Even before Francis Fukuyama pronounced his “end of history”, the sociologist Daniel Bell had forecast “the end of ideology”. It’s not just street-corner preachers waylaying us pedestrians with prophecies of the end times.
But like Mr. Fukuyama, Mr. Bell probably misconstrued the meaning of the end of ideology, and in what way it, like “the end of history”, pertained to the growing impotence of reason in the breakdown of the mental-rational consciousness structure. In this case, “end of ideology” would refer to what Jacques Ellul called “the political illusion” — the impotence of reason, reflected in policy-making, to amend or alter the logical dynamics of Late Modernity, which had become quasi-autonomous.
I’ve heard the name Paul Verhaeghe before. I can’t recall where I heard the name, but Mr. Verhaeghe has an article in today’s Guardian about the psychological ravages of neo-liberalism entitled “Neo-liberalism has brought out the worst in us”. It seems appropriate to bring it to your attention as it follows closely on what I wrote a few days ago on “Late Modern Schizophrenia”, or earlier in “The Ravages of the New Normal“.
This kind of medical model approach to the social phenomena of Late Modernity recalls the Canadian made documentary The Corporation. It is actually a good development when we start to think in terms of health and illness rather than moralising in terms of “good and evil” matters that are actually issues of well-being or sickness, or of wounding and healing, or dis-integrative and integrative.
“Man is the sick animal”. That was Nietzsche’s general definition of “man”, and as a definition it is probably more truthful than the usual self-flattering or idealised definitions — homo sapiens, homo oeconomicus, homo faber, “the rational animal”, “the moral animal”, “the political animal”, and so on. “Man is the sick animal” is also notable for being quite consistent with the first premise of most religious traditions, whether “original sin” or the First Noble Truth of Buddhism that life is dukkha — malaise, disease, difficulty, suffering, unsatisfactoriness, the imperfect and unwell.
“Man is the sick animal” is fully the equivalent of the First Noble Truth of Buddhism, as it is the first principle also of Nietzsche’s philosophy.
I received a scan of a couple of pages of commentary on Jean Gebser and integral consciousness recently. It is scanned from a book by P.J. Saher called Eastern Wisdom and Western Thought, Comparative Study In The Modern Philosophy Of Religion (1969). I thought I would repost it here as it makes some interesting points, even if Mr. Saher’s points really require a broader (or deeper) contextualisation in order to be properly understood. Nonetheless, for those interested in Gebser and his philosophy of integral consciousness, this is a nice, compact presentation. I hope it’s legible. My own commentary to follow,
The Agony and the Ecstasy was the title of an biographical novel by Irving Stone on the life of Michelangelo. I have never read it, but I have often mused about the significance of that title as reflecting the boundaries of life, something corresponding to the 0 and 1 states of the fractal dimension or the digital world, or the states of Nothing and All, or in Buddhist terms, too, samsara and nirvana, or Hell and Heaven.
Because I haven’t read the novel I don’t know precisely how Mr. Stone understood agony and ecstasy, but they are the boundaries of the soul, as much as “the soul” can be said to have such boundaries. They should be properly understood, therefore. Originally, the words meant something quite different than they do today.