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Welcome to Kali Tribune. During the course of six years we steadily engaged with our reader’s questions and comments about the range of topics from metaphysics to common political issues of the day we are continuously addressing. In the latter half of 2020 we decided to start a podcast that was meant to deal with more complex questions and address them in the systematical way.
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I’m curious for your thoughts on Stoicism. There seems to be a miniature “culture war”, in the USA at least, over the value of stoicism as a philosophy by which to live—especially if you are a man.
For example, On the secular side, the American Psychological Association wrote in their “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men” that psychologists can strive to “reduce mental health stigma for men by acknowledging and challenging socialized messages related to men’s mental health stigma (e.g., male stoicism, self-reliance),” framing “traditional masculinity” in a constructivist yet highly reductionist manner: “In Western culture, the dominant ideal of masculinity has moved from an upper-class aristocratic image to a more rugged and self-sufficient ideal.”
Another paper states “Past research has shown positive relationships between stoicism and depression” and that “When we compare the tone of Marcus Aurelius with that of Bacon, or Locke…we see the difference between a tired and a hopeful age…The Stoic ethic suited the times of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, because its gospel was one of endurance rather than hope”.
From a Christian perspective, it seems kind of mixed. Anglican theologian NT Wright said St. Paul’s writing was “similar” to that of Epictetus. However, St. Augustine himself criticized the Stoics in “The City of God” for lacking an eschatology, even stating “The virtues of the heathens are only splendid vices”. Fast forward a bit: Michel de Montaigne was quite an admirer of the likes of Seneca in his Essays. But a hundred years later, his fellow Frenchman Pascal found the “superbe diabolique” of Stoicism in trying to produce “natural miracles” that had no need for the miracles of God with its reliance on virtue and detachment from the outer world. Of course this is not in the least a comprehensive view.
And yet…Stoicism still has its admirers especially in military and law enforcement circles. James Stockdale, a Navy Pilot and US candidate for Vice President, claimed that the writings of Epictetus helped him survive a Vietnamese prison camp when his plane was shot down. Stockdale called Stoicism the most complementary philosophy to monotheism. My friend, a police officer and practicing Roman Catholic, suggested I read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations when I was having some personal issues and after taking his advice, am thankful for the recommendation. Nassim Taleb, a popular writer, also champions the Stoics.
But once again, these are all MEN recommending Stoicism, with our modern and increasingly puerile world looking at things inherently masculine as anathema. Yet great Christian thinkers had issue with it, with even Frankfurt School adherents using the arguments of the likes of Augustine to help deconstruct the philosophy. This, of course, can lead to reactionary forces to both criticize and lump together the forces of modernity and Christianity for being “soft” and champion the “pagan” ideals of Stoicism.
Hello Branko, I was wondering if you could publish a critical commentary on Collin Cleary’s series of five articles published on counter-currents titled “Heidegger’s History of Metaphysics”. I think it would tie in quite well with your latest post on Gnosticism. I am one of your donors on patreon, by the way.
In these series of articles, Cleary attempts to map out the causes of the current cultural and intellectual disaster of the Western world, the blame for which he lays upon the shoulders of intellectual positivism, that is to say Western philosophy’s attempt to abstractly define and circumscribe every aspect of spiritual and intellectual life. Rejecting Christianity as a cultural foundation for the European world, he seeks answers in the primeval runic esotericism of the Germanic North.
Now before you start assuming things about my stance in all of this, I would like to say that I am extremely concerned about the growing anti-Christian and Promethean tendencies among the dissident right intellectuals in the West. The sheer degree of frustration and indignation elicited by life in Western society has a strong tendency to prompt people to seek solutions in the darker areas of knowledge and political ideology. I believe these sentiments should not be dismissed, but whenever possible, addressed and provided with an alternative.
Wouldn’t expect you to task me with anything less than a Herculean task: facing the wrath of the Northmen.
Well, as it happens, I have read the first part of that series few months ago, as I stumbled upon it, but haven’t continued through other parts.
I’ll gladly address the main anti-Traditional (not anti “traditionalist”) arguments, but I just don’t have time to address it all because, whatever I might think of someone whose path in philosophy led him to casting runes, I have to respect the effort to write down an interpretation of Heidegger that clearly cuts through most of his works. I would have to respond in kind and, frankly, I just can’t read something like Beitrage zu Philosophie once again, its so boring.
So I just can’t go point by point into refutation and, bear in mind, that Heidegger’s thought cannot be rationally refuted in that manner anyway because it is denying refutation-able rationality at each and every step he makes. The only thing that can and should be refuted are his primary assumptions, and that I believe I can perform.
The way I see it, I could do the following: I’ll go through the series of articles you mentioned and simultaneously refresh my memory on some of the main Heidegger’s works – not Sein und Zeit so much as later essays and lectures, because his assumption (one of the refutable ones) is that all he writes gets its meaning from what he still hasn’t written, or, at least, wasn’t written while he was writing the older text – and then contrast it to what Traditional thought proposes, through some of the exemplary thinkers, perhaps some of those Heidegger butchers in his gewaltbrauchende interpretations.
As it happens, I do think that some of those “dissident right” people in fact are quite in tune with Heidegger’s intentions, far more so than his academically more acceptable interprets. While he was not a racialist on principle – and couldn’t be interpreted as one – neither was he a supporter of Nazism by accident, as it is customarily assumed by his defenders. It is morbidly amusing to read attempts by American admirers of Eric Voegelin, who nevertheless want to preserve their admiration of Heidegger, to demonstrate how Voegelin was simply pissed off at Heidegger’s sojourn in politics from 1933. The fact of the matter is that Voegelin’s antipathy for Heidegger, as briefly and randomly – yet pointedly – it was expressed, comes from his staunch defense of the Western religious and metaphysical tradition but also the defense of its quite historically concrete Mediterranean/Near Eastern cultural roots. What “dissident rightists” correctly notice, as far as I can see, is that Heidegger’s life work was devoted to divorcing the elements of that organic root and splicing its isolated part to something else – in mine and, also as far as I can see, their opinion – to those “free and industrious spirited” blonde beasts that made such bad material for Romanization and, as is slowly becoming obvious, quite unreliable converts to Christianity.
Anyways, that would be an outline of the response I propose and, forgive me, but you’ll need some patience, because it will take me some time to complete it.
I will note what appears to me a certain contradiction in your reply. If we follow the line of reasoning which proposes that the foundations of Western Europe’s cultural tradition primarily emerge from outside of Europe and proceed through the prism of Greco-Roman civilization, what conclusion will we reach?
But first, let’s be clear about what we mean when we say that something is European. Obviously I’m referring to the the three main vectors of the Great European superethnoi still extant today – the Slavic, Germanic and Celtic. With the exception of the latter, these were not the people belonging to the major players so to speak, of the written records left behind by Antiquity, the demographics of whose main, undoubtedly also European protagonists have long since faded into the background. However can it be said that each of these three groups is racially homogeneous and has its origin in Europe? There is volumes of evidence that the ethnic and certainly the cultural origin of the Celts stems from outside of Europe, specifically the Near East. The Slavs are in and of themselves not as much as a unified superethnos as they are a linguistic and behavioral grouping, an ethnonym which initially served to distinguish their primary mode of existence as a settled people who cultivate crops from the neighboring warring, pastoral and nomadic tribes. A significant portion of the Germanic ethnic stock contains the heredity of Caucasoid peoples of Central Asia, in particular the Goths that has only appeared in Europe during the time of the Great Migrations at the end of the Axial era. However, as far as post-Roman Europe is concerned, the Slavs were generally peripheral to it and the Celts were driven to remote, isolated corners. This has left a single superethnos whose presence predominates in the Italian, Spanish, English, French and of course German nations. Thus my point is that if we claim the West’s extant cultural tradition proceeds from something outside of territorial boundaries of Europe, then the same can be said of its ethnic foundations. Even if we ignore evidence to the contrary and assume that the main demographic of Europe following the Great Migrations was mostly native to the continent, it certainly can’t be said that it had much in common with the culture of the “certainly native” Greco Roman world that had preceded it, except in the literary spheres, and even here the continuity extends only in so far as the rules of language and thought, not content of the writing. In any case, it doesn’t prove the conclusion we are seeking to reach.
The strictly European mold of Medieval age may have been Latin and Roman on the surface, but deep down inside, where folk tradition presided as well as within the depths of the social environs, it was utterly native and devoid of the civilizational spirit of Antiquity. The only peoples in Europe who preserved some of the essential characteristics of that world were ironically the Jews, whose financial machinations and high culture of intellectual literacy were a hold over from certain cultural aspects of the Greco-Roman era. Which explains to a great extent why Jews seem to have posed such an antagonistic role in Western societies – not because they are outsiders as is often claimed, but rather because they, though in an extremely idiosyncratic sense, represent the mores and ethics belonging to an Axial age completely incompatible with those of the ethnoi that superceded the cultural and demographic structure of the Greco-Roman world. Despite the writings of Seneca and Cicero, the reason why Rome never had a “Jewish problem”, the way we understand it now, was precisely because it manifested every negative thing that we currently associate with Jewry. At the supranational stage of its historical development, Rome was a continent spanning whorehouse and the Jews were in many cases quite literally, the girls forced to work in it. It’s no wonder that today’s Jews find a cultural congeniality with the modern analogue of that civilizational brothel which is America. Furthermore the ethics and aesthetics of postmodern-capitalist-socialist globalist liberalism (let’s just call it the Big Pozz) are far more evocative of Pax Romana than the grim and dour Gothic Christianity of the Medieval world.
Again the purpose of all this verbiage is to once and for all, thoroughly rebuke the notion that the foundation of the Western culture as practiced in the past 1500 years, let’s stop fooling around and name things by their proper name, which was and still remains the Christian Tradition, as something foreign and alien imposed unto Europe from the outside. Quite the contrary, the congeniality that European has towards the Christian, as opposed to what in fact was the “Mediterranean” or “Near Eastern” ethos, has to stem from something already present deep within the cultural roots of that people so as to form a continuity between the pagan, or distinct, and Christian or unified spheres of life. Furthermore, this something has to be independent of the outward denominations and historical civil expressions of the faith. Indeed a cultural study of the Celtic, Slavic and Germanic peoples seems to confirm a broad congeniality their social order already possessed with respect to the Christian moral and social teaching by the time of its adoption, and this has been precisely the understanding that has led many of them to embrace that faith largely out of conviction instead of force, unlike Islam (cf. St. Vladimir’s own spoken words concerning his decision to adopt Christianity as the primary religion of the Rus people).
Thus if we look from the broader perspective, Christianity appears to be far more European than it is Jewish, Greek, Roman or Semitic, because it is only in Europe where it has achieved its greatest extent of its cultural actualization as well as political significance as the organizing force behind law, economy, culture, art and daily life itself (I will leave the question of the Greek-Orthodox world for which I have the greatest affinity, as well as the Arab and Caucasian branches of the Christian ecumene aside for now). This of course completely refutes the nagging claim of the apparent apostasy of the “blonde beasts”, which I don’t believe for a second to be true at all, since it was never quantifiable data, but quality and depth of faith which determined the worth of Christian followers in any day or age. The European man, in so far as he apostasies from the Catholic and Apostolic tradition, acts against the very core of his own being – that is why modern liberalism, the product of such apostasy, as well its nihilistic counter-current found in object oriented philosophy or “Dark Enlightenment” present such strong potential for his utter self-destruction, both in body and spirit.
Hello would you be interested in giving some form of discourse on vedism and its distortion in the form of vaishnavism/hinduism and how this latter is not an authentic ‘tradition’ contrary to Guenon in his works.
Also i am curious about what spiritual path if any you would think viable at this time: whether one exists or must be constructed with baling wire and string in a syncretic fashion?
Sorry, that’s out of my expertise.