The Hobbes-Lockean Foundations of Modernity

This will be a multi-part essay on the philosophical foundations for the modern world with regards to Hobbes and Locke. Much of the material will be drawn from Christoper Ferrara’s book Liberty: The God That Failed. This essay can be said to be a brief summary of his work. I also highly recommend the book if such topics interest you and you wish to dive into them deeper.

For us to comprehend the modern ideology so ingrained in the thought of today we must first understand the foundations that it is laid upon. Although we could carry this analysis back to the rise of Mechanical Philosophy of  Descartes and the Cartesian Revolution we will begin at a later point in history that built upon these streams of thought. All we will say about Descartes is that he opened the door to the absurd concept of certainty in radical uncertainty.

Where we will begin is with the ushering in of the concept of modern Liberty which was built upon the philosophy of both Hobbes and Locke. In the prior age, the foundations of understanding were built upon the orderly hierarchical cosmos of divinely appointed natures or substances ordered to a living God, which had its pinnacle in the summum bonum (highest good) of man. This worldview requires a society to be founded under the Christian Commonwealth (or Kingdom) whose entirety of laws and ordering are set for the purpose of directing man to his revealed eternal destiny. All of this having its bedrock in the Greco-Catholic synthesis with its understanding revolving around Aristotelian hylomorphism of the unity of body and soul in one human person whose indivisible whole was the very basis of both political and ethical life in the above mentioned system. The Aristotelian understanding of substance and its incorporation into the Christian theology via Thomistic thought.

The dawn of Liberty in its modern application obviously could not be built upon such a worldview. Both Hobbes and Locke, who ushered in the new system of Liberty, did nothing short of carry out a full scale attack on Substance Theory and the Greco-Catholic synthesis. They rejected the concept that man was able to apprehend the world as it really is through the senses, and even went so far as to assault human identity as it was previously understood.  They carried out this assault using the “mechanical philosophy” of Descartes. At its core being nothing more then a Cartesian division of man into material and spiritual parts, which removed the spiritual from the realm of politics and ethics.

Hobbes, in his book Leviathan lashes out against the Aristotelian-Thomistic system. He claims that the only thing man can come to know is the names he gives to the ideas that arise in his mechanical brain upon receiving sensory input from the world. Furthermore, he claims that man cannot confirm that these ideas stem from a fixed or universal reality, not even to what he calls man. He states, “Reason, in this sense, is nothing but Reckoning of the consequences of general names agreed upon, for the marking and signifying of our thoughts…”. Hobbes also attacks the concept of an immaterial soul and denied the existence of a spiritual realm.

…mocking “the Latins” who defined God as a “Spirit Incorporeal, and then confess their definition to be unintelligible: or if they give him such a title, it is not dogmatically, with intention to make the Divine Nature understood; but Piously, to honour him with attributes, of significations, as remote as they can from the grossness of Bodies visible.”

-Liberty: The God That Failed

Hobbes even makes the assertion that the Holy Spirit is not a spirit, claiming it is nothing more then “the voice of God in a dream.” Utter heresy.

Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding continues this assault on the existence of universal substances and the reality of the spiritual realm. Unlike Hobbes, however, Locke does not carry out his assault so directly but does so through skepticism. This skepticism aligns with the Cartesian method of the only certainty being radical uncertainty. As Ferrara puts it,

Skeptical of everything but his own skepticism.

Locke was not willing to conceive that questioning the authority of our senses leads to the undermined belief in the existence of God. Classical Philosophy “supposes, without examining it, the validity of Knowledge,” (Epistemology, Catholic Encyclopedia) which begets the theological claim that a loving God would not create man in His image only to give him senses that deceive him. This can be witnessed in the Greek philosophies and how they came to such fundamental understandings through reason alone, by their senses.

The seeds Locke planted lead to the undermining of Church Authority and created the modern notion that their is no absolute truth, which ironically is claimed absolutely. Locke’s philosophy claims that man’s mind is a blank slate when he is born and can only collect ideas about the world through the use of his senses. Therefore, knowledge for Locke (and Hobbes) as he states in his Essay, “hath no other immediate object but its own ideas…. and is only conversant about them.”  Locke claimed that one cannot even postulate a human nature or substance with any certainty. We can see the reverberating effects of such an ideology in the modern world with the rise of such things as transgenderism. Furthermore, Locke even denies that the “self” is body-soul unity. Claiming that, “consciousness alone unites actions into the same person… Self depends on consciousness, not on substance.” For Locke a person is nothing more then a stream of consciousness, not the soul of Christian teaching. Ferrara in his book Liberty: The God That Failed, drawing from Fabro’s, God in Exile states,

Locke’s confused “conservative” application of the mechanical philosophy, which maintained “verbal assertions of the distinction between the material world and the spiritual,” was nonetheless “in face eliminating any such distinction in theoretical order and drawing the logical conclusion from his basic principle that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas.”

As Fabro concludes: “The importance of Locke’s influence on the molding of modern materialism and atheism by now are surely quite clear, despite his most outspoken declarations in favor of spiritualism and Christianity….”

This notion of reality espoused by Locke and Hobbes becomes the new epistemological foundation for Liberty. In summary it states that man is only the name assigned to a collection of perceptible attributes. It rejects that man is a substance of divinely created unity of body and soul with a fixed nature and his end in the summum bonum. 

 

I will continue this essay with posts later down the road diving deeper into these topics.

 

 

 

The Greco-Catholic Synthesis

To lately I have been trudging my way though a book entitled Liberty: The God That Failed by Christopher A. Ferrara. I highly recommend this book. As of now it is one of the best books I have ever picked up.

Within the first chapter of the book Ferrara goes into detail about the foundations of the Christian Commonwealth in Greek Philosophy. Its a fantastic and detailed account of how this Greco-Catholic Synthesis gave rise to Christendom and the proper ordering of man in regards to the State (referring to the Civitas, not the modern concept of the nation-state.)

What follows is a brief summary of Ferrara’s explanation of the Greco-Catholic Synthesis,

There arose a synthesis of the two great elements of the Western theologico-political tradition that began in Athens after its fall in the 4th century BC. It began when Socrates claimed to men that they must “care for their souls”. This turned the mind of Greece toward a higher ideal of state and society which led to a search for a new God. The Platonic-Aristotelian system developed for the time a philosophical realism. Ethics and politics based on the view of man as a creature possessed of a rational and immortal soul who inhabits an orderly universe which has a fixed and knowable essence. For Plato it was the Forms. For Aristotle, his “hylomorphism”, which became the Christian philosophical doctrine of matter and form. Every being in this universe is a substance, a unity of matter and the form that determines its nature. With the soul, as Christianity would teach, being the form of man. The Greeks viewed that the rational soul is ordered by nature to the practice of virtues (this was later assimilated into the Christian view in light of revelation). Mans happiness consists of an activity of the soul in accordance to virtue. The highest state of such virtue for Plato was the communion with God, and for Aristotle it was the contemplation of God for those who are capable. For the Greeks this was the summum bonum (Highest Good) through which the Greeks sought with unaided reason prior to the revelation of the New Testament.

This leads us into the political thought that began to develop under the Greeks and was later assimilated into the Christian Commonwealth. Man, being an ensouled creature whose purpose is a life of virtue and an encounter with God, led both Plato and Aristotle to teach that mans perfection requires life in the “State” which originates with the family. Aristotle claims the State is “a creation of nature” and “man by nature is a political animal.” So for the Greeks, along with the Christian leaders that followed them, a good State is one whose laws and institutions take care of the soul by promoting and protecting both virtue and religion over and above mere security of temporal things such as property. For the Greeks, along with the Catholics that followed, religion was not simply a private thing but a public honoring of the divine. The bedrock of the State from the view of the Greeks which was further defended under Christendom is summarized in Aristotle’s Politics:

But a state exists for the sake of the good life; and not for the sake of life only… It is clear then that the state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime, and for the sake of exchange. These are conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families and aggregations of families in well-being for the sake of a perfect and self-sufficing life… by which we mean a happy and Honorable life…. Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of living together.

The Greeks viewed man and the State as the politics of the soul. Greek philosophy produced a new order of values which helped pave the way for the universal religion of Christianity. Copleston in his book A History of Philosophy stated, “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Plato in the intellectual preparatio evangelica of the pagan world” and “the natural theology of Aristotle was a preparation for the acceptance of Christianity.”

The Greek foundations of natural theology, ethics and political philosophy along with the structure of the philosophy and theology of Christianity created the “synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church” (As Benedict XVI puts it). This reached its pinnacle under Thomistic philosophy. Which all comes together under the Greco-Catholic Sythesis: Which is summed up nicely by Ferrara in his book Liberty: The God That Failed,

-reveals the God for which the Greeks were seeking;

-explains man’s tendency to commit evil, and the fact of evil in the world, as consequences of the Fall of man on account of the original sin of our first parents;

-offers fallen man redemption through the grace won by the Redeemer, which repairs the defects of the rational soul clouded by Original Sin;

-completes (in the Aristotelian-Thomistic system of Thomas Aquinas and other medieval scholastics) the Greek picture of philosophical realism- a hierarchically ordered universe of divinely created and fixed natures of substances, with man and his rational soul at its visible summit and God at its highest good;

-adds the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity) to the cardinal virtues explored by Plato and Aristotle (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude), and the concept of punishable transgressions against divine law- sin – to offenses against the natural order, concerning which there had been no explicit divine “ought” or divine prohibition in Greek philosophy.

This Greco-Catholic synthesis creates an understanding of human freedom as not only the practice of virtue, but liberation of the soul from the effects of sin.

So there you have it, a basic summary of the Greco-Catholic Synthesis. As I work my way though this wonderful book I plan on further summarizing topics of interest for my readers. I also highly recommend the purchase of this book. It is a great addition to the book collection of Catholics and Reactionaries.

God Bless.

Progressive Corruption: Altruism

Progressivism, leftism, liberalism, or whatever you may call it has a veritable uniqueness to how it impinges upon particle goods or truths. Leftism is the ideological embodiment of cancer. Like cancer, which is a disordered mutation of a cell, leftism is the disordering of, among many things, goodness or virtue. Betwixt the things it disorders lies altruism. This, also known as charity, is a virtue. Not only did our Lord God teach charity,

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. – Proverbs 19:17

but it was also understood by the virtues pagans such as the Stoics.

Every mans life is sufficient. But thine is nearly finished, though thy soul reverences not itself, but places thy felicity in the souls of others. -Marcus Aurelius

To be altruistic and charitable, when done within the parameters of prudence is indeed a noble virtue to hold. However, like any virtue it must be properly ordered and contained within a framework, lest it be corrupted into something less then desirable.

This is precisely what leftism has done to such a virtue. It not only removes the prudential judgment required to maintain altruistic acts, but also removes the moral guidance containing it. It degrades into a holiness spiral of virtue signaling and a vicious propagation of so called “rights”. As far as imprudence goes, altruism becomes degraded once sound judgment is removed. Let us put this into a real life example.

A homeless man stands at the street corner. You could, 

A. Give him money in the form of cash. 

B. Buy him a meal or give him a jacket. 

The latter example, option B, would be the prudent decision. The first option is imprudent because money, although containing the possibility of helping him, runs a very high risk of being spent unwisely by the homeless man. While the latter option is prudent because it addresses his immediate needs.

Imprudent decisions however, are not exclusive to leftists. What is exclusive to leftism is the moral derailment of altruism. We see this in moments such as “gay rights” or “feminism”. Due to the loose moral parameters of liberalism it has characterized such movements as being altruistic or charitable. “We must selflessly fight for these peoples “rights”. Between the imprudent judgments and the destruction of the moral order it creates what we see today. To further top this all off, leftists seem to do things not out of a true sense of altruism, that being out of selflessness, but out of a desire to signal their statues of “virtue”. It becomes nothing more then a charade.

The truly noble exercise altruistic deeds with prudence and a true desire to help another, without expecting a reward or recognition. Those who are charitable with sound morals and good judgement, never speak of it. Selflessness requires one to be selfless, which includes the negation of an earthly reward. In a room full of people, the one that speaks the loudest of his altruistic acts, is most certainly doing it for the wrong reasons. While the man you least expect may be the most charitable.

Note: I intend to do a little series on Progressive Corruption and to clear away the deformity that the left brings to particular goods. To once more restore these goods to the proper order they belong. A reactionary understanding of things, if you will.

Mild Christian Hermeticism

Many of the most intelligent reactionaries I interact with are of a school of philosophy called perennialism.  Most of them are of Catholic or Orthodox religion. This may sound strange given the nature of the philosophy. Many of them, from my understanding choose such a religion due to the fact that it is the faith of their ancestors. I can not speak to it too heavily for I do not want to give false information. But, this post is not so much about parennialism, it is about something else.

As a Catholic, I cannot accept such a philosophy because it claims to much. It claims that a religion such as Catholicism may be true, but there is salvation outside it. Of course, my lord has commanded otherwise so I cannot in good conscious accept it. However what I can accept is something that Mark Citadel coins as “Mild Christian Hermeticism.” Mark puts it as such,

What we can accept however is what I have coined ‘Mild Christian Hermeticism’, a reference to the great Pagan prophet, Hermes Trismegistus. In this, we can affirm that the sacrifice of the incarnate God on the cross is the only source of salvation and is the final great revelation before man. However, it also allows us to say that knowledge of the divine realm can come from sources outside of the Christian Tradition. Just to illustrate, I can confirm the mystical nature of the Hindu Vedic Scriptures, but deny that they are entirely accurate in their description of reality, or that they offer any kind of redemptive or salvific hope in the complete sense to the Hindu.
Far from a contrived justification, this is actually how notable early church fathers viewed religious matters. Perennialism simply claims too much, though I can attest that its scholars were very well-versed and articulate, and indeed should be studied.

Knowledge of the divine realm, or that beyond the veil may not be exclusive to Christianity alone. It is important to note that we believe that Catholicism (or in Marks case Orthodoxy) is in deed absolute truth, therefore all it teaches is true, however it does not teach everything that is truth. It teaches what is necessary to be saved, and to bring man back into union with the Lord. This of course is all that is necessary, there is no need for most people to peruse knowledge outside of such structure, and in my opinion I recommend against it because it can, especially for those not well versed in their faith, cause error. However, there are a few intelligent enough people who may dabble in esoteric things, and if you do such a thing I highly recommend you be careful and stop if it ever becomes a threat to your faith.

To continue we see that the truth of scripture and the Church are the absolute truth, but they do not reveal to us all the information of the divine realm, mainly because it is unnecessary for its purpose, which is the salvation of fallen man. To further explain how “Mild Christian Hermeticism” works I am going to show a series of graphs to help conceptualize it that were given to me by a fellow Catholic Monarchist I interact with named Alex Forrest (you can find him on twitter if you would like to follow him, he’s a very intelligent man.)

This first graph shows how during the fall of man from grace we lost a portion of the “good” as truth.

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This second graph shows how the amount of truth is limited to our capacity to understand it, with regards to our fallible and fallen nature. This graph also fixes the graphical error in the first graph.

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The third graph illustrates the importance of the Catholic faith, and its importance to both existence and salvation.

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In essence the Catholic Church is a creation by God for us. Its prime goal is to draw mankind back to the divine so that it can reascend to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Beatific Vision is the pinnacle and summation of all truth and is only accessible in this state, aka. Salvation. However, although what the Church teaches is all true, it does not teach all truth, because one, we cannot know all truth this side of heaven and two, it only teaches the truth required to attained the former. It teaches the truth that is necessary for the salvation of souls. This leads to the concept of “Mild Christian Hermeticism”, which in summary is the possibility of attaining some truths outside of the Church, although not necessary for salvation. This can also be seen in the Christianization of particular pagan aspects during the early period of the Church. In essence the Church baptizes any good or truth that comes from a particular pagan philosophy. We can see this most notably in the writings of Aristotle and the other great Greek thinkers.

Therefore, because the perennial philosophy claims that salvation can come from other means it contradicts the truth that we hold, because part of that truth is that Christ’s death and resurrection was necessary for our salvation and the Church is the Lords creation for brining us back into union with him. To claim that salvation may come from outside means claims to much.

This fourth graph shows the relations of different religions.

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And finally the fifth graph shows the dangers of higher levels of intellect.

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In conclusion we can draw several things from this. Firstly, we see that the Catholic faith teaches only truth, but not all the truth. It only teaches the truth necessary for salvation, which if attained reveals ALL truth. Secondly we see that other truths can be obtained from outside sources, although NOT necessary for salvation. Thirdly, we see that in good conscious a Catholic or Orthodox cannot accept perennial philosophy due to its contradiction of the revealed truth of salvation by the Lord God. And finally, we see that the greater the intellect the greater the risk of error.

Once again I do not recommend nor is it required of you to pursue any outside knowledge of truth, besides that within the Church. It is better to play it safe and stay within the structure of the Church and its revealed truth, then to run the risk of falling into error. If you do pursue outside knowledge be weary and sober of mind and always discard anything that may contradict the truth of the true faith. If it does not contradict then it may be true, but do not take it as an absolute.

Hope this helps. Stay vigilant.

 

 

Latae Sententiae

Latae Sententiae is a latin term in the Catholic Church that means “sentenced passed”. It refers to excommunication. Many times we hear people ask why politicians who claim to be Catholic aren’t excommunicated by the Pope for their stances on things such as abortion or sodomy. Technically they are excommunicated. Late Sententiae was created because the Pope cannot go around excommunicating everyone publicly. It would be a difficult job, especially in these modern dark times. If you do some searching around you can find a list of criteria that will lead to excommunication.

With this being said, I believe IMO, that the Pope should publicly declare particular politicians as excommunicated. Not because they aren’t already excommunicated but because many people are unaware of this. They need to be made an example of and publicly declared against, so the faithful and outsiders know, without a doubt, that these traitors have been cast out (at least until they make reparations and seek to correct their ways).

Ethics: Deontological, Virtue, Consequentialism

Ethical theory plays an important role in how we carry out our lives, and to some extent it is one aspect of the foundational bedrock to how a society is built. There seem to be three main ethical theories, deontology ethics, virtue ethics, and consequential ethics. Each theory is concerned with a unique approach to ethical questions. Both deontological and virtue ethics stand in stark opposition of consequential ethics. Although the former two are different from each other, they contain the ability to overlap to some degree. But only slightly.

Consequentialist Ethics 

This form of ethics is many times employed by the utilitarian and can be found extensively written about by John Stuart Mill. Consequentialists approach ethics by determining the outcome of a choice. In other words, they base the criteria of a particular action or intention based solely on the consequence of such a choice. For someone who adheres to this form of ethical theory it is grounded in the overall good of a choice, meaning that a choice or action is morally acceptable if it leads to an increase in the overall good. The “good”, however, is determined differently among consequentialists. For the utilitarian, the good is defined in context of happiness, pleasure, desire and to an extent the welfare of the human person. On the other side you have pluralists, who take into consideration how such goods are distributed among beings.

In summary it is based of two principles.

  • Whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act
  • The more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act

This form of ethics is the basis for hedonism.

Deontological Ethics 

The ethics of deontology are not based on consequences, they revolve more around what is absolute, regardless of outcome. It assumes that a choice is either right or wrong, and cannot be salvaged be a potential outcome of a good. Example, it is always wrong to lie, regardless of if such a lie may produce a greater good. What makes a choice “right” is based off its conformity to moral norms, or rules. Deontological ethics are duty based, and focus on the rightness or wrongness of an action themselves, instead of there consequences (consequentialist) or the character of the actor (virtue). To a degree it is a form of moral absolutism. Immanuel Kant was know for the argument that it is always wrong to lie, even if it means lying to a murderer about the location of his victim.

Virtue Ethics 

Virtue ethics approaches moral questions in a different way then that of deontology and consequential ethics. Instead of concerning itself with right action, virtue ethics seeks to cultivate a good life, or seeks to answer “what kind of person should I be?” The first two ethical theories deals with specific ethical issues, while virtue ethics deals with the entire life of a person, and how to go about making the right choices all the time. Deontological ethics attempts to give us a rule book of what to do and not to do, while the question, How should I live?, is answered by Virtue ethics by saying, live virtuously or have a virtuous character. One of the important aspects of virtue ethics are the character traits of an individual. If one has the virtue of courage strongly apart of their character, then we would expect that individual to always act courageously in any situation, regardless of difficulty. As Aristotle says, “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit.” This is important to understand with Virtue ethics. It may take many years to cultivate the proper virtue, but when done correctly it becomes habitual. One can look at sin this way. When we consitently commit mortal sin, and it becomes habitual sin we don’t only separate ourselves from God, but we lose the sense of justice due unto that evil act, therefore it becomes easier to commit. By ordering our character to cultivate the proper virtue it allows us to make the correct choice in a variety of situations. It leads us to a holy life in the Christian context because it bases morality off of ones character instead of just robotically following a rule, for the sake of following a rule. This is not to say rules are bad, because they can aid us in determining virtue. One could also say that obeying such rules, commands and laws is done because that itself is virtuous. There is a particular order of things in the world, cultivating the proper virtues allows one to order their soul to the divine.

Think about it this way, it is wrong to fornicate. For the consequentialist the action of fornication depends on the outcome, if it increases happiness and pleasure for both parties then it is morally acceptable. For the deontologist, it is wrong to fornicate because the rule says it is wrong to fornicate. To the virtue ethicist, fornication is not virtuous, therefore even if the moral norm would change to say fornication is okay, the virtue ethicist wouldn’t engage in it.

But what about commands by God? Isn’t commandments by God a form of deontological ethics? I assume to a degree they are. But I think one must look at them in a different way then that of a simple rule. God commands things, not simply to determine things, but because their is a particular ordering of the universe that grows out of himself. By seeking virtue ethics in the Christian context, we seek to properly order ourselves toward sanctity and holiness. It appears that deontology ethics follows a law solely for the sake of following a law, what it lacks is the character, and as we are taught the Lord judges us based off what is in our heart. By cultivating virtue we become a properly ordered person, therefore, all the actions we choose are based of the virtue of our character, and not purely a checklist of what is right and wrong. One can only achieve holiness if they order their character to the divine through the cultivation of virtue. Not to mention that in a situation where the moral choice is not clearly defined, the person with the properly ordered virtue will more then likely make the proper choice.

Then again I am not trained in ethics, but It seems to me virtue ethics is more accurate at exploring the deeper complexity of the human person and divine ordering of things. Either that or its my typical Catholic bias toward Aristotle and Aquinas, as opposed to Kant, Ockham or Mill.

“It Doesn’t Make Me ‘Feel’ Good”

“How impervious to things spiritual, my heart! No savor in pious reading, no pleasure in meditation nor in prayer!” – St. Bernard 

Quite often in my discussion with some of my more nontraditional Evangelical friends, and even among modern Catholics I hear them talk of how they don’t like the Catholic church, or for the Catholics, don’t like some priests, because they don’t feel uplifted or consolidated. What I mean by this is that many people seek God with the wrong intention, or for a better word, expectation. People want to “feel” uplifted, consolidated, happy or affirmed. They want an experience, not a trial or the truth. It is no wonder that Joel Olsteen is one of the most popular telievangelists. He tells you what you want to hear. That if you follow God he will reward you with riches, and happiness and all sorts of temporal gifts. This is a problem.

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The Christian road is not shortcut to a better life. On the contrary it is much of the time a trial, a hardship full of suffering. This is not to say that you won’t find peace, because if done correctly God will bring you peace and joy. But peace and joy are not “feelings” or emotions, but states of being. In all the turmoil be at peace and know that God is with you and that in the end he will have the last word. Be joyous knowing that if you follow God you will attain the kingdom of heaven. Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. Happiness on the other hand is a fleeting feeling. One can be unhappy, yet joyous. One can be in the midst of much turmoil around them, yet be at peace.

This is important to understand. The pursuit of a pious life is not one of an easy path, it will require much of you. Consolidations are reserved for the untried soul to keep them on the path to sanctity. But as many of the Saints show us, these consolidations will fade once one truly picks up their cross. The true rewards abide in heaven and are reserved for those who attain it. The earthly life is a place to gain merit, which can only be achieved through suffering. To lead this life you must seek the truth and accept it, and that truth is many times harsh and difficult to accept.

So I say to you, do not seek a religious service that panders to your feelings, but one that seeks to worship God in the most reverent way possible. Put your mind on God, and not on your own desires, but on his will. It will require all that you have to attain salvation, but the reward is for eternity.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

Beauty of Architecture

Even the tiny leftovers of medieval Germany are infinitely more charming than the very best of the Borg society that usurped it.” – E.H. Looney 

Something that this post-modern world is desperately missing is beauty in its architecture. It lacks depth and spirit, just like most of modern art. In essence thats what architecture is, it is art. When one looks at the remnants of the old order they see immense beauty in even the most simple of buildings. Today all of that is lacking, there is no beauty to modern architecture (of course there are exceptions). Today things are built with the capitalist mentality in mind, maximize profits and minimize expenses. Although this mentality can be acceptable in particular areas of economics, it only leads to cheap looking structures that decay or need to be torn down only decades after they are built.

This leads me to a particular insight on Catholic/Orthodox architecture. Many times I hear modernists speak about how the Church should stop being such a hypocrite and sell its art and extravagant decor and give the money to the poor. This is nothing but a misunderstanding of the theological implications of such extravagance. One thing that the human soul not only desires, but needs, is beauty. It feeds the soul and speaks to the magnificence and glory of the Lord. One of the key motivations for building such wonderfully beautiful Cathedrals was to express the glory and magnificence of God himself.

This my friends is beauty! cathedral

Augustine and the Final Good

To Augustine the final good is the eternal happiness and peace of man, which is only attainable by being subordinate to God and living your life piously to him. Unlike that of the philosopher who claims that the highest good is virtue, which is good for not only its own sake but also for the natural goods that such virtues bring about. To Augustine this is incorrect because such virtues and goods cannot attain the final good in this life. The only way that the final good may be reached is by living correctly. “To attain the one and avoid the other we must live rightly” (Augustine, 446).
Augustine believes that the greatest good is peace in the eternal happiness with God, but because this life is fleeting and that it is assailed by miseries happiness cannot be fully attained and peace cannot be held. Although absolute happiness is not achievable in this life there can be some sort of happiness. “The household of human beings living by faith looks forward to the future, to those things which are promised as eternal” (Augustine 454). Those who hope and look forward to what is to come, as long as they live rightly, may find some happiness and peace of mind in this life, knowing that there is a chance of eternal happiness and bliss in the life to come. Because peace is such an extreme good and is paramount to mans’ happiness, he seeks it in this world. It is mainly sought through the social life. We live amongst others and when we are at peace with them all is well. Augustine however, is well aware of the problems that arise in this temporal world that bring damage to the social life and the peace that it can foster. No matter how much peace there is in this world there is also still lingering fear and the possibility of that peace being shattered. Furthermore, the simplest things such as different languages or cultures can disrupt that peace. Yet, the City of God is not concerned with such differences, for they all work toward the same goal. “So long as this heavenly city journeys on earth, it calls forth citizens from all peoples and gathers a society of foreigners speaking all languages” (Augustine, 4544). The difference of cultures, traditions and institutions do not concern the city of God, as long as they are not at odds with the praise of the true God. To Augustine the earthly peace is utilized by the heavenly city and directs this peace to the heavenly peace. The true peace that Augustine claims we should strive for is a perfectly ordered society that is in harmony with God and with neighbor. “… The only peace, at least of rational creatures, is the most ordered and most harmonious society, enjoying God and each other in God” (Augustine 454).
Augustine’s philosophy of the final good, being eternal happiness and peace with God and neighbor is only possible in a life that is not assaulted by such evil that is present in our own life. Evil, being a manipulation of the good, a disordered world led by selfish intentions and pride of man. This pride seeks to mimic the will of God. It is through pride that man seeks to subjugate other man under his will, instead of subjugating himself to the divine. When we submit to the will of God, instead of our own, only then can we begin to journey to the final good and although this life is full of misery and darkness, the hope of the attainment of that final good in the future is what fuels the city of God. This life cannot offer us the happiness and peace we seek, because no matter how much virtue and good we attain in the end death sweeps it away. Only by attaining eternal life in union with God can the fulfillment of such peace and happiness be claimed. Without such hope, things will ultimately lead to despair no matter what we peruse, if it is not God then it is futile. So for Augustine, the final good is hope and peace, which is only attained by eternal life. This eternal life is only attained by living rightly, and although virtue cannot bring us happiness in this life, it can, when done properly, bring about the happiness and peace we seek in the life to come.