aerial photography of city buildings with lights by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

Civitas Hominis and Civitate Dei…

Secularism and the Divine

Richard Schutte
13 min readNov 19, 2023


“The earthly city of progress — that is, the “civitas hominis” (city of man) opposed to the “civitas Dei” (city of god) whose development marked the centuries of the modern age, has reached its climax today, and is based on an a-religious technocratic spirit”…

— August del Noce



the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions



support for or advocacy of social reform



of or like God or a God

The arrival of Modernism and Post-Modernism represented a profound hard fork in the unfolding history of Western Civilisation as Modern Society embraced the potential for a re-imagined future that was unshackled from its past and was increasingly unconstrained by the eternal nature of the Human Condition and the will of God.

“Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened”…

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The orientation towards progressivism was a natural response to the poverty, inequality and desire for social justice arising from the early stages of the Industrial Revolution.

Humanity’s motivation to shape a more equitable prosperous future.

However, by the early to mid-20th Century, these ideas metamorphosed into growing societal confidence and awareness of the utility value and power of economic & scientific reason to guide the forces of progress and transform the nature of reality.

The progressive movement began reevaluating the relationship between the individual and the role of the State (e.g. the Market State and State Capitalism) to achieve a complete societal transformation.

Initially guided by the ideas of Marx to begin addressing economic inequality, but gradually expanded to critically examining all aspects of Society and challenge the very foundations of Western Civilisation tradition.

In the first half of the 20th Century via Critical Theory (Frankfurt School) and in the later stages via the French post-Marxist school which deconstructed the notion of meta-narratives and the ideas of stable conceptual terminology. A critique of the philosophical ideas of Platonism, Logocentrism and Essentialism that had provided a conceptual foundation for how we make sense of the world. The metaphysical ideas of objects and concepts that have a stable set of attributes (an essence) necessary for their identity.

The combination of the critical examination of existing social power structures, a realisation of the subjectivity of the human experience (umwelt) that eroded the notions of traditional truth claims and at the same time, the ideologically contradictory growing confidence in the utility value of the application of science to new technology provided the fuel to propel new visions of Kantian Cosmopolitan Utopia’s (e.g. 1890s Niagra Falls Project,1920s League of Nations, 1930s Roosevelt’s New Deal and 2020s “build back better”).

Humanity’s growing confidence and capacity to create the future and build a Phenomenological World (Hegel’s Second Nature) through human, transhuman, and “artificial” intelligence.

A universal humanism and secularism anchored in rationality, science, social justice, and human rights.

An ever-expanding marketplace of ideas of social transformation including internationalism, liberalism, secularism, cultural pluralism, socialism, marxism, neo-marxism, and materialism in pursuit of a Kantian cosmopolitan modern utopia.

A modern and post-modern desire to literally change the nature of reality and transcend the eternal nature of truth.

“Western society realises the essence of Marxism:radical atheism and materialism, internationalism and universal non-belonging, the primacy of praxis and the death of philosophy, the domination of production and the universal manipulation of nature”…

— Augusto del Noce

These ideas would cast a long shadow over the early part of the 21st Century as we drifted towards globalism and a post-Second World War international rules-based order.

The promotion of global and transnational governance structures aimed at fostering the development of principles of justice, human rights, the rule of law and cooperation amongst nations.

A new world order — a City of Man anchored in the Primacy of Human Consciousness (Phenomena of the Will — Conscious Self — Ego) and increasingly, Mechanical Machines.

It reflected a fundamental and profound societal shift from one that was orientated towards the internal spiritual social self-regulation by each citizen (i.e. faith, sacred, common morals, beliefs and values) in which their inalienable natural rights were granted by God to an external material form of social regulation.

One where the limits of state action were removed and large corporations & the State were increasingly coupled (the Market State) to govern, shape, monitor and control society (i.e. a dying citizen) to manufacture future prosperity.

“Marx’s idea is that materialism, in order to be consistent, must forgo presenting itself as a philosophy of comprehension and must interpret thought not as revelation but as activity that transforms reality”…

— Augusto del Noce

The emergence of an expert managerial class and re-orientation towards a scientific clerisy and technocracy.

The Primacy of Human Consciousness (the Conscious Self, Ego, and Phenomenon of the Will)

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort”…

— Carl Jung

At the core of the philosophical zeitgeist of Modernity was a drift towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness and Ego (the conscious self), whether through the embracement of cartesian forms of reason or through nominalism where everything in our minds is based on something generated through our senses.

Phenomenological and through qualities of feelings.

“Nominalism, however, appears in psychology as sensationalism; for nominalism arises from taking that view of reality which regards whatever is in thought as caused by something in sense, and whatever is in sense as caused by something without mind”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The nominalist error is that the material and individual (conscious self — ego ) is all that exists.

The antithesis of the Christian vision of nature where the logos of Christ himself being the very wisdom of nature.

Modernity and Post-Modernity were in the late stages of deconstructing over two millennia of intellectual progress towards integrating Western Civilisation’s theological and philosophical thought.

The relationship between the creator and created.

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe”…

— Saint Augustine

The ongoing exploration of the nexus between the Spiritual World, Mental World ( Individual Consciousness) and Material World?

Our capacity to “stand on the shoulders of giants” and leverage thousands of years of intellectual contemplation, wisdom and open inquiry.

One that explored all aspects of Being and Existence.

Both the physical and metaphysical including natural laws and contemplating divine revelations provide physical & spiritual boundary constraints to human actions.

Equipping humanity with a capacity to discern stable habits and guiding principles from the marketplace of ideas.

A capacity to traverse the entire landscape of human consciousness and reveal aspects of objective realism & subjective nominalism that could illuminate the many dimensions of the eternal nature of the Human Condition.

A recognition that nominalism’s truth claims are conventional rather than natural which inevitably leads to order being imposed by force.

“Scientism cannot fail to give rise to a new form of totalitarianism”…

— August del Noce

Initially, these tectonic forces reshaping Modernity and Post-Modernity were obscured given it was the “water we were swimming in, yet over time, a growing cognitive dissonance emerged.

Foundational metaphysical questions relating to the nature of reality.

“Every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in another. I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love. I neither have, nor can have, any other way of judging about them”…

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

For example:

The Triadic of Western Civilisation

“It is modern times that need eternal ideas, not the other way around”…

— Augusto del Noce

The very foundations of Western Society were built on the scaffolding of triadic relationships between Judeo-Christian sacred beliefs, the philosophical and political ideas of Ancient Greece, such as democracy, philosophy (Plato, Aristotle), the concept of citizenship, and Roman legal principles, engineering, and governance structures.

Triadic relationships dominate the history of Western intellectual thought including:

Modern & Post-Modernity’s Deconstruction of the Triadic

“Existentialism’s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him”…

— Jean-Paul Sartre

With the arrival of Modernity and Post-Modernity, these traditional triadic relationships that had been the very foundations of Western Civilisation began to be dismantled one by one as the ideas of modernity increasingly rejected the notions of religion, eternal truths, metaphysics, history and wisdom of the past.

It represented a gravitational pull towards a re-imagined global future anchored in the Primacy of Human ConsciousnessEgoConscious Self Phenomenology of the Will.

Reason was increasingly being decoupled from the notion of Faith as secularism emerged.

Temples of Prayer were replaced with Temples of Reason and a Cult of Reason.

Logos ( refer to John 1:14) was no longer anchored in faith, love, spiritual contemplation, grace, illumination and discovery of man’s relationship with God that recognised the human gift of reason.

Instead, reason and its application to technology were increasingly viewed in an instrumental sense as a “means to an end”.

The human capacity to create and shape the world as desired.

Knowledge was power and could be industrialised codified, owned, controlled, communicated and readily re-applied.

Metaphysics and Realism (the notion of universals and abstract entities that exist in themselves) were increasingly being replaced by Nominalism in which only individual things exist, and general categories or abstract entities are considered mere names or mental constructs without any independent reality. It represented a materialistic prism of reality.

The physical without the spiritual and phenomena without noumena.

The arrival of Post-Modernism saw an increasing scepticism of meta-narratives, universals and the very notion of truth.

Orientating towards epistemic relativism, pluralism, subjectivity and context.

A Nietzschean Will to Power was now viewed as the primary driver of human behaviour. Hence, the telos of Universities were increasingly shifting from veritas (Truth) towards Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to remediate such power structure imbalances.

The emergence of a Post-Modern form of Marxism (Neo-Marxism) and a shift from the agency & meritocracy anchored in the individual to utilitarianism and collectivism.

No longer was 20th Century Philosopher John Rawl’s Theory of Social Justice and Veil of Ignorance warranted.

Education was also being secularised and influenced by these progressive ideas of experiential, collaborative and social learning.

The mid to late 20th and early 21st century saw an orientation towards Science & STEM and a distinct division between Two Cultures.

Knowledge was increasingly divided into silos & separated into Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities reflecting a nominalistic philosophical prism of knowledge rather than the notion that all knowledge was interconnected and interdependent — noting the high dimensional nature of meaning space and spatial structures of thought: the Geometric MindSpatial Structures of Thought and Meaning Space, the Triadic of ReasonSemiotics, Metaphysics and LogicAbduction, Induction and DeductionMeaning, Being and Thought, and the Semantic Mind Relationships of Meaning.

Realism enables us to move towards an objective shared (created and creator) unified understanding of reality (Order of Being) independent of our language and thoughts (conscious self-ego).

Discovered and understood through the exploration of relationships (Semiotic Triadic). Structures of the whole (a Unity) that metaphysically reveal deeper meaning and understanding of the world via semiotic signs, grace, logos and the gift of reason (the Triadic of Reason and Pragmatic Maxim).

The interconnected nature of knowledge and universals enables us to bring order to a complex World.

“The Middle Ages considered spirituality as the deepening of a truth already possessed: the modern age considers the truth as it becomes my truth”…

—Augusto del Noce

In contrast, Nominalism is the final stage in the mind’s alienation from the reason inherent in the world.

Universals in name only with no inherent nexus in the meaning of the concept to the external World practical effects it represents ( ie Pragmatic Maxim).

In such a World knowledge is subjectively constructed through language and shared social conventions.

The result is a crisis of Meaning, Being and Reason.

A collapse in our Sense of Coherence and the Unity of the Spirit.

“A concept is not a mere jumble of particulars — that is only its crudest species. A concept is the living influence upon us of a diagram, or icon, with whose several parts are connected in thought an equal number of feelings or ideas. The law of mind is that feelings and ideas attach themselves in thought so as to form systems. But the icon is not always clearly apprehended. We may not know at all what it is: or we may have learned it by the observation of nature”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The frontiers of the scientific method were also being extended into areas such as the Social Sciences (despite the inability to separate the observer and their beliefs & actions from the observed). Domains of Propositional Truth Claims where Some S are P and Some S are not P.

Cartesian engineering principles were gradually being extended into the domains of dynamic complex living systems such as the life sciences where individual agents were non-ergodic, entangled and exhibited emergent evolutionary qualities. Areas such as Geo-Engineering, Genetic Engineering, Bio-Engineering and Transhumanism including Artificial General Intelligence. But was this an ontological philosophical error? — a category mistake — Was the World, Mind and Body (incl. the cell) really a machine?

The telos of our Universities were increasingly replacing a search for truth (veritas) with DEI and an established orthodoxy increasingly replacing a heterodoxy of perspectives despite the complexity of reality and the need for open inquiry.

Truth claims were no longer primarily determined by the Primacy of Existence such as the Natural World and instead were increasingly determined through social and political consensus (eg. peer reviews, social networks of similar existing knowledge/research) and mathematics (e.g. Statistical P-Value thresholds).

The underlying axioms that supported the abstraction such as reductionism, determinism and cause-effect were assumed to be “true without any reflexive contemplation [watch the first 3 minutes of link].

The arrival of Logical Positivism in the early 20th Century increasingly eliminated the notion of metaphysics as a legitimate way of revealing new knowledge.

Theology — the Queen of the Science — of medieval scholastics that was attempting to integrate faith, reason, and the natural world, together with embracing Ancient Greek Aristotelean philosophical & theological thought was increasingly being replaced by scientific and economic rationalism, together with a disciplinary focus on STEM as the primary form of legitimate knowledge — refer to the Two Cultures debates of the 1880s and 1950s.

Christian ethics and morals were increasingly being replaced by moral relativism and/or Nietzsche’s critique of traditional morality and notions of “good” and “evil”.

An Übermensch energised by a will to power and self-overcoming was now awakened from its sleep.

Inalienable natural rights from God such as life, freedom, religion, justice, mercy, and community were increasingly being transformed by rights granted by the State or a Transnational Liberal Rules-Based Order.

“Liberty does not exist in the absence of morality”…

— Edmund Burke

Collectivism and utilitarianism were increasingly replacing the rights (e.g. liberty, contextualised medicine) and obligations (e.g. morality) of the Individual despite the non-ergodicity of life.

The State was increasingly replacing the family nucleus as the fundamental building block of society

Citizenship was increasingly being replaced by the Market State and an unelected elite of Transnational Organisations beyond reproach from the Westphalian State and its citizens.

Ideas have consequences, and totally erroneous ideas are likely to have destructive consequences”…

— Steven Allen




Richard Schutte

Innovation, Intrapreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Complexity, Leadership & Community Twitter: @complexityvoid