What is the reality that we share? What are the conditions for the possibility of being in community? Concepts like being; Geist; distributed cognition; active intellect; transcendental ego; intelligibility; the One; in some sense all these concepts are meant to explain different aspects of the meaning of that reality which persists (insofar as it does this) between persons existing in various levels of community. But in light of the Cartesian dubito, how are we to access such a communal reality? Is this even possible?
The latter question has become an increasingly pressing one as we continue deeper into our late modern crisis of meaning. This crisis manifests itself in myriad tangible ways in the West today: increases in substance abuse/suicide, increases in mental health disorders, politicized educational schemes, political violence, increasingly aggressive/reactionary public policy, erosion in institutional confidence… There is a proliferation of groups that claim to know answers, yet one increasingly gets the impression that increasingly few are asking the right questions. The spirit of our age is a swirling cauldron of forces battling over the objects of their various material desires. In the words of the late Fr. James V. Schall, we have a “politics of Heaven and Hell,” where my policy platform constitutes a moral imperative which, if passed into law, will bring us to the promised land. Whoever opposes it is by definition evil.
I argue that a general neglect of the aforementioned philosophical problems has brought us to the current crisis of meaning. By neglect I mean a failure to seriously engage with these problems on a philosophical level. This crisis of meaning can thus be conceived in some sense as a metaphysical problem.
It seems that the mob disregards the role that the aforementioned immaterial forces play in fertilizing the soil of a healthy society, even while they are animated by their more pernicious forms. A new method, focused on the “spiritual” (if they can be so called) foundations of our malaise, might lead to a new set of questions and new ways of trying to answer them. For example, what are the foundations of intelligibility in art, literature, and politics? Whence comes phronesis, the guiding spirit of practical life? What kind of presuppositions are built into our language, and how do they inform our actions? Whence come the foundations that undergird the intellectual roots of science? of morals?
In investigating questions like these, one will rarely, if ever, find apodictic answers. There is no algorithm for wisdom. In fact, I would argue that the general understanding of the “scientific” approach one finds in fields such as economics, political “science,” public policy, sociology, etc., is part of the problem. While these domains are all essential avenues for researching and understanding various problems that ail us, none of them are sufficiently grounded in what Aristotle would call “first philosophy” (what has come to be called metaphysics). They constitute different methodological approaches to their own parochial problems. That is, they do not encourage us all to speak the same language when confronting the problems that transcend their artificial boundaries. In the end, they are incapable of standing athwart the tidal wave of communal disintegration that threatens the U.S. and the West in general.
This site constitutes a “notebook” of sorts; a place of collected thoughts on these problems and how people smarter than me have approached them. I do not intend for these thoughts to necessarily contribute to solutions or answers. In fact, it may be that this condition we are experiencing is an indelible feature of the human experience, amplified due to recent technological “advances.” At any rate, these essays are simply an outlet for me to make a bit more sense of these things rather than just jotting ideas down in the margins of whatever book I happen to be reading.
As for personal details, I am a former member of the U.S. military pursuing a PhD in politics at the Catholic University of America. I can be reached via the contact page for any inquiries. I am grateful and humbled by the fact that you are reading this. Thank you.