The Philosophy of the Future

The heart has its reasons that reason does not know. ~ Blaise Pascal

Evola and Gentile

During Julius Evola’s youth, Giovanni Gentile was the grey eminence of philosophy in Italy, not just in a university setting, but also close to the seat of political power. He was the epitome of the cultured European, incorporating the whole of philosophy, art, literature, and history into his comprehensive system, which he named “actualism”. So Evola’s attack on Gentile was an attack on the Italian political, intellectual, and educational edifice. Gentile never responded personally to Evola’s critique, but instead allowed his student Ugo Spirito to address the issues raised by Evola. But the first issue to consider is the fundamental aim of philosophy, and this is where the two minds differ. Gentile’s first political post was the Minister of Education, which he used to reform the Italian school system. Evola’s goal was much higher:

If Gentile could truly name the I as the “pure act” of his rationalism, then he would appear not as the university professor, whose “actualism” has the reform of the educational system as its goal, but rather as that cosmic centrality that the esoteric reveals in the types of the rishi, the yogi, Christ, and the Buddha.

So Evola’s real objection is that Gentile sells himself short; the I, in its self-actualization, should have as its goal to become a rishi, yogi, Christ, or Buddha. This, then, is the logical development of actualism that Gentile somehow missed. While Evola’s system has some defects, the goal is worthy.

To describe that goal, Evola has to incorporate elements of Oriental thought, for example, if Atman is Brahman, then how does that affect philosophy? The influence of Friedrich Nietzsche is also strong, since it is now impossible to be a philosopher without dealing with his withering critique of the decadence of Western thought and spirituality. This we will address in the next section.

Ultimately, Evola never developed the philosophy of magical idealism, certainly not to the point of developing more Christs and Buddhas. Even during the fifties and sixties, when allegedly there was a stream of young men who consulted with him, no one arose to carry on that philosophy. By then, I suppose, idealism was a non-starter as the basis for a philosophical system, and people were looking for less abstractions, turning instead to political and religious solutions to the problems posed.

Evola himself, having first promoted a philosophy of action, resorted to passivity as in the aristocrat of the soul and riding the tiger. Of course, while every Tom, Dick, and Harry nowadays claim to be an aristocrat of the soul, the rishis are still hard to find.

The Philosopher of the Future

If magical idealism is not the philosophy of the future, then we are still waiting for the philosopher of the future. Those with a sound intellect should aspire to this, and not be content with the comfortable life of writing clever and erudite journal papers. Aside from Kant, the great philosophers developed their view of life in their twenties. So start now, you can always revise it.

Now there are three claimants to the knowledge of ultimate reality: the Priest, the Philosopher, and the Prophet. Borrowing an insight from Valentin Tomberg, we can say that the philosopher works in the day through the light of reason, the prophet in the night through direct illumination from God, and the priest is the mediator between the light and the darkness. The philosopher of the future will probably be in tension with the other types, while still needing to incorporate their insights.

The philosopher must first deal with facts, then an understanding of the facts, and finally indicate how that affects our lives. The fundamental facts have been summarized by Arthur Schopenhauer: the world as will and idea. Here we find the Traditional doctrine of the two worlds of being and becoming. The “world” referred to is that of becoming, and the “idea” is the world of being. Here are some examples.

Plato, and the line following him, called the will “eros”, i.e., the drive or “love” of wisdom. Wisdom, for him, is to know the world of being. For Nietzsche, this overvaluing of the “other” world in Plato and in the Christianity which built on Platonic ideas, led man away from his true calling of being fully loyal to the earth. There is no other worldly afterlife beyond this world, but only its endless repetition. The Will to Power replaced eros. In denying the world of being, Nietzsche denies God, or better, God, for him, is yet to come.

As a Traditional thinker, Evola opposed Nietzsche’s biologism, while incorporating his more important insights. While not denying the world of being, he changed man’s relationship to it. First of all, he retained Nietzsche’s emphasis on will and action; this, as we have seen, brought him into conflict with Rene Guenon. Now action can be understood in two ways. The conventional way is to see it as “horizontal”, i.e., as activity wholly in the world of becoming. A deeper way is to understand it “vertically”, i.e., as the actualization of potentialities. In this way, Evola can claim that it is insufficient to know the truth, one must also will the truth. This implies absolute freedom.

The philosopher of the future can build on this. A rishi, or a seer, is more like a prophet than a philosopher. Hence, he must learn to think with his heart as well as with his head. If the goal of philosophy is to bring God’s presence into the world, then he must learn to do that himself. To be free means to have no sufficient reason outside oneself, so the philosopher must be free. Since for God, essence and existence coincide. Hence, the philosopher of the future must actualize all his possibilities. Now we mean the philosopher is God-like in the relative, not the absolute sense. How that is so, will be the task of this philosopher to explain.

The Religion of the Future

The religion of the future will be based on gnosis. This is not a new religion, but rather a deeper understanding of what religion is and means. In other words, it is the actualization of religious or spiritual understanding. This is reflected in various states of consciousness, both psychological and spiritual. I am not making this up and have amply documented how this has always been the case.

There are two false claimants to the religion of the future: one is to alter it to bring it into conformism with modernity, the other is to repeat the religious forms of the past. Now there is no problem with the second option for those who are satisfied with it. But the prophet of the future will write a large book on the phenomenology of the soul.

13 thoughts on “The Philosophy of the Future

  1. Berdyaev writes in “The Meaning of the Creative Act”:

    “The philosophy of the future will recognize the creative overcoming and transfiguring nature of knowledge, for in knowledge it will see the dawn and the flowering of being, itself.”

    “Is not the ‘truth’ of the passive intellect with its purely intellectual conscience only a spectre, the self-hypnosis of a spirit oppressed and divided within itself? (…) The ‘truth’ of a passive intellect simply does not exist”

    We are with that led to the question of how truth is arrived at and what makes it subsist. He goes on to assert that “The Absolute Man is Truth.” It is a bold statement based on sacred scripture, bringing far-reaching implications if we were to try to live by it.

    Truth can never be forced as a necessity, or as a passive obedience to the given world, but must have its foundation in freedom. With that in mind we can even begin to asses what part of our so called “knowledge” can be said to be true, judged by whether it was arrived at through free play or not.

    Berdyaev’s thought and style of expression is liberating to follow, freeing us from the exhaustive but self-inflicted compulsion weighing down on the spirit when trying to “keep up” with the changing world with all its fragmented and unrelated ideas swirling around. It is nice for a change with a thinker that meditatively calms the mind rather than pushing for agitation.

    Most of what passes for philosophy has nothing to do with true philosophy since it has become entirely situated within what is here called the “passive intellect”. Part of the problem is that philosophy has become enslaved to the useless necessities that it reacts on, rather than reaching out towards freedom. It follows that the most advanced philosopher is perhaps not the one who knows all the technical terms and categories but he who has attained a point where he can do without them. The point here is that philosophy should not be conceived of as a science that simply follows a mechanical program.

    It has furthermore come to lean too much on doubt, which is at most a necessary evil, a privation, and not something to celebrate as a high achievement. It is quite easy to do criticism from a safe distance, but to put things back together is a wholly different game. That criticism has neither got anything to do with the “trial by fire” since it does not involve the being. It does not have a fiery nature but is obedient and subservient to the times.

  2. Pingback: On the Work of Philosophy – imminentrealmsdotnet

  3. When is the Tiger tired?

    Poison can only be transformed into medicine so far. Will we not at some stage run out of poisons? Far before that happens we have hopefully gained knowledge of the present state. Since we do not will that state we become passive. We take the medicine needed and are cured from illusion. Do not search for other tigers to ride just for the sake of the thrill. If when we recognize that the tiger is tired do not move on to true action the exercise is pointless. If the tiger does not get tired we are doing it wrong.

    The “left-hand path” so popular among lost post-modernists have value in so far as it leads to the Right path, not on its own. The feminine find its meaning in relation to the masculine, not on its own. Man finds meaning in his relation to God. The less we have to travel in darkness the better. True action is not a worldly action but action in a higher service. Thus the horizontal passivity of the
    aristocrat of the soul must lead to a highest activity.

  4. Cologero thank you for showing the connection of his concept of the trial with his earlier philosophical period, something I hadn’t realized before.
    When I read your answer, especially “no rishis, yogis, Buddhas, or Christs ever arose out of it” the first thing I thought was – how does he know? How could any of us know? We would only know if the Buddhas chose to show themselves. They might not want to. It doesn’t necessarily follow that once a Buddha attains enlightenment he will want to manifest into history. I’m not arguing either way, just pointing out the difficulty in this kind of statement.
    From what I understand Evola’s vision of awakened ones manifesting into history took the form of an initiatic military order more than anything. Sedgwick and Goodricke-Clarke link this to influence over terrorist groups in Italy, but there isn’t much available in English to clarify the specifics. In any case it doesn’t reflect well on his position at all.

  5. Perhaps, Mr Zero, you are correct that my language was somewhat strong and misleading, and I do not want to leave the impression that there is no value in those later works. But I had in mind a particular context, and my comment needs to be taken within it. The fact is that essays in Magical Idealism (which incorporates the Yoga of Power) has as its aim the creation of rishis, yogis, etc. That is why he includes the Three Trials, which is really out of place in a book of philosophy since it should depend on discourse and the light of reason alone. The takeaway is that magical idealism cannot be understood without performing the concomitant spiritual exercises.

    Evola never, as you correctly point out, abandoned that as rhetoric. My point is that he was never able to complete that project beyond rhetoric into being, even though he seems to have had the opportunity. Instead, as we see from his correspondence with Guenon over the years, he was always pursuing marginal hermetic figures, and never developed magical idealism as a spiritual movement in itself; hence no rishis, yogis, Buddhas, or Christs ever arose out of it.

  6. Cologero I am surprised at the mistake you’ve made in this article: “Evola himself, having first promoted a philosophy of action, resorted to passivity as in the aristocrat of the soul and riding the tiger.” But Ride the Tiger contains an action-based philosophy; the crux of it is knowing oneself and then testing oneself through experiment & rupture (particularly in the chapters 10 Invulnerability & 11 Acting Without Desire). In other words the sort of Left Hand Path he previously advocated in Yoga of Power.

  7. As I pointed out, Ash, most great philosophers developed their philosophy in their youth … I suppose we can find examples and counter-examples. But the philosopher is a just “lover of wisdom” and so is not necessarily “wise”. There are ultimate facts and the philosopher tries to understand them in the light of his own reason. The best are not daunted by the complexity and enigmas of reality. In our time, there are new forms of escapism, even more insidious that the decadent Christianity that Nietzsche or Evola opposed.

    These forms of escapism are obvious enough to name. First are the so-called “new atheists”, who believe science and a narrowly conceived rationality can account for all of reality. The other is new age political correctness which through shaming and self-deception tries to enforce a worldview involving beliefs that no well-bred and healthy-minded man could have believed in previous eras.

    So, this imaginary philosopher would have to challenge those forms of escapism and describe a worldview in which the quest for gnosis “makes sense”. So, yes, a man in his twenties ought to be preparing for that, “as if”, before his mind stagnates.

  8. Seeker, I have not read that particular book, but I had previously read the letter you linked to. Obviously, I am being a bit tongue in cheek and am not advocating anything like New Age … actually quite the opposite if read carefully. Don’t forget that Fr Rose also warned against “super-correctness”, and we have been criticized many times by the super-correct. The problem today is one of a worldview. There was an earlier time when men could think with their heart and were acutely aware of the reality of the other world of being. But now, such a mentality is utterly alien to most men, so an intellectual conversion of some sort is necessary. So the way forward is actually a recovery, but at a deeper level. That is because a man who has had to work for something appreciates it more than the man for whom it came without effort.

    I have been planning a post on the mental and spiritual states of the yogis, but much preparation is required. Ultimately, it will be up to the prophet of the future to make such distinctions. Now Fr Rose was totally into Guenon before he was not, so it is legitimate to speak to the former class of men as well as to the post-Guenon men. Careful readers will need to sort it out.

  9. Concerning the relationship of the philosopher to gnosis: would such a person have already attained such a high state of existence themselves? Or would they be showing the way as travelers themselves? I suppose two tests for such a philosopher would be a) are they practicing a living exoteric tradition, and b) are they old enough to have gained wisdom over time. So anyone starting now in their twenties ought to be preparing themselves for that.

  10. You bring to mind Fr. Seraphim Rose’s book (Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future)? He gave the term a decidedly pejorative connotation, referring specifically to New Age syncretism, one of the false claimants, “bringing it into conformism with modernity”. But he was also critical of Hinduism, saying that the yogis experience during meditation are mere psychic phenomena and not real spiritual knowledge.

    The book was obviously not meant for the “rishi, yogi, Christ, or Buddha”. In this letter he refers to the Kali Yuga by name, which leads me to believe there is more to his thought than one would gather from the above mentioned book. https://sites.google.com/site/phoenixlxineohp2/lettertoareaderofreneguenon

  11. How can the actualization be possible,if not with the constant self questining?What is that i am missing and why?Do i want and need what?Facing fear is one of the most brave things to do,if i want to conquer this,lets face the fear that pevents me of doing what is meant to be done!

  12. The ending reminded me of this quote:

    “In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.”

    ? Karl Rahner

  13. An interesting and informative read…actualization seems to me then, about chasing the God force through the events that continually unfold before us. Within each attainment of the present, our God consciousness increases……do it long enough and boom….your a god (little g)

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