Contemporary Requirements for Magical Idealism

Next: Carlo Michelstaedter ⇒

[Evola] invests the dark matter of esoterism with a dialectic and discursive reflexion. (From Franco Volpi’s introduction to Magical Idealism.)


TRANSLATION of Chapter 6 of Essays on Magical Idealism (Saggi sull’idealismo magico) by Julius Evola.

In this early book, the young Evola sketched out his philosophical position which he named “Magical Idealism”. Although this predates his interest in Tradition aroused in him by Rene Guenon, he never repudiated his philosophy, but rather tried to integrate it with his understanding of Tradition.

It is easy to forget in our time how influential philosophical idealism was in the 1920s. It was still dominant in Germany after more than a century of development. England had Green, Bradley, Bosanquet, and Collingwood. France, too, had its own stream which reached its peak in the spiritualism of Lavelle and Lesenne (both indirectly influenced by Octave Hamelin.) And of course, Italian philosophy was dominated by the idealists Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile. Evola sought to insinuate himself in that current of thought. Actually, as this introduction shows, he regarded his own system as the culmination and fulfillment of what went before.

Evola includes brief summaries of five thinkers who most influenced magical idealism. These are Carlo Michelstaedter, Otto Braun, Giovanni Gentile, Octave Hamelin, and Herman Keyserling. Of these, I will be offering translations of the first, third, and the fifth, since I am familiar with them and have read their works. I know nothing of Braun and Hamelin, both very obscure today, so I doubt I will bother to translate those sections.

A requirement raised many times in these pages is to show how the conception of magical idealism carries on by way of logical continuity and integrates the most advanced positions that modern Western speculation has achieved. We now want to give a specific, direct satisfaction to one such requirement by considering a group of thinkers among the most significant in contemporary culture, emphasizing the deep theme that informs their conceptions and finally showing how, when to such a theme is give free efficiency, in the interior of their own systems – and without in violating any of their existing parts, but rather bringing them to a great organic perfection – we reach those assertions that were sketched out in the preceding chapters.

However, it is first necessary to understand well the meaning of this historical conclusion of magical idealism. It is that if we conceive history as existing in itself, as therefore imposing the bad misfortune of a group of given elements from which, in one way or another, the current moment would come to be conditioned, a demonstration of the historical necessity of magical idealism in truth could have value only as a true rebuttal of magical idealism itself, since the fundamental principle of this doctrine is absolute, unconditioned self-determination. What cannot therefore happen if something stands against the I, that is simply given to it, something that is there without the participation of its will. Things proceed however quite differently when one holds firm to the principle of the ideality of time and, with it, of history. If time is not a thing in itself, but rather—as Kant taught—a category, if it is simply a mode with which the I orders the matter of representation which therefore, in itself, is neither temporal not intemporal, it does not exist in a before nor in an after—then the spectre of an inevitable determination from part of the past vanishes into nothing: since in such a case it instead remains true that, insofar much as past exists only inside the act—which in itself, under this regard, is to be understood as metatemporal—with which I make my various affirmations appear temporally, the past does not condition or determine the present, but the present conditions or determines the past.

The past remains simply a mark with which I identify a part of my current experience, since a past in itself, i.e., a past that falls outside my real experience, that is not an object, gnoseologically an absurdity and a non-being. From that, it follows that history is nothing other than a mode according to which the I projects onto the canvas of time, I would say almost as in a mythical figuration, that it is to will interiorly and intemporally. Creator of history, in the current historical moment, the individual experiences in this way only the limit-point of his own affirmation. The theory of the ideality of time therefore makes history a plastic faculty and in itself is indifferent to freedom—no longer a tyrannical fact that does violence to the individual, but rather a docile creation that the individual dominates, reflects it and confirms it unfailingly a posteriori what it a priori and metahistorically goes to affirm: thus, properly, it should be said that history is nothing other than the very power of freedom of reflecting and demonstrating a posteriori, alongside the category of time, its determination having happened a priori in an intemporal and metahistorical point. The “historical conclusion” is always something that comes after, an epiginomenon, and its necessity is only the phenomenon of freedom that determines it unconditionally.

That granted, we can show the historical necessity of magical idealism without that assumption implying a contradiction. It rises like the synthesis of a dialecticism, in which the thesis is the rationalism of romantic philosophy which, exhausting itself in a conceptual world abstracted from reality and from individuality, generated the antithesis of materialism and positivism.[1] For the consummation of the thesis in the antithesis, the empty ideality had to be refilled with a concrete content whence, in the terms of the Hegelian Left (Stirner, Nietzsche), the mentioned emergence in the affirmation of the real individual in the value of the unconditioned. This principle of synthesis was developed, then it led to the concept of an individual affirmation such that in the same plane of the real world presented antithetically by positive science established that sufficiency in that mediation, of which in the abstract world of the rational only the image without life was known. As the rationalistic thesis culminated in an idealization of the real, so a realization of the ideal was postulated of the synthesis of magical idealism (which is then the true derealization of the real), that is, a power of the individual so real, that he was the being and determination of nature studied from the antithetical moment of science.

[1] The surpassinging of the Hegelian Logos, so that this acquires its concreteness, is not that of nature, internal to the pure logical sphere of the Encyclopedia of Philosophic Sciences, but rather that of the entire Hegelianism, through the Hegelian left, in the sciences of nature, with the organs proper to which and falling outside the pure conceptual apriorism and took specific knowledge of concrete reality.

6 thoughts on “Contemporary Requirements for Magical Idealism

  1. this is a theory. From my “I” comments below, “So then from a point of supposing from personal evidence that there is indeed some form of “mirroring and revealing ” intelligence out there, it does not require one to say this is god , although it could indeed be , one could also suppose that there is in place in this human existence, a particular and definite ordered high intelligence that does reveal itself …….only in response to human consciousness , i.e. it always attempts to gravitate to the positive end , but that this can be affected by the locality of consciousness so in simple terms this universal spontaneity is not truly spontaneous at its roots but that it does have some form of possible absolute high intelligibility that is directly proportionate in its expression to the nature of consciousness of a person that is relating with it , i obviously need to work on clarification a bit more , but these are the areas i am gravitating in regarding the i and the potential god energies in these times , in the nature of evolving understanding”

    In Evolas theory , the evolving i is admitting its not a cause of all the representations it encounters and those it has not caused are just due to an insufficiency in that i-developments full comprehension of their apparent spontaneity , a privation.
    So now i am proposing that the spontaneous activity that meets the i is “indirectly” present-conscious-wise but directly from the deeper-spiritual acquired emanation from that i development , i.e. the progress of evolving the i also co-creates a deeper parallel evolution of the spiritual level of that i .
    Then by introducing the prospect of benevolent and malevolent non-physical entity / entities , that do generate the very so called spontaneous activities that meet each and every i.
    Then another possibility arises that when an i has evolved to a certain level of evolution , it has aroused a particular higher response from benevolent entities that do co-ordinate with its will to be, but also if that evolved i were to somehow choose from temptation a lower level of will to be in the selfish kind, then these benevolent influences, back off, and if the degeneration continues , malevolent influences take the lead .
    It is also then probable that all stage 1 i consciousnesses , also incur benevolent and malevolent influences in relationship to their inner level of purity of intention , or some form of pre-ordained status or acquired status from their encounters with spontaneous challenges to date.
    So the key difference in the evolving i is that the individual is actually raising the level of both their ability to receive joy. pleasure , meaningfulness, and their counterparts , increasing their human state into a super state which results in them increasing power over the nature of their existence and others they encounter . But also there is some form of higher ethical demands put on them as they rise in the consciousness .
    This theory then still allows the phenomena of synchronicity to be a form of benevolent communication , and also allows evolas absolute i to consciously conclude its absoluteness having no requirement to consciously recognise that its has amassed a large amount of benevolent entity influence that does appear to arrange much of its spontaneous activity as “expected activity”

    Just a thought .

  2. Im Back already, i located the synopsis on the 3 stages by i believe your good self cologero – Absolutely excellent Good sir, now from that i have extracted an area at the end which does answer my question about the spontaneous phenomena = ……”Evola consolidates the understanding gained by the man at stage three. This involves the refutation of realism and an answer to its arguments against the position taken by Evola. The realist claims that there is a something behind the appearances or representations that somehow causes or accounts for them. Evola denies this and reasserts his claim that the appearances are from the “I”. But certainly there are things that are impervious to my will. Evola claims that they are not real things but rather a privation, something that reveals my own insufficiency. Along the way of explaining this, a new, and perhaps greater and more heroic, meaning is given to activity in the world.

    In a note, Evola points out the limit at which philosophy as such must end; what is then required is self-realization, to which no study of philosophy can lead. Evola asserts that such a transformation is “not a myth but a real possibility”. This cannot be overemphasized – it is insufficient to study Evola, one must work to achieve such a realization by other means; otherwise, nothing will be understood.

    The rejection of realism, the elevation of self-realization over rational thought, and the centrality of the will, freedom, and power have far reaching implications. This short work does not draw out all such implications, but it is an interesting exercise to ponder them.

    Evola then turns to the position of the realist in order to refute him. Bear in mind that Evola is here concerned with the problem of certainty: that is, how do I know — that is directly — with certainty. For this, Evola only allows what happens in consciousness, my self-awareness or sense of “I”, and, derivatively, what I have power over and can control.

    Therefore, a “thing” is whatever appears in my consciousness as “representation”. The realist, on the other hand, speculates that there is something that accounts for that appearance and thus causes it in my consciousness. Since what I can know with certainty is whatever is in my own consciousness, the theory of the realist must necessarily be speculative.

    The objection of the realist is that you have no experience of directly causing or bringing about the appearances of the world. To counter this, Evola returns to the distinction between spontaneity and will that was made in the discussion of the stages. The appearance of the world is “spontaneous”, in the sense that it arises of necessity without the full consent of my will. So whatever resists my will is not something that has an independent existence — as the realist would claim — but rather it represents a “privation”, something that lacks being, and merely indicates an insufficiency on my part. “……..

    So there it is , sort of the crossroads where philosophy must end , which also encompasses my comments regarding the phenomenon of synchronicity as some sign of potential external intelligence which can just as easily fit into an extension of my i-ness

    Conclusive tangental Note – I now realise the significance and true depth of a platonic love !

  3. Apologies for hoarding replies but one last thought in this “train of thinking about to end for the moment” People in the stage 1 could still be of immaculate conception , but that their experiencing of existence must be very limited in comparison to the hero that could go through the stages , (and they know that inside of them which creates this constant need ? ) because for the realisation of true ecstasy ,joy, etc a form of stepped certainty has to have been transpersed or transcended so that there is a knowledge of consciousness compare through multiple levels , only then , can that ultimate anticipation be realised in actuality in all its absolute power

    Footnote – power corrupts , there are traps ongoing , wherever one is on the path of understandings

  4. The distinction between positive and negative freedom in regard to will and spontaneity at the s3 is a perfect and fabulous departure from the realist and idealist proposal .
    On this spontaneous activity relationship to consciousness , it can be seen where the nature of praying comes from and also the potential dangers of prayer petition. So its as if everyone already knows of the connection , but not of the work required to be carried out ….or endured , (as in evolas description) before that is what may be termed a golden connection is established and all else before that achievement is truly a tainted love
    As in “the secret” etc

  5. I have just reread the iabow and its just simply genius analysis from stage 1 to 3 which are not a formal process but i can loosely relate to being in the garden of eden or hades,(what occurs here may propel into stage 2 to varying degrees) , i also think that most depressives suicides etc are lingering at the gates of stage 2 (but i also have to be aware of imposing simplistic psychological terms on such an expansive concept) then followed by the fall into hades , then the rise out of hades into a lordship that does from its pinnacle potentially “save” and direct the nature of reality wherever it may be . The use of the word “save” is a critical choice for me because this underlines some form of superior internalised morality that is unlocked and now drives the I orchestrator
    What has to be emphasised is also that these are achievements , have to be achieved through action , and not a train ride of eventuality

    So then i think my question of what is behind the universal spontaneity would be that it has to be seen as a pre-supposition !

    But then i am allowed to impose my own speculation onto it which in a manner of speaking still allows evolas concept to breathe freely
    In the phenomena of Synchronicity , i personally have confirmed as far as possible that at least in my own existence , it seems that there is an underlying intelligence in this “universal spontaneity ” but that it only reveals itself in greater analytical details, when the subject matter “me” does sincerely look for this potential connection . Now bearing in mind that there is a fine line here between sanity and madness , one must consider these things very very sombrely, so then it can be said that from my point of view , the nature of the “sincerity” as an “absolute necessity” of ones present existence , and not some inquisitive past time , which in retrospect ties into evolas world of the importance of action, in that , the sincerity is presently the active inspiration behind ones becoming being , i.e. the search for elaboration of the mystery of synchronisation is carried out through specific sincere actions to that end …….
    So then from a point of supposing from personal evidence that there is indeed some form of “mirroring and revealing ” intelligence out there, it does not require one to say this is god , although it could indeed be , one could also suppose that there is in place in this human existence, a particular and definite ordered high intelligence that does reveal itself …….only in response to human consciousness , i.e. it always attempts to gravitate to the positive end , but that this can be affected by the locality of consciousness so in simple terms this universal spontaneity is not truly spontaneous at its roots but that it does have some form of possible absolute high intelligibility that is directly proportionate in its expression to the nature of consciousness of a person that is relating with it , i obviously need to work on clarification a bit more , but these are the areas i am gravitating in regarding the i and the potential god energies in these times , in the nature of evolving understanding

  6. @cologero – From Evolas indiv and becoming conclusion , never before have i read an elaboration that without question puts forth a beautifully constructed process of potential i-consciousness evolution which categorically climaxes in confirming the absolute necessity of action in ones existence as a means to evolve comprehension of ones very existence as it unfolds upon its consciousness , and paradoxically speaking, as overtly and subliminally demanded by it to proportional degrees based on ones progress of actualisation of the i !

    “To say that I, as I, that is, as sufficient and free principle, cannot recognize myself as unconditioned cause of the representations, does not at all mean say that these representations are caused by “something else” and have some real or existent things in themselves as substrate, but means simply that I am insufficient for a part of my activity, which is still spontaneity, that such a part is not yet MORALIZED, that the I as freedom suffers a PRIVATION in it.”

    The above part is the turning point in clarity of perception when reading through it and all that follows is then the greatest concluded elaboration i have yet read on the nature of the I consciousness evolving development to its proposed “pinnacle”
    A term i think that evola may even give a quiet nod of consent too from the beyond . The explanation covers every single area of thinking apart from one, but i suppose thinking must have a limit and that could be because it in itself is “becoming”

    The only slightly grey area where i find present thought can not completely clarify is
    ” a continuum of activity that has as limits spontaneity on one side and free will on the other. Spontaneity is the universal, free will is the individual.”

    what determines this content of the universal spontaneity to each specific individual ? i will have to revisit it to form a satisfactory answer to this one question or maybe i already answered that with the “becoming” solution

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