INTO THE WORLD
It is true that the baby starts life in a narcissistic world, and that at some point the baby loses this state of undifferentiated being by becoming aware of some primitive Other or Thou. He has to somehow deal with this new differentiated reality of I-and-Thou, which is an intrusion into his world of omnipotence. At some moment, probably coinciding with this “thrownness” into the world of objects, the baby will project his raw, unrestrained emotions into this Thou, both idolizing it as the perfectly “good” object and then demonizing it as the perfectly “bad” object; the baby’s inner world oscillates between two extremes, either the bliss of a world of good objects or the dark terror of the menacing bad objects. In order not to be overwhelmed, and for the baby to develop a secure ego, which can negotiate itself through these turbulent waters, the baby has to use various defense mechanisms, most notably, splitting, projection, introjection and identification, to protect itself.
According to the founder of child psychoanalysis, Melanie Klein, the baby will go through two stages of profound psychological development in the first six months of his life. The first is known as the paranoid-schizoid stage, at about 3 months, in which the baby keeps the good and bad objects apart, and then the depressive stage, at about six months, in which the baby finally begins to accept that the good and bad exist in the same object, which leads to a disillusionment about the world he lives in. The baby comes to the realization that the good mother is also the bad mother, and that there are no perfectly good objects in the world; he has to learn to accept the “grey” reality of the new world he lives in, if he is to develop normally and successfully integrate himself into the world. The world lacks the perfect holding environment, it is always going to fail him, as “not good enough”. The child will grow up to experience life as full of disappointments and compromises, where the objects in which he invests his energy fail to meet his hopes and dreams. His sense of self and world will be broken and recreated again and again, as he learns to modify his expectations and accept that neither his self nor his world are the way he would like them to be.
This early object-relation world, both interior and exterior, filled with the projections and introjections of the baby´s chaotic emotional world, makes up the unconscious, irrational world of the growing child. Psychoanalysts see in neurotic and psychotic patients the consequences of the failed efforts of the baby to resolve these early object-relation tensions, often due to inadequate baby-mother interaction. Whether they cope well or not in their early months, children carry into adulthood, the psychological habits that were formed in those first months of life, which were formative in shaping their personality. They live in an uncertain world of objects and part-objects, with all their emotional energy invested in them; they have an ego, which at times struggles to maintain itself between the two Kleinian positions of paranoid-schizoid and depressive. All of this is played out in their daily lives through their natural likes and dislikes, prejudices, envy, concern for others, love, attachment, addiction, obsession, fear, phobia, guilt etc. Between their inner rational mind and the exterior cultural norms of society, they gain respite from the personal emotional chaos, through the shared common values of social structures and the orderliness of reason, which provide a certain stability, direction and measure of normality. However, lurking not far below the surface, one can see reason influenced by prior, unconscious, irrational perceptions of the world, as can be seen, for example, in the way highly educated, political figures can use rational arguments to justify policies of violence, or how an addict justifies his compulsive, and self-destructive behaviour by appealing to reason.
The complex bond which exists in the I-and-Thou of self and world, which Psychoanalysis has uncovered, had already found expression in Kant´s revolutionary philosophy of the eighteenth century. Kant successfully challenged some of the fundamental philosophical assumptions about the world when he recognised that some aspects of our world, which we take as objective characteristics of the world itself, are in fact imposed by the mind on to the world in order to make the world intelligible to the subject. These characteristics, which he termed, Transcendentals, included space-time, cause-effect and substance. This meant that how the world existed in itself, apart from human perception, could not be known, as man can only know the world through the lens of these transcendentals, glasses which all human’s innately wear to perceive the world about them. However, whereas Kant saw the structures imposed as pertaining to the mind, like a collective unconscious structure common to all people, Psychoanalysis proposes a more emotionally based structure, personal to each one, like a unique finger print on life, where the latter takes place within the transcendentals of the former. If the first keeps man separated from the world, with an unbridgeable chasm existing between the phenomena of experience and the noumena of the world-in-itself, the second keeps man immersed in the world, in a “messy”, complicated interrelationship, which has no clear demarcating lines between where self ends and where the world begins. If the first is a “thrownness” into the world, which keeps mankind in exile from Being, the second is a “thrownness”, which seeks to overcome that separation, in a personal attempt to unite the two or to deny man’s predicament.
In the modern age, people are more taken with this second model presented here, even though it undermines the established order, with its values and norms, upon which society was founded. It gives way to a world marked by subjectivism, relativism, individualism and skepticism, which makes man the measure of all things, while at the same time leading him into an identity crisis, as there seems to be nothing certain or permanent beyond himself to help define him or hold him; he is alienated from the world and from his self. However, what I propose to do now is put forward a third model, which denies the claim to reality of these first two models, the philosophical and psychoanalytical, and hence it will show that mankind, from the beginning, has been duped by Descartes´ “Deceiver”. I want to begin by going back to the baby in his narcissistic state and present another scenario, which I believe leads us to a correct understanding of man’s predicament in his cave of shadows; it involves a novel and revolutionary distinction between Being and Non-Being.
THE MYTHOLOGICAL NATURE OF EVERYTHING
The baby is in his original state of undifferentiated being, which is an I-Thou identity, formed from the unity of his self with the Thou of the maternal “holding environment”. This is a term used by the child psychoanalyst Winnicott for the special bond which exists between the baby and mother; he also enigmatically said, “there is no such thing as a baby”, meaning that the mother and baby form a close knit unit, such that the baby must not be considered in isolation from the mother. From this state of undifferentiated being, as has happened in the first two models, the baby experiences a “fall” into a differentiated I-and-Thou; I use the term fall because of the interpretation which follows. Whereas in the previous models, the I before the fall and the I-and-Thou after the fall, both shared a common element, namely the “I”, which could be later used as a starting-point from which to consider man’s predicament, I propose something quite different. In the moment of the fall, the original state of Being is completely extinguished, like a burst balloon or like the loss of light in a room when the lamp is switched off, and it gives way to a primitive Mind-World; the previous unitary I-Thou gives way to an I-and-Thou dualism at the heart of man’s fallen state. A gap opens up between the I and the Thou, which is filled with man’s “experiences”, an I-experience-Thou, which in Phenomenology is called “intentionality”, as every experience is necessarily directed to some object, in a world of object relations. In other words, man’s world-of-experiences, which is basically the world he lives in and where he goes about his daily business, is necessarily an experience of “fallenness” and of his state as “lost-being”; he can know nothing else, he is a child of Adam, in exile. If this interpretation is correct then, while leaving all things in our world unchanged, it throws a light on the nature of “everything”, in its totality, which will open the door to a whole new way of being-in-the-world. The rest of this book aims to clarify the truth of this claim and to unpack some of its fundamental consequences, including how it unlocks the mystery of life and how it leads to man’s true self-realisation. The point I am making here is unusual, maybe even unique to the history of philosophy and it is central to the rest of my writing, so I wish to stay with it and elaborate on it further.
Man’s predicament is so totally lost that he cannot know or refer to the original state of unitary Being, as any attempt would have to be expressed within his “experiences”, which are necessarily dualistic; there is no way back to Being and he is fundamentally alienated from himself. Man finds himself in a continuous state of mind-body, subject-object, interior-exterior dualism, played out in space-time, which will define his sense of self and freedom, which are themselves expressions of his predicament, not his reality. The sum total of his experiences is only an articulation of his predicament as lost-being. In other words, the very world which is about to unfold before him, in a continuous dialectic of I-and-Thou is a “mythological expression of his lost-being”; man has become the sleeping beauty who pricked her finger and fell asleep. Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, while in pursuit of the starting point for his philosophy, toyed with the idea that man might be dreaming or deceived by a great Deceiver. He was nearer to the truth than he realised but, unfortunately, the Deceiver got the better of him as he fell into the illusion of the first model proposed earlier, believing in a still-point within consciousness, a reality point, from which to grasp the world through knowledge and understanding. Descartes, in effect, gave himself a mental-pinch, and declared himself awake, with his “I think therefore I am”, but he failed to realise that the pinch was part of the dream. Understanding the radical nature of the fall is essential to understanding the nature of the world, of man’s predicament and the nature of any possible solution to it, which all philosophers have failed to do, as they have all fallen prey to attributing being to object-relations, which Heidegger’s philosophy was trying to address.
Man’s predicament is not that he is lost but much more radically, he himself is lost-being. The loss does not pertain to his position, like somebody lost in a forest, which would allow philosophers to articulate something about man’s position within the reality of his forest, but rather it defines his very nature in exile. It follows from this that man cannot even interpret his predicament, as any interpretation would need further interpreting in an infinite regression. Man’s predicament is “uninterpreted”, it awaits interpretation from beyond itself, like a blind man who doesn’t even know he is blind, as he has nothing to contrast it with but he senses there is something missing, which brings us back to Plato’s analogy of the cave. While man can do nothing to attain to Being by himself, he is free to choose how he responds to his deepest yearning, which is a cry for Being. He can decide to ignore it, as one might ignore an unsettling pain so as not to have to go to a doctor; or he can try to silence it by being busy in the world, as one might try to hide ones loneliness by losing oneself in ones work; or he might seek to listen to it and try to determine its cause and meaning, and live his life in response to it. This search has led many philosophers to define man’s nature as “questioner”, but to do this is to fall short of man’s predicament, as his questions are only a reaction and response to a prior event, an event which cannot be articulated, as it lies on the other side of the gap, rather man’s nature in space-time is “lost-being”.
What is missing to all philosophy is another dimension. Human experience lies in the dualistic, “horizontal” x-y plane of space-time but this is always accompanied by, and is the result of, a non-experienced event of falling from a “vertical” z-axis; if this vertical axis did not exist, then neither would the x-y plane of man’s experiences. Maybe this has its analogy in the big bang of creation, which cannot be experienced directly, but which the rest of our experienced universe points back to, which is also true of black dwarf stars which cannot be seen, as they do not emit radiation, but they can be surmised to exist indirectly by other influences such as their gravitational pull. In other words, man’s experiences are necessarily of one who has fallen and is falling; this state defines his very self-in-the-world, within which he experiences himself as one who has a mind, body and will in a world of objects. Philosophers have taken the immediate data of our senses as certain and directly given, a neutral starting point from which to begin their understanding of the nature of things, which is not true. Our sense experiences are not neutral, on the contrary, they have been proceeded by a non-experienced event of falling, and so our attempt to understand our experiences is a “reaction” to our predicament, to a prior event. Mind and senses are trying to put together the pieces of a lost totality, like a shattered pane of glass, but it is a vain attempt, as their sum total in the horizontal plane of man’s experiences can never attain to the vertical unity-of-being, from which he fell, which is why philosophy has never been able to find an adequate answer to the question, “why is there something rather than nothing?” The answer lies beyond object relations, in something that mind-will-senses cannot grasp, as these belong to man’s predicament as lost-being. Our very knowledge is necessarily knowledge of exile, of non-being, which sets new limits to not only reason, as Kant sought to do, but to all experiences, which are only myth-expressions of lost-being.
Plato recognised something of this predicament in his philosophy when he argued that man “forgets” the world he came from, when he is born into a body. He believed that the soul before birth dwelt in a realm of pure Ideas, from which it is exiled through its imprisonment in a body. He further believed that man is reminded of this lost world through the imperfect, passing experiences of ideas which come through the bodily senses. Learning for Plato was a process of “recollection” of the ideas that were forgotten at birth, and so it followed that the noblest occupation of man was to contemplate the ideas in his mind, purifying himself of the transient, imperfect impressions of the senses, until he died and was released from his body, to return to the realm of Ideas. Plato’s philosophy contained the essential ingredients of a fall into exile and a lost state of being due to a mind-body duality, but I propose that the fall is more radical than Plato realised, as reality belongs to neither body nor mind and so it can’t be attained to by human effort. He believed that by use of mind-and-will man could strive to his original lost state through recollection and contemplation, as he attributed reality to ideas. It is not that such efforts are worthless, as they are myth-expressions-of-man’s-search-for-being, which is man’s dignified attempt to search for that which essentially defines him, but it is only a journey to the origin of the x-y axis of his non-being plane. However, no matter how close he gets to that origin he can’t lift himself up to the vertical z-axis of Being, no more than by drawing close to the reflection of a loved one in a pool of water, brings one into their presence.
Eastern philosophies and meditation practices, which seek to attain to a unity of Being through a transcendental experience, are equally mistaken when they confuse an approximation to, or reflection of, reality, with reality itself. No person can raise himself up to Being, as their very attempts belong to mind-will, which together with their experiences belong to non-being, it is a “futile passion”, in the words of Sartre. By analogy, this predicament can be compared to somebody who has lost their one true love, and inconsolable with grief, they fall asleep and dream of a less traumatic predicament, an abstracted and modified I-Thou problem, in which it is feasible to arrive at a solution by an effort of mind-will. A problem of the heart has been replaced by a problem of the mind, a loss of Love has been replaced by a search for Truth. Man’s search for being, expresses itself in the Good, Beautiful and True, but these are only reflections in a river of the living reality, namely, Love. This can be compared to a pure white light, which strikes a lens and refracts into different colours; neither the individual colours nor their sum total brings us back to the original white light. Self, Mind and Will are born out of this refraction, or fall, so all attempts by man to seek a unity of being, whether through a universal philosophy, the arts, or ascetical practices, can only be a reflection of that reality, like a prisoner who creates works of art as a reminder of the love that awaits him outside. Philosophy’s attempt to resolve the dualistic problem that being-in-the-word throws at it, is like a recurring dream in which man vainly attempts to execute an action, like going to the toilet, which can only be fulfilled by waking up. Sleeping beauty awaits her prince.
The upshot to what I have said so far is that the underlying unity that philosophers have long sought to the problem of mind-world duality is Non-Being. Mind is mind-of-world and World is world-for-mind, they necessarily co-exist, like the two sides of a piece of paper. Mind and World should not be considered independently, they generate each other from the baby´s loss of being, like an equal and opposite reaction. They are the parchment upon which man writes his myths, and the stage upon which he lives and experiences his exile, where the play is “Man’s search for Being”, acted out in an I-and-Thou dialectic of non-being. Kant’s transcendentals, which are not derived from, justifiable or refutable by experience, but are applicable to it, and which bind man to his world, are in fact the very grammar in which man will experience his exile and articulate his myth of lost-being. In other words, the transcendentals do not pertain to the mind, in some abstracted form, as Kant believed, but to the living, non-experienced, falling state of man’s predicament. Kant’s understanding of the transcendentals is only a reflection in the pool of man’s exile, a modified problem in the dream state of mind-body-world. The transcendentals do not merely set limits to reason and knowledge, but they set the boundaries of man’s living experience of exile, just as the perimeter fencing, bars, uniforms and daily routine of prison life sets the limits to the new arrivals experience of life, limits which do not merely address his consciousness but his very lived experiences as a “prisoner”.
The first model in this book presented a fairly straightforward picture of reality, where mind and world are mapped together through language and conscious experiences, into “facts”, where what you see is what you get. The second model uncovered another layer to man’s world, which meant that the first model needed “interpretation” in order to make reality conscious and so bring man out of his shadow of caves. However, the third model goes much further in claiming that, not only are there no facts but there isn’t even interpretation, as there is no still-point within the continuous state of falling, from which an interpretation can be made, all is encompassed within the totality of man’s lost-state with nothing left over. Man’s predicament means that everything is “myth”, a myth-expression-of-lost-being, including psychoanalytical interpretation, which I will return to later. Man’s problem is not that the question mark or interpretation does not go deep enough, as such an understanding reduces man’s predicament to a mere horizontal mind-will problem, where the solution will be found in a matter of time. To take such a stance condemns Philosophy to Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, as it fails to understand the nature of man’s problem as “wholly other”, it gives a false sense of depth and progress to man’s sojourn in the horizontal plane of his exile. Before moving on to consider the solution to man’s predicament, it is necessary to consider further what is lost in the fall, and what is happening in the splitting, projecting and introjecting of good-bad objects in the baby’s psyche.
THE GOOD OBJECT AND LOST-LOVE
Into the baby’s primitive mind-world come all the object relations that Klein´s theory of psychoanalysis described, with its splitting of good and bad objects. The baby originally keeps the objects apart in a futile attempt to return to its lost state of “goodness” but when this becomes an unrealisable task the baby finally settles for a world of good-bad objects, he begins to accept his new reality, like a prisoner who gives up thoughts of escaping and makes the cell his home. Not surprisingly, this stage of development comes with a depression from which it gets its name in Psychoanalysis. I want to propose at this point that the Good was originally a relationship of love, such that the I-and-Thou formed a unique I-Thou, where the two were one in a unity-of-Being. Being itself is defined by this relationship of love, which can also be describe as Presence, the sort of presence that only the language of silence can convey, like when two soulmates meet for the first time and immediately know that they are one, or in a mystical experience, which transcends the dualism of this world. Any attempt to articulate these experiences into knowledge only subtracts from the immediacy and certainty of the ecstatic knowing, before which discursive reasoning stands superfluous. In the fall, this relationship is lost; everything else has stayed the same but something is missing, like a married woman who after years of a loving relationship with her husband, realises in a moment that he no longer loves her, even though everything else, his words and actions, have remained unchanged.
These aforementioned analogies are only analogies and must not be mistaken for the true I-Thou, of which these are only pale reflections in the x-y plane of man’s experiences. The lost I-Thou cannot be repaired, it cannot even be experienced, the Spirit which held them together in love is now absent, leaving a gap, which will never be filled, a yearning which will never be satisfied, a problem which can never be solved. In losing love, man has lost his very identity, becoming alienated from his true self as a unity-of-being with his Thou, which leaves Sartre to declare, “Hell is other people”. The world is now perceived as one of equal and opposite reactions, a will-to-power and survival of the fittest in a world of object relations. The baby seeks to retrieve this lost love through a projection of the good into the Thou-object followed by its introjection into the I-object, in a futile attempt to bridge the gap and make the two one. It is a desperate reaction to his predicament, which is both a denial of, and yearning for, lost- love, which might be characterised by the wife’s reaction to her husband’s infidelity, when she exaggerates the expressions of love in an attempt to both get him back and to deny the reality of the situation. The gap created by lost-love defines man’s fallen nature as lost-being, which cannot be filled by objects in the x-y plane of man’s experiences, whether in the interior world of knowledge and fantasy, or in the exterior world of material goods and sensual pleasures.
It is an unfortunate consequence of the fall, and a characteristic of man’s exile, that the good is no longer a relationship of love, but a thing, it pertains to objects and how objects relate to each other, in the non-being world of I-and-Thou. Moral laws attempt to point people towards what is good, but such laws can’t address man’s predicament or lost nature, they can only attempt to give right order to object relations; they can’t solve the problem of object relations, which would be to unite them together in their original unity of being. In other words, moral laws can restrain the heartless by speaking to the mind-will, but they can’t restore the heart; they cannot force people into a communion of love. Socrates believed that the Good existed but he threw doubt over the possibility of grasping it and defining it with the mind, as any such attempt particularises it, in a endless series of differentiation. However, his philosophical dialectic purified him from concepts to become the Good himself, in his philosophised-self, when he accepted death as his reward for seeking Truth. Less scrupulous and less wise philosophers exploited this gap in concepts of the mind, and identified the Good with that which enabled people to be successful in life; the gap was filled by use and usefulness, which has parallels in our own world of relativism and utilitarianism. Establishing what is the “good life” was one of the earliest problems of Philosophy. It was always closely associated with a virtuous life, which meant that it was not a problem of the mind but of the total person and how they lived their life in the world, which points us back towards a lost I-Thou, a problem of man’s disposition towards the world, or a “love of objects”. To see man’s predicament in terms of lost-love, rather than a search for truth, will provide a whole new context for looking at philosophy, and interpreting philosophical problems.
One such example, might be the problem of cause and effect. David Hume, an eighteenth century philosopher, undermined Sciences claims to an objective knowledge of the world when he showed that causation did not lie in the senses nor the mind, so despite our familiarity with it in everyday life, it couldn’t be proven to be a reality that existed in the world of objects. He concluded that it must be a “natural” assumption imposed by human beings on to the world, which Kant later attributed to the transcendentals of the mind. I have already pointed out that I disagree with Kant’s, and for that matter, Hume’s solution to this problem, as I believe the explanation lies in man’s “falling state” of being-in-the-world, which is prior to mind-world duality and which gives rise to it. In other words, when Love was lost in the fall, causation took up the role of explaining why there are two objects and not one, like somebody who has the task of explaining to a child why mommy and daddy don’t live together any more; it is a story of lost love. No amount of explanation can satisfy the child, as reason can never take the place of love, even if what the person says is true, the child still yearns to have her parents back. Causation is essential to Science for explaining how objects relate, but it doesn’t deal with a fundamental philosophical question of “why is there something rather than nothing?” Causation has the task of describing our fallen world but it does not explain why it is fallen nor can it provide a solution, a truth which sets the limits to all scientific knowledge. When all explanations have been exhausted nothing will have been said about reality; the solution must come from beyond causation, where explanations, justifications, questions and answers end, to use a Wittgenstein term, it must be “shown”.
It is worth considering a little further at this point the distinction between the I-Thou before the fall and the I-and-Thou after it and how it impacts love and trust. In true Love, the Thou is “wholly other” from the I, the one contains no part of the other, rather it is loved simply and purely for itself, and this love makes the two one in a unity-of-being. In the fall this love is lost and with it man’s true I-Thou identity. This catastrophic fall causes a chain reaction akin to a Big Bang of creation, in which the I projects into the Thou the good, and then in turn, introjects it, in an attempt to recover the original I-Thou. This dynamic becomes the basis of the dialectic and differentiation process, which makes up man’s experience of being-in-the-world. In other words, all man’s experiences are a series of Thou’s, which stand apart from him, which he can’t live with and yet he can’t do without. A gap remains between them, which he longs to fill, and which gives him his false sense of progress, as his primal energy drives him forward in space-time to close something which exists in his very fallen nature; it is like chasing a mirage in the desert or trying to clear a black spot before ones eyes when the spot exists on the retina of the eye. This “gap” led Sartre to define man as a self-conscious being that is “not that” before all experiences of Thou, as no Thou can define him; he always stands apart from his experiences as something Other. What Sartre failed to see was that this self-consciousness does not define man’s nature but his fallen-nature, it describes his predicament. Man no longer forms a unity of being with the Thou, but experiences it like a shattered pane of glass, where each piece reflects his own image, a projection of his I into the Thou forming an I-I(Thou), where love has been replaced by self-love. There is no possibility of man accepting the Thou as “wholly other”, as all his experiences are necessarily made up of this projection, which means he is permanently alienated from his true identity, from Love or Being, for the two are one and the same. This predicament is portrayed in the Greek myth of Narcissus, who saw his reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with it, not knowing it was himself. He grew thirstier but he wouldn’t touch the water for fear of damaging his reflection; he eventually died of thirst because of the illusion created from self-love, staring at his own reflection.
Man’s pursuit of the “wholly other” Thou, his other half, is ultimately in vain, as any effort on man’s part must start from self and pertain to self-seeking, which means it is rooted in self-love; all his yearnings have their source in this alienation at the heart of his being. All that he does in life, whether it is to settle down to make his home here; or to be an intrepid explorer in search of new life or inner meaning; or as an artist who wishes to express himself creatively, all are expressions of man’s attempt to unite the I-and-Thou, which keeps him alienated from his nature as being. People throughout life embark on various forms of deconstruction and construction in an attempt to free themselves of all that reinforces their false self and self-love, such as adolescent rebellions, social revolutions, or midlife crises. As mentioned before, art, ascetical practices, meditations and philosophies have been used to undertake this journey, but any beauty, ecstatic or transcendental experiences are only a reflection of Being in the x-y plane of non-being. When an object approaches the sun it will heat up, it may even turn to fire, but neither the heat nor the fire are the sun, and this is where man has failed to distinguish between Being and approximations to being within the plane of his non-being experiences. Being itself cannot be experienced, to experience it would be to reduce it to non-being.
This journey to Being has its analogy in Calculus of Maths where, for example, a sum to infinity of fractions like ½ + ¼ + 1/8+ 1/16+… approximates to “1”, but will never reach it. A calculator, even a powerful computer, will eventually round off the answer to one when it is sufficiently close, but it will never actually attain to one no matter how long it is given. While such rounding-off can be justified in our world of object relations, it is not the case with Being, or reality. The former belongs to the truths of this world, which is man asleep, dreaming of a solution to his predicament, in which he envisions the endless steps finally attain to its goal, like the fairy tales with their happy endings. In truth, no approximation can attain to reality, as Being and non-being lie in different planes, at the origin of the x-y-z axis. The infinitesimal small gap of calculus, which allows for rounding, is an unbridgeable chasm in the reality of lost-love. Fallen man reacts to his predicament by arming himself with a will-to-power, in a attempt to take by force the Thou, or to fill his world with a surfeit of Thous, in a vain attempt to quench his thirst for Being. Whether it is the abstracted Calculus problems of the mind or the existential, experiential Maths of living-in-the-world, which I mentioned before, man finds himself in an infinite regression trying to put the pieces of shattered glass together to return it to its original state of Being. Man’s search for the lost love, which defines his nature, will always result in “disappointed love”, as the world can never give him what he wants, he will always have to settle for less.
Man’s predicament can only be addressed if he can find a perfect holding environment, one of unconditional love, a Thou which can never fail him and which accepts him totally for who he is in all circumstances. Only such a Thou, which is free of its own projections and self-interest, that is, one which has true love, can make it possible for the I to let go of its own reactive, projection mechanisms of self-love. Only then can the two accept each other and their own self for who they are, free of all self-interest or fear of rejection, in a true love, which binds the two as one. Carl Rogers, the founder of non-directive counselling, learnt from experience that it was sufficient for a therapist to provide three core conditions in a therapy session for a patient to find healing; these conditions were, unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence. He saw them as the necessary pre-requisites for a “good enough” holding environment, which would allow the patient to feel secure enough, to let go of their masks, which hid their fragility, pain and woundedness, so that they could be true to their deeper self. The patient no longer feels the need to react to his world and to hide behind the defence mechanisms and ego which helped him to cope in an I-and-Thou world. The safe environment created by the therapist enables him to discover a new identity in the I-Thou bond formed with the therapist. This is an analogy, and only an analogy, to the perfect holding environment which I mentioned before, as therapy clearly has limitations. The therapist himself is only human, he has his own inner limitations, and neither can he control the Thou which the patient will face when he walks out of the session and back to the world he came from. I will elaborate on these limitations to therapy later, but for now, I will say that therapy deals with man’s “woundedness” and not with his “fallenness”.
The need to let go of a false self, which alienates man from his deeper identity, and which is recovered through a new I-Thou bond, based on love, finds expression also in Gandhi’s satyagraha, or love-force. This philosophy and its practice was first used to face the institutional evil of colonialism. Many institutional structures are born out of man’s will-to-power, which is why those who rise to the top of them are so often corrupted by their thirst for power. This means that our institutions and those who run them have their own pathologies; those who commit their lives and beliefs to it, as a “reality”, are ultimately left enslaved to their own narcissism. Behind their masks of eloquent speech, professionalism, success and concern for others, lies a narcissistic self, which seeks to be the measure and enforcer of its own interpretation of I-Thou. Gandhi sought to unmask these institutions and bring them into a new I-Thou relationship, where the will-to-power was undone and replaced by a will-to-love. Whereas fallen man’s Thou will always draw him into a battle of minds and wills, in a survival of the fittest, satyagraha presents a new and paradoxical Thou. The will-to-power, which came into being, and thrives, on a chain reaction of violence and alienation, fed by a projection of fear and hate into the Thou, meets instead a Thou, which forgives his enemy and does good to those who hate him. This new Thou is based on a belief in a will-to-love, which can bring harmony by seeking truth in a spirit of peace and non-violence. It shares the three conditions of Carl Roger’s therapy; it empathises with its enemy’s institutional predicament, while pointing out congruently the harm it is doing in a spirit of brotherly love. This Thou forces the I to confront its own hatred and self-deception, which in turn unmasks its will-to-power for what it really is, a cry for Being and a perversion of the Good, which all humans seek. The I now sees this Good being offered it by the non-violent Thou which both confronts it and holds it in a new I-Thou bond; the I finds itself disarmed and converted in a revolution of love.
The solution to man’s predicament must lie not only outside his field of object-relations, or experiences, but also outside his drives, which are not free of man’s fallen nature. This is why philosophers like Nietzsche, who try to get back to an original force that preceded the structures of the world of experiences fails, since the drive in man is necessarily “intentional” and so belongs to object relations, which it can’t be separated from. In other words, Nietzsche’s will-to-power, although more primitive, is part of the problem, not the solution, as it is a fallen-will; it was born from the split in the original I-Thou, a “reaction”, which seeks in vain to unite them again. This insight led Schopenhauer to write a pessimistic philosophy of the Will, where even doing good was a waste of time, as man could not realise himself by good acts. Freud made a similar mistake to Nietzsche in his understanding of the Id, a pleasure principle drive, which he used as the basis of his interpretation of man’s nature, development and neuroses. Later psychoanalysts were to recognize the limitations and one-sidedness of his model, which denied the richness and complexity of human development, which they recognised as intrinsically relational, an I-to-Thou, and not merely a pleasure seeking I. The tendency in the modern era to solve social and personal problems by simply unleashing the powerful drives within man, as a means to self-realisation and a free, productive society, reflects a failure to understand the nature of man’s fallen state; the truth of it can be judged by its fruits. The past century has seen the greatest number of atrocities committed in mankind’s history by those who adhere to a nietzschean philosophy of a “will-to-power” and a “Superman” race of people. It is also seen in the damage caused by an unhindered, rampant capitalism, and the social breakdown caused by a sexual license and freedom-to-choose, which values individualism at the cost of social responsibility, while deeming any form of morality as repressive and unhealthy.
The solution to man’s predicament must lie outside both the apollonian and dionysian aspects that make up his experience of being-in-the-world, as they both rely on objects in an attempt to attain a final unity. Man, ultimately, awaits an “interpretation” of his predicament, which will draw him out of his shadows of object-relations, where he is trapped by the Kantian transcendentals, which define his exile. A new Transcendental is needed which will break down the barriers of dualism, which separate Kant’s world of phenomena from his world of noumena, in a New Man. A saving-myth is needed which will answer man’s cry for Being, and end all myth-expressions of man’s-search-for-Being. Such a saving-myth needs to be both in the world but not of the world, a myth which not only interprets his myth but existentially frees him from the differentiation process which keeps him locked in his myth of eternal recurrence. This requires Being to share man’s predicament without giving up its own I-Thou identity, offering man an alternative way of being-in-the-world, which transcends his experiences, drawing him from the non-being shadows in the x-y axis, into the light of his original I-Thou being in the z-axis; his redemption has to be as total and unitary as his fall was total and dualistic. This “interpretation” will revolutionise the way man understands and practices religion, philosophy, social reform, ethics, therapy etc, as it reveals what it is “to be” and what it is “not to be”, the confusion of which has been the source of man’s questions, ailments, conflicts and pursuit of happiness down the ages. Now I have come to the point of presenting my solution to man’s predicament and the way out of the cave of his fallenness.