Modernity, Tradition & Identity – excerpt

Some fragments for a little taste from the upcoming book from the Prakhsis Classics series on the organic ideal.

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To understand modernity, contemporary man needs to change his views, since modernity can’t be understood from its own vantage point. This change of views must be fundamental. As we know people don’t change their views by reading books or by considering “rational” arguments; all these may help but this isn’t the key. The key is that only those people are able and willing to change their views that have intuition about the false nature of the views they hold and an uncompromising drive toward the Truth.

Since not having either intuition of or drive toward the truth is what qualifies them as moderns, only those may be able to understand modernity who –potentially or actually- are not modern: talking to modern man about modernity is simply absurd. For emphasis: not all contemporary men are modern; the overwhelming majority is, but not all.

Opposite to modernity stands Tradition; in fact in our world there is no bigger contrast than this and this contrast is palpable in all areas of life. Yet modern man, while all his life he thinks in opposites, always stands in opposition (to everything) and creates and is driven by conflicts, can’t notice this most fundamental contrast.

Tradition may be approached from several angles: philosophically, supra-philosophically, doctrinally, from the vantage point of culture, religion, arts or the sacred sciences. The approach we present now is reflective of the main theme of this book: the organic ideal.

The kernel of the organic ideal is authenticity; for everybody to be themselves as much as possible. People’s lack of identity is an important symptom of modernity. The individual literally can’t perceive himself as anything and is thus unable to organize organically. Looking at it from the structural point of view, modernity doesn’t offer any structures for people in which they may be fully who they are or where they may realize themselves, successfully unfolding their potentials.

Individualism, one of many meta-views* (for more meta-views see Critical Thinking – Introduction to navigating the irrational) of modernity compensates for the lack of identity with the view that “you may become anything you want” (including gender or racial identities). This has led to people keeping on changing their minds about what they want to be, or to adjusting to changing conditions with upbeat enthusiasm, cheerfully reinventing themselves whenever it becomes necessary. Of course being cheerful, upbeat or enthusiastic about this is cheating. Individualism conveniently forgets to address the problem of the Will.

Individuals don’t know what they want to be; instead, they focus on what they want to have. This is not a good substitute: irrespective of what they have, modern man lives in a deep existential crisis.

Moderns use many strategies to ease this crisis: they neuro-linguistically program themselves to be happy about their miserable situation; they buy more stuff or they swing to the other direction and go minimalistic and uncluttered;  they dedicate their life to careers or the opposite, trying to make a living on a different beach every few months by writing and selling ebooks about how to make a living on a different beach every few months; or they put the emphasis specifically on not having a will by indiscriminately following their increasingly irrational impulses and changing even their gender or racial identities every few months or so; or they pick an irrational cause that’s rooted in one of the meta-views of modernity and fight in a way that contradicts their proclaimed belief system …

…. Ideologically, modern man (in other words the mass-individual) views himself as an insignificant pile of dust flying aimlessly somewhere in the periphery of the universe; practically he is a voracious, hedonistic, ego-centric consumer concerned only about the basic conditions of life in ever larger quantities: food, drinks, shelter, clothing and entertainment, preferably in a luxurious package: modern man is trying desperately to be happy with being conditioned; happy in his prison cell. Passion is a celebrated quality and the objects of desire are: objects.

Archaic men despised conditions and thrived for rising above them, through the only way possible: detachment.

Traditionalism, which brings us the view of the pre-historic (from another aspect supra-historical) archaic man, is concerned only with the Truth. Authenticity from the Traditional point of view is not a question of individual opinion. Identity is a supra – individual concept. Identity, in the simplest definition means being oneself. Each person and individual is themselves, but to a different degree; and each person and individual has a certain range of potentials available to them that he may actualize to become more of themselves.

This sounds evident, but modern man doesn’t understand the concept of identity and leads a completely inauthentic existence. Moderns don’t believe in actualizing potentials (they invented the career ladder as a substitute) and they believe that everybody has equal potentials: everybody is a more or less equal pile of dust with small quantitative differences. The view of archaic man on the question of identity is radically different. Based on to what degree one is being oneself he sees vertical differentiation between people: a sacred hierarchy. The purpose of life, the ultimate objective is to be(come) oneself: to actualize all potentials and become oneself to the highest possible degree…

… Modernity is seemingly the age of the mass-individual. While in the age of Tradition justice prevailed between people and everybody was in their place living a life most appropriate to them, in modern times the opposite is true: nobody is in their place, organic roles and functions have been eliminated and people don’t believe that there is such a thing as the Truth. Hatred is incited in people against superiority. This was not possible before modernity, when people viewed the actual superiority of others as the potential superiority of themselves. The measure in everything was the superior – this is part of justice. In the age of modernity the measure is quantity which may only be pursued and sustained by inferior people.

With this brief overview we wanted to highlight that Tradition and Modernity represent two ends of a vertical pole whereby Tradition represents the starting position of a process of gradual decline that is characterized by the disappearance of qualities and the increase of quantities; qualities and quantities with their analogies in all areas of life: in social structures and communities, in world views, in intelligence, in taste, in people. Our age is a stage in the continuing process of this involution. But Tradition and Modernity also depict states of consciousness and corresponding identities.

One can become only what one potentially is. Some may reacquire the world-view of Tradition; some may develop power, dominance, the taste, the life style of Tradition. In other words some people may become men of Tradition, or –which is the same thing- they may become authentic; and where authentic people meet, organic structures emerge.

 

 

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