Part 6 of a multipart series, “How to Nurture Truth and Authenticity”. This article series is for economic reformers and political activists interested in the metamodern political movement. This series will undoubtedly find appeal with those who have come to understand that the current values which drive global economy, those which we call ‘liberal’, are obstructing solutions to contemporary political challenges — in as much, those values are unable to guide a common activity beyond. Admittedly, the prescriptions herein are likely a mere articulation of what is intuitively felt across a large demographic — certainly those who have found themselves gravitating toward contemporary nationalist solutions. Undoubtedly a bit of political agnosticism is required for digesting this series. Already now, the final recommendation can be teased. If we wish to nurture truth and authenticity then we require an economy championed under the banner of prefigurativism.
Following the narrative of the preceding article there can be no doubt, truth has been brought to serve the economy of imperium — the ‘I command’. And for us today, it is hard to imagine anything besides. Nearly every phenomena of experience conforms to dialectics, opposition, and overcoming — a metaphysics of power. An idolization of liberalism, as an answer to the liberation of the human spirit from out of this power substrate, has perversely exacerbated estrangement, alienation, and civic apathy. In as much, we are convinced that enlightenment values have completed their task. Any continued idolization of these values can only obstruct solutions in the emerging human project. However, this does not mean we are without an inheritance. In looking backward through the countless ascending and descending projects throughout our historical continuum, we can theme a spirit which we can take up as something of an idol.
Already in 1962 Hans-Georg Gadamer had identified that the romanticism of the eighteenth century began with a total estrangement from tradition. One hundred years later, having defeated the first wave of challengers to liberal-machination during WWII, romanticism once again animated a human spirit suffocating from the aliments of liberal-industrial machination. There can be no doubt that the spirit of romanticism will surface time-and-time again, in various forms of traditionalism, nationalism, and their accompanying aesthetics, until an equilibrium has been reached between the human spirit and the socio-material demands of the machine of progress. The emerging human project requires a liberation of authenticity — and this means, above all else, a liberation of the self-authoring human spirit. Of paramount value is an idolization of human affectivity and passioned investment in life and work, taken as a unit. Therefore, this project, including the contribution of this article series, unquestionably manifests this spirit of romanticism.
Fixed as we are, we find a particular demand from truth itself: to be delivered from dialectics, opposition, and overcoming. This means that truth demands to be delivered from the logic of ‘the society’ and its subsequent relativism. Our project to nurture truth and authenticity requires that we return to truth’s conditioning in the primordial harmony with nature. Truth demands that our project have in its possession ‘reality’ — satisfying our want for a truth in accordance with the real. After all, if we are truly honest with ourselves, there can be no doubt as to the reality of our world. Each of us lives with our convictions. And this holds whether you live in a world defined by the incomplete explanations of the Big Bang, or whether you go further with a more comprehensive conclusion that God has created you. Consider that even in denouncing religion you are still a creation of God — are you not? Because for a Christian you certainly are. This should be no surprise. It is the nature of the world that we all live in the same world, together — no matter if our world is solely described by physics, or if supplanted with the occult objects of the Christian doctrine. We can say that each of us lives in a world which is both intimate and yet the largest thing comprehensible. And to be sure, our actions prove as much. We act every day on those convictions. We take these actions as proof of our conviction to the world which we find ourselves in.
This chapter is primarily a definitional chapter. The next few pages will identity the economy in which the medieval Anglo-Germanic ‘truth’ found service prior to Latinization. This chapter will affirm the nature of truth as disclosive. This understanding of the nature of truth will then join-up with that which has been qualified in the previous chapters. Specifically, we will make use of,
ομοιωσις (homoiosis, ‘the disclosive correspondence expressing the unconcealed’) which presences
λογος (logos), such that the phenomena of experience come into accord with one another.
Together, these objects will be used for the construction of a metaphysical architectonic. This architectonic will be used in the identification of an alternative primordial actio — that which will be appropriately named (in contrast to episteme) αληθευειν (alētheuein, ‘to adhere to the unconcealed disclosive in the saying that lets appear’). This actio will then guide our prescriptions for nurturing truth and authenticity in the emerging human project.
Here at the outset of the architectonic we address the first object by way of a question. What is this ‘disclosive’ nature of truth? First of all, we should not be so eager for an answer that we cannot allow ourselves an exercise — one which might provide for an embodied understanding of ‘disclosure’.
If you take a look around you — yes, at the very location in which you are reading this article. Imagine a freeze-frame snapshot of this location. Imagine that a project had been funded with the peculiar aim of documenting everything within this singular moment. Let us say that this project had been completed. It produced not only the documentation of the color, size, and shape of every humanly visible object of this location, but also documented their compositional properties — exhausted not with the descriptions ‘wood’, ‘ceramic’, ‘concrete’, but their atomic properties also. And since this project had sought to document everything, even the records of trillions of particles and wave information had not satisfied its end. Let us say that you (the discoverer of this project’s documentation) also found that the relational properties such as the distances between particles had been measured. Furthermore, this project noted hypothetical properties, such as the color of objects at different times of the day, or the sounds produced when certain objects struck others. This ‘raw’ information (perhaps defined as information without purpose — ‘pure information’) was then analyzed and ordered in different schemes such that its volume surpassed that of all the information available on the internet. However, despite the apparent logical consistency and experimental rigor taken in producing this information, you would have a hard time confessing that any one piece of it was true. After all, you would have no feeling of either its truth or falsehood. And to produce such a feeling in yourself would require the verification of its data — experiencing the phenomena for yourself. And yet, sitting alone with this document the question would undoubtedly arise — why would you undertake such excruciating procedures in order to have the truth? Well, let’s be honest, you would undertake this only if having the truth of that information set was relevant — only if it had a consequence on your life.
Beyond this quite fantastical imagery, we come away with a quite simple confirmation of a long-told story coming from Friedrich Nietzsche, circa 1873. “Human beings are indifferent to pure knowledge if it has no consequence” (On Truth and Lying In A Non-moral Sense). In as much, we are presented with a quite peculiar revelation. Having the truth is dependent on consequence. And we are certain of this conclusion despite the concern lurking within in — namely, that truth can only be such on account of an author of that truth who understands it as such. Of course, these conclusions direct our thoughts to the very question at hand regarding the nature of truth — a nature which seems to be conditioned by subjectivity. This immediately brings into question the relativity of truth. However, we should not be too hasty. Let us reserve ourselves from burdening subjectivity with relativism. After all, we have yet to be shown the consequences of such a subjectification of the world. For example, and despite this seeming relativism, there is something positive to be gained from thinking on the very phenomenal experience of life as a condition for the possibility of truth. What should not be overlooked is that the word ‘author’ has been used quite intentionally here. There is something revealing about the nature of truth in authorship — something which quite unexpectedly points toward a certain primordial condition for the possibility of truth.
In looking backward at the recorded testimony from artists throughout the ages, we find evidence of this primordial condition which is prior to any author — one which instructs and directs any author. We can find an example in British poet and print maker William Blake, who attested to a subjection to sources outside of himself. Of course, having grown in the occult figures of Christianity, we should not be surprised to read that Blake’s instructor came to him in the form of Biblical archangels. Similarly, we have testimony from Mozart, who said that “he didn’t feel like a composer as much as an amanuensis, someone taking dictation from a source outside the self” (a passage borrowed here from Diana Fosha’s The Healing Power of Emotion). This subjection of the author to his world is not limited to the painter, poet, and composer. We must also acknowledge that this creative human spirit manifests in each and every one of us. Even that glorified metaphysical object of the epistemologists, Reason, serves as the creative faculty of man — only narrowly from the domain of the logical-mathematical. And if we take a moment to reflect on those who demand our admiration, those venerable grandparents who stood like a pillar of kindness and wisdom through our childhood, we find their behavior points toward a common understanding — that any individual is forever subjected to his own-most phenomenal experience. Love, admiration, and forgiveness are not decisions which anyone takes. They are descriptions which embody positions which the author of those objects finds himself in. This insight allows for the resoluteness which we find in maturity. And without this understanding any author of forgiveness, for example, will misunderstand why he should be commended for having forgiven. Yet, having forgiven is admirable — and this is on account of what is signals. That the author has in his possession something of a pre-intellectual judgement as a trophy of having reconciled with the phenomena of his experience.
This subjection of the author to even his own most dispositions is not reserved for the judgements of friends, colleagues, or lovers—or any other object or event. This utter subjection to the phenomena of experience extends to even truth. Simply consider an experience in which one ‘comes to the truth’. Consider that two or more rationalized ‘fantasies’ are explored. One observes how the fantasy strikes them—but they are still and always subjected to their nature. No one can simply decide to have one feeling about a fantasy over another. Of course, this conclusion, that an author is both solely accountable for the truth, as the author of that truth, yet is completely subjected to the truth is likely cause for a certain heartache. Think of the age-old relationship advice. You can’t help the feelings that you have, you simply have them—well, until you don’t. But you shouldn’t apologize for having those feelings. And, what is more, you shouldn’t make someone feel bad for having them. There is something of ‘paradox of accountability’ in truth. An acknowledgement of this paradox signals one of the great resolves which will have to be reckoned with in the emerging human project. That any one of us must suffer from the truth which they alone are capable of producing.
In as much as an author simply finds himself in the truth, our prescriptions for nurturing authenticity must begin, initially, with an affirmation of truth beyond any bitterness which we may hold toward subjectivity. Only by looking at the phenomenal experience of the world can truth escape relativity and remain that which it is — an articulation of objects founded upon a primordial discourse with nature. And once those objects are articulated as the truth, any author must immediately acknowledge the instruction which the phenomena has dictated to him. In as much, we resolve ourselves of any ‘selfishness’ of a subjectification of the world. This understanding of the nature of truth redeems that which had been lost during the Christendom of Europe through the totalitarianism of Roman verum.
If we return to the etymology which we find recorded into the text of our historical continuum, we recall the Middle English trouthe, truthe, trewthe, treowthe, and Anglo-Saxon trēowþ, trīewþ. To these words we associate the modern English ‘veracity’, ‘faith’, ‘fidelity’, ‘loyalty’, ‘honor’, ‘pledge’, and ‘covenant’. No doubt, the phenomenal experience of truth — understood in its nature as disclosive — redeems that which has been lost in the economy of imperium. Namely, faith, loyalty, honor, and pledge—the very foundations of an economy which can experience genuine liberty. Of course, on a more intimate note, this understanding of the nature of truth liberates us from the demands of the epistemic tradition, which forces everything into quantification and totality. And what we gain is a qualification of the ‘objective’ and redemption of the ‘subjective’ — whether that be ‘subjective’ love, hope, or grief. After all, it is only a logical-mathematical requirement that forces hate opposite to love, or happiness opposite to sadness. Anyone who takes an honest look at the dispositions which are signaled in these descriptions will find that neither is one a negation or satisfaction of the other. Happiness is just as little a negation of sadness, as love is a negation of hate. Such dispositions resist such logical-mathematical categories.
However, before we can feel completely relax for the enjoyment which comes from releasing truth from the economy of imperium, we must also resolve ourselves of a concern which we find among the epistemological sociologists of the postwar period — those burdened with the task of upholding the liberal project’s demand to challenge power structures. In accepting this certain subjectification of the world — namely, the subjection of the author to his world — we do not likewise strip the author from his position of introducing novelty into his social-material inheritance or to critique and even reject his tradition. Such was the objection which Theodore Adorno made of Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological project. And actually, we understand something utterly contrary. It is exactly an attunement — or an art of attunement to our condition — which leads to individuation and authentic critique. In as much, we recognize that the need for challenging the subjection of the author to this world as archaic. What we find is that beyond the liberal crusades of the postwar period these objections simply fall out of relevance. In as much, we understand that once those who feel enslaved to patriarchy or to any other residue of colonialization have resolved themselves of their oppressors, they will understand what their oppressors had known for quite some time — that a requirement for going beyond this paradigm of power is that we stop investing into that game.
Much like the causal-occult objects ‘luck’, ‘destiny’ or even ‘competition’, ‘power’ belongs to the domain of the ‘external’. As external, it obscures the disclosure of the primordial experience. It stands as an obstruction to genuine authenticity. Of course, it is tempting, in thinking on the ‘external’, to recall Nietzsche’s ‘slave morality’. ‘Power’, then, belonging to such a ‘form of life’. While in contrast, we have ‘master morality’ — one in which we find not ‘power’, but instead ‘lust’, ‘disgust’, ‘grief’, ‘anger’, ‘envy’, ‘apathy’, ‘pain’, ‘the smell of flowers’, ‘the touch of supple skin’, ‘the experience of vertigo’ — and most explicitly, ‘confidence’ and ‘euphoria’. These descriptions point to the authentic experience of whatever could be called ‘power’ in the ‘external’.
It is with this understanding that we can understand Heidegger’s neglect to atone for his support of the Nazi party. Beyond the liberal witch-hunt of the postwar period we can admire his silence. Undoubtedly, his behavior is a testament to his ‘inner world’. We can understand his philosophy as an inability to authentically own the object ‘power’. Even at the height of Axis imperialism, during the years of 1942–1943, Heidegger was lecturing on αληθεια — a clearing which might provide for a liberation of authenticity and the disclosure of truth — one which could only be possible beyond an economy of imperium. Therefore, only now, with distance from the postwar period of the epistemological sociologists can something like a characterization of ‘Heidegger, the metamodernist’ come to dominate ‘Heidegger, the Nazi’. And while Steven M. Feldman does not recognize Heidegger as a metamodernist, there can be no doubt that he must be acknowledged as something of a pre-metamodernist, at the very least, in Feldman’s own definition. Indeed, it is firstly in Heidegger that we find a complete sidestepping of the problems of subjectivity and intersubjective transcendence which follow from the epistemic tradition. Even the language of Heidegger’s student, Gadamer (which we repeat here by way of Feldman) affirms Heidegger at the inception of metamodern metaphysics,
“Gadamer might be the best exemplar of metamodernism. His philosophical hermeneutics is, as he puts it, ontological. Our being-in-the-world is hermeneutic: we are always and already interpreting. The subject or self never stands separately and independently from the objective world, and hence, ‘our perception is never a simple reflection of what is presented to the senses’.”
While Gadamer’s main arguments followed his teacher, his language moves away from metaphysical conditions for the disclosure of truth, ‘discourse’, and towards the collection of traits which compose that condition — that which he calls ‘tradition’. Tradition is an object which invests the metaphysical subject with content — even if that content is amorphous. In as much, Gadamer falls dangerously close to the realm of the sociologist. After all, it is only on this account that his work could come to be critiqued from his epistemological contemporaries — including especially Jürgen Habermas. Therefore, today, we find his language of ‘tradition’ unfortunately bound up in the socio-logic which began when ομοιωσις was transported from the Ancient Greeks into Latin, and in so doing, prepared a truth for ‘the human subject’. So, when we say that we wish to redeem truth from the perversion of the epistemic tradition, we likewise wish to redeem Heidegger from even his own immediate followers. In the coming years, if we achieve our prescriptions for nurturing truth and authenticity, then even the socially-oriented critiques appearing throughout the historical economy of truth of the first half of this work will be treated as foreign and ugly. It is for this reason that the name ‘metamodern’ describes the spirit of this work — not because, as Feldman suggests, metamodernists encourage the object ‘power’, but because we are still operating with the language of ‘power’. We are all-too modern, even though our spirit is far beyond it. It is here that we might call to the venerable Ludwig Wittgenstein. Particularly to his advice at the conclusion of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Because, much like his own magnum opus, once we have climbed to the pinnacle which this work seeks, we must likewise throw it away.
Of course, a ‘climb to the pinnacle’ could never mean that we had simply read this work once, or even studied the theory rigorously, such that we could have learned everything which it has to offer. ‘The pinnacle’ could only be reached once we had taken over Heidegger’s search for the clearing for truth; identified an infrastructure which could support such a clearing; and then, with such an infrastructure, habitualized the spirit of Nietzsche’s ‘master’. Of course, in this “time between worlds” we cannot say if this work will be the map to such a pinnacle, or whether it will come from some other project, pursuing objects other than ‘truth’ or ‘authenticity’. It is for this reason that we must remain rigorous. While history seems to have closed the case on Gadamer, epistemology’s most dangerous successor in the liminal ‘here’ and ‘now’ of ‘today’ might be the Russian political theorist, Aleksandr Dugin. After all, he had announced Heidegger’s da-sein — the clearing for truth — as the primary object of metamodern political theory. Yet, in his own writing, Dugin himself is unable to shed the position of the sociologist — that of the omniscient historical observer. Therefore, he remains dangerously close to liberalism’s relativism. In as much, he stands outside of the tradition which we have been following up to this point — romanticism. That tradition which not only takes up phenomenology, but champions the ‘subjectivity’ of the self-authoring creative spirit. We can only hope that future economies will produce a need, once again, for the work of the epistemological sociologist. In any case, for us today, there can be none. Undoubtedly, the rightful application of Heidegger’s metaphysics is economics. There is a reason why Wittgenstein took up economic examples in his later work, the Brown Book. And why we find profundity in E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.
What remains in the last chapters of this work is an interrogation into the conditions for authenticity such that we can proceed with the blueprints for construction of the economic infrastructure in the emergent human project. To do so, we must now supplant the metaphysical tradition by joining-up with a more robust interdisciplinary field—one which borrows heavily on the psychology of the already mentioned Diana Fosha by way of the generalist intellectual Bonnitta Roy. An interrogation into group psychology will identify a primordial economic alternative to episteme. Only once we have made this identification can we then return to our inherited economic infrastructure. Only then will be prepared for real prescriptions for nurturing truth and authenticity.
—Justin Carmien, July 8th, 2020