The Esoteric Origin of the Species (II)

This essay originally appeared in the Introduction to Magic, volume 3. This is the second of multiple parts. It was published under the name “Avro”, which I believe to be Julius Evola.

Moving from primitive man to the anthropoid and the ape, and presuming the jumps are surmountable, which therefore must be made in order to reach the other animal forms according to transformist models, we can say the same thing: as far as being able to consider many animal species as degenerations or degradations of still older non-animal forms. Our point of view is exactly this: Man does not derive from the animal but, if ever, it is the various animal species that derive from man, in a sense that we now try to explain.

The principle difficulty that this point of view encounters lies in the fact that the traces of man end at a given geological period: while the traces of prehistoric animals continue up to a much older period. But this same fact is susceptible to different interpretations, for those who can consider the idea of transformations with sufficient breadth: that the mineral traces of man are more recent, could mean only that man was the last to come into that process, under a certain involutional aspect, through which it is precisely possible that they exist as fossils and therefore those traces are retrievable.

The misunderstanding about “cavemen” comes from not thinking that it is natural that certain very old traces are still found in the caves, because, for multiple factors, they have not been preserved elsewhere. The idea of the recent appearance of man on the earth is based on a lack of vision of the same type; I certainly am not asking anyone to admit the fall of man from the sky: it is enough to surpass the mineral, but not the material, concept of corporality; it suffices to think of the possibility of a body whose most physical element (which today is the skeletal system) was composed by a substance unsusceptible to self-conservation through the process of fossilization—to remain indifferent in the face of the fact of the lack of traces in the most remote geologic periods, and to be able to admit the existence of primordial human stocks (of which the anthropoids would be the first degenerating materializations) coexisting among more driven forms of the involutive process, which would be represented by the oldest animals of prehistory. This concept has nothing absurd in itself. Analogically, every manifestation has of necessity an inversive character: whatever stands more to the origin, more to the internal, more to the center, can only be the last to appear in the movement toward the external;. And at the center and at the origin, according to esoteric teaching, would exactly be Man.

NOTE: What happens to the rest in every finalistic process: the goal, the end precedes as idea all those conditions that are necessary to actualize it, and as reality it appears as the last, after them.

This Man naturally does not correspond to the man of today: but he corresponds to them – in the sense that man of today can be considered as the most approximate manifestation and the most direct lineage of primordial Man. As such, he represents the origin, the axis, while the other species represent lateral or divergent directions, if not to say, byproducts.

With an image previously used by “Ea”, I can perhaps indicate better what otherwise would require a long detour of concepts in order to be understood.

Let us imagine something like an assault, like an undertaking of conquest. A group of tightly unified forces confront the danger, they approach the goal. A battle is undertaken. On the defenseless front some begin to fall back, others advance. The resistance is met, the clash begins. The empire bends. Few succeed in maintaining the original direction – like the wake of a boat, they leave behind them, dispersed, stopped, sacrificed or beaten, the greater part of those, with whom they were together at the beginning of the undertaking. The group of survivors hold firm, advance again: always fighting, they succeeds in opening a way, they finally reach the position that it was the goal of the undertaking, they conquers it, they maintain it, they planted their own banner in it. In all the other directions, the aborted, frustrated, arrested attempts of the same will lag behind on the way without exit.

We mean now by “conquest”, the achievement of the physical state of existence in the conditions well-known to us today; we mean that those who have reached the end are men and others who were defeated or have deviated, are the various animal species. Man, as known today, expresses the form in which the stock of a primordial humanity is conserved and still standing in the conditions of materiality, in which various animal species were included in the beginning, certainly not in the forms that appear to us today, but rather in the principles of them, which have taken their origin biologically from a degenerative specialization, from a ramification of the original direction into divergent directions, each one expressing the exhaustion of an attempt, the arrest of a surge of assault from which those who have “broken down” are separated and that they left behind themselves.

It is interesting to notice that ideas of this type were also put forward at the fringes of modern culture, without a connection with traditional teaching. In the works of E. Dacqué [“Leben als Symbol”, “Urwelt, Sage und Menschheit”] I find, for example, a rather similar conception, and an illustration that makes very clear the concept discussed above.

7 thoughts on “The Esoteric Origin of the Species (II)

  1. How should the Neanderthal be understood in this anthrogonic framework? This question is perhaps all the more relevant as it is scientifically alleged today that there occurred some interbreeding between Neanderthals and Cro Magnon man, leaving DNA traces in the modern genome which peaks in Caucasians (and is absent in sub-Saharan Africans). Would they be considered the fallen and deteriorated remnants of some pre-Adamic man? Their apparent practice of cultic rites indicates that some intuition of spiritual reality survived in them, which means that they must probably be considered human, albeit a less central manifestation thereof than their Cro Magnon contemporaries.

  2. It’s interesting to me, Sigurd, that you even noticed that. It is hard to accept, although I’m not offering it as a justification for abominations, but simply as an observable fact. I can outline a little syllogism, and then you can decide if it makes any sense, or might require some refinements (if not outright rejection).

    1) We can stipulate that in God, essence and existence are identical.
    2) We can stipulate that, although man is both a spiritual and material being, his essence and existence are not identical.
    3) Rather, man is a privation, i.e., he has possibilities of being that are not actualized.
    4) That is clearly, if trivially, true in the growth and development from infancy to adulthood.
    5) I tried to get at this in the Meditation on the washing of the feet. This should be more than a philosophical exercise, but needs to be contemplated. (I.e., raised to the level of “intellectus” from the “ratio”.)
    6) I think this is in accord with your third paragraph, isn’t it? This is unlike some eastern or gnostic systems which attempt to flee the world, rather than to tend and transform it.
    7) As for the “horizontal” possibilities that may lead to abominations: are they truly my possibilities? They may be infernal possibilities, i.e., ideas that don’t arise from my own Being, but rather are imposed from the outside. As such their “actualization” represents a privation of my being, not its actualization. This may be true of seemingly “good” accidents, such as one’s family, culture, race, etc., insofar as they represent a blind collectivity.

    On the cosmic scale, it does indeed seem that all possibilities are being manifested, either in a positive sense or most often as a privation. If Guenon is correct that no possibilities, like snowflakes, are ever exactly the same, then things repeat over and over, just with very subtle variations. For example, how many ways can people die or be tortured? How many ways can humans engage in sex? How many variations in food, clothing, etc. are there? Everything just nauseatingly repeats itself with small changes. And people go wild for it, believing in the novelty of their little variation. The world will end when there has been enough.

    So, yes, there is participation in being when the essence becomes actual, but privation is non-being, merely appearance. But the appearances are horrifying.

  3. “essence and existence become a unity. Guenon refers to that as the self-manifestation of one’s possibilities. So the “goal” of the universe is not really so much to lead the material (which really does not exist at all independently) to the spiritual, but rather to materialize all the possibilities of manifestation.”

    Cologero, could you elaborate on this? It appears very nebulous to me. I presume you aren’t referring to some “horizontal” application of possibilities; lest you fall into some justification to “realize” all sorts of abominations, their very possibility demanding it. You’re aware of this, I’m sure: can you edify me on what it means to “realize” the spiritual? Is this related to the so-called “resurrection [resolution] of the flesh”?

    If I’m on the right track, I can employ certain terms to ask for clarification as well, at the risk of misusing them due to my nascent understanding of tradition and philosophy: the essence (eidos), that is virtual, becomes actual or “substantial” (ousia) through participation in being (on), its “material” side (materia secunda) then giving rise to specific accidents in time.

  4. Yes, Pickman, that would be a good discussion. Perhaps it should wait until the rest of the essay is made available. Perhaps this idea can be pondered in the meantime. When you consider any of your own projects, the idea of it is formulated and a plan adopted. Then there is the effort to materialize it. Here is where the difficulties arise. Certain aspects of the plan may hit roadblocks or veer into dead ends. A “feedback loop” is necessary to continuously alter the plan to take extenuating circumstances into account. The “material” world, dominated as it is by the principle of Destiny, or determinism, is resistant to anything. new. It is a measure of one’s will to power to be able to overcome such obstacles in order to realize one’s ideas in the material world; in this case, essence and existence become a unity. Guenon refers to that as the self-manifestation of one’s possibilities. So the “goal” of the universe is not really so much to lead the material (which really does not exist at all independently) to the spiritual, but rather to materialize all the possibilities of manifestation.

  5. So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Certainly in respect to Darwinism “there is no necessary reason for Man to arise within that theory” as the lower does not give birth to the higher and we are left to ponder the “why” behind the theory – since basic bio-determinism, within the limits of a materialist theory or survival of the fittest is ill-equipped to answer what is essentially spiritual.

    The goal of the universe was to lead the material to it’s superior form of spiritual transgression. Yet we are left with questions as to how the original manifestation began (a fall?). This I find the most difficult part to grasp of the involution theory.

    So how did man first appear?

    I will leave that question open to others before I venture to offer my own theories on this subject.

  6. You bring up interesting points, Mihai, but as the text says, Evola perhaps means by “derive” something different from what you express. In the process of involution, the idea of Man comes first. So these “derivations” are actually successive attempts to lead up to the appearance of man in his corporeality. Several of the attempts branched off into different directions, or went extinct. One path led to man. Thus, they are not physical human beings who were degraded. There are two questions, then.
    (1) Does this theory accord with the facts as we know them?
    (2) Does this theory explain how it leads to Man?

    Darwinism answers (1) but not (2), since there is no necessary reason for Man to arise within that theory.

    The essential differences between the four kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and human are not absolute. The higher stage is related to the lower stage as genus and differentia. So, while man is an “animal with reason”, it would not be correct to understand an animal as a “man without reason”; I think that is the point you are getting at? But I don’t see Evola denying that.

    You may want to go back and read the essay on Plotinus from the UR group that was published on Gornnahoor a few weeks ago, since a similar them arises. Plotinus claimed that evil was “derived” through “degradation” and “dissolution”. So there is a convergence of ideas, as one would expect.

  7. Evola introduces here some complications which are certainly not sustainable by traditional doctrine. From a Christian point of view, at least, Each species manifest a given aspect of the Logos, being, thus, fixed, each having its own reason for existence, separated to the others. Man is the only one who manifests the Image in its entirety.

    Transformism is as much a problem when conceived both evolutionary and involutionary, since it introduces a confusion between the various ‘logoi’, making only a difference of degree between one species and another. Nature, however, is a hierarchical order, with essential differences between the four levels of mineral, vegetal, animal and human.

    Now if the Image of God in man, no matter the degradation, can never be annulled, and if animals derive from man in an involutionary process, than we are either forced to admit that the animals also have the Image of God within them, or that, somehow, that Image has been along the way annulled.

    So this is going to far. It is enough to say that man can degenerate to such a degree that he comes to resemble the animal, but it is only caused by the fact that he reaches the outer limit of the human domain and the features of the inferior one (that of the animals) begin to be reflected on him, especially since he has strayed so far away from the primordial origin. However, between the two domains there remains an impassable limit.

    As to the various geological records:
    1. They are extremely controversial
    2. They are actually quite smaller than the mainstream authorities try to make us think
    3. Their ‘history’ is built through a very procroustean method
    4. They, themselves, can account for multiple theories.

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