Philosophy Part 7 - Death and Hell in two easy steps
Philosophy Part 7 - Death and Hell in two easy steps – by P.K.Odendaal – 22 April 2012
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Black and White (from The Sunset Limited – in case you missed part 1) is waiting for us where we left them off – ready to end our story – White in the process of ending his life and going the way mankind has always chosen in the face of so many better choices. And the choice is really only between two extremes – Love leading to Life or Despair and Nihilism leading to Death. And we are so apt in choosing Death every time.
And that brings us then to the climax of this series of articles of mine – and of human excellence and human endeavour which is self destructive in the end. It is called more theoretically Scepticism and Nihilism – the first leading to the latter. Why do people who were once so successful, eventually chose the one way they should not – that of Nihilism. Why did Hitler drag a whole world and fifty five million people into destruction with himself after he was so successful in unifying a devastated nation. Why did Russia, via Stalin, go on a bout of self destruction after they were so successful in winning the Second World War against the Germans. Why did China chose the same destructive route with their Great leap Forward. Why do super successful celebrities end in drugs, rehabilitation and ultimately death and self destruction.
For this we need to visit Hume and Nietsche.
If one looks at Nietche's and Hume's lives, one can see that they had no other way than to self destruct and formulate the philosophies of self destruction, once having picked those apples of knowledge. Their philosophies are easy to understand, because it is also the philosophy of White in our story and it goes like this :
It starts with Nietche's study in Scepticism and the tendency of his thoughts which were : (from Thus Spoke Zarathustra')
To break down all the concepts and qualities in which mankind takes pride and pleasure into a few simple qualities in which no one takes pride or pleasure and to see in the latter the origin of the former; likewise to undermine morality by exposing its non-moral basis and rationality by exposing its irrational basis; likewise to abolish the 'higher' world, the metaphysical, by accounting for all its manifestations in terms of the human, phenomenal, and even animal world; in brief, the controlling tendency of his thought is nihilist. The cheerful tone, the stylistic beauty, the coolness of the performance of this piece cannot conceal that what is taking place is destruction.
There are two things which we need to doubt before we enter the abyss of Death and Hell, and I provide these two philosophies so willingly and freely to you as two apples – directly from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, still standing in the Garden of Eden – but you must pick them from the tree yourself – I will not be party to that.
The first thing is that we have to doubt the law of Cause and Effect, thereby eliminating the Ultimate Cause, God, as posited by Aristotle. If we really believe in Cause and Effect we cannot but believe in God, which is the First or Ultimate Cause – so we will need philosophy to destroy that. And in the end we will be able to say with White in his words in TSL :
White : It doesn't mean anything. Everything that happens doesn't mean something else.
Secondly we need to classify the Free Will of mankind – and our own existence - as an illusion, to break down the final frontier to self destruction. Once I can annihilate the idea of free will and classify it as determinism, I loose or pitch off this yoke of responsibility towards God and mankind, and I can do what I will – provided I also become an animal. Animals lack these two pillars of knowledge, essential to civilisation.
And this we are going to do in this part. And we will have to step back to Plato and progress to Hume.
Since the beginning of philosophy Socrates, Plato and Aristotle tried to start a meaningful theory on the meaning of life, and they started to build a house with very warped bricks on sand, without any foundation.
Why could they not build a foundation? Easy to comprehend – because they had no material for that, due to the tenet of Agnosticism which holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. And that is the whole truth as far as the limited human intellect can establish. So we must accept that the aforementioned three gentlemen could not have any foundation to build philosophy on, although they did build to the best of their abilities.
In comes St. Thomas Aquinas, and started to build with wood, hay and stubble on this unstable under build of the first three philosophers, but specially on those of Aristotle. In his own words : On 6 December 1273 he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory.
The building was almost complete, but it could never stand up without a foundation and cornerstone, and with all that hay and stubble it was built of – and so we wait for the storm which had to come eventually, and of necessity, and blow everything away – and that storm came in the form of the Sceptics and the Nihilists – and finally everything was wiped away by the Perfect Storm called David Hume, in the early eighteenth century.
And we are going to spend some time with Hume, to see how this house of cards crumbles and caves in.
The breakthrough which Hume, the empiricist, had was this : Why not extend this view, that moral beliefs are neither divine, nor rational but only express our feelings, to all our beliefs? What if all scientific knowledge is not knowledge at all, and has no certainty, has no way of being shown to be certain, but is only based upon our feelings and what the senses give us is true? Then all the achievements of the great new sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, and physiology – all these marvels of the Age of Enlightenment – bite the dust. They are nothing but sentiments, feelings that what we perceive over and over again in orderly fashion is true.
Hallo ! - Can somebody please tell Richard Dawkins that – Hume still is the revered English philosopher – Dawkins's country.
I find this position by Hume to be the nearest any philosopher has come to the truth. What he says here in fact is what the Bible says : 1Co 13:8 …; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. If we realise that we have (only) six senses with which we only 'see' partially, what will happen if we see fully with infinite senses? We will laugh at the idiosyncrasies and misunderstanding of our previous idea of life under our limited senses.
Is it strange then that Hume started his route of self destruction having left Religion, embracing Atheism, and not being able to turn back. He was overcome by anxiety, the bottom of everything dropped out. In the fall of 1729 he had a severe nervous breakdown (the accepted malady of people who turn from the Holy Spirit), which lasted for the next five years, manifested in physical symptoms and in feelings of depression and weakness. "My disease," he wrote in one of his letters, "was a cruel encumbrance to me." His physician told him he had the "disease of the learned" – funny hey – Eve could have told him that after her first meeting with the Serpent, and that it leads further to the ministration of death. Hume had access to Genesis – why did he not try to believe it, rather than hold it in such contempt.
He should have heeded what he despised in Jer 51:17 Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. v:18 They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
He then gave up philosophy, probably because, as a subject, it was demolished forever. He tried to get a professorship at the University of Edinburgh, but was turned down on religious grounds, because of his scepticism and his atheistic, mocking contempt for religious belief.
Let us look at the other side of the coin.
What do I serve you ? Apples of gold on a pitcher of silver.
Pro 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. v:12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. v:13 As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
On what do I build and what is my cornerstone?
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; v:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; v:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: v:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Next time – the Forces of God