Basta con questi attacchi infingardi.
Risvegliati alla vita, O Anima Bella. Tu hai tanti diritti alla vita quanti ne hanno il corpo e la mente. Infatti, tu sei naturalmente così umile da attingere costantemente alle forze del corpo e dell’intelletto. Da sola non ti senti capace di far nulla.
Oops, I must translate this.
Enough with these vile attacks.
Wake up to life, O Beautiful Soul. You have as much right to life as body and mind. In fact, you are so naturally humble as to draw strength from the body and the intellect. By yourself, you feel you are not able to do anything.
How can you fight back?
It must be a two-pronged affair. First, we must realize that in ancient times if the equivalence of the true, the beautiful, and the good was not always explicit, the equivalence of body, mind, and soul seemed to be so self-evident as not to deserve explanation. Our goal will be to make explicit the existence of this trinity.
And we can succeed only if we trace our way back, back to where the long slippery slide of the separation of these three entities started. Our goal will be in sight then.
The Misuse of the Relation of Equivalence
The misuse of the relation of equivalence started with the Greeks. Cro-Magnon men and women, if not our much earlier ancestors, used the equivalence relation to study the world around them: This notation is equivalent to one digit and equivalent to some information regarding the moon, or the salmon, or a myriad other objects of daily existence (see Mother Pelican, July 2016). From a tool of analysis of concrete entities, the equivalence relation was transformed by the Greeks into a tool of analysis of such abstract entities as propositions. A syllogism is the equivalence of three propositions: If the major premise and the minor premise are true, the logical conclusion is also true. All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Socrates is mortal.
Do not laugh. For two thousand and more years, our culture was unified by the extended, detailed exploration of the applications of this method of analysis. All advancements in philosophy were sustained by this methodology. All certainties in science were derived from the validity of the syllogism. Mathematics, as we have seen in Chapter 2, is all formed by equivalence relations; and physics, as we have seen in Chapter 3, benefits enormously from the application of this methodology. The mathematical model of the economic system developed by Keynes is also a syllogism:
If, Income = Consumption + Investment
And Saving = Income – Consumption
Therefore, Saving = Investment.
From a simple set of starting propositions, the “forms” of the syllogism became more and more complicated over the years. Just like the “forms” of econometrics today. The applications of syllogistic logic culminated in the “realism” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and from there it degenerated in the formalistic casuistry of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Complicated syllogistic forms at times yielded contradictory results. Logic, and especially syllogistic logic, could no longer be relied upon as a guide to thought. The mind was left in a status of unsustainable doubt. Even theology morphed into the mysticism of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila.
Everyone was left on his own. A mind as acute as that of Lorenzo il Magnifico issued such degenerate instructions as “He who wants to be happy, be happy. Tomorrow is uncertain.”
The mind could not tolerate such state of doubt.
René Descartes to the Rescue
René Descartes came to the rescue. He based his entire system of thought on the well-known proposition, I think, therefore I am. Thus did he create Rationalism. And he aided Rationalism with the explicit, uninterrupted help of mathematics and geometry.
The union of Rationalism with mathematics and geometry gave birth to an unexpected child: modern materialism. The reason is clear. Material things can be counted, can be measured, and can be represented geometrically.
And then materialism became absolutistic. It did not tolerate the existence of anything that cannot be measured. Scientism was born.
Scientism denied the existence of anything spiritual. First, the soul went. And with the soul went, not only religion; among the Illuminati and the cognoscenti even any conception of God was excluded first from Nature, and from the nature of men and women thereafter.
Love became sex. Sex and charity. The two obsessions of our age, one in the private life, the other in the public life. I do not know which one is the worst. Through my “professional distortion of mind,” I am used to emphasize the public distortion of love. As I have said elsewhere, with love become charity, what I find in the public sphere is this: “Deny them their rights; take their dignity away; give them a warm soup in a cold winter night; and go to sleep in peace” (Mother Pelican, April 2015).
The strangest phenomenon of all is the ongoing battle to reduce the mind to a set of material—chemical and electric—nodes and switch operations.
Off has gone the unity of body, mind, and soul.
Some Shortcomings of Empiricism
Many of our modern battles are of course waged under the banner of empiricism, the presumed discoverer of “reality.” What to say about this modern habit of the mind? Much will become evident as we complete the display of Relationalism. Here, suffice it to say that much of the incompleteness (see Gödel) of empiricism is rooted in its reduction of the human person to body/matter, and its neglect of mind and soul. For good measure, it might be useful to stress that empiricism has never quite decided that its reality is indeed the equivalence of body to matter and therefore in vain—unawares, perhaps—it strives to demonstrate the equivalence of mind to matter. One more item. The glory and the curse of empiricism is reductionism: You cannot see two things under the microscope at once; yet, one thing does not live alone.
Stick Figures, Martians, Really
The human person has been reduced to a set of stick figures that only think: no feelings, no spirit. A politically apt metaphor is that of Debbie Adkins: We have been reduced to controlled marionettes. The ultimate consequence of this conception has been the Cloud of the Unknown. But the contemplation of the void is not for us. We have placed ourselves in place of God. At times we even feel we have created the Universe; more generally, we feel we have created ourselves.
To all this there is only the pithy assessment provided by John Bright: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator." For good measure, let me repeat one of my favorite thought experiments. Exsiccate a flower; analyze each one of its compounds to death. Now put the flower back together again.
Were these simply mental exercises, one could pity the reductionism in this contradictory conception of the universe: How can matter, possibly, create the universe?
Were this parody of the reality a simple mental exercise, no harm would be done except to the unaware creators and believers in this parody. But these thinking stick figures often become so powerful as to acquire control of the levers of power of the State and the University. They have run one ideological war after another. At times the enemy has been a foreign nation. More often than not, the enemy has been a class of citizens who have dared not to submit to the totalitarian will of absolutists. The victims have been counted in the hundreds of millions.
Rationalism Is Untenable
I think, therefore I am. That Rationalism is untenable was pointed out most clearly by Alan Watts long ago: “We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that ‘I myself’ is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body — a center which ‘confronts’ an ‘external’ world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. ‘I came into this world.’ ‘You must face reality.’ ‘The conquest of nature.’
“This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’ Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated ‘egos’ inside bags of skin” (Brainpickings, 27 January 2014).
Reactions to Rationalism
I think, therefore I am. Reactions against Rationalism are myriad. The old ones are largely forgotten; but I like to remember the one from Giambattista Vico: Modern thinkers have forgotten the common sense of the ancient ones, those who believed in the magic of economic justice. However, one cannot neglect Goethe, the Transcendentalists, or even Rudolph Steiner, for that matter. Some of the current ones are less subtle than others: Feyerabend has declared himself Against Method (1975). And there the academic discussion still rests. The vast, largely non-academic reaction against Rationalism is inspired by and suffused with Eastern philosophy. But upon serious consideration, it turns out that Eastern philosophy is the unflinching continuation of syllogistic logic; indeed, it is a return to syllogistic logic, and as such not fully helpful.
The rebellion against Rationalism is more acute among women, who have always felt excluded by the brainy men. Many women are carrying out the rebellion with a light touch under the banner of I shop, therefore I am. (Not entirely facetiously, it might be pointed out that women are more philosophically correct than Descartes, because to shop—or to sing or to paint—requires a greater integration of the human person than to think.)
I like the fact that my name is often mistaken for a woman’s name. But, no. I am a man—and I hope that women will join me in this struggle by asserting: Women Are Not Irrational; Women Are Relational. I hope to see the day in which both men and women
recognize themselves as relational human beings.
A More Comprehensive Attack
A much more comprehensive frontal attack, on many fronts, against Rationalism is being carried out under the banner I love, therefore I am.
This struggle starts with the recognition that man is the organic, indivisible unity of body, mind, and soul/spirit. Let us cast this reality in the familiar representation of the equivalence relation. Thus,
Figure 1 – Integration of Human Beings
Not only the necessary integration of the three major component parts of men and women can be immediately perceived in this figure. A whole slew of new relationships can be studied. The body can be truly and wholly scientifically studied as a sentient set of intellectual and spiritual intelligences.
Interchangeably, the mind can be truly and wholly scientifically studied as a sentient set of material and spiritual intelligences.
The soul can be truly and wholly scientifically studied as a sentient set of intellectual and material intelligences.
Some people, like John Lukacs, think we are At the End of an Age (2002). Actually, we are at the dawn of a new civilization. Many studies are being run by researchers who are investigating in depth each one of the above relationships. A new civilization will be built as these studies move from the periphery to the center of our consciousness. If we want to be wholly traditionalists and conservatives, we might be able to prophesize that a new civilization will be built as these studies move from the periphery of proliferating independent research institutes, which currently foster these studies, to positions of prominence within the walls of our disintegrating universities.
This is going to be the civilization in which, not power, but love makes right. This is going to be the civilization of love. This is going to be the age in which we will not be reticent to admit that, contrary to much past evidence, the essence of man is goodness.
When in love, the best of man comes forward. We all, men and women, look most beautiful when in love. When in love, the truest part of ourselves comes forward. Proof positive is that not all men and women love the same thing. Love is very specific, very personal.
When in love, we are also most happy (thanks, Mr. Jefferson). And love is not finicky or frivolous. You can be in love and at every moment renew your love for your wife of 48 years. (And this does not mean that you cannot be “mad” at her every once in a while.)
This is the meaning of the expression that God created us in his image and similitude. Otherwise, if we were not potentially and at times actually marvelous loving entities, God would need to be a little man or a little woman—just like us.
Instead, God is love. God is constant love.
Love is not passive. Love—and only love—can solve many of our problems. Even the problem of such deep depression that leads to suicide (of course, I must add. Indeed, it is possible to run a whole gamut of studies titled “love and…”).
Lately, contemplating the suicide of people who seem to have everything, I have been impressed by what love can do to fight depression, simply by elevating our spirit. Depression, as a plague of our age, is much in the news these days. It has been said that even famous people commit suicide because they suffer from depression. I do not read everything that is possible to read about these sad suicides. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I am not an expert on depression. Still I am moved to make a few comments that I hope will be helpful to some people.
I am only interested in what can be done to prevent and to cure depression—not to understand depression itself. This is too vast and too deep a field for me; this is a field that lies far away from the center of my knowledge.
For me, depression is like an abyss, the abyss of the self. I also believe that the reasons for falling into this abyss and the paths that lead to it must be nearly infinite and always personal. I have nothing to say on the complex process that leads one into the abyss, except to note that it starts from a very worthy pre-Socratic premise: know thyself, which in its more extended formulation is presented as “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
All I know is that, by ourselves, we are nothing. And I get rather depressed then. (Actually, that thought no longer gets me depressed at all; rather, I am elated: If I am nothing, or nearly nothing, my responsibilities change accordingly.) For sure, the more I probe “my” Self, the less I know or understand myself. One of my favorite thought experiments is to raise myself high, high above the sky, beyond Mars, beyond Pluto; then I look back, and what do I see? Nothing.
Who, not what, am I, then?
Some Limits to the Question “Who Am I?”
Do not ask; you do not have the time to hear the answer. I will have to define me in relation to my father and mother and family and wife and son and the first man on earth who left thoughts or art for me. And of course I am the person who has been allowed by many circumstances to do what I have done so far—and what I still hope to do. There.
We live in a web of relationships. As for the myth of the “individual” man, as I said I love John Bright's pithy retort: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator." The reality is that each one of us lives in a set of mutual rights and responsibilities in relation to every other entity with which we come in contact.
Among other things, I am a pantheist à outrance: I deeply believe that a stalk of wheat suffers just as much, when we harvest it, as a pig when we slaughter it. There.
The point is that we will never know ourselves, if we just look at ourselves. We have to set ourselves in relation to others. And then we have to be very careful about the reasons why we want to know more about ourselves. Watch out if you attempt to look at yourself as you assume others see you. Watch out if you start despising yourself; or if you have too big a conception of yourself.
Some Responses to Suicide, the Annihilation of Self
I am not surprised by the acceptance by many of famous people’s suicide. Their goodness leads them to that judgment. But I was very surprised by some people’s condemnation of those who condemn suicide. They are people who arrogantly assume the case is closed and deter further investigation of the matter.
Let me start from the beginning. Without love, one does not live well; indeed, without love one does not live at all. The first brutal realization must be this: Suicide is murder. And I believe in an absolute prohibition against murder.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I cannot conceive of any case where murder is inevitable and beneficial. It is long ago that I read of tyrannicide in political science; I have never read anything about it in moral theology. If memory serves, political science condones such an act. Is not a moral act to stand up to a bully? Especially if other people are at the mercy of the bully. Especially if you pay with your life for your moral act.
Defense, Yes; Offense, No!
There is a deep verity to be explored here. The moral act is all determined by the way we stand up to the bully: Defense, yes; offense, no!
If you kill the bully, you set up the conditions for revenge and the next round of violence. Hence, violence is always self-defeating and self-deceiving. But there is a deeper verity to unearth: If you kill the bully, you lose forever the chance of teaching the bully a lesson or two; most importantly, you also lose the chance of learning from the bully a lesson or two.
The maxim, Defense, yes; offense, no! is the beginning not the end of the discussion on homicide and war.
War and Peace
War and Peace. If we want just to talk about peace, we will forever only talk about it as the cessation of any state of war. War is then the normal. If we want to make peace the normal, we have to create the institutions for peace. For quite a few years now Mr. Kucinich, I, and I assume many other people have been calling for the establishment of a Department of Peace within every government of the world. Is anyone listening?
Some Tougher Questions
I recently shuddered at the news of one such murder/suicide as I have rarely shuddered at such news. I felt a huge amount of pity for the man. I felt a debt of gratitude for his life, gratitude I never had a chance to express, of course—and I will never, ever, have a chance to express to him personally now.
Death is so definitive. I am also very much concerned with all those who are left behind. Are they going to feel guilty all the time, from now on, when they cannot do anything anymore about it?
Those in a way are easy issues. My questions were: What did this person miss in life? What did he want from life? A few days later, I was with a friend who is a shut-in because of his physical ailments. We talked about that suicide. My friend said that this person suffered from the “Poor me” syndrome.
Yesterday, enjoying the Toblerone that he gave me to bring to my wife, it all came together for me. My friend has not just the courage to live as a shut-in day-in day-out, he enjoys all “little" things in his life: the Toblerone, the cornichons at lunch, the fresh breeze of the morning, the gentle Queen Ann flowers waving at him in the sun out of his window.
After talking with another friend, I have this to add: Of course, one could be born with a predisposition to depression and congenital clinical imbalances; of course, lack of appreciation of little things is only one among the infinite possible explanations for suicide in depression. But it is one of the most hopeful and useful ones. It can be made operational. Let me explain.
I do not know and I do not wish to know anything personal about other people’s lives. But that, it seems to me, was what was missing in this person’s life, a deep sense of enjoyment of the little pleasures in life. It takes real “fortitude” to enjoy the little things, especially when the big ones do not go quite the way we want them to go.
And then, it occurs to me now as I am thinking about it some more, that this person must have missed the “big” thing in life as well: Love. No. Not love as sheer sentimentality. He must have missed real, true love: love for himself, love for his neighbor, love for nature, and love for God.
Love Is an Act of the Will
Love as an act of the will. Love as a virtue. Love as a theological virtue. Love as a grace that God grants to everyone who is open to receive such grace. This is the love we need to experience, not the optional sentimental love that comes and goes. Grown-up love. Mature love. Responsible love.
As a balancing gravitational mechanism between the big and the small things, a bit of humility would also help. It would keep us anchored in reality. It would let us express some thankfulness for being guests in this splendid universe created by God, or Nature, or Evolution—whatever is our understanding of creation.
I wish to highlight these thoughts, not to throw mud on anyone’s memory, especially this person whom I loved and still love, but conceivably to help save the life of those who might be suffering from similar psychological ailments as this person.
As I said, I know nothing about the state of depression. I am only strongly inclined to say: Whether the chemical imbalance diagnosed as depression is caused by internal or external factors, do not use drugs that make people lose control over their mental faculties. Use loving conversation instead: Have intense discussions about everything and anything. Talk of love. Present, past, and future love. Catch this person before the depression has become a state of self-enforced, total closure to the outside world.
Also of this I am sure. I suspect the medicine for coming out of depression is the same as the medicine for not falling into depression in the first place: a strong dose of love.
I am not saying that it is easy to love or to allow others to love us. It is not easy at all. In fact, that must be the very depth of depression: one’s total closure to love from others.
Love as a Relational Affair
But why is to love and to be loved the most difficult thing to do for certain people? A burst of enlightenment came upon me after probing this question intensely. The reason is that to love and to allow others to love us we have to submit our will to their needs. Love is a Relational Affair. Love is not something we can practice all by ourselves; perhaps, only in the hideaways of our mind. Love is an intensely social affair.
I will not conclude this chapter with the negative observation that abandoning control of our will is contrary to the culture of our age. This is well known. I will rather conclude with a different set of observations related, not to the individual person, but to “man in society.”
Love in Society
In society, too, the primacy of love is paramount. Only a truly integrated population can give and receive economic justice. Justice is a virtue. To give and receive economic justice requires love, the highest of theological virtues.
Neither love nor justice is a passive entity. It is Saint Thomas Aquinas who cast the issue in the most clear and forceful terms possible. Thanks to David Wise, this is what I now know Saint Thomas said: "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust."
There is much to be said, but I am not going to break new ground here; I only wish to urge the reader to consider that “anti-social” acts, acts of despicable, forlorn love are sadly perpetrated not only against oneself and other members of society, but also by “society” against the individual person.
I love, therefore I am is not a sentimental affair. It is our duty. It is the exercise of the highest theological virtue—by our governments and by society as a whole.
I love, therefore I am is not an option. We must exercise our love, unless we want to destroy ourselves. We must exercise this virtue, if we want to live. We must exercise this virtue, if we want to live well with ourselves and other people as well. To exercise love is a duty of our governments and of society as a whole. To prevent, first, and to punish stealing is a sine qua non of governments. To prevent legalized stealing in the economic world is a must.
Without love one does not live well. Without love governments do not work well. Without love society is not well. But why? Why we individually or in society and governments and societies are not well if we operate without love? The reason is fundamental; the reason is that without love we operate separate from God. God is love.
Love is not a word; love is an operating entity; love is God in action.
Let me backtrack. Love is not a word. Love is not an isolated word. How absurd it is to consider words in isolation, as analytical philosophy does: Words mean something only when they are put in relation to other words—and to men and women who constantly create and re-create them. Love is not a "sentiment" that comes and goes beyond our volition. Love is a steady virtue that, when repressed causes inestimable damage: Lack of love for oneself causes psychological depression; lack of love for others causes economic depression. (Much that the reader can find elsewhere on this topic can be synthesized in this expression: Lack of love for others manifests itself primarily as an economic injustice inflicted on others. This is the engine of economic depressions. What is not generally emphasized is that economic injustice leads neither to solidarity nor to sustainability. The world is so constructed that, as the Russians say, “Greed ruins the greedy.”)
The splendid culture of Middle Ages was encapsulated by this dictum by Anselm, “We do not understand in order to believe, we believe in order to understand.” Time never passes in vain. We are gradually moving toward a New Age, an age in which “We need to love in order to understand.”
Oops. Siamo caduti dalla padella nella brace. We fell from the frying pen into the coals. Not much of an improvement. As a provocation, the title of this chapter must stand. But, if we leave our understanding of man there, we substitute one reductionist formula for another. To be fair to Descartes, and not to throw away 400 years of history, we must say: I think AND LOVE, therefore I am.
How do we do that? George Szell told us how: We must feel with our brain and think with our heart. We must truly believe in—and put into practice—the equivalence of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
And even that is not comprehensive enough. Where is the body? Our formula must be: I think, I love, and I breathe, therefore I exist.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carmine Gorga is president of The Somist Institute. He is a former Fulbright scholar and the recipient of a Council of Europe Scholarship for his dissertation on "The Political Thought of Louis D. Brandeis." Using age-old principles of logic and epistemology, as well as mathematics employed by modern engineers and scientists, in a book and a series of papers Dr. Gorga has transformed the linear world of economic theory into a relational discipline in which everything is related to everything else - internally as well as externally. He was assisted in this endeavor by many minds, notably for twenty-seven years by Professor Franco Modigliani, a Nobel laureate in economics at MIT. The resulting work, The Economic Process: An Instantaneous Non-Newtonian Picture, was published by the University Press of America in 2002 and has been republished in a paperback expanded edition in 2009. For reviews, click here. During the last few years, Dr. Gorga has concentrated his attention on the requirements for the unification of economic theory and policy, calling this unity Concordian economics.