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The Nihilism of the West…

A World without Immanence and Transcendence – A Primacy of Human Consciousness without a Primacy of Existence – The Temporal without the Eternal – A Material World (Physical) without a Spiritual World (Metaphysical)

Richard Schutte
7 min readApr 14, 2024

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“If we can’t get back to principles and integrity and it’s reduced just the interest of calculation and Machiavellian manipulation, we are in deep trouble”…

– Cornel West

“Nihilism is a natural consequence of a culture (or civilisation) ruled and regulated by categories that mask manipulation, mastery and domination of peoples and nature”…

– Cornel West

In Adrift – The Crisis of a Post-Nietzschean Modernity and Post-Modernity the collapse of Western Civilisation’s Sense of Coherence was explored as the inner conscious mind, rationality and temples of reason of Modernity began colliding with the external conscious experience (umwelt), relativism, feelings and sensations of Post-Modernity.

“The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism”…

- Albert Camus

It represented the limits of a drift towards the Primacy of Human Consciousness – the Ego (Conscious Self) – in a Material World in which Humanity was entangled.

A way of being that was increasingly ignoring the Primacy of Existence and the eternal nature of the Human Condition.

Nihilism

20th Century Nobel Prize French philosopher, author, dramatist, journalist, and political activist – Albert Camus – captures the essence of Nihilism in the following quote.

“A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists”…

– Albert Camus

Nihilism is the rejection of the value of existence and the inherent meaning and purpose in life.

It reflects efforts by individuals or societies to ignore or suppress our innate longing for deeper spiritual understanding, meaning and transcendence (The human heart’s restless search for fulfilment and its ultimate resolution in finding God).

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until it rests in you”…

– St Augustine

Instead, one seeks distraction and satisfaction through material world pursuits such as a will to power, wealth and pleasure ( a Materialism ).

“Nihilism … (is) the endpoint of the ascending line of the Western process of liberation” …

- Augusto del Noce

A gravitational pull towards the temporal rather than the eternal that inevitably inhibits us from revealing deeper truths and exploring eternal questions relating to human existence – the inherent value of the World as it is.

The Theology of Marxism and a resultant consequence of Scientific Gnosticism are examples of this nihilistic discontent.

“The fulfillment of Marxism coincides, by an internal necessity, and against the intention of those who thought or realised it, with radical nihilism” …

– Augusto del Noce

“We live in the complete eclipse of traditional ideals, an eclipse that can make one think it is a “sunset”. Since 1945 a new historical period has begun: that of 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘶𝘴. But is it a question of “rising ideals”, or of “the obscuration of intelligence”?” …

– Augusto del Noce

An endemic nihilism that is captured in James Lindsay’s 19 August 2021 article titled The Calamity of Scientific Gnosticism where the essence of this Gnosticism can be expressed in three beliefs that illustrate Man’s progressive desire to transform the World into the image of Man.

A key passage:

“These are (1) that it is not you or your theories that are wrong, but the world itself; (2) that we have been flung into this miserable and intolerable condition against our wants; but (3) are able to attain a consciousness, a knowledge – a Gnosis – that will allow us to repair the world and ourselves.

In this regard, Gnosticism is a perverted impulse toward progress, which describes the circumstance in which we have improved our ability to live in the world through a better understanding of it and ourselves in it. That is, progress means better according our lives with reality as it is and thus doing better in reality. Gnosticism turns progress upside-down – inverts it – by reframing it away from the effort to prosper in the world as it is and toward remaking it into a world that is not and, because this non-reality is essential to the Gnostic project, cannot be”…

Man creates and shapes History – a Dialectical Materialism.

“Marx’s philosophy must replace the categories of the eternal and the contingent with those of the past and the future”…

– August del Noce

Man creates and shapes the World – Hegel’s Second Nature.

“Nihilism, egocentrism and materialism are one”…

– Augusto del Noce

Past examples? – Mao and his War on Nature .

A Primacy of Human Consciousness – the Ego ( Conscious Self) – which was now being extended to Machines – without recognising the Primacy of Existence.

“To say something is Real is merely to say that such predicates are true of it, or some of them, are true of it regardless of whatever any actual person or persons might think concerning that truth. Unconditionality in that single respect constitutes what we call Reality”…

– Charles Sanders Peirce

Nihilism and the Theological, Philosophical and Metaphysical Crisis of the West – Post -Truth and the denial of Eternal Values

“The cultures of the right or of the left are today opposite but complementary processes towards nihilism, towards a common end in which they converge. And since it is a question of the nullification of ideals, what remains is power; rather than fight it, and whatever their intuitions may be, they help in opposite ways [to bring about] the consolidation of a totalitarianism, which, though not the evolution of [one of] those we have known, is no less fearful, or rather worse and which has its theoretical foundation in that scientism at which the process of annihilation of ideals, confused with ideologies, ends; and, like any new oppressive form, it must always distract attention [by] diverting the discourse towards past oppressive forms” …

- Augusto del Noce

The theological, philosophical and metaphysical crisis that Western Civilisation was now confronted with is captured in a recent Judging Freedom with Judge Andrew P. Napolitano (AP) podcast titled – Alistair Crooke (AC) : Western Thinking About War at the ~28-minute mark.

“Totalitarianism is not mere dictatorship. It is, rather, a new historical phenomenon that evolves when political values become the supreme consideration, in the light of which all other values must be judged” …

- Augusto del Noce

An excerpt follows:

AP: Why is it that the West does not have the patience that Arabs or the Russians do?

AC: I think we have gone through this great change and we have become very much a nihilistic society.

AP: A nihilistic society meaning …

AC: A nihilistic

AP: We don’t believe in any basic values

AC: Anything beyond and we negate anything that you know pretends to have anything other than material value or something that is , if you like …, feeds our utilitarian needs. Our sense of, you know comfort, needs to consume and live a consumer life. And we find it very difficult to think that, for the rest of the World there is another, there is a whole new realm of the immaterial that exists. There is a sort of membrane perhaps between our material world and an immaterial world. But that most of the ethical values certainly for Iranians and others. You know, the values of the World are not set by your Parliament or your Government but they are embedded if you like in the Immaterial World and they are available and they are part of every Human’s ability to tell justice from injustice.

AP: And they are discoverable by the exercise of Human Reason as our friend, Saint Thomas Aquinas argued.

“The forms of thought that intend to deny the idea of permanent values … are not oriented towards truth but towards power“ …

– Augusto del Noce

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Richard Schutte

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