Crisis in Philosophy and Religion

Now, once the concept of crisis is delineated and clarified, we can understand that finite beings are into it and the very emergence of them indicates crisis. The world was created “when God separated Light from Darkness”, the two positive principles of being, i.e., two extremes of being (actual being and potential being) symbolized by Light and Darkness: being-whilst-actuality and being-whilst-potentiality, being whilst determinative and being whilst determinability, both as presences of and into the being.

From such opposition between determinability – always positive, since the inverse extreme of being – and determination – the other inverse extreme – the entire variety and heterogeneity of existence emerges, all affirming, in the constant mutability of becoming, the eternal presentiality of being, always being. Such thought, background of the great religions of all cultural cycles, in spite of the variety of denominations, is generally consubstantiated within the genuine Pythagorean thought as we have exposed, the starting point for the examination of the history of Western thought as a moment more syncritic than diacritic – it unites instead of separating but it also apprehends the separation without disregarding of the infinite unitive union of the being that does not allow intercalations of nothingness.

Whether such potentiality or determinability is called Pakriti, as in Hindu thought, or Yin, as in Chinese philosophy, or yet dynamis in Aristotelianism, and whether the determination or actuality is called Purusha, Yang or energeia, such contents are metaphysically the same, although each one of them is different if considered as ens logicum (logical entity) and wore with their respective cultural schematic content; different, but not diverse. What distinguishes them is a difference and nor a diversity, since they all indicate the same content to which they all refer in spite of diverse voices and schematics.

Crisis is immanent to the finite plane and can only be surpassed within the scope of religions through and by the transcendence of the Supreme Being. It urges to overcome the delimitation established by the diastema between things and also the separation done by tensional structures. Solution to crisis is not sincrisis, for it is still a crisis. It is not enough to merely add, unite, aggregate, do the congregatio – the assembly of parts – since crisis would still be in the boundaries. All religions understand and proclaim that there is no solution to crisis that is immanent to the finite, by merely doing the congregatio of parts. It is necessary to transcend upon the limits of the parts through a fusion with the transcendence, such as in Hindu yoga, Christian beatitude, nirvana – in Hindu terms, not the budist one that affirms the inevitability of crisis – or tao of Lao-Tse, all pathways towards liberation from limits. All great religions, in their highest moments, propose salvation through transcendence, not through sincrisis but by liberation from all crises.

However, such religions are merely an indication of what transcend them, since they are also crisis-installed finite entities, not the Supreme Being themselves. All great religions perceived periods of disaggregation, when the central core that unites the devotees gradually separates in sects (of secare, to cut) that fight against one another for the possession of truth. It is crisis in its diacritic form through increase of diastema, of separations, which etiology we shall scrutinize in the chapter related to the cycles of vicious forms, a process of crisis that subsists in all human creation.

In Christianity, what unites the tensions, trans-immanent to the parts, is the Corpus Christi, the Church, which is not merely ecclesia (aggregatio of components), but communion, a fusion into consensus, an acceptance sympathetically experiential: union with Christ that unifies even physically separated Christians. It is a terrible mistake to deny the presence of such tension, which structures and coherences the believers, not merely as a product of addition of parts, as a plain atomistic view of religion would tolerate.

Such transcendence is a surpassing the symbol to penetrate into the symbolized, an itinerarium mysticum, i.e., a penetration into what is latent from the eyes of the body and the intellectuality and which go beyond the operational of the spirit towards a genuinely affective experience, an apprehensio genuinely pathica, which is a fronese – a merging into a tensional whole: a lively religion, in reverence. Thus, religion seeks and attains a victory over crisis, over finiteness, and such is the true meaning of the word “salvation”, a rescue from crisis.

All great religions affirm that mankind descended from a divine origin, to which return we aspire: a re-legere. And, since only mankind has consciousness of the state of fallen, only mankind can build norms, rules and orders (rites) – ritá, in Hindu tradition, as what is done according to certain rule in order to climb the steps of ascension, ascensio – to overcome such state. Religions affirm as the duty of man to ascend such scale through acts that raise us from animality through humanity towards the transcendence of crisis. Whether it is an act of submission (islam) to divinity, or an act of choosing, or yet an act of mystical divestiture and continuous ascesis, etc., there is always the message of victory over crisis to be performed by man. And the knowledge that we, although in a state of crisis, are immersed into such being, is a guarantee that the search for ascension as liberation from our limits and the penetration by mystical fusion into the Divine, is not futile. Even if, in certain moments in the history of religions, some of them, such as buddhist, jainist and mimansa sects, an affirmation of endurance of crisis is predominant, the concept of salvation prevails throughout the uppermost phases of all religions.

And all of them demand an act of surrender to Divinity, i.e., a sacrifice, a bestowal of a valuable something as a pledge of submission and committal. Now, since all religions offer a solution for crisis and, as we have seen, such victory over crisis is only achieved by a tensional coalescence with divinity, all religions acknowledge and affirm that the solution for crisis is not given by sincrisis as the reverse movement of diacrisis, but by its transcendence, its superation.

If religion does not suffice the struggle against crisis, man seeks philosophy. Such toil demonstrates that, albeit living within and being crisis, we don’t find our homeland. We aspire overcoming it or, otherwise, we shall definitely tumble with no hope to get out, thus living in despair.

Philosophy, in its turn, clearly testifies the constant endeavor of a lengthy controversy, fundamental to all philosophical thought: the alternating approaches, whether onto One (the Being), whether onto Multiple (the becoming), concretified in some moments in History into a philosophy of synthesis – not only a sincrisis but a transcendence and a superation of crisis, as verified, for instance, in the philosophy of Aristotle. He actualized the transcendence in light of Parmedian sincrisis that reduced everything to the “being” and Heraclitean diacrisis, which reduced everything to the eternal becoming of things. A quick view of the philosophical process should be enough for the student to apprehend such alternation of three phases, diacrisis, sincrisis and transcendental synthesis, analogous and correspondent to what is verified in the field of religions.

If sects do diacrisis, as in modern Christianity, local cults and polytheistic thought, sincrisis is done by the formation of the ecclesia, religious consensus, onto transcendental synthesis by the formation of or a return to a monotheistic religion, a concretional view of the universe and, therefore, an affirmation of victory over crisis – by the transcendence of a Supreme Being.

The philosophical landscape can be exposed as in the following chart:

Diacrisis Sincrisis Trancendental Synthesis
Thales of Miletus (“water”)

Anaximander (“apeiron”, the indeterminate)



Ancient Egyptian religion

Anaximenes (“air”) PYTHAGORAS (transcendental One and arithmoi numbers of crisis. One is not number)



Democritus and Leucippus



Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias: Philosophy of despair, skepticism and relativism Megarian School


Plato, pythagorically interpreted (One is Goodness)

Zeno of Citium



Skeptics of Academia (Pyrrhonism, for instance) reveal a despair onto crisis

Eclecticism Some Platonists, Neo-platonists and neo-pythagoreans
Some neo-pythagoreans Judaic-alexandrine Theosophy
Iamblichus and the Syrian school Plotinus


Pergamum school Hypatia, Synesius



Cerinthus, Basilides St. Gregory of Nazianzus


Scotus Eriugena ST. ANSELM
Bernard Silvestris AVICENNA




Roger Bacon


Meister Eckhardt

William Ockham



Gassendi Jacob Boehme NICHOLAS OF CUSA
Francis Bacon


Giordano Bruno

Michael Servet

Leibnitz Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche Tomists, Scotists, Suarists












Mayer, Joule, Heimbolt, Darwin





Edward von Hartmann










Nikolai Hartmann





Rosmini, Gioberti






Jean Wahl



Such classification is not rigorous, since specific differences accentuated in various authors reveal intermediate points. For instance, the work of Leibnitz, albeit diacritic with the theory of monads, does not fail to point out transcendent divinity. Notwithstanding, the aspiration to overcome crisis is not the overcoming itself. The philosophical work must actually do it. Most theists, for example, amongst the diacritics, were not able to avoid crisis and diastema created by their ideas. In fact, only a few philosophers were able to, between the One and the Multiple, coherently resolve the aspired synthesis, that is, those in capital letters. Others who were included into the third column were followers of such greater ones, and not properly creators of a philosophy able to overcome crisis.

Crisis cannot be overcome through immanence, since it is installed in it. Crisis can only be surpassed through what transcends it. All immanent philosophy – as predominant in our time – is a philosophy of crisis. It is not enough to affirm the superation, but philosophically achieve it. Many of such philosophies have deemed to have overcome crisis but were actually of crisis, since transcendence was not reached. We shall dedicate a chapter on our definition of immanence and transcendence when discussing tensions. The tensional solution, based on more solidly justified positivities of philosophy in all times, does not arrogate the naive and mediocre pretension of originality, as the typical systematic and pedantic literates. Tensional conception wants simply to be a thought that, heading towards universal thought, finds a correspondence with the more solid and positive moments, above all sectarianism, and seeking to comprehend in order to explain. Such conception, however, does not present a transcendence but a trans-immanence, which is already an overcoming from immanence to transcendence without dichotomizing the world, such as the old aporia of dualism. The Aristotelian and Scholastic solutions – so unfortunately unknown by most modern philosophers – offer a way that the tensional conception cannot but register, although we shall analyze it in our General Theory of Tensions.

Transcending, as a surpassing of obstacles and limits (transcendere), ought be taken herein not in a gnosiological sense but in an ontological one, of overcoming our experience (which is an experience of crisis and as experience, is crisis). It is a penetration into the un-experienceable, into what scapes from our sensible-intuitive mediums, which is given through other apprehensions, other intellective and pathical acts, speculations, all of which are, philosophically speaking, an incursion into sectors beyond sensible-intuitive, doable only by the work of thought, in a broad sense. In modern philosophy, such as in the existentialism of Heidegger and Jaspers, there is a discovery of transcendence: in Jaspers, with the encompassing being (Umgreifende) and, in Heidegger, with the superation of the entity to “the” being, which, however, is indeterminate by it. There is, in such philosophies, an aspiration to outrival crisis albeit without actually achieving it, thus pertaining to sincritic schematics.

One cannot deny man’s desire to at least reach the goodness beyond crisis. Man searches it and whether finds it or despairs from finding it. No philosopher can deny that we “would be better off” once crisis is subdue. It “would be better off” if it was given that we could effectively transcend it. In such “would be better off” presented in the vagueness of a doubt or in the firmness of a certainty, human spirit is always before two pathways: searching and finding it or abandoning the quest. And there is abandonment for those who previously accept the inutility of such quest, which is still despair. No one can deny the existence of a testimony within us of a “would be better”. It evinces that there is not a complete acceptance of crisis: we would be better off once transcending it. An old principle of Scholasticism derived from Greek origins says that there is no absolutely useless emergent impulse within mankind. If we tend towards something superior, there is within us a deeper root that justifies it. How could we accept the goodness of a better solution if there was not an emergency impelling us towards it? We have within us something that speaks and we don’t comprehend, but we can hear the stammer of a desire, which in some becomes an impetus and in others, a certainty. If anyone feels it useless to believe in such “would be better”, they cannot, however, deny that is has an emergence and its predisponence aggravates and acutes it, transforming it in a stronger desire or even in a willingness (distinguished from a desire for being active).

The state of crisis cannot satisfy us. And when man decides to morbidly live it, as some nihilists and existentialists of today, wallowing into it, it is a gesture of rebelliousness and not of acceptance, as in the vibrating verses of Baudelaire, more a scream of one who could no longer believe than of who had no faith at all. To deny such impulse is to try to conceal a positivity. Therefore, if we within crisis and we are crisis, something within us proclaims against it, rebelling, refusing, nonconforming, impelling us beyond. Such profound truth, to which all words pale to express, is alive within each one of us. Not everyone knows to hear it or feel all its intensity, and their efforts to find solutions in immanence – here and now – reveal that such impetus has lost its aim, such as an arrow thrown randomly without a target.

Now, religion emerges from mankind’s awareness of crisis as a search for transcendence, with a set of rules and rites that teach ways of overcoming crisis. Religion emerges when man becomes aware of crisis, and the deeper the consciousness, the profounder the religion. Religions emerge in History under many heterogeneous variables, but they have a formal invariable: it is always a path onto transcendence, towards apprehending and conserving it, but an impetus to overcome it. Thus, the great religions are a set of means onto a transcendental synthesis and not a knowledge of crisis, but a knowledge that emerges from crisis towards overcoming it – all religions promise to overcome it.

On the other hand, philosophy is a speculation on the justification of transcendence. It emerges from crisis and remains within crisis (as in the philosophies of crisis) or seeks liberating itself with the transcendental philosophies, which are still a philosophy of crisis, since scrutinize it and search to overcome it. In such “it would be better”, i.e., in such parabolic estimative, as we call it, as an appreciation (from timós, value of appreciation) through comparison (parabola) in which man compares what he has with what “would be better” – non-actualized perfection – there is transcendence. There is a pairing (from par, to compare) of what is patent to the senses, the sensible-intuitive experience, with what one has a virtual possession (“would be better”), total victory over crisis: Christian beatitude, man’s ultimate meaning, Buddhist nirvana; ultimate purpose that surpasses the territory of crisis, since, within crisis, goodness can only be a goodness of crisis, limited and, therefore, incomplete.

Under the perspective of crisis, religion and philosophy have a common locus. If the first is a mystical knowledge of what transcends it, the second speculatively scrutinizes crisis to transcend it ot not, to immanentize or escape from it. All transcendental philosophy is a philosophy of salvation; all immanent philosophy is a philosophy that searches or despairs, but is a philosophy of crisis. It is important to recognize such common locus that indicates the groundlessness of some philosophers of crisis who attempts to broaden the diastema between the two by creating an abyss through a crisis they cannot understand nor overcome. Such thesis of ours shall be examined in our General Theory of Tensions, supported by other elements, showing us that there is a way of concretion of all epistemic knowledge – since the religions of great civilizations are also an epistemic knowledge, not a mere set of practices as some may conclude when considering only the exoteric aspects of them. The esoteric aspect – the more important one – ought to be penetrated through the path of mystic, the aesthetic of the symbolized, as a departure from symbols to reach the referred that hides (myo, Gr., occultate, thus mysterion and mystos) and demands an arrangement (rita of Hindu, ritus in Latin) in order to reach it.

Philosophy and religion meet in transcendental philosophy, without losing contact with immanence, as observed in the philosophies of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, for instance. The scholastics considered as transcendental concepts those that can be apprehended in all beings. Every being forms an unity, is something, is a value, is true in itself and maintains relations. And that is truth for the finite beings as well as for an infinite one, for the Supreme Being, for instance, also maintain relations, but transcendental ones, such as in Trinity. Those are instrumental concepts of transcendental speculation. Categories, genres, species, differences, properties, etc., we find within beings in crisis and of crisis.

A scientist has instruments to measure and establish his certainties founded on sensible-intuitive experience by comparing what he knows with what he doesn’t know; still, his “unknown” is immanent to the same world that he knows and the sphere into which he knows. The philosopher, however, possesses only one instrument, his thinking, and must scrutinize a landmark that surpasses the field of his sensible-intuitive experience, a sphere into which his senses are blind and deaf and endue the transcendental concepts with what he investigates what is beyond. Such shortage of the philosopher is his wealth and greater glory of reward. It is easy to do science; it is burdensome to philosophize with security. Every topic has a danger, a threat of deviation and mistake. A simple reasoning presented as perfect to the first glance encloses in itself immense errors that can only emerge belatedly. Not surprisingly, in the field of philosophy, the heterogeneity of opinions is so great and the values of first degree, so rare.

It was said that science knows, philosophy wants to know, art creates, and religion believes. Such words are not original but merely highlight what is patent. Science , affirming, proclaims what it is; religion affirms a profounder conviction; philosophy scrutinizes; and the artist saves himself by creating an imaginary, fictional world, albeit still full of reality once the artist is an aesthete and aesthetics is a mystic of symbol, which, since pointing from this plane to what is beyond, belongs to the immanent. And, in the exam of immanence, science knows its limits, since it is a cult, theoretical knowledge of the immanent – an immanent knowledge of crisis to dominate crisis: what is science’s main objective if not to provide man with a control over things? By following such path, science devises its limits beyond what it cannot surpass. Crisis limitates science for science is formed within crisis: a practical-theoretical knowledge of crisis. However, once devising it, is it not science pointing out to what transcends it? Therefore, is there not a converging path with philosophy, in spite of all the spirit of crisis of specialists stating otherwise? That is a point of concretion, as if all knowledge was a sphere in which center all radius converges. They all diverge towards the remote surface but all have their root in the same starting point, an immense point that justifies since science needs it in order to define itself: without such point, science is not.

Such is a harsh and vast ground and we cannot describe every aspect of it herein, but it is our duty to expose them, specifically, in our posterior work. However, to synthesize, we shall point out what was, hitherto, established.

There is a knowledge of crisis and a knowledge of the crisis. We can either remain into the crisis, into immanence, or strive to liberate ourselves from it through a transcendental philosophy. Science provides us with a great domain over things, but it knows its limits, i.e., of immanence. Science cannot by itself rescue us from crisis, but it can minorate its effects. If there is a path of salvation, it can only be transcendental. We either accept and follow such path or fall down the despair, amenable, such as the stoic one or morbid, such as the despair of nihilists and atheists.

We can choose. We are free to do so. And such freedom is the greatness and the drama of our existence, for not all of us are able to project an ideal of superation and a path towards victory. Many, fearing defeat, choose to surrender previously. Others carry the decision which is the sign of the dignity of man: to seek victory. Such is the decision of the philosopher when decides to investigate the absolute, or the scientist when searching, within immanence, its limits, or the believer that surrenders to and seek reaching transcendence, for there is, in believing, something of heroic – humility is victory and surrender is the abandonment of the pride that pin us to the lower, a pride that can be confused with bitterness.

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