This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Confusion of metaphysics and theology

As we said, theological point of view, taken as a particularization of metaphysics, is entirely legitimate. However, if metaphysics is only partially present or if metaphysics is subordinated to theological investigations that only permit of rational elaboration, then we find that confusions arise that are insoluble so long as the relationship is not corrected.

As an example of this confusion, we can cite one of the most debated theological concepts in history, the ‘ontological argument’ for the existence of God. As originally stated by Anselm, it argues that God, defined as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived,’ must exist, since a God who exists is greater than a God who does not. The first problem here is that the definition of God is difficult to interpret. It is correct but confused. Metaphysically, the statement could be accepted. The problem, however, is that Anselm had in mind not that which is Non-Being, not the Dionysian ‘godhead’—but ‘a being’, which implies that this ‘being who exists’ is situated no higher than the order of being and not outside of it, and that in itself is enough to render the statement metaphysically incoherent, since ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’ cannot be said of anything that is situated within Being, since it is ‘the first particularization’ of the Non-Being, or to use Guenon’s terminology, Universal Possibility.

Theology, since the Scholastic age, tends to treat of Being and of nothing beyond it, and this is how it ends up defining God as ‘a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.’ From the point of view of the philosopher (as opposed to the contemplative), this is true, but this point of view is already relative and not absolute. And so we can see evidence of the partial integration of metaphysics, which leads to false equivalences. The argument ignores the reality of Non-Being and then, taking Being as identical with the Absolute, identifies existence with It, which is inappropriate. Or to summarize it in a few words, the statement ‘Being is’ is not equivalent to ‘God exists,’ each statement pertaining to a distinctly different order. Or to say it yet another way, the statement ‘Being is,’ is true, and is different than the statement ‘Being exists,’ which is not true, or at least should not be accepted as true without careful qualification, for Being is the principle of existence and cannot be ‘conditioned’ by it in the way that the statement ‘Being exists’ would seem to imply.

We have, perhaps, gone too far afield too early, and have wandered into a discussion of doctrinal points out of order. Let us simply end with the warning that this confusion, which seems to only want to permit the data of metaphysics or contemplation on the grounds that these can be incorporated into a rationalistic system, numerous dilemmas present themselves and this is partly to blame for the endless doctrinal controversies that have plagued Christian history.

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