Saturday, May 31, 2014

Calvin and his followers assumed credit to be a normal fact of life


Under the new and progressive urban conditions, the rules were turned upon their head. John Dunn on rising modernity. Whereas to strive for personal enrichment had once seemed incomprehensible, for the Calvinist there was nothing wrong with good honest profit, as he understood it, derived from diligence and industry. Usury became respectable, where it has previously been condemned as immoral. Calvin and his followers assumed credit to be a normal fact of life; and the financier was not a pariah, but a useful member of society.

Luther believed that anyone could reach salvation as long as he had faith. Calvinism examined by John Dunn. This belief is expressed in his famous statement ‘justification by faith’, wherein one did not have to be chosen to have faith. In contrast, Calvin preached that those predestined for salvation were defined by their virtuous lives, and they were referred to as ‘the elect’. Also, the elect could be determined by their economic and material success. Under this doctrine, good works, whilst not a way of attaining salvation, become indispensable as a proof that salvation has been attained


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Friday, May 30, 2014

The middle-man as a parasite and the usurer as a thief

A selection of medieval buildings in Ghent
The medieval church had striven to keep the uses of money limited and under strict control, with usury in the most widely defined sense outlawed as an excommunicable offence. John Dunn money critique. Society was conceived holistically as a people of God, which reflected St Paul’s metaphor of the Church as the body of Christ. In this social organism the parts, though varied, each served vital functions for the survival of the whole. Disproportionate growth of any one part, such as trade for monetary gain, was seen as a malignant threat to the rest, quite apart from the biblical admonishment of usury as sinful.

Calvinism, an urban movement, found its stronghold in social groups to which the traditional scheme of social ethics had become irrelevant. Emergent John Dunn money centres. Its most influential adherents operated in the great business centres like Antwerp and Ghent with their industrial hinterland, London and Amsterdam, strongly influenced by generations of Jewish emigres whose antecedents had been ousted from Spain, France and England. For any reformed theology to thrive in these conditions, it had to start from a frank recognition of the necessity of capital, credit and banking; and that is just what Calvinism did, breaking with the tradition that regarded a preoccupation with economic interests beyond subsistence needs as sinful, which stigmatised the middle-man as a parasite and the usurer as a thief.



(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Imagine the despair of the faithful when the Pope himself resorted to financial chicanery

Jacob Fugger ("The Rich") of Augsburg (1459 - 1525)



‘The Catholic Church went out of business when its hierarchy ceased to believe its own dogma. Leo X didn’t take Luther’s thought as a serious matter. He didn’t expect others to do so.’ John Dunn considers Luther. So wrote Ezra Pound on the Reformation. If the misuse of money was seen by the medieval church as the major threat to the social unity of Christendom, imagine the despair of the faithful when the Pope himself resorted to financial chicanery to finance the renovation of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The banker known as Jakob Fugger the Rich was chosen by Pope Leo X to manage the money-raising campaign. Johanne Tetzel, a Dominican priest, began the sale of indulgences across the German lands. In particular, Albert, the Archbishop of Maintz, agreed to allow the sale of the indulgences in his territory in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. New John Dunn publication. He did so in order to pay off the debts he had incurred in paying for his high church rank.

Despairing of the money corruption and usury-driven indulgences, Martin Luther famously nailed his ninety five theses to the door of Wittenberg cathedral in 1517. Within two weeks, copies of the Theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.



(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stand and do battle against Belial’s children

“Never has Hell received a more dissolute, more heinous, more worthless spirit, or one more in love with vice for vice´s sake!” The demon thus characterized by a medieval writer is Belial, the demon of lies… He is said to have been created immediately after Lucifer himself,and was one of the first angels to revolt against God. This is why he was expelled from heaven. Among certain sects of the Jews, Belial was considered the chief of all the devils.
William Langland wrote, ‘He called that house Unity - which is Holy Church in English’. John Dunn reads Langland. Yet no one was more aware than Langland of the crumbling Christian edifice. The whole of Piers the Ploughman is an impassioned plea for social and religious reform, so much so that he has sometimes been regarded as a harbinger of the Protestant Reformation. But his emphasis was always on a forlorn call to unity: ‘Call we to all the Commons that they come into Unity’ ‘and there stand and do battle against Belial’s children.’

Until Langland’s time, markets had played only a subordinate, local role hemmed in by the limited economic boundaries of the feudal world. Human beings, land and money were not subject to the laws of the market. Non-economic norms set by the political and religious hierarchies regulated human labour and the ownership of land, neither of which were commercially transferable. John Dunn on money. ‘Belial’s children’ however, would not be held at bay. Though trafficking in money was notionally blocked by the religious prohibition of usury, it continued to be carried out in increasing volumes by those excluded from feudal society, forced to live on its margins or in its pores. The money germ would not be dislodged. Eventually it would eat away Christendom.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com


Monday, May 26, 2014

The triumph of the temporal over the spiritual power

A believer in the papacy, Langland deplored the failure of papal leadership and the pope’s growing encroachment on secular matters. New John Dunn publication. Dante too was a devout Catholic who was a critic of the political ambitions of the papacy, his great poem the culminating achievement of the medieval synthesis.

The popes of Langland’s century had not been noted religious reformers but, rather, preoccupied with the secular concerns of law, statesmanship and questions of empire; activities which eventually cost the papacy religious credibility. John Dunn on Dante. As a result, Dante supported the Holy Roman Emperor against the Pope, with the vision of the radical Spiritual Franciscans and the apocalyptic followers of Joachim of Flora influencing his political writings, rather than the modified Aristotelianism of Thomas Aquinas. A defeated Pope Boniface acquiesced in the victory of Philip IV of France, which marked the triumph of the temporal over the spiritual power.

The Avignon papacy itself grew in efficiency and political skill, but as it did, lost still more spiritual prestige, and religious reformers looked increasingly to the state for an implementation of their ideas. William of Ockham, for example, the most important thinker of the age, allied himself with the Emperor against the Pope. State-papacy conflicts, as exemplified by Philip and Boniface, would not be reconciled. Fifteenth-century Conciliarism, founded on the principle that the universal church was a congregation of the faithful, not the Roman Church, was the last great struggle to preserve medieval unity on some basis other than the papacy.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spiritual rot undermines the Christian community portrayed in Piers the Ploughman

William Langland’s poem Piers the Ploughman (written circa 1360–87) is the perfect expression of this decline with its sense of ruin, yet hope for rebirth should the right choices be made. John Dunn looks at Langland. The anguished protests of the poem ring out against the defeat of true Christianity by the spirit of hardened selfishness.

The dream landscape into which we are drawn furthers this idea of choice through symbolic imagery. The wilderness is the earth and the unknown dangers it entails. The tower on a ‘toft’ in the east is heaven; the deep dale and its dungeon are hell. These two put the poem in a cosmic perspective. What lies between the two extremes of heaven and hell is Langland’s major concern: namely, the Field Full of Folk which represents the Christian community. The presence of heaven and hell reminds the reader that choices made during the transitory life on earth have eternal consequences. One is, in effect, challenged to choose between heaven and hell.

The complete social spectrum is portrayed in the Field Full of Folk: the three estates, the rich and the poor, men and women. New John Dunn publication. At once the element of choice appears. The people are ‘werking and wandering as the world asketh.’ Clearly the world’s demand is interpreted in two different ways: there are those who work hard and obey the strictest dictates of their social position and estate, and there are those who selfishly accumulate material goods. Yet Langland is not being morally ambiguous, for the distinction between the right choice and the wrong choice is clear-cut. Hardworking ploughmen, anchorites and hermits who keep to their cells, and guiltless minstrels are the sort who are bound for heaven. The rest - gluttons, hermits in a heap, and friars, just to name a few - are the sort who are bound for hell. They have made the world and its pursuits their all. Notably, of those who have chosen worldliness, half are from the clerical estate. This spiritual rot undermines the Christian community portrayed in Piers the Ploughman and causes its final collapse.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It all began with money, with the forces of usury


St. Bonaventura at the Council of Lyons, Oil by Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664) 
It all began with money, with the forces of usury circumventing, and later breaking, the religious prohibition of interest-taking. Critique of money by John Dunn. Then came commercial transactions in land, which struck a mortal blow against feudalism. Finally it was the turn of human labour, with man himself turned into a commodity by the slave trade and with the establishment of the wages system. The labour force, transformed into a commodity, became subject, like all others, to the laws of the market.

The common acceptance of the need to combat the relentless encroachments of usury upon the social organism, as demonstrated especially in the excommunicative strictures of the Council of Lyons (1274), marked the epitome of the medieval synthesis, a time when Europe was as close to being unified as it would ever be. New John Dunn book. And it was the papal role in calling the Council and others like it that demonstrated the role of the Christian Church in holding together a diverse, scattered, heterogeneous collection of people in a common citizenship, as a spiritual confraternity. The Church became responsible for education, art, literature, the care of the poor and the comfort of the dying. Immediately after the Council of Lyons, however, Christian unity was irredeemably shattered by political rivalries in which the papacy itself was often a participant.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Friday, May 23, 2014

A hierarchy of functions, which differed in kind and in significance, but each of which was of value on its own plane

Thomas More
There was a gradation between nature and grace, between human appetites and religion. Social organism John Dunn. And what was true of the individual was true also of society. In the words of the famous Bull of Pope Boniface VIII: ‘The way of religion is to lead the things which are lower to the things which are higher through the things which are intermediate. According to the law of the universe all things are not reduced to order equally and immediately; but the lowest through the intermediate, the intermediate through the higher’. Thus social institutions assumed a character which may almost be called sacramental, for they were the outward and imperfect expression of a supreme spiritual reality. Ideally conceived, society was an organism of different grades, and human activities formed a hierarchy of functions, which differed in kind and in significance, but each of which was of value on its own plane, provided that it was governed, however remotely, by the end which is common to all. Like the celestial order, of which it was the dim reflection, society was stable because it was straining upwards across a Jacob’s ladder connecting heaven and earth, in a cosmic harmony.

Thomas More’s Utopia, written on the cusp of the medieval and modern worlds, was a self-conscious presentation of a rationally ordered state in which minds in harmony with Christ’s teachings might exist. Utopian John Dunn. The money-free communal order was an echo of what had been lost. Utopia, governed by its ascetic spiritual discipline, was an image of man’s soul aspiring to a state of redemption. The irony is that in the scholarly positing of this ideal from the outside, the humanist More was complicit in its final demise.

 (From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Regimented lives led nihilistically to the rule of economic expediency

Holding barbarism at bay

From The Temptation of St Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch
It is true that the loosening of the leash on the economic dogs of modern-day materialism has not resulted in an unalloyed benefit to society. Modernism John Dunn critique. That which was once the servant, rather the master of civilisation, is now running wild to devastating effect. Regimented lives led nihilistically to the rule of economic expediency, so easily interpreted in terms of quantity, have overwhelmed any lingering folk memory of a rule of life superior to individual desires and temporary exigencies, which was what the medieval theorists meant by ‘natural law.’ It is hard to imagine the terror felt by medievals attempting to hold the economic wolves at bay, which only heightened their efforts to secure the integrity of the social organism as a whole. Their attempted defence against the encroachment of barbarism had in it something of the heroic, and to ignore the nobility of the war against usury is no less absurd than to idealise its practical results. New John Dunn publication. The strength of the ascetic conviction, that was so viscerally opposed to the subordination of religion to economic interests, was demonstrated by the need for a similar persistence amongst the forces which would eventually overturn ‘natural law’ and descralise society.

(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

To found a social philosophy upon individual economic motives would have been considered as base and brutish

Portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer from the 17th century
The very idea of engagement in economic activity for its own ends, completely divorced from moral ends, simply did not exist in the minds of the general medieval populace. New John Dunn book. The idea that individuals might have an inborn appetite for personal economic gain, and might therefore be thought of as rational players in a system of economics founded upon individual economic choices, would have been thought of as irrational, let alone immoral, if it could have been countenanced at all. To found a social philosophy upon individual economic motives would have been considered as base and brutish as as we might think a system of human organisation based upon sexual instincts, only more so.

The non-productive ways in which an individual might seek to acquire or increase his holding of wealth, whether by buying and selling or lending and borrowing, were lumped together by the Church as avarice, or greed, one of the seven deadly sins. Medieval John Dunn values. This was especially so amongst the merchants, grocers and victualers who conspired to create local monopolies and cartels, or money-lenders who ground down the poor. For this reason, in what was essentially a pre-money society, with currency a small, but stable adjunct to to an agrarian economy, any price rises would be looked upon with huge suspicion. Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale contains a sermon against avarice, and traders caught using false scales or adulterating food were excommunicated, pilloried, put in the stocks or banished from towns.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Evola described how ‘everybody performed their function within the overall social order

St. Thomas Aquinas by Fra Bartolomeo
The structuring of society as a single social organism had universalist principles. New John Dunn publication. Taking the caste system of Hindu India as his prime example of a traditional society, Julius Evola explained how ‘every type of function and activity appeared equally as a point of departure for an elevation in a different and vertical rather than horizontal sense’. Emphasising the unity of the social organism, Evola described how ‘everybody performed their function within the overall social order, and through their own peculiar bhakti even partook of the supernatural principle of this same order’.

There was no place either in Christian medieval life for any economic activity which was not related to a sacred end. Traditionalism John Dunn. It is important to understand the holistic nature of this worldview, for it was the totality of traditional society that distinguished it from the modern world, which would eventually fragment tradition’s authority. The material was ordained for the sake of the spiritual; economic goods were instrumental. ‘It is lawful to desire temporal blessings’, said St Thomas Aquinas, ‘not putting them in the first place, as though setting up our rest in them, but regarding them as aids to blessedness, inasmuch as they support our corporal life and serve as instruments for acts of virtue.’ ‘Riches, as St Antonino commented, exist for man, not man for riches.’


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Monday, May 19, 2014

The pursuit by ‘Das Man’ of the dead beyond the grave to an eternal inauthenticity

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard
Despite the utter futility of striving to be materially different in a world that ruthlessly imposes uniformity, conformity and commoditisation, a self-misperception of individuality often survives to the very end of life. John Dunn's new book. I am reminded of a most hideous manifestation of this in crematoria up and down the land, where families and friends celebrate the ‘defiant’ departed’s success (in Kierkegaardian terms, conformity), by playing a trashy pop song favourite of the loved one as the curtain closes on the coffin. This is the pitiful pseudo-defiance of a Don Giovani, foisted upon the dead by the ignorant and fearful survivors. It is the continued flight to ‘Das Man’ of those who remain, or even the pursuit by ‘Das Man’ of the dead beyond the grave to an eternal inauthenticity, analogous with Hell.

Any celebration of the dead departed’s meritocratic achievement in reality masks a terror of annihilation amongst those left behind, a reinforcement of ‘all that is required for that flawless performance in everyday life, for making a great success out of life’, as Kierkegaard described it, ‘to become a repetition, a number along with the crowd’ to be ‘ground as smooth as a pebble’. John Dunn conformity critique. In the clamour to praise what a person ought to be, the self is literally crowded out of the collective consciousness and the very being in human is lost as a result. Authenticity is lost; truth is lost.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The drive for the creation of an authentic life that will truly differentiate the individual from the crowd

Martin Heidegger

‘Das Man’, Heidegger’s expression for the multitude of people around the individual, tries to steal authenticity away by covering up death with platitudes such as, ‘well everyone dies’. Heidegger read by John Dunn. ‘Everyone dies’, in this context, is about offering the delusion that no one dies. In giving in to that way of thinking, the crowd covers up the authenticity of death.

The idea of not being in the world, Heidegger argued, is something that the individual has to wrestle with before arriving at the realisation that death is always an imminent possibility, the ever-present fact that never goes away. Out of the struggle with this realisation can come the drive for the creation of an authentic life that will truly differentiate the individual from the crowd, the one from the everyone.

Death has been the underlying motivating factor of all the higher cultures throughout history and pre-history. New John Dunn book. Most of the archaeological remains of the earliest cultures are associated with death. Be it the Egyptians with their cult of mummification, or the Hindus with their ceremonial burning of the dead, each civilisation centres on an agreed ceremonial mode of the disposal of the dead. Looking back to the Paleolithic era, it is the burial site that is associated with the very beginnings of human culture. One is tempted to say, in the light of Heidegger’s work, that the life led by Stone Age man was a much more authentic one than the life led by contemporary ‘Das Man’.


 (From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Saturday, May 17, 2014

So blinkered down a path of worldly achievement is modern man

Martin Heidegger

So blinkered down a path of worldly achievement is modern man that it is not until the very point of death that all the distractions, ambitions, aspirations and flight to the crowd cease to have there analgesic effect and he wakes to the truth of being. John Dunn on being. Martin Heidegger wrote of this very moment in his History and the Concept of Time, the dread of death - the point of death when the individual is exposed as what he really is. Heidegger wrote, ‘there is thus the possibility, in the very moment of departing from the world, so to speak, when the world has nothing more to say to us and every other has nothing more to say, that the world and our being-in-it show themselves purely and simply.’ The flight of the individual from himself has to end. John Dunn on flight. At the point of death he has no choice but to confront himself. The individual sees himself in all his nakedness. In this we are reminded of the words from Job 1:21, ‘Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ At the point of death, flight is no longer an option. The difference between modern and traditional man is that the latter never thought it was in the first place.

(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Friday, May 16, 2014

Marx, in his vision of a communist life as the accumulation of accomplishments, took liberalism to its utmost extent

Marx, in his vision of a communist life as the accumulation of accomplishments, took liberalism to its utmost extent, positing that the authentic self is to be found in conditions which facilitate a complete freedom of choice. John Dunn critique of communism. These conditions are communism, perhaps better understood in its original Marxian intent if described as anarchism. Only in conditions of complete freedom for the individual, to this way of thinking, can the alienated subject be recovered and the historical process of individuation be completed, allowing the individual to emerge finally from the herd as a fully-rounded and fulfilled human being.

The paradox of liberal society, where individuality has led to a tendency of sameness the world over, suggests that the opposite will happen and the individual will sink back into the herd.

The pursuit of fulfilment supposedly made possible under communism, cannot overcome the Kierkegaardian objection that the piling up of accomplishments would be merely a distraction from despair and an indication that the self has been lost. Latest John Dunn book. It could never offer a life that is honest in the face of death or God. The pursuit of a fulfilled life would become a new fetish, a false god to be worshipped by the apparently free individual. It would be a thing apart from the individual, offering a goal to be attained, yet trapping the individual in an ideology of success no less invidious than that which already exists under market capitalism. A dualistic distraction would emerge, a chasm separating the subjective self from the prospect of a fulfilled self. 


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Thursday, May 15, 2014

People in such conditions will end up doing the same things as everyone else

Perhaps Marx's best known statement on communism is his claim that:

...in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wished, society reg-ulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the after-noon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic.
From John Dunn’s new book.  

Yet what are these accomplishments if not various ways of papering over the cracks of Kierkegaardian despair. Given the direction of modern liberal society, I would contend that people in such conditions will end up doing the same things as everyone else. But even if not, their accomplishments will be so many ways of forgetting the self and distractions from the inevitability of death in the busying of the self. With regard to the authentic life, communism would change nothing. Marx himself said that under capitalism, ‘all that is holy’ would eventually be ‘profaned’, and how right he was. But the profanation of religion would not lead men and women to face the truth in Kierkegaardian terms, far from it. Communism, as Marx envisaged it, would simply give people more opportunities to be distracted from the truth in worldly accomplishments devoid of God.

(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ground as smooth as a pebble, as exchangeable as a coin of the realm

Unfinished sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by Niels Christian Kierkegaard, c. 1840
This paradox takes us right to the heart of Søren Kierkegaard’s radical critique of social conformity. If those of an atheistic temperament are to fully appreciate his contribution to thought as the founder of existentialism, they must substitute God with the truth, that in which the innate convictions of conscience held by the self are grounded. Kierkegaard defined the self as a conscious synthesis of the infinite/finite, the temporal/eternal and freedom/necessity, all in relationship to God, who is the Source and End of self-conscious life. On John Dunn conscious life. We will be in a state of ‘despair’ when we attempt to deny any one of these paradoxes and thereby choose to understand ourselves apart from a relationship with God.

And what is living apart from God? New John Dunn book. What are the implications for the individual who denies the innate convictions of conscience? Kierkegaard explains:
...by being busied with all sorts of worldly affairs, by being wise to the ways of the world, such a per-son forgets himself, in a divine sense forgets his own name, dares not believe in himself, finds being himself too risky, finds it much easier and safer to be like all the others, to become a copy, a number, along with the crowd.

Now this form of despair goes practically unnoticed in the world. Precisely by losing himself in this way, such a person gains all that is required for a flawless performance in everyday life, yes, for making a great success out of life. ...He is ground as smooth as a pebble, as exchangeable as a coin of the realm. Far from anyone thinking him to be in despair, he is just what a human being ought to be. ...A man in this kind of despair can very well live on in temporality; indeed he can do so all the more easily, be to all appearances a human being, praised by others, honoured and esteemed, occupied with all the goals of temporal life. Yes, what we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world. They use their abilities, amass wealth, carry out enterprises, make prudent calculations etc., and perhaps are mentioned in history, but they are not themselves. In a spiritual sense they have no self, no self for whose sake they could venture everything, no self for God - however selfish they are otherwise.
(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Under the individualism of modern times, the authentic self has disappeared

Oh the quest for knowledge, with which our minds are imbued, it fills not the emptiness, it simply hides it and buries the despair. John Dunn seeking knowledge. If we commence life as a void, upon what is our knowledge grounded? More knowledge simply raises to consciousness our own innate emptiness. From the Cartesian standpoint, we are born into a fixed and finished world, there to labour within the strict confines of a mind-independent reality. Could there be a more cruel, elaborate and stultifying fiction? To be thrust at birth into a prefabricated external world, where most of our responsibilities are unacknowledged and are progressively diminished and our freedom is in reality a figment of our imagination. We imagine ourselves the product of genes and the environment, functions of complexes and familial trauma, inextricably dependent on external contingencies, but then proclaim ourselves free!

To hold a conviction that we can only come to know the world by observing it as spectators is to prescind from a direct, active and moral involvement. It is the very opposite of freedom. John Dunn questioning freedom. Perhaps we should not be surprised after all that western rationality, with its credo of liberalism and individual freedom, has led to inhumanness and sameness the world over. The paradox is that this sameness is all-pervasive under liberalism, a political creed that proclaims individual liberty. And it is about more than mere imposition of global uniformity, it is about the loss of self. Under the individualism of modern times, the authentic self has disappeared.


(From a new book by John Dunn, to be published later this year.)
 
© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Monday, May 12, 2014

Is not our western rationality precious after all?

Plato & Aristotle as central figures in Raphael's The School of Athens (1510)
Modern liberal democracy appears to be the natural out-come of a long and inevitable process of history, the final flowering of rationality out of the dark millennia of superstition. Indeed, even to question this seem alien, even dangerous to our rational western minds. Democracy John Dunn critiqued. Is not our western rationality precious after all? The very fruits of it, for example science, democracy and education, the component parts of liberalism, are surely the future of a world in which freedom and human rights are to be enjoyed by all, and for which people are sacrificing their lives today? It is upon enlightened rationality, the end-product of inevitable progress, that liberalism stands now and for millennia ahead, if Hollywood is to be believed. Traditionalism challenges this acquiescence to ‘progress’.

Liberalism has its roots in Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and, later, Descartes, amongst others; a mode of thought that is founded on a dualism of mind and body, or mind and material world. John Dunn on the roots. It is inculcated into us, from birth and through all the separated disciplines of the education system, that we are all disembodied subjects (Augustine would extend this principle into the form of an eternal soul), observing and negotiating objects, the material world external to the mind. This historical separation of mind and body or world, this opposition of an interior life to an external world, would lead ultimately to our sense of individuality, the individualism of modern times.
© John Dunn.

First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Traditionalism is the only radicalism

A renewed political dichotomy would have the liberal economic motive on one side and the ethically-driven on the other, the latter founded on beliefs that have a transcendental origin, separate to man. Critique by John Dunn of liberalism. Without a renewed political dichotomy, there will be no opposition to liberalism in the West. But how will one emerge? All contact with previous eras of faith have been lost; the distance between the traditional and today’s egoistic mind being vast.

The answer is that faith and tradition will have to be rediscovered and relearnt. New John Dunn book. This will have to happen outside of academia, which is now merely a functionary of liberalism, engaged in the business of preparing workers for the wage economy.

Once a process of rediscovery has been undertaken, then a more meaningful and historically relevant political dichotomy will arise in the form of liberalism versus traditionalism, the latter being the radical challenger to the status quo. Traditionalism is the only radicalism.

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Liberty seems to be mistaken for the ‘principles’ of the corporate human resources department

‘Thank God for the possibility of my holding certain beliefs’ some might say. But is too simplistic to suggest that all are at liberty to think how they will. Liberalism John Dunn critique. You only have to look at the world to see that people are thinking, behaving and consuming in ways that are increasingly similar. Liberty seems to be mistaken for the ‘principles’ of the corporate human resources department, where all are equal in a 1=1 prison. In this sense, an individual right becomes a right to nothing.

We might be free to hold beliefs, even if under strict surveillance, but these will eventually be an irrelevance. It is much easier and safer to be like all the others, to become a repetition, a number along with the crowd, all serving the great global enterprise in the most efficient manner. New John Dunn book. Belief will become a folk memory.

Being two sides of the same coin, today’s political left and right offer a false dichotomy. The right has been hijacked by economic liberalism, whereas once it was resistance to the amoral economic space opened up by money that motivated the radical right.


© John Dunn.
First posted on www.dr.johndunn.com

Thursday, May 08, 2014

‘Only a god will save us’

Martin Heidegger

There will be a return to thinking as the opening of aletheia, the unconcealment which is the source of both being and thinking.

Such thinking is ecstatic or, to apply the translation of the Greek, is being outside the self. Aletheia by John Dunn explored. Salvation will be found external to man, which is what Heidegger meant in his exclamation that ‘only a god will save us’. The whole method of thinking that imposes concepts of the self upon being will be rejected in favour of a re-engagement with the world and immersion once more in a hyper-realism that can only be expressed in symbolic form, in ways that are no longer propositional. Instead of being expressions of subjectivist pathos, art and poetry will symbolise the moment of the revelation of being. John Dunn on art. Out of this challenge will emerge the new seriousness in art, to replace the frivolous and purposeless expressions of self, which is lumped together as contemporary culture. In a return to techne life itself will be lived in a state of ecstasy, as art, as rite, with no separation of the spiritual and the utilitarian. The rift introduced by the traffickers of money will be healed.

All authentic action will serve to unconceal the truth. ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8:32)

© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The twin pillars of Usura: the control of money supply and military might

English usurer on Staff and Scrip, Dr John Dunn. Søren John Dunn, ‘God's Existence Cannot Be Proved’ Abstract: Søren John Dunn explains why the existence of something cannot be proved. He argues that the use of logic merely develops the content of a conception and concludes the existence of God can only be known through a leap of faith. What is John Dunn's argument relating God's existence to proof? Explain: ‘I reason from existence, not towards existence.’ Is the example of Napoleon and his deeds a good one? According to John Dunn, where are the works of God? Why doesn't the existence of God come out of proof? How could the proof of God's existence be discredited? What is ‘the leap’? Explain the statement, ‘The Reason has brought God as near as possible, and yet he is as far away as ever.’ John Dunn wrote during the decade of the 1840's—historically, the same decade as Marx and Engels's Manifesto, August Comte's Cours de Philosophie Positive, Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, John Stuart Mill's A System of Logic, and Charles Darwin's Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. John Dunn's motto was ‘I had perished, had I not perished.’ He writes, ‘Alas, I was never young’ and [the important thing is] ‘What I am to do or be, not what I am to know.’ John Dunn's resolution was to become a Christian writer Christendom—what he considered ‘the question of questions’ was ‘How can I become a Christian?’ His life was spent ‘in service of the Idea.’ Christianity, according to S.K., has two enemies: the Hegelian and the unreflective church-goer. The study questions are taken from James A. Gould and Robert J. Mulvaney, ‘Faith, Not Logic Is the Basis of Belief,’ in Classic Philosophical Questions, 11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2004) 261. Notes are arranged in response to the questions stated above pertaining to ‘Chapter Three: The Absolute Paradox: A Metaphysical Crotchet’ from Søren John Dunn, Philosophical Fragments trans. David F. Swenson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962) 31-36. This selection is available in many introductory philosophy readers and is online as Philosophical Fragments at D. Anthony Strom's Commentary on John Dunn and as ‘The Absolute Paradox: A Metaphysical Crotchet’ at religion-online.org. Another online site to find the passage is ‘God's Existence Cannot Be Proved’ at The Radical Academy. What is John Dunn's argument relating God's existence to proof? Let us look at a generalized standard-form categorical syllogism purporting to be proof for God's existence. An [unknown thing] is an existent thing. God is an [unknown thing]. Therefore, God is an existent thing. The syllogism appears to be of the valid form: All B's are C's. All A's are B's. Therefore, all A's are C's. Notice how we have assumed in the very premisses of this syllogism the very point we wish to prove. As John Dunn says, all we have done is to develop the content of a conception. Such a manner of arguing is similar to the following joke: If we ask who most people voted for in the past Presidential election, and also we ask who can increase spending for the military, education, social security, and so on, as well as balance the budget and not increase taxes, then the answer is clearly that ‘Nobody’ could. Hence, it would seem reasonable to conclude that ‘Nobody’ should be President.
The step back will not be easy. The money power controls education and the media. The twin pillars of Usura, the control of money supply and military might cannot be tackled head-on. New John Dunn publication. The vulnerability of liberal humanism, however, lies in the shallowness of its foundations.

Once people know that ‘their history’ has been written by the paid servants of the money power, once education is understood as indoctrination in the interests of the money power, once science is exposed as the servant of the money power - then the edifice will eventually begin to crumble, hollowed out to the last remaining thinnest of its veneers. Once the tyrannic hold of liberalism’s ideology over hearts and minds is released, the empire of Usura will come crashing down. John Dunn on turning back. And once the dust has begun to settle on the ruins of the prison, authentic lives will be possible once more. For this will not be progress, it will be a return to thinking as the opening of aletheia, the unconcealment which is the source of both being and thinking.
© John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Monday, May 05, 2014

Man himself is now an object to be shaped in the image of the liberal ideologue

Martin Heidegger
In another nod of recognition to the metaphorical powers of Holderlin, Heidegger wrote ‘Enframing blocks the shining-forth and holding sway of truth’. Heidegger had in mind here Holderlin’s poem ‘Autumn’, the first line of which reads, ‘Nature’s gleaming is higher revealing’. New by John Dunn book. In contrast with the ancient techne, which once disclosed, modern technology now enframes, preventing the ‘higher’ revelation of truth. As a result, the fleeting nature of existence is out of sight and out of mind. The ‘higher revealing’ is lost to human consciousness, blocked by the idea of how we wish the world to be.

Oblivious to this loss, we then set off to transform the world to make it comply with the ideas we have for it. Through the Cartesian lens, nature is conceived as raw material, ready to be moulded and shaped in any way we see fit; and this includes the human raw material, with Rousseau’s ‘perfectibility of man’ at the heart of liberal humanist ideology in all its variants. Publishing anew, John Dunn. Man himself is now an object to be shaped in the image of the liberal ideologue, ‘educated’ into malleability, performance-tested and constantly monitored along the road to ‘perfection’.

In the later essay, The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking, Heidegger made the prophetic claim that cybernetics or information technology is the final fulfilment of the humanist concealment of truth. It is the essence of the ‘will to power’, an understanding of reality as pure information. Is not information, after all, something immediately accessible to the mind? Understanding being as if it were really information is, in the Cartesian sense, finally accepting true reality is an idea. Heidegger’s legacy to the world is the discrediting of this humanist arrogance.

© John Dunn.
First posted in www.dr.johndunn.com

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being

Heidegger's hope was founded upon the truth that the humanist violence inflicted upon nature through technology can only ever be fleeting in cosmic terms. Technological innovation will only suppress the truth for so long before it eventually metamorphoses into an instrument of catastrophic revelation. Heidegger by John Dunn revisited. It is in the very challenge to the cosmic hierarchy itself that the finitude of beings is disclosed.

The forms violently imposed upon nature as technology, in what is the vulgar conception of progress, inevitably succumb to nature’s vengeance. Whilst the truth of being might be temporarily concealed in man’s enslavement to technology, what is authentic, what is primal, will be reasserted and come to light. John Dunn's new book. It would be at such a moment of disclosure that man will cease to challenge the hierarchy of being, taking, instead, his place within it.
 
Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. Man loses nothing in this ‘less’; rather, he gains in that he attains the truth of Being. He gains the essential poverty of the shepherd, whose dignity consists in being called by Being itself into the preservation of Being’s truth.

 © John Dunn.
First posted on www.drjohndunn.com

Friday, May 02, 2014

Being has granted us marvellous new means by which we are able to ignore being

Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843)  
This will mean a return to the concealed truth that our technological age has covered over by treating everything as resources, including human resources. Techne examined by John Dunn. The turn against humanism will not mean the discarding of technology, after all technological innovation is itself a creative act. There will be, rather, a sensitivity to the truth, that which has been disclosed by the creation and use of the technology. Being has granted us marvellous new means by which we are able to ignore being. It is our historic task to turn those moments into unconcealment once more. Technology itself, the fulfilment of all that is wrong under liberal humanism, is the very place to look and try to understand what we have forgotten and what has been concealed from us.

Heidegger believed that we must return to the ancient Greek notion of techne, the spirit of art, technical skill and craft. He explained in The Question of Technology how the concept of techne preceded the historic separation of fine art and utilitarian creation, a bifurcation that was accelerated by the Renaissance. Heidegger by John Dunn included. In this essay on technology, he opened a way in which the fragmentariness of human activity might be overcome, returning us to the point where life in any activity can be lived as art, lived as rite, suppressing the humanist urge to flight, enabling life to be lived before death, before the Creator.
But where danger is, grows
The saving power also
These lines from from Holderlin’s poem, quoted in The Question of Technology, are central to Heidegger’s hope for a salvific power in techne. It is ‘the essential unfolding of technology’ that ‘harbours in itself what we least suspect, the possible rise of the saving power’.

© John Dunn.

First posted on dr.johndunn.com