Recovery of the life of Reason (Part 2):
The Principles of Completeness, Formation, and Foundation

The present essay [ Reason: The Classic Experience ] obviously is an act of resistance in continuity with the classic effort. The tactics used will have become clear. In the first place, the practically forgotten experiential context on which the meaning of Reason depends had to be restored. Moreover, as far as that was possible in the brief space, I have tried to establish the inner coherence of pieces of analysis which in the sources are scattered over a vast body of literature. From the basis of the restored experience, then, it was possible to branch out into the psychopathology of alienation and the aspernatio rationis. And from this basis broadened by the Stoic analysis, finally, it was possible to characterize the modern revolt against Reason as well as the phenomenon of the system.

In this critical characterization, however, I had to concentrate selectively on flagrant cases; the general importance of the classic analysis as an instrument of critique did not become fully visible. It will be apposite, therefore, to present a diagram of the points to be considered in any study of human affairs, of the peri ta anthropina in the Aristotelian sense.

Charting the Components of Reality

The left vertical column lists the levels in the hierarchy of being from the Nous to the Apeiron. Man participates in all of them; his nature is an epitome of the hierarchy of being. The arrow pointing down indicates the order of formation from the top down. The arrow pointing up indicates the order of foundation from the bottom up. The top horizontal column lists the dimensions of man's existence as a person in society and history. The arrow pointing to the right indicates the order of foundation.

Principle of completeness: A philosophy peri ta anthropina must cover the grid determined by the two coordinates. No part of the grid must be hypostatized into an autonomous entity, neglecting the context.

Principle of formation and foundation: The order of formation and foundation must not be inverted or otherwise distorted, as for instance by its transformation into a causality working from the top or the bottom. Specifically, all constructions of phenomena on a higher level as epiphenomena of processes on a lower one, the so-called reductionist fallacies, are excluded as false. This rule, however, does not affect the conditioning causality which is the very essence of foundation. Neither are inversions of the order of foundation in the horizontal column permitted. Specifically, all "philosophies of history" which hypostatize society or history as an absolute, eclipsing personal existence and its meaning, are excluded as false.

Principle of metaxy reality: The reality determined by the coordinates is the In-Between reality, intelligible as such by the consciousness of Nous and Apeiron as its limiting poles. All "eristic phantasies" which try to convert the limits of the metaxy, be it the noetic height or the apeirontic depth, into a phenomenon within the metaxy are to be excluded as false. This rule does not affect genuine eschatological or apocalyptic symbolisms which imaginatively express the experience of a movement within reality toward a Beyond of the metaxy, such as the experiences of mortality and immortality.

The diagram has proved of particular value for students, because it gives them a minimum body of objective criteria for true and false in their struggle with the flood of contemporary opinion literature. With the help of the diagram it is possible to classify false theoretical propositions by assigning them their place in the grid. On occasion it has become an exciting game for the students to place ideas which enjoy the popularity of the moment in one of the twenty-one squares. Beyond its function as a technical aid in mastering contemporary phenomena of intellectual disorder, the diagram had the important psychological effect of overcoming the students' sense of disorientation and lostness in the unmanageable flood of false opinions that presses in on them every day.

CW VOL 12,
Reason: The Classic Experience

pp 289-291.