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)

Lao-Tse

Brahmanism

Ancient Egyptian religion

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

Empedocles

Anaxagoras

Democritus and Leucippus

Eleatics

Parmenides

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

Cynics

Plato, pythagorically interpreted (One is Goodness)
Stoics

Zeno of Citium

Chrysippus

ARISTOTLE
Epicureans

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

Proclus

Pergamum school Hypatia, Synesius

Boethius

Patristics

Cerinthus, Basilides St. Gregory of Nazianzus

ST AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO

Scotus Eriugena ST. ANSELM
Bernard Silvestris AVICENNA

ST. BONAVENTURE

THOMAS AQUINAS

DUNS SCOT

Roger Bacon

Buridan

Meister Eckhardt

William Ockham

Monism

Pantheism

SUAREZ
Gassendi Jacob Boehme NICHOLAS OF CUSA
Francis Bacon

Hobbes

Giordano Bruno

Michael Servet

Leibnitz Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche Tomists, Scotists, Suarists
Locke

Hume

Evolutionists

Berkeley

Wolf

Kant

Fichte

Schelling

Hegel

Krause

Schopenhauer

Materialism

Mayer, Joule, Heimbolt, Darwin

Positivism

Empirical-criticism

Pragmatism

Neo-Kantianism

Edward von Hartmann

Marx

Wundt

Driesch

Uexkull

Brentano

Husserl

Diltbey

Spengler

Balmes
Scheler

Nikolai Hartmann

Nietzsche

Kierkegaard

Jaspers

Heidegger

Rosmini, Gioberti

Marechal

Mercier

Maritain

Hoenen

Sartre

Jean Wahl

Croce

Gentile

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.

Where human destinies can meet

Book: Philosophy of Crisis

Final Chapter

There are two current approaches towards human history: that of considering human beings as a mere effect and that of considering them as cause. In other words, we are either a product of History or History is a product of mankind; humans are either determined by the events or determine them; humans are either driven by History or drives History. Both conceptions, however, are non-realistic, since unilateral.

Considering human beings as an emergent cause, sociohistorical factors – which are predisponent causes – act, allowing – or not – emergent actualizations. But the being, as emergent, also acts over predisponence. The Chinese conception of Yang and Yin clearly comprehends the determination-determinability and the determinability-determination interactions.

Whatever acts, determining, in its turn is determined by what is suffering determination. Active and passive are reverse vectors, between emergence and predisponence. Mankind does not escape from this law.

Before History, man acts and suffers, determines and is determined, in a dialectic that constitutes his historical “concretion”, which, once separated, can lead to abstractist views. Those who consider human determination whilst virtualizing historical circumstances, tend to affirm that History is a product of man; those who do the other extreme, tend to the opposite.

We can start from such certainty: if man can be driven by History, he can also drive it. And, to paraphrase a positive thought from the Kantian ethics, we could say: if man may, he must.

It is a matter of man’s dignity to drive, as much as possible, History. But it is important to know, with maximum caution, when he is really driving or is merely being driven by it. A leader, when thinking he is driving the herd, could be only being driven by it, even if he stands in front of the herd’s march, which follows him only because he follows the path they are going. History is full of such tremendous miscomprehension. Small men seemed conductors of people, when, actually, real conductors are few, rare.

Is it even possible to find a parallel between a Hitler, byproduct of an impetus of the herd, and a Moses, creator of a people, of a nation, of a new way of life?

The great conductors only emerge in propitious moments in History and, unfortunately, our time is not a great one. However, it is not so far the day of the emergence of one who shall draw a new direction to mankind. Such direction is never original, since there is nothing new under the sun. But, actually, old forgotten ways, which may even seem impracticable, shall emerge not farther from our days, and shall lead us towards a better situation.

The crisis we live in, overwhelming all sectors, is reaching its limits and, when the corruption (or, process of decay) of a being reaches its limits, the being ceases to be and another one emerges.

The current moment of overwhelming crisis takes us with strides towards the limit. But when there is corruption of one thing, there is, simultaneously, a generation of another, and when society is corrupted, it brings within it what will be the new order. To search the positive aspects that indicate the new form is a mission for those which eyes can reach beyond the immediacy of the present moment.

And those are, always and unfortunately, few.

When everyone has turned their eyes merely to the passing instant, they cannot tolerate those who deviate the attention towards future possibilities. Man of times of decadence, such as ours, lives only in the present. There are times of man living in the past, but those who live in the future are always, in History, the less numerous and the most misunderstood.

If humankind has, sometimes, tolerated the prophets, it has never hid the unpleasantness of their presence. We have enough historical subsidies to demonstrate the veracity of such statement. However, that has not prevented things from taking such foreseen destiny, and, if they were determined by the decisions of the present moment, they could have taken a different route if those, who alert mankind consciousness, had been better understood.

We must comprehend the prophets. That does not mean we should listen to the words of anyone who points out future times. If prophetism is a theme of immense relevance to mankind, it demands deeper philosophical studies that not everyone is able to perform. It is comfortable the position of in limine denial of prophetism, but it reveals ignorance regarding one of the most serious and difficult themes of philosophy. It is necessary a re-study on prophetism, so to search the deepest reasons and the solidest nexuses connecting the prophets to the events of history. Instead of simplistic and coward solutions, such as despising them, we should detain ourselves in the study of this theme, which has interested great and conspicuous thinkers, but, unfortunately today, when people are merely living the pressing moment, it seems such an outlying issue that has totally lost significance.

How can one drive History? If we look to the example of science, we see that knowledge, allied to technology and structured over a new schematic, allow the prevention of evils that may arise, anticipating fatal consequences. Such statement dispenses demonstration, since the examples are of general knowledge.

If we expand our studies, led by a spirit not only academic, but genuinely alive, and scrutinize all sectors of human knowledge, which compose the object of all sciences, and mesh them all in a conception that includes and not excludes, that unites and not separates, that becomes concrete and not abstract, we can, thence, build a new science that would, for instance, be the true science of History, a true Historiology, i.e., a theoretical and practical science, reuniting knowledge to praxis, to brave new horizons, open new possibilities, to hinder destructive processes and facilitate constructive ones.

Knowledge is the instrument of triumph over our needs and our deficiencies. And once we start executing such honorable work, architectonically the apex of human knowledge, for the sake of mankind, only then, a ground for the manifestation of a more robust belief ought to be ready, which should have the role of concretionize human conceptions, not only of the cosmos, but of all orders of being.

What we can do is to prepare the ground.

Whether we want it or not, we cannot only be the prophets of catastrophe. What is perishing must perish. We ought to be the prophets of human resurrection, which shall come.

If our chests still cannot pulsate before a new transcendentality (which would, in fact, be the same, emerging from the content of all great religions, since the symbols can vary, once plurissignificant, but the content, the symbolized, the referred eternal never changes), shall come a day in which we must find the point of ubiquity for all of our highest hopes.

And the eternal perfection, measure of perfection of all things, must, one day, be once again found, so science, philosophy and religion should be structured in a great schematic, since the limit of one indicates the limits of the others.

Therefore, there are ways to overcome the crisis and all unitive practices – that performs a qualitative leap by the construction of new tensional structures, always based on cooperation – are seeds thrown in the path of life that should, sooner or later, flourish and fructify.

Gradually, a tensional view should allow us to reach such concretion that unite the scattered and lead us to superation. In this moment, human hearts shall rise and new prayers shall fill the space, since hope would be revived once again within mankind.

Such hope should mark the bottom line to a walk towards an improved society, more united, but also more sublimate and more perfect, because, once knowing what leads us to diacrisis and sincrisis, which not properly solve crisis, it would allow us to no longer lose the perennial source of our hopes, and no longer abandon our route, which shall endure for future generations, in a higher and higher ideal of super-humanity, not as a gracious lie, but a real and profound truth: path to the supreme perfection, beginning and end of all things.

Despite the disbelief of our time that seems to befog it, such day shall shine. Evil is not eternal, since it lacks effectiveness. Such was the great certainty that inspired human hearts in all eras, and such is the certainty that shall be affirmed within ourselves.

Cratic Phases in History

Book: Philosophy of Crisis.

Chapter XIII

To corroborate our theory of the cycle of vicious forms, we shall examine the cratic phases in History. Wouldn’t they be under the rein of certain preset principles, such as the one in which every tension is always the field of a constant shock between the vectors of conservation and destruction, and that the final victory of the latter is, in the cosmic world, a law?

Things are not eternal. They disappear, not only via the natural development of their tensional process, but also by the antagonist action of other tensions within the environment. No human society lasts eternally, nor are eternal their component elements.

A longer or shorter perdurability of a social form does not imply eternization, incompatible with a succeeding cosmos that goes through cycles of forms, which, although repetitive and, therefore, affirmative of – on its formal aspect – a hint of eternity, does not prevent the transience of the singular, which “perform” life – as demonstrated throughout the cosmos – from the physical-chemical to the sociological spheres.

Consequently, History is not exception to the rule (shall we remember the anankê of the Greeks, the dharma of the Hindu, the “cycle” of the Egyptians, etc.). The presence of the kratos (power, in Greek) within the social constitution as a cohesive force, “coherencing” the social tension, is inevitable in History. But it is appropriate to distinguish them, since a deficient clarification on the subject leads to false interpretations in accordance to desires and opinions of ideological groups, interested on justifying certain practices and attitudes.

If we consider the kratos as social cohesion force, as supra individual and above the groups, we shall consider this force:

  1. a) As corresponding to cohesion (Pythagorean tónos arithmós) as what gives coherence (cum – haerens, of haereo, attached, united, joint together, therefore heritage) to society, considered as tension;
  2. b) As structured in a political organism (aside) that appears in History from the simplest forms of centralized power (council of elders, etc.) to Modern State.

In the first case, cohesion (tónos) gives force to society; in the second, force gives cohesion. There are medium examples of the participation of both. There is an inversion of vectors, which change – of order, only – allows a clear distinction.

There are, in Sociology, many ways for the emergence of social cohesion forces, such as ways of persuasion (religions, etc.), ways of constraint (the State, in all its modalities; morality, under some aspects, etc.) and the exchange of benefits (common interests, kinship bonds, etc.).

The kratos, structured in an organism of centralizing power (with degrees of centralization, corresponding to the interchange of the historical process of the cultural cycles, as we shall see), is what properly characterizes the cracy, which carry out the cratesis, the action of political domination over the variety of social strata.

However, the kratos is structured in different configurative ways, with beginning, development, and depletion, according to the historical cycles.

Considering, for instance, the four periods of the historical cycles, established by Spengler, three corresponding cratic phases could be included:

To the juvenile period of cultural[1] formation, three cratic phases can easily be distinguished in History, although their roots and prolongations can intersect with others:

1) Theocratic phase: Every culture, when tensionally structuring, do so under a theocratic form. A divinity gives the ruling laws of the social order. An enlightened one, a figure to become mythical and scumbling the line dividing history and legend, receives from divinity the applicable law of the new society. This human figure could become divinized. He appears as a god or a man ascending to divinity. Rama amongst the Aryans, Mohammad amongst the Arabic, Moses amongst the Jew, Christ amongst the Christians, Thoth (or Hermes Trismegistus) amongst the Egyptians, are divine men or incarnated divinities giving a new law, a new order.

Society is structured upon a cohesion given by consensus. The sage exercises the kratos without restrictions. It is a form of absolutism, but accepted and not totally imposed, since founded on consensus and on an acknowledgement of a divinity, which has chosen an interpreter to translate into human language the divine will.

Around this divine personage – physical or spiritually present – an order of hieratic, sanctified men is structured, who comply with and enforce the law. Then, a second cratic phase is progressively structured:

2) Hierocracy (hieros, holy man): The sanctified men (priests) structure the social kratos. They are representative and compliant of the law. This period (of the brahmanin, amongst the Hindu; of the great priests in Egypt; with correspondence in every great civilization, needless to mention), prolonging for a longer or shorter time, beholds the great clashes between orthodoxes and heretics (such as the charvakas, in India, the gnostics, in Christianity, etc.). Those heresies comprise an entire range of affirmations, from the intransigently purist to the deniers of the law. Some movements of destructive opinions appear. Materialist ideas and anticlerical movements act efficient and energetically[2]. This moment of religious cohesion reflux gives rise to a movement of ethical flux, of a more aggressive spirituality towards maintaining the cohesion order. Jainism, the rshis of India and Western asceticism are examples, with correspondents easily found in every other culture.

That activity generates the formation of a third cratic phase:

3) Aretocracy (arete, virtuous): The kratos is dominated by virtuous (in the Greek sense of the term) men, a courageous and faithfully impetuous group uniting material force to the power of faith. Power no longer belongs to the priests (men endowed with sacer, with sacrality) only, but to a sacrality amongst the earthly life through the fulfillment of ethical-religious principles; the virtuous men. This transition from religious to secular power, structured with the germ of separation, progressively rising, impels the economically dominant classes – still not politically dominant – to dispute it.

The first revolution comes, ascending to the kratos the:

4) Aristocracy: The “better ones” (aristós) demand more rights and gradually take over the temporal power. Clashes between those and the priests are inevitable and the centralizing figure of power, referred since the three first phases as a supreme representative, is the Great Priest, chosen amongst his equals. Begins, in this period, a gradual preparation for the first great social revolution, the aristocratic, which creates restrictions to power. The inevitable clashes result in an alternation of power, with sometimes the rule of the priests, sometimes the rule of the aristocrats. This period of turmoil compels a continuing centralization of power – of an earthly sort. The aristocrats choose their king (rex, rajah, etc.). However, this king is still a par, chosen amongst equals (for instance, the election of kings amongst Polish nobles and Asturian nobles).

The disturbances, provoked by the rise of a new class of nobles, compel for a hypertrophy of the political kratos. Hence, the ruler, supported by a small, but united group, structures the:

5) Oligarchy: A monarch, supported by a small chosen group of lords (oligós), exercises the kratos. The separation between temporal and religious power develops in a way that the latter looses its role of superordinate to become subordinate. The priests are bound to spiritual matters and gradually subordinate to the interests of the new dominant castes.

Absolutism emerges, so to appear the:

6) Monocracy: The rule of a powerful king, although supported by a group. The supervening excesses incite the ambitions of new classes, already holders of economical power, but aspiring the political one, such as the merchants (bourgeoisie, vasyas, etc.), which through republican ideals (the public thing, res publica) causes the second great social revolution, which is:

7) Democracy: Herein concludes the second period of the cultural cycle, ending the classical period to initiate the period of social decline. The separation between political and religious kratos is complete. The ascension of the lower classes raises to power the representatives of economical interests. It is no longer a spiritual aristocracy or the aristocracy of blood, but the aristocracy of money. Therefore, democracy turns into:

8) Plutocracy: The kratos of the plutoi, of the rich ones. The businessmen, coming also from aristocracy, foundation of the plutocratic kratos, end up by being ruled by the interest of the richest ones, controllers of capital. Therefore, the rise of:

9) Argirocracy (argiros, silver): Money is the common denominator of all things. Businessmen turn the State into a merely economic business, a big corporation, and the consequent demoralization provokes upheavals leading to the third great social revolution:

10) Ochlocracy (ochlos, street masses): The rule of the “popular will”, of the masses, of destructive chaos, which, overwhelming everything with its vortex, closes the third period of the cultural cycle and start the final phase of the civilization debauchery. Chaos demands order, therefore:

11) Caesarocracy: The kratos is given to powerful men, supported by military forces, as the only way of salvation from inevitable chaos. It is the period of bloody wars against other nations, leading to the final destruction of the political kratos or the invasion by outsiders, facilitated by the internal degeneration of society. It gradually befalls, after extensive erosion, the final phase:

12) Acracy: It no longer has a centralized power, but an atomized or fragmentary one, or the substitution for a new order, imposed from outside and the transformation of the people, who represented the culture, to the situation of fellah, in the worst case scenario.

During those final periods, with sudden recurrences to many of the past beliefs, a new ideal emerges, under a cooperative basis by the consensus being articulated with other people, structuring to deliver a new cultural tension, with new possibilities, incarnating in the figure of a great saint (from the present or the past), who inaugurates, once again, a Theocracy, and the cycle of cultural tension resumes, presenting the same kratos avatars, and fulfilling the cycle of vicious forms.

About the cratic phases, it is important to make a few comments to corroborate our statements. One shall not forget the variable and the invariable in History, for those forms repeat themselves through fluxes and refluxes, through the alternation of positive and oppositive statements, as the contest of parties or the progressive and conservative perspectives, between revolutionist and involutionist, arising in every moment to control the events, but those same forms do not repeat themselves as typically historical singularities, rather with their peculiar characteristics, differential notes, by which they structure a oneness with the human occurrences.

In the democratic period, for instance, a plain republicanism is not a requirement, since a monarch can, as seen so many times in History, represent the interests of the classes that holds the movable, commercial or industrial properties, such as, in our civilization, Napoleon and Bismarck represented interests of bourgeois origin.

It is also verifiable periods of restoration of previous forms, by a casualty of events, but always of short extent. For instance, fluxes and refluxes of absolutism can be understood when a new ruling group rises and establishes greater liberty for its equals while restricting it for the adversaries.

On the other hand, the combination of emerging and predisposing factors, forming the genuine arithmoi pleithoi, determines various situations that can explain the great variance of the historical events and shall be subject of further studies.

In definitive, one must look at those cratic phases as forms, and consider them analogical throughout the various cultural cycles, always bearing in mind the dialectical presence of the variable (singular) besides the invariable (formal)[3].

Summarizing what we have examined, it never hurts to repeat that the cratic phases do not obey a mechanical precision. One can mathematize the events of physical chemistry, when in a macroscopic plane, since, in microphysics, current science finds a certain difficulty for a mathematization, in a merely quantitative sense. The atom reveals, in its inner constitution, the presence of intensist aspects that cannot be reduce to quantitative numbers. As well as in the field of Biology, one shall verify that life cannot be reduced to quantitative numbers, in the same extent that this can be verified in Psychology and Sociology.

If natural sciences can use – to a certain success – quantitative mathematics, the same cannot be said concerning cultural sciences. It can only exist a greater or lesser rigor, analogically corresponding to a mathematical accuracy of the formers. If human history succeeded as succeed the events of physical chemistry, we should have to exclude from it the bionomics and psychological, in which there is place for freedom and unpredictability.

Therefore, the cratic phases we examined do not succeed exactly in a mechanical sequence, but show fluxes and refluxes, accelerations and delays, levels of various intensities, that prevents us from considering them as exact, but only as rigorous. If applying what had been said about the cycles of vicious forms to the cratic phases, we realize that the kratos keeper meets the period of decline exactly after becoming absolutist, provoking the rise of oppositions.

The law of alternation is present in the events of History.

Absolutism happens in those moments in which the natural force of a doctrine or a cratic phase falters and the use of means to give cohesion facilitates the admission of less categorized representatives. Our current days offer profuse examples, for instance. All cratic forms are initially presented to guide society and headed by true idealists, acting through uncorrupted intentions. Throughout the time, there is a march towards inferior forms, thus a constantly repeated phrase, “this is not how we have dreamed”.

And so it happens because the keeping of power is followed by certain benefits that incite the ambition of many who look at it as an end rather than a means, and aspire power to enjoy it. Politics, the technique of harmonizing individual and social interests, becomes, on those moments, a technique of conquest and maintenance of power. Thus, the means substitute the ends and the march towards decline is inevitable. There is always a historical crisis, since there is always a separation between rulers and ruled ones, and the battle for power is an aggravating constant.

The crisis is immerged within the historical lives of the people and knows its moments of intense aggravation of diacrisis amongst rivals and of sincrisis – even if imposed by circumstances – amongst partisans. History is the great field of crisis.

In the study of historical facts, we can analyze the emergent and predisposing factors, separate them for examination, prolong on our scrutiny, but the crisis shall aggravate have we forgotten to return them to the “concretion” they belong.

Examples are clarifying. Geographical factors, encompassed within ecological ones, are undoubtedly predominant upon the choosing of agricultural production. Cattle raising is established where feasible. The forms of artisanal production depend upon geography. The Arabic of the desert, for example, cannot become a farmer. Pottery cannot appear where there is no clay. Only a subsequent development of technology could enhance the mastery over geography. Human adaptation depends on the circumstances of the geographical environment.

The examination of other factors can improve the comprehension, such as the influence of ethnical factors, a mesh of emergent and predisposing aspects, since cooperating the bionomic, the psychological and the historic-social, which allow us to understand Toynbee’s theory of challenge and response. Different civilizations, facing the same challenge, either natural or from other human sets, respond differently and such heterogeneity depends greatly on ethnical conditions.

Some civilizations, faced with aggressions, bow, while others, react. One cannot establish a social mechanics, for each historical fact demands a a posteriori analysis of the factors cooperating to its occurrence. The historiologist (and historiology is a future science to be built about the historical facts) is endued with the mission of searching for the invariables, which may arise given the cooperation of factors. Maybe one day (we hope, nearby) the historiologist could establish those invariables and state, given certain circumstances, the probabilistically result, in a larger or lesser degree.

The current state of the historical studies can already allow the establishment of some rules with certain rigor. For instance, in a typically maritime society, individualism prevails, whilst in a typically continental one, there is a greater subordination of the individual downwards society. The former tends to value the individual, establish individualist laws and have a tendency to liberalism, to facilitate individual initiative, and, consequently, they are more tolerant and even cosmopolitan, since maintaining trade relations with foreigners in a more regular basis. And since the trade is never restricted to material goods, but includes the exchange of ideas, it results in a greater scientific progress, greater development of rationalism and a tendency to build universal religions.

Typically territorial societies have an immovable wealthy and the law is predominantly feudal. And, reticent towards the trade with other people, they are, consequently, intolerant. Nationalism is exaggerated and religion is provincial. There are examples throughout History in all cultural cycles, but herein we shall point out the aspects favoring the comprehension of our Philosophy of Crisis.

In a typically maritime society, sincrisis is achieved by the aggregation of atomized individuals. In a typically continental one, sincrisis is achieved by the subordination to the nation. In the first case, diacrisis is processed by individualism, whilst, in the second, by social strata, classes, castes, much more scattered than in the former. Both societies demonstrate the crisis, but under different aspects and different levels of aggravation.

The first one tends to the vicious forms by the inevitability of State bureaucratization, which creates subsequent hierarchization that, consequently, shatters solidarity, since social strata will be founded on created interests – thence, inevitable collapse. The second, founded on feudalism, tends to build a State under the dominance of hierarchically superior classes. The rise of oligarchy, throughout the time, should incite the inevitable reaction of the lower classes. Bureaucratization is also foreseeable, as well as the State separating from society (therefore aggravating the crisis) that should provoke a clash, so to befall collapse, and, in both types of society, the cycle of vicious forms occurs as an invariable, despite of the variables that belong to the field of History[4].

Similarly to human beings, there are no eternally young societies. History is a monotone report of ascensional forms, which emerge fraught with possibilities but come to an end after a long itinerary of inevitable degeneration. Although melancholic, our affirmation is true. Crisis has been always installed within human societies, not only within individual relations, but also with groups and even within society as a whole.

Crisis is inevitable, and its emerging sincrisis and diacrisis always cause the same alternation such as going from one extreme to another. The observation of such facts can naturally lead the student towards a pessimist attitude. However, there is always something within us rebelling against the pessimism that sometimes presides over us.

There is a desire within us to surpass crisis, or even avoid it. Or, once we become aware of it, defeat it. And what is the history of the great ideas if not the constant search for a solution that exhilarate us, but posterior facts persist to impugn? Society is such as ill body to which so many have offered their therapeutics. A therapy for crisis: that is what mankind has always desired. And never, so it seems, it has been so wished such as nowadays.

But can one deny the problem that, due to its complexity, demands so much of our efforts? How could we propose a therapy for a hitherto unknown disease? Therefore, in order to advise a therapy, matter that we firstly analyze, as better as possible, the features of the crisis. Once again, it is clear that the solution for human problems cannot prescind the cooperation of the philosopher, since crisis is undoubtedly a great philosophical problem[5].

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[1] Henceforth, in the classical sense of the word, meaning civilization, unless stated otherwise. (TN)

[2] We know this phase in our civilization and in other cultures, such as the Hindu, with the fight of the Charvakas, Buddhists, of the materialist Kesakambali, of Kashyapa, which provoked the ethical emphasis of Jainism.

[3] Those four periods, with their three phases, has a foundation in human emergence. In all and any society, regardless of the social and economical structure, a classification of four types, founded on human temperaments and characterological aspects, can be seen, as:

  1. Those who have a pronounced inclination to the transcendental, to the mystical, to hear beyond what the things silent about, and, consequently, with an accentuated religious impetus, with stronger virtuous manifestations than others; virtuous men, ascetics, priests, etc., eminently virtuous.
  2. Those who have a pronounced inclination to an aggressive impetus, entrepreneurs of disinterested deeds, loving action for the action, craving to accomplish acts beyond utilitarian interests, proud of their strength, their combativeness, their aggressiveness (warriors, pioneers, errant knights, hunters who are prouder of what they do than of the results they provide, etc.), eminently aristocratic.

Amongst those two types, the scale of values is hierarchically different. The values of religious order stand amongst the first ones, whilst, amongst the second ones, the ethical-aristocratic values equate and merge with the first one.

  1. Those who have a prevalence of utilitarian values, tending towards organizing production and exchanges, able to economical achievements and to an order not properly of the warrior, but of the worker, assuming the direction of production and distribution and exchanges with others.
  2. Those who pronouncedly obey, provide services, execute orders, reveling an inability to become autonomous and tending to become servers of the other three.

In all human beings there is this emergency and, individually, it has larger or smaller levels. We all have some of those four types, indifferent levels. And the prevalence of a level reveals who we are, which does not prevent that, sometimes, someone has a social occupation strange from his main inclination. Those are the unsuitable, misfits, who suddenly rebel and reveal what they are, given certain predisposing circumstances.

The structuring of social classes proceeds through the precipitance caused by predisponency, in which we include the historical-social, allowing the understanding of the variance of the historic actualizations. To sum up, emergency actualizes in the modals proportional to predisponency. This is the reason why a merely historical materialist explanation, such as the Marxist one, cannot concretely reach the formation of social classes, since only consider them as product of a merely economical structure, disregarding the role of emergency.

It is not possible to detail our thesis in this book, as we shall have the opportunity to do so in Philosophy and History of Culture, as well as justify it in light of other studies on the field not only of Sociology, but Anthropology and History. A good foundation for our thesis should efficiently and decisively contribute to build the foundations for a historiology, so to favor a better solution for the social problems, since the usually given solutions, for not considering the emergency, are partials, abstracts, and, consequently, utopians, and failing on their application since not founded on reality, concealed by many.

[4] In our book Philosophy and History of Culture, we analyze the more eloquent facts of History to corroborate our theory.

[5] The cyclical process of a ideological structure or a cultural tension presents, in its phases (corresponding to the cyclical phases of the kratos), the following representatives: at the beginning, the juvenile idealists, enthusiastic advocates; then, the pioneers, who execute the first works, the heroes, the errant knights of ideas; followed by the practical doers, corresponding to the classical period; and, finally, the absolutists, appearing when the intrinsic coherence of the cycles has weakened and is substituted by an imposed cohesion, by a “coercive universalization”, period of absolutism, caesarism, marking the end of the evolutive process and the beginning of inevitable decadence.

Within the economical sector, still evident in our days, it is the period of high capitalism (Hochkapitalismus, by Sombart), of pioneers, of great achievers, imbued of ideals, true heroes, errant knights, such as Mauá (great Brazilian entrepreneur, from the imperial period), amongst us, to finally supervene, the achievers, such as Ford, Siemens, Krupp, etc., following the profiteers, organized in unions, association of classes, with the intent to maintain a cohesion, already impossible, before the adversary onrushes.

The examples we provided are enough to illustrate what is observable in all other sectors, not only economical, but also in the so-called cultural super-structure, ideas, philosophical tendencies, political ideals, religions, etc.

Once again, one should be reminded to consider not those facts mechanically, in a mathematical precision – in its quantitative sense – but in a rigor that reveals an invariable of great importance to the study of historical facts, and that should contribute – if well-oriented – to provide material and formalities that should allow that, from History, one can build a Historiology, a true science of History.