Maybe it is the terrible mood I am right now, but it was very hard to read Jacques Maritain today. If I want to present a paper in the upcoming conference I need to find something to write about him. But, now that I just finished reading “Christian Humanism”, my impression is that I just listened to Catholic sermon.
I guess the weakness within me makes me fascinated about the idea of God. I wish I could believe it. I really do. But, perhaps my fascination is about man and his madness, instead. Because when I listen to Christians talking — even Christian philosophers — they sound like madman. Maritain text reads like madness.
I simply can’t carry on. Especially not today. Not during these hard times. I am not weak enough to get more susceptible to faith; quite the contrary. During difficult times, I feel the increasing need to reassess my life, to review my premises, to research the facts I take for granted. At times like these, people talking about angels irritate me.
I was happy to find in Maritain’s tomistic metaphysics echoes of Objectivism. But they were just echoes. Maybe there is still a lot to learn with him, but now that I went beyond his metaphysics to his humanism, I need some detox.
Maritain criticizes Marxism in harsh ways (which I agree), talking about man submitting himself to a collective conscience, the well-know objectivist concept of the “primacy of consciousness” in the “social” variety. But he does so while also criticizing the “false” conviction that came with Modernity that man alone could work out his salvation:
“…this salvation demands the giving up of personality, and the organization of collective man into one single body whose supreme destiny is to gain dominion over matter and human history.”
“He is a particle of the social whole and lives on the collective consciousness of the whole, and his happiness and liberty lie in serving the work of the whole. This whole itself is an economic and industrial whole, its essential and primordial work consists of the industrial domination of nature, for the sake of the very whole which alone presents absolute value, and has nothing above itself.”
Pure social primacy of consciousness. But then he talks about how this sacrificing to “industry’s titanism” led to animality, despair, the rejection of reason and the spirit, and then racism and nazism.
I won’t comment on his political snippets in the text, because he then goes on to expound a solution that is completely devoid of value for me: a new Christian civilization, a new Christendom. I wonder if that will include witch-hunt and burning crosses again.
It might be my bad mood, like I said, but all he says after his analysis of Marxism sounds like gibberish to me. Sorry.
It’s strange. As I read more about Christianity, and, in a way, seem more interested in it, my rejection to it increases. Slowly, I realize this universal blindness in men, this unthinking acceptance of religious beliefs, i.e., unfounded mystical concoctions.
“Man’s dignity is that of an image of God, his rights derive as well as his duties from natural law, whose requirements express in the creature the eternal plan of creative Wisdom. Wounded by sin and death from the first sin of his race, whose burden weighs upon all of us, he is caused by Christ to become of the race and lineage of God, living by divine life, and called upon to enter by suffering and love into Christ’s very work of redemption.”
Is this a priest or a philosopher speaking? Again, that means nothing to me, or, worse than that, it means sheer irrationality.
Maritain hates man’s sacrificing to the collective consciousness, but then he says this:
“The meaning of that paradox is that man knows very well that death is not an end, but a beginning. If I think of the perishable life of man, it is something naturally sacred, yet many things are still more precious: Man can be required to sacrifice it by devotion to his neighbor or by his duty to his country.”
Many things more precious than my life? No.
I know “very well” that my death is a beginning? No.
I can be “required” to sacrifice my life? No.
By devotion to my neighbor? No.
By duty to my country? NO!
And then he complains about communism and nazism.
But, again, maybe that’s just my bad mood today.