The Failure of Immanentist Metaphysics-Pt 1 Truth is not about world-immanent objects

The Aristotelian speculation ends in a serious impasse, both practically and theoretically. Practically, the discovery of the truth seems to serve no other purpose than to forge a new instrument for keeping the rest of mankind in the untruth of their existence. Theoretically, we are faced with an aporia that affects the theory of human nature and its actualization.

The philosopher who is in possession of the Truth should consistently go the way of Plato in the Republic; he should issue the call for repentance and submission to the theocratic rule of the incarnate Truth. Aristotle, however, does not issue such a call and, consequently, the imperfections of actualization (although technically called "perversions") tend to become essences in their own right, forming the manifold of reality; they become "characters," and the category of character is even extended from human individuals to the types of constitutions.

The dimension of potentiality-actualization, thus, is crossed by a plane on which the grades of imperfection appear as co-ordinated types to be respected and preserved in their essence; the imperfections become actualizations of their specific types. This theoretical conflict could not be reconciled within the "system" because the problem that caused it had not become sufficiently explicit.

The problem underlying the Aristotelian aporia may conveniently be designated the "historicity of Truth." The Truth of the philosopher is discovered in the previously analyzed experiences of Socrates-Plato. The cathartic experience of Thanatos and the enthusiastic experience of Eros open the soul toward transcendental reality; and they become effective in that re-ordering of the soul that Plato symbolized through Dike .

Truth is not a body of propositions about a world-immanent object; it is the world-transcendent summum bonum , experienced as an orienting force in the soul, about which we can speak only in analogical symbols. Transcendental reality cannot be an object of cognition in the manner of a world-immanent datum because it does not share with man the finiteness and temporality of immanent existence. It is eternal, out-of-time; it is not co-temporal with the experiencing soul.

When, through the experiences of the Socratic-Platonic type, eternity enters time, we may say that "Truth" becomes "historical." That means, of course, neither that the flash of eternity into time is the privileged experience of philosophers, nor that now, at a specific date in history, it occurred for the first time. It means that in the critical period under discussion we are advancing, in the Platonic sense, from the symbolizations of the people's myth to the differentiated experiences of the philosophers and to their symbolizations.

This advance is part of the historical process in which the older symbolic order of the myth disintegrates in the souls (in the previously described manner) and a new order of the soul in openness to transcendental reality is restored on a more differentiated level. By "historicity of Truth" we mean that transcendental reality, precisely because it is not an object of world-immanent knowledge, has a history of experience and symbolization.

The field of this history is the soul of man. Man, in his knowledge of himself, does not know himself only as a world-immanent existent but also as existing in openness toward transcendental reality; but he knows himself in this openness only historically in the degree of differentiation that his experiences and their symbolization have reached.

The self-understanding of man is conditioned and limited by the development of his existence toward transcendence. As a consequence, the nature of man itself as an object of metaphysical inquiry is not altogether a world-immanent object; the formation of the soul through invading transcendence is part of that "nature" that we explore in metaphysics. When the philosopher explores the spiritual order of the soul, he explores a realm of experiences that he can appropriately describe only in the language of symbols expressing the movement of the soul toward transcendental reality and the flooding of the soul by transcendence. At the border of transcendence the language of philosophical anthropology must become the language of religious symbolization.

In the realization of this border problem we touch upon the difficulties of Aristotelian metaphysics. We have studied the religious aspects of the conception of the bios theoretikos . In his philosophical anthropology Aristotle, following Plato, penetrated into the region of the nous in the religious sense. He arrived at the idea of a "true self" of man and at the idea of homonoia , that is, of the parallel formation of the souls of man through nous , as the bond of society. Actually, Aristotle penetrated so far into this region that his very terminology could be used by Saint Paul in making homonoia the central concept in the theory of a Christian community.



CW VOL 16,
Chapter 10
On Types of Character and Skepticism,
ยง 2 The Failure of Immanentist Metaphysics
pp 417-419.



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