I have been reminded by amothman of my earlier promise to delve further into the enlightenment of Harold Waldwin Percival, and of his book <i>Thinking and Destiny</i>. And since his reminder comes coincident with a greater increase in search engine traffic by seekers looking for the meaning of Heraclitus’ “character is fate” (<i>ethos anthropos daimon</i>), it may be a good time to keep my promise.
So, to begin….
“Character is fate” is the usual translation of ethos anthropos daimon. It is one of the famous sayings of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy once honoured Heraclitus by referring to him as “the Greek Buddha.”
Although I posted something earlier about the meaning of “ethos anthropos daimon,” (with which I was not too happy anyway), it has now become one of the most sought out phrases in the online search engines guiding readers to The Chrysalis. So, maybe some further brief clarification is in order for those seeking to understand what Heraclitus meant.
I have read three books recently which more or less adequately account for the present deplorable state of the human condition in Late Modernity. They are Pitrim Sorokin’s The Crisis of Our Age, Rene Guenon’s The Reign of Quantity, and Gabriel Marcel’s Man Against Mass Society. Taken together, rather than separately, they provide an adequate diagnosis of our malaise at “the end of history” which they do not fully accomplish separately.
The Sociologist, the Philosopher, and the Mystic: Pitrim Sorokin, Jean Gebser, and Harold Waldwin Percival
Over the last few posts, I’ve been attempting to demonstrate how what we call “the transcendent” is actually present, here-and-now, within what is called “the secular”, but in a distorted and perverse way. The term Jean Gebser uses for this is “latency”, and the revelation, manifestation, or disclosure of the transcendent to immediate and direct perception he calls its “transparency” or “diaphaneity“.
Why we don’t perceive it is owing to something called “veil of Maya” or “Cloud of Unknowing,” or “the Dreaming,” but which I have more generally called the human condition of narcissism. Casting aside the veil, dispelling the cloud, awakening from the Dream is overcoming narcissism, is self-realisation, and is the issue of William Blake’s lines quoted earlier about cleansing “the doors of perception”,
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern
Economism, as briefly discussed in the last two posts, would appear to be a pretty banal and insipid ideology and a terribly bleak and dispiriting way of life. It is that, of course. But one must also see how it is, at the same time, the most decayed form and perverted expression of the transcendental, and it is these decayed remnants of the transcendental that still claim the loyalties and allegiances of human beings.
I’m procrastinating. I’m lingering indoors because it’s -31 degrees Celsius this frosty Christmas morn. At least there is no wind to whip off your nose and ears, but you can freeze up pretty quickly anyway under such conditions.
So, while I’m lingering and waylaying myself from fulfilling my Christmas duties, let me add a little bit more to that last post about economism as the new totalitarianism.