The full title of this book is "Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al- `Arabī and the Problem of Religious Diversity". Ibn al- `Ara...more Why is there Religious Diversity?
The full title of this book is "Imaginal Worlds: Ibn al- `Arabī and the Problem of Religious Diversity". Ibn al- `Arabī was a great Sufi mystic and philosopher who died in the mid thirteenth century. Religious diversity is a problem for all multi-cultural Empires; and it was a problem throughout the medieval world of the Islamicate. Not only was Islam born in the midst of several long established religious traditions in the Middle East, it encountered still more when the Muslim Conquests spread into India and Southeast Asia. Now, every empire certainly desires internal peace; but one wonders how this peace can be achieved, and also endure, given the fact of religious diversity within their own ever (at least in intent) expanding borders.
The thought of Ibn al- `Arabī regarding religious diversity provided one possible solution for the Islamic world. And it is his unique understanding of religious diversity that I would like to pursue in this review. Unlike modern secularists, whose 'solution' to the problem of religious diversity is based on some form of historicist evolution (basically, 'stoopid then - all wised up now') and the eventual elimination of all religion, the Shaykh based his explanation upon a certain understanding of the very nature of Reality. And it turns out, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that our religious diversity is itself an ontological necessity!
What! How? Well, there are several reasons for (and implications of) this, and they involve understanding some of his technical terms too. Okay, let's start with his understanding of the Real. The Shaykh used the term 'Wujūd' for this. Our author, William Chittick, leaves this term untranslated throughout this book. (Usual english translations of this word are either 'being' or 'existence'.) For al- `Arabī, Wujūd, at the highest level, is God. But in the Cosmos (i.e., basically everything that is not God) Wujūd is also the underlying substance of all things. And since Wujūd is the underlying substance of the cosmos it is wrong (and ultimately blasphemous!) to say of any of the multitudinous entities in the cosmos that they are merely an illusion or an error.
But these entities are not the Real. No. So what are they? We are told that "all things stand in an intermediate domain, a barzakh or isthmus. The universal isthmus or Supreme Barzakh is the whole cosmos; on one side stands the ocean of the Real, utterly unknowable in itself. On the other stands the ocean of nonexistence, also unknowable, because there is nothing to be known (p. 162)." Everything, but God, stands between the Real and Nothing. (God, of course, is the Real, is Wujūd.) Not only the Cosmos, but each particular thing in the cosmos (including you and I!) is, in myriad different ways, a barzakh. Each can lead towards God (the Real) or away from God - eventually into nothingness. How does humanity, individually and collectively, choose which direction to take? Well, this question involves several additional points, but it first brings us to the question of the Attributes.
Now, the problem of the attributes of God was a common thread throughout the philosophical and theological thought of the medieval period. (But it seems the Shaykh doesn't use the term 'attributes', he calls them 'Names'.) Each existing thing in the Cosmos 'participates' in Ultimate Reality (and therefore exists) due to its instantiation of an attribute (i.e., a Name) of Wujūd. Now, it is very important to understand that humanity is no mere thing among other things. Our author goes so far as to say that "the human fitra [nature, original disposition] is Wujūd" (p. 167)! Now, this certainly does not mean that we are gods; it means that we "alone are given a share of every attribute of the Real [= Wujūd]. (p. 168)" Our "fundamental cognitive (and ontological) archetype is God himself, not any specific attribute of God. (p. 169)"
So, why do we 'archetypes of God' seemingly disagree about everything? The answer is, to use a contemporary post-Nietzschean term, perspective. We each view the Whole from our own perspective; that is to say, we each view the world from our own particular (and unique) mixture of the Attributes (i.e., the Names of God). The Shaykh refers to this phenomenon as 'Knots'. After explaining the derivation of this term our author writes that as, "a technical term signifying belief, it suggests a knot tied in the heart that determines a person's view of reality. The Shaykh employs the word to refer to all the knottings that shape understanding - the whole range of cognitions, ideas, theories, doctrines, dogmas, prejudices, perceptions, feelings, and inclinations that allow people to make sense of the world. (p. 138)" Each of us has (perhaps even better said, is!) a unique mixture of the Names (i.e., attributes) of God, and this is why we trod our (sometimes extremely) different paths.
Regarding these myriad differences and paths Chittick quotes the Shaykh, Ibn al- `Arabī, as saying: -- God is wise without qualification. It is He who has put things in their places. It is He who has given each thing its creation [20:50]. Hence, God has made no error in engendered existence in relation to its order. -- (p. 139) -- People like us, who have an overview of all the stations and levels, distinguish from whence every individual speaks and discourses and recognizes that each is correct in his own level and makes no errors. Indeed, there is absolutely no error in the cosmos. -- (p. 140)
No error in the Cosmos! Indeed... Regarding that Chittick goes so far as to say that -- Together, God and the cosmos denote everything in reality, while each is the mirror image of each other. Hence every name of God finds loci of disclosure in the macrocosm. As the Shaykh puts it, the cosmos is the sum total of all the properties and effects of the divine names. -- (p. 33) Long before Blake was born, the Shaykh knew that the answer to the awful question in 'The Tyger'
"Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"
was a resounding Yes! But we were speaking of humanity, not the Cosmos. We have seen that all particular paths (that is, all the myriad 'knottings', all the different human perspectives) are 'accepted' and (better said) understood by the Shaykh. But who exactly are the 'people like us' that, along with al- `Arabī, recognize this? They are called the people of the 'Station of No Station'. Huh? What is a 'Station'? Chittick explains that al- `Arabī -- considered every mode of existence accessible to human beings -each of which is defined by a specific constellation of works, states, and knowledges- to be a 'station' (maqām) of knowledge. He saw each friend of God and each seeker of God as standing in a specific station. -- (p. 9)
But why aren't there as many stations as there are individuals? That is to say, if all perspectives reflect a particular aspect of Wujūd then every single perspective must be a legitimate Station. Right? Wrong! Wujūd is Truth; these perspectives are not simply or purely Truth; although they are certainly not (according to the Shaykh) entirely False. How do these perspectives achieve Truth? Ah! This leads us to the necessity of Prophesy.
While it is true that no human position is entirely false, prophesy is the road to Truth. Since, according to our author, -Only the Real is clear and sure. Everything else is vague, opaque, and unreal. -Like other divine attributes, knowledge cannot be found in pure form outside the Real. (p. 161)- The only road to Truth is through God. Prophets point the way. If I understand our author correctly the implication is, that even though we all have a unique distribution of the Attributes of God, left on our own we would eventually fall into nothingness. The many Prophetic Traditions were sent by God to prevent this! What I was surprised to find is that the Shaykh accepts the Islamic teaching that Muhammad is the last prophet.
And with that I conclude this terse rendition of Chittick's intriguing explication of the Shaykh's teaching regarding Religious diversity. I suspect that it will leave late modern secularists and postmodern nihilists with more questions than answers.
Diversity and Creation
First, I suspect many of us are wondering if, and doubting that, the fact of diverse religions, and even the tolerance of them, is truly ontologically based; - we wonder if this understanding is merely a politico-cultural construction that justifies whatever 'useful' religions happen to be. But the socio-cultural world we inhabit is not a museum; and it cannot be turned into one. The reiterated insistence that all must follow a pre-established path (i.e., an already established religion) will strike most late moderns as essentially political and reactionary. And thus I wish to conclude this review with a discussion of the Shaykh's very Muslim insistence that one must always trod a preexisting path (an existing prophetic tradition) in order to even begin to find ones way to the 'standpoint of no standpoint' (i.e., the 'Station of No Station').
Of course the danger of saying that there are many paths to God, but adding that everyone must tread an already existing path, is that eventually people may (no, they almost certainly will) come to believe that each of these paths (i.e., the several great religious traditions) are but manifestations of different cultural tendencies that Nations and Empires conspire to tolerate (within their borders) in the name of internal consistency and political hegemony. But nations and empires, of course, will also tend to downplay tolerance to the extent necessary to maintain their separate existences. Now, whether a State is expanding or merely struggling to maintain itself, successful new religions always tend to tear apart already existing polities. And so, if one theoretically (i.e., ontologically, theologically) concedes that new religions can indeed come about one has (potentially) signed the death warrant of each and every particular religious (political and cultural) formation in existence because the future always contains unanticipated crises that may transform some tiny cult into a large expanding religion. Therefore it is not surprising that neither political nor religious leaders and (I imagine) their followers would ever concede this point. The refusal to do so, of course, does not prove that they only fear their particular political-religious-cultural formations being superseded and rendered obsolete. Most believers, at least those not in power, are really not quite that Machiavellian! But whether one concedes the necessity of new religions or not, - the world around us continues to change. And both Change and the refusal to do so involves the political.
For late moderns and postmoderns the world has manifestly changed. It no longer resembles any traditional society. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that the Ontological understanding of the Shaykh is correct, the problem we face today, basically, is that while the Reals' Willful and Truthful manifestation of Itself into countless forms provides the basis of religious diversity, there can also be (for historical humanity) no end to this diversity. And so, while there might be a correct understanding of religious diversity (and the Shaykh certainly has an interesting one), there can never in fact be a single, final Universal Religion. I would argue that this is due to the ceaseless manifestation of Wujūd. This 'overflow' of Wujūd may rightly be characterized as, at bottom and in Itself, only the beautiful Truth. But the individuals who believe in their various traditions will never experience every actual (and possible) manifestation of the Overflow in this way. And so we are doomed to again and again find ourselves in historical situations where the beautiful New is at war with the beautiful Old. The Real, however, is, and can only be, One; but its multitudinous manifestations are ceaseless, and the combinations and interactions of these manifestations are innumerable. Therefore, I would argue that religious and cultural creation (and strife) must be endless too so long as God continues to Create.
Regarding late modernity, I would add that once the current crisis of Universalism arrives (our 'Postmodern Moment') the 'problem of diversity' becomes theoretically insoluble. Before our wretched postmodernism, Universalism was thought by all to be the eventual answer to the fact of diversity. It was generally believed by all camps that one day (however distant) we would all be (for example) Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Liberals or Socialists. All those possibilities now seem to many of us to be finished. (Indeed, to many they are but myths, lies, and/or utopian dreams.) We have awoken into a bitter postmodernity of factionalism, nihilism and constructivism. Now, our factionalism (i.e. diversity) has been explained by al- `Arabī. (It is a consequence of the multitudinous manifestations of Wujūd.) But what of postmodern Constructivism?
Well, I suppose that one could maintain that Ibn al- `Arabī is also a constructivist - of sorts. But this Constructivism isn't merely based on all-too-human human will, words (i.e., rhetoric) and whims. Wujūd Itself sanctions human constructivism! After pointing out that "Self-disclosure never repeats itself" and that at each instance God renews the self-disclosure that is the universe, our author states: -- Human beings, however, do not play a totally passive role. Given the presence within them of a certain freedom because of a special relationship with the Real, they can exert an effect upon the direction of their changing beliefs. -- (p. 164)
And so, according to our author, the Shaykh believes in the legitimacy (one is tempted to say the 'sacredness') of human self-creation. One might be surprised to find that this notion that God ultimately is the fount of human creativity has recently (re-)appeared in the militantly Christian 'Radical Orthodoxy' movement: "Radical Orthodoxy is not afraid to consider seriously proposals that knowing is most adequately described in relation to making. It is not bewitched by the fear that human making is inevitably arbitrary." (Truth in the Making; Knowledge and Creation in Modern Philosophy and Theology (Radical Orthodoxy), Robert C. Miner, Prologue pps. xv-xvi.) Incredible as it might sound, constructivism is today becoming religiously permissable, certainly not as human prometheanism, but as a gift from God. For the very Christian Miner, it is ultimately the "analogical participation of human esse in divine esse (Miner, p.18)" -that he finds in Aquinas- which accounts for this. According to Chittick, Ibn al- `Arabī thinks of human creativity and God in a somewhat similar manner.
Humanity has a special relationship with Wujūd (p.164). Therefore we can slightly effect Its manifestations; and thus it turns out that post/modern constructivism (which always seemed to lead to the nihilistic denial of Truth) must be partially true, - for (god help us...) religious reasons! Now, any constructivism that is not based on either some genuinely philosophical understanding of the Real (as the necessary, the general, the universal) or a theological understanding of God, but instead bases itself on the merely human, can (of course!) only be another mask of nihilism. Our postmodern moment (apparently yet another barzakh!) continues to point to either the darkest nihilism, or an equally (for secularists) unknowable transcendence. It will certainly be interesting, but perhaps not enlightening, to see which wins out.
This book was a fascinating and eye-opening read. I am not even sure I had heard of Ibn al- `Arabī before. I only give four stars because one day I would like to read al- `Arabī and give him five stars.(less)
Late Modernity has proven to be a gradual retreat from the old gradualist uniformitarianism type of science that...moreThe Cyclical Interpretation of History
Late Modernity has proven to be a gradual retreat from the old gradualist uniformitarianism type of science that I was taught decades ago. This science assumed that the physical and geological laws operating in (and the manifest behavior of) the world today have always been in effect in our world, at least during the time of Man. However, this notion lately (i.e., in my lifetime) has began to unravel, both in popular culture and science itself. Scientifically, after witnessing the spectacular collision of Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, it has become impossible to argue that catastrophic events can no longer happen in our solar system. Even the Tunguska Event (1908) is now thought to (perhaps) have been caused by a comet. But this book is not interested in that. Its brand of 'catastrophism' is of an entirely terrestrial origin. While I am not convinced by the book, I must admit I am intrigued by it. In this review I would like to (very broadly) give some indication of its argument and then some possibilities of how it might be accepted and also some consequences that might follow if this quite 'speculaive history' were to be generally accepted.
The Argument of this Book in a Nutshell:
This book argues, in a manner that does not include recourse to the 'supernatural', sentient beings from other planets, or some harebrained conspiracy, that advanced civilizations have existed in the past but their knowledge (and also the very knowledge of their existence!) was lost due to global catastrophe. This world-wide catastrophe, Graham Hancock argues, is due to the slippage of the lithosphere around the upper mantle. He settles on this remarkable supposition, ultimately, because of the extreme difficulty of completely hiding even the few remaining shards of any great fallen civilization. These remains, if this theory of Lithosphere slippage is correct, could be found beneath the antarctic ice cap. This idea is not original with our author, he got it from the Flem-Ath's (see their "When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis").
The book opens with the perusal of several remarkable old maps which could not possibly know what they manifestly do know. (The key text here is "Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age", by Charles H. Hapgood.) The depiction of topographic features of antarctica (rivers, mountain ranges, gulfs) that were hidden by glaciers throughout historic time is particularly eye-opening. These features were only recently discovered (perhaps I should say 'rediscovered') using the most advanced technologies. There is no way any known ancient civilization could have possessed this information. But the discrepancy is far worse than that; current theory places an un-glaciated Antarctica so far in the past that it predates the rise of humanity (i.e., homo sapiens) itself! This is where the theory of periodic Lithosphere slippage comes in especially handy. The rigid outer 'skin' of the earth periodically (even predictably!) slipping explains how civilization could (perhaps even repeatedly) rise and be destroyed, with only a tiny few scraps of information, cloaked in myth, escaping into the distant future.
I know, all this sounds remarkably improbable. I too am not a follower of the 'speculative history' propounded in these pages (or anywhere else). But consider these thoughts of Einstein regarding the danger of the accumulation of ice at the polar ice-caps and the resulting slippage: "The earth's rotation acts on these unsymmetrically deposited masses, and produces centrifugal momentum that is transmitted to the rigid crust of the earth. The constantly increasing centrifugal momentum produced this way will, when it reaches a certain point, produce a movement of the earth's crust over the earth's body, and this will displace the polar regions towards the equator. (quoted p. 468.)" Of course, Einstein's remarks do not in any way prove that slippage of the Lithosphere actually occurs. What it does show is that this is a scientific theory, which evidence may (or may not) prove to be true at a later date. A usually unnoticed consequence of this theory of Lithosphere slippage due to the accumulation of ice is that 'global-warming' may in fact prove to be a positive good. What?!? How? By suppressing the size of the ice-caps humanity may have found the only way to indefinitely defer the slippage of the Lithosphere.
And this theory of slippage also neatly explains how it is possible that antarctica would be without ice during the time of Man in the later Pleistocene Era thanks to the supposition that this slippage occurs every few thousand years. Of course, the slippage of the Lithosphere entails horrific damage on a world-wide scale. But where is the evidence? Besides several types of archeological anomalies (like "apparently 'flash-frozen' mammoths in northern Siberia and Alaska", for instance) our author finds the best evidence in the recurring constants of Myth. These mythical motifs occur across all continents and vastly different civilizations. He infers from these constants that these myths are not merely delusions. Hancock here leans heavily on the famous book ("Hamlet's Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge And Its Transmission Through Myth") by Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha von Dechen in making his argument.
Our author invites us to imagine, if our present civilization were entirely destroyed and the few survivors were forced back to a very primitive subsistence level, how this humanity would speak of events like Hiroshima after 10,000 years. He quotes several passages from the Bhagavata Purana (see pages 448-449) to show how myth might preserve the memory of such terrible events. Now, thanks to the popular TV show, 'Life After People', we are all today much more aware of how quickly the various physical artifacts of our civilization would disappear if not cared for by civilized Man. If our civilization were somehow destroyed wouldn't its few remaining traces eventually be mythologized into memorable narratives by the (nearly) 'feral' survivors?
Now, myth doesn't only contain tales of world-wide catastrophe and trauma; it preserves vital information regarding this catastrophe: most importantly, when it occurred and even when it will likely recur. Referring to some remarks by Josephus and also some anonymous Egyptian traditions regarding the antediluvian world our author states: "Taken at face value, the message of both these myths seems crystal clear: certain mysterious structures scattered around the world were built to preserve and transmit the knowledge of an advanced civilization of remote antiquity which was destroyed by a terrifying upheaval." (p. 490). How does myth do this? Through the 'universal language' of mathematics and the smart utilization of the terrestrial facts regarding the precession of the equinoxes.
But why make use of earth's axial precession to say 'we were here'? Our author explains that this is due to "the beautiful predictability of the earth's axial precession, which has the effect of slowly and regularly altering the declination of the entire star-field in relation to a viewer at a fixed point, and which equally slowly and regularly revolves the equinoctial point in relation to the twelve zodiacal constellations. From the predictability of this motion it follows that if we could find a way to declare: WE LIVED WHEN THE VERNAL EQUINOX WAS IN THE CONSTELLATION OF PISCES we would provide a means of specifying our epoch to within a single 2160-year period in every grand precessional cycle of 25,920 years. The only drawback to this scheme would become evident if a civilization equivalent to our own failed to arise within 12,000 or even 20,000 years of the cataclysm, but took much longer - perhaps as much as 30,000 years. (pp. 492-493.)" In the latter case the precessional evidence of the past civilization, while pointing to a previous period 'X' in a certain zodiacal sign, the civilization would actually have existed in period X minus 25,920 years, which is the time of a full precessional cycle and the occurrence of the zodiacal sign in the earlier cycle. There doesn't seem to be any way to rid precessional timekeeping of this central ambiguity.
In order for myth to preserve and transmit information regarding the precession it seems that the following numbers must be repeatedly encoded in these various myths: "12 = the number of constellations in the zodiac; 30 = the number of degrees allocated along the ecliptic to each zodiacal constellation; 72 = the number of years required for the equinoctial sun to complete a precessional shift of one degree along the ecliptic; 360 = the total number of degrees in the ecliptic; 72 X 30 = 2160 (the number of years required for the sun to complete a passage of 30 degrees along the ecliptic, i.e., to pass entirely through any one of the twelve zodiacal constellations); 2160 X 12 = 25920 (the number of years in one complete precessional cycle or 'Great Year', and thus the total number of years required to bring about the 'Great Return');. Other figures and combination of figures also emerge, for example: 36, the number of years required for the equinoctial sun to complete a precessional shift of half a degree along the ecliptic; 4320, the number of years required for the eqiunoctial sun to complete a precessional shift of 60 degrees (i.e., two zodiacal constellations). (pps. 257-258.)" Now, our author will strive to show how these numeric relationships are encoded in myths and surviving ancient monuments.
There are also many anomalies noted throughout this book. Those interested in archeological anomalies should almost certainly begin their study with the classic "Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race," by Michael A. Cremo. One such anomaly in the book before us is the age of the Sphinx. Egyptologists, though admitting that "there is no direct way to date the Sphinx itself, because the Sphinx is carved out of natural rock" date the monument to the Fourth Dynasty. However, geologists typically date the Sphinx thousands of years earlier, around 10,000 BC., based on the evidence of weathering. The reason that this date is unacceptable to archeologists and Egyptologists is that there is no known civilization in that period. One important book concerning the age of the Sphinx is "Serpent in the Sky" by John Anthony West. West puts the geological argument in a nutshell:
"Once you've established that water was the agent that eroded the Sphinx the answer is almost childishly simple. It can be explained to anybody who reads the 'National Enquirer' or the 'News of the World'. It's almost moronically simple... The Sphinx is supposed to have been built by Khafre around 2500 BC, but since the beginning of dynastic times -say 3000 BC onwards- there just hasn't been enough rain on the Giza plateau to have caused the very extensive erosion that we see all over the Sphinx's body. You really have to go back before 10,000 BC to find a wet enough climate in Egypt to account for weathering of this type and on this scale. It therefore follows that the Sphinx must have been built before 10,000 BC and since it's a massive, sophisticated work of art it also follows that it must have been built by a high civilization. (pp. 419-420.)"
And that is the impasse we have reached: The geologists say there hasn't been enough water in dynastic times in Egypt to account for the weathering of the Sphinx. The Egyptologist say that there was no civilization 12,000 years ago to build the Sphinx. Both find their views perfectly obvious and their doubters very foolish.
I'd like to conclude this section of my review by noting another anomaly in Egypt. It seems that the monuments on the Giza Plateau are aligned with the stars as they would have been in 10, 450 BC! Of course , it is possible that some cult in Fourth Dynasty Egypt wished to align the site with "the lowest point in Orion's precessional cycle" for reasons of ritual. But, as a collaborator of Hancock, Robert Bauval, states: "OK. That's one explanation. But the second explanation, which I personally favour -and which I think the geological evidence also supports- is that the whole Giza Necropolis was developed and built up over an enormously long period of time. I think it's more than possible that the site was originally planned and laid out at around 10,150 BC, so that its geometry would reflect the skies as they looked then, but that the work was completed, and the shafts of the Great Pyramid aligned, around 2450 BC. (p. 449.)" I suppose the place to start reading Bauval is his "The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids".
I've only hit what I regarded as the most important points of Hancock in this review. There is plenty more in this book; especially regarding South and Central America, that I haven't mentioned. Now, for the remainder of the review, I would like to discuss the prospects for (and the possible consequences of) the acceptance of the notion of ancient civilizations and scientific catastrophism in the modern world.
Late Modernity, as I said above, has proven to be a gradual retreat from 'gradualist' and 'uniformitarian' scientific notions. All that is needed to turn this retreat into a rout is a decade or two (or three!) of extreme earth activity: volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, drought, floods, drastically changed weather patterns (whether rapid warming or freezing is immaterial), meteor / asteroid strikes, etc, with the strength of this activity far exceeding statistical expectations. The acceptance of a scientific notion of Catastrophism certainly does not require either space aliens or the 'supernatural'; all it really requires to become plausible to the modern mind is a sustained period of increased natural catastrophe. In this scenario there would be absolutely no 'leap of faith' at all; modern science studies recurring natural phenomena.
Once modern civilization loses belief in its own supposed inevitability and necessity, due to an era of (seemingly) ever-increasing catastrophe, the notion of the existence of long forgotten advanced ancient civilizations that collapsed due to recurring natural disasters will cease to be repugnant to it. And then the many anomalies of archaeology (and other scientific disciplines) discussed in this book could coalesce into a new universal history that entails the necessary rise and fall of civilizations due entirely to natural causes. This new understanding will probably include an extremely speculative history of several cycles of the rise and fall of civilization. However, this acceptance of destructive natural cycles will also, I fear, likely spell the end of belief in our progressive secular theories of history, such as liberalism and socialism.
Now, with the fall of progressive secular ideologies one could also expect a rise in religious belief throughout our secular world even though, strictly speaking, scientific Catastrophism and the speculative history of our author (as embodied in this book) certainly requires no such belief. If people cease to believe that they and theirs can have a better material future in this world then they may well come to believe in a better spiritual future in the 'next world'. I suspect that this is one of the main unspoken reasons so many secular-minded people abominate the natural cyclical viewpoint expounded in this book. It is not the existence of advanced ancient civilizations per se that greatly bothers them; no, it is, on the one hand, the fear that as a consequence of the cyclical viewpoint modern progress itself first slows and then grinds to a halt. And, on the other hand, there is a fear that a belief in civilizational cycles leads inevitably to a 're-mythification' of the world and thus (eventually) the loss of scientific rationalism and secularism itself.
And even though scientific Catastrophism, strictly speaking, requires none of these results, I suspect that they are probable in the long run. I think that another stumbling-block for the overwhelming majority of its opponents is how 'amoral', at bottom, this cyclical viewpoint is. Humanity tends to believe that things happen due to our goodness or badness; that is to say, we tend to view the events around us as rewards or punishments for our behavior. Thus global warming must be due to modern industry and not the cycles of the sun and the incremental variations in earth's orbit, even though we know full well that there has been temperature variations (global warmings and coolings) throughout the natural history of our planet. (And thus periods of warming and cooling occurred long before there was any human intervention.) And so, even a scientific theory like global warming must be presented to all the world as a morality play. If it is ever believed that global catastrophe recurs every several thousand years, even whether humanity exists or not, then the ubiquitous 'moral view of history' is likely dead.
Now, I fear that Human History will always be akin to a puzzle that is missing many pieces. Or, perhaps more aptly, a text that is missing many words, - and even some letters within words! Naturally, the further back one goes in historical study the more appropriate this metaphor becomes. When we study 'prehistory' through the tools that archeology surely provides we find ourselves in a situation similar to someone trying to understand a thousand page novel with 95% of the text missing. In these circumstances, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree with your interpretation of the evidence. How might agreement then arise? That is the real question.
I think that the adherents of (whatever variety of) 'speculative history' should stop expecting people to one day confess they were all mistaken due to some new discovery. (For instance, the Antarctic ice shelf melting and revealing the remains of an ancient civilization.) Instead, they should inquire into the ways scientific world-views rise and fall. An excellent place to begin this study is "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. Now, to the best of my memory, Hancock doesn't even mention Kuhn in this book. But I believe Kuhn's book is germane to Hancock's argument. Kuhn discusses how theory replacement (he call this a 'paradigm-shift') occurs in science. It is a very complex argument and I don't dare even summarize it here. One point to note is that the accumulation of anomalies (phenomena unexplained by current theory) can eventually overwhelm the field investigating them and this itself may eventually lead to a paradigm shift. That is why I think a few decades of extreme weather and earth activity (volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.) could lead to the sort of 'paradigm shift' (in our understanding of ancient history) that Kuhn writes about. Extreme earth activity, far beyond the statistical norm, might indeed provide enough anomalies to cause a paradigm shift.
A Brief Note on Nietzschean Genealogy and How it Relates to MacIntyre's Project
The thing that impressed me most with MacIntyre’s great work (the so-ca...moreA Brief Note on Nietzschean Genealogy and How it Relates to MacIntyre's Project
The thing that impressed me most with MacIntyre’s great work (the so-called 'Trilogy' of "After Virtue", then "Whose Justice?, Which Rationality?", and finally, this book, "Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition") is his discussion of the importance of ‘coherence’ in a Tradition. By ‘coherence’ I mean (and I believe he means something like this too) that those adept in the philosophical basis of any tradition, though they cannot answer everything, can agree on what the fundamental questions are and how one methodologically proceeds to attempt to answer them within a given tradition. ...Philosophical coherence, it seems, even in this limited methodological sense, demands that the modern world must (somehow) become one, that is to say, it must have only one Tradition. I would add that since MacIntyre maintains that there can be, and indeed must be, many differences of opinion between adherents of a tradition, that it follows that this 'Trilogy' must not be understood as a call for a single World State or society. A successfully universal world-tradition will have many different 'flavors' amongst many different peoples and polities.
The previous book in this Trilogy was titled "Whose Justice? Which Rationality?" And oh God! Those are indeed the questions today since there are so many incommensurable philosophical and religious traditions... But if there can be no adequate understanding between rival theories, as MacIntyre is often in that earlier book at pains to show, then - what? Well, then one wonders exactly how we fragmented late moderns can choose the Aristotelian-Thomist Tradition (as MacIntyre certainly wants) except by a Nietzschean act of Will. It would still seem that one cannot initially base practical activity (or lived choices) upon mere theory. Just as Plato wrote a Prelude to the Law (I am, of course, alluding to the late dialogue, "The Laws") that was itself not merely a law, and Hegel wrote a Preface to his "Phenomenology" that was not, and could not possibly be, entirely phenomenological, - so too one suspects that MacIntyre is here forced to write a 'preamble' to a 'hegemonic' Thomist Tradition that is not fully Thomist.
I understand these remarks, btw, to be more a comment on the inability of philosophical theory, any philosophical theory, to radically ground itself than a specific criticism of the position of MacIntyre. No theory can ever radically ground itself; thus one always proceeds to theory 'X', certainly in the beginning, in a non-'X' manner. ...Always. And with those comments I perhaps reveal myself to be an adherent (I hope a very skeptical adherent) of the 'postmodern tradition' (a genuine existing Contradictio in terminis, if you can believe that there is such a thing!) that our author herein designates as Genealogy. And our postmodern genealogists have pitched their tents precisely here, - on the question of origins. At the beginning of anything one always finds something else...
The Traditions that our author delineates in this book ("Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry") are Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition. Each of these three traditions also, for purposes of explication, has a designated 'proof' text: they are, respectively, the fabled Ninth Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Nietzsche's "Zur Genealogie der Moral", and Pope Leo XIII' encyclical 'Aeterni Patris'. I honestly found comparing these three specific positions a bit curious. What MacIntyre designates as Encyclopaedia (Liberalism) and Tradition (Catholicism) have produced societies in which one can live and they have also produced great civilizations. Genealogy can certainly never do either. It is, at bottom, only a critical method, a surgeons scalpel, a weapon. Encyclopaedia and Tradition can legitimately be judged 'good or bad' and 'true or false'. Regarding genealogy, like the scalpel or the weapon, one can only enquire whether or not it has been used appropriately...
Now, I do not mean to admit by this that Nietzsche is, or intends to be, merely a critic. What MacIntyre designates here as 'Genealogy' Nietzsche considered to be only part of the 'No-Saying' critical part of his work. Zarathustra was intended to be the 'Yes-Saying' affirmative part of his work. (Regarding that, see his "Ecce Homo", the section entitled 'Beyond Good and Evil'.) The 'Yes-Saying' part of Nietzsche's work MacIntyre entirely ignores. I suspect that our author found it both useful and pleasant to use genealogy as a stick to beat 'Encyclopaedia' about the head and then use 'Tradition' to show the glaring inadequacies of genealogy as a tradition that could successfully form a world in which we all could live. But again, for Nietzsche, genealogical critique was, and could only be, but half the story. In MacIntyre's defense one should add that since virtually all of postmodern criticism has almost entirely ignored Zarathustra (and its purport) that therefore MacIntyre was justified to do so too insofar as this book is intended as a critique of both our miserable postmodernity and its liberal pretensions.
Traditional Catholicism, modern Liberalism (and also its would-be transformative avatar, Socialism) are above all (or in the case of socialism, one day could be) societies that have both norms and ideals. One applies these norms to approach the ideal; and, when necessary, one revises norms in light of the ideal. This is progress within a tradition. But what happens when incommensurable traditions come into conflict? That is the question MacIntyre intends to answer in this book. 'Really-existing' Postmodernism has become, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, little more than a 'narrative system' (i.e., a way to speak about and navigate through) the several incommensurable traditions that in fact divide our secular world. Our author is admirably striving to put an end to that seemingly permanent division.
MacIntyre is, to his credit, entirely a Universalist. (As is every genuine philosopher.) There were ever only two possibilities for him: Socialism and Christianity. He eventually, after a a long process, decided upon Christianity. So why is the Gigantomachia (battle of the giants) that is enacted within this book engaged without the participation of Marxism (and its dialectic) as one of the antagonists? I suppose we will never know. Perhaps he feared that the Universalism of both the Church and Marxism would militate against his desired result? (Probably, he thinks that there is no Marxist moral tradition that is entirely distinct from liberalism and therefore it would be inappropriate in this study.) Yes, (for our author) Marxism and Christianity have many similarities. In his much earlier "Marxism and Christianity" we learn that both "Marxism and Christianity rescue individual lives from the insignificance of finitude" and this gives them reason to hope. He later says in this same early book that "Liberalism by contrast simply abandons the virtue of hope. For liberals the future has become the present enlarged."
After MacIntyre's acceptance of Christianity the main targets of his mature work has been both liberalism and postmodernism, with Marxism (for our author, the only other possibility) usually (but not always) ignored. So then, is postmodernism to be considered merely the déjà vu of liberalism? I for one don't think this can be consistently maintained. For instance, Christianity, liberalism and marxism all promise a better future. Yes, it is certainly true that liberalism merely promises an improved liberalism while both Christianity and Marxism promise a transformative future. But postmodernity promises nothing (and delivers it too!). It is the decadence of a liberalism that can no longer even hope to meaningfully change itself. Now, genealogy counters this promise of a 'better future' with the supposed discovery of a 'different past'. That is to say, the genealogist knows that he can trump any promised future with a new vision (i.e., a new narrative) of the past. And, of course, this new vision (as mere story) is always immediately available to everyone.
This is what makes genealogy so insidious an enemy. The various progressive positions have to eventually make actual improvements in the world; even Christianity (which technically promises a better future only in the next life) had many apocalyptic movements demanding a better life now. But the genealogists can create different narratives regarding the origins of any religion, regime, or revolution, and eventually, in the midst of some crisis, a story will grow in popularity and then (perhaps) go forth and change the world. Of course, this is what Nietzsche expected of his 'Zarathustra'. The different pasts 'discovered' (or invented) by genealogy erode the master narrative(s) of the dominant tradition(s) and thereby allow his 'Zarathustrian' world to rise.
Or so Nietzsche hoped. But the genealogy of the overwhelming majority of postmoderns derives mostly from Foucault, not Nietzsche. The difference between them is the difference between psychology and history. Nietzschean 'Psychology' is based on what he considers to be the facts of human nature. Having understood (to his own satisfaction) the inevitabilities of human nature, Nietzsche can display that serene confidence in his 'Zarathustra' that has so amazed and mystified commentators of all stripes. But again, the present postmodern understanding of genealogy has actually become an amalgam of Foucault, deconstruction and triumphal constructivism. Like liberalism, this road only leads (at best) to supposedly improved versions of itself. So it is this 'really existing' genealogy that MacIntyre intends herein to show can never lead to a world in which all could live. And of course he does so quite successfully.
This is a brilliant conclusion to a magnificent trilogy. I recently found time to revisit them. It is easily one of the best philosophical performances written in my lifetime. MacIntyre should be very proud. This review intended to focus merely on his treatment of genealogy and how said treatment might relate to his overall project of writing a history of moral inquiry itself. (less)
This book is seemingly (and certainly at times) a rather tedious point by point refutation of Erik Pete...moreThe Political Theology of Undivided Sovereignty
This book is seemingly (and certainly at times) a rather tedious point by point refutation of Erik Peterson's 1935 'Der Monotheismus als Politisches Problem', which, unfortunately, has only recently been translated into English. Erik Peterson was a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism, I believe in 1930. In his book, Peterson wishes to show that a Christian 'Political Theology' is impossible. This book by Schmitt is his attempt to refute this. Thus the terms 'Myth' and 'Legendary' in the chapter headings refer to Peterson's thesis, not political theology itself. Now, I have not seen Peterson's essay, so I cannot judge whether Schmitt has accurately represented his argument. But for the purpose of this review, I will assume that he has done so.
The first chapter consists of not only Peterson's argument but also the stances of several others involved in the controversy regarding the possibility of a Christian political theology. We are told that Peterson builds his argument around Augustine's division between the earthly and the heavenly cities. Schmitt argues, conclusively I think, that for the representative of the Heavenly City here on earth (i.e., the Catholic Church), there is no impermeable separation. Schmitt endeavors to point out that, in fact, theologians have been political all along. In another untranslated essay, 'Was ist Theologie', Peterson (as quoted by Schmitt) writes, "Only because of dogma is theology separated from its association with that most dubious of all academic disciplines, the so-called Humanities. It is liberated from the contexts of the history of civilizations, the history of literature, art history, philosophy of life, or whatever they might be called. (quoted on p. 41)" You see, Peterson has a very pristine understanding of Theology. Schmitt goes on to quote Peterson, "Neither the Jews nor the pagans have a theology; theology exists only in Christendom and only on the precondition that the incarnated word spoke of God. The Jews may do exegesis and the pagans mythology and metaphysics; but theology, in its proper sense, only began when the incarnate one spoke of God. (p. 42)"
Theology, for Peterson, is about God - and nothing else. "But given the changing friend-enemy constellations throughout history, theology can become a political tool of the revolution as well as of the counter-revolution. (p. 42)" That, of course, is Schmitt speaking. This whole essay is a meditation upon (and demonstration of) how theological political commitments have changed over time. "The spiritual-temporal, this world and the hereafter, transcendence-immanence, ideas and interests, superstructure and substructure - can only be determined according to the struggle between the subjects. (p. 44)" Now that the Political has separated itself from the State, Christianity must get its hands dirty if it wants to survive. The slogan of the sixties, 'Everything is Political', was of course anticipated by Schmitt: the political has no discreet object. And it is precisely in this vicious all-encompassing storm that the Church must somehow find its way. What our author believes to be at stake here is the church's very survival.
And Schmitt most certainly thinks that the post Vatican II Church has lost its way! However, Schmitt will timidly utilize the work of the theologian Hans Barion to make this point. But that is not really the issue here; the issue is political theology. Against Peterson Schmitt shows that there are indeed theologians who specifically have a political theology, for instance, the left-leaning J. B. Metz. In the controversy over Metz's work the notion of political theology, and Schmitt himself, were often at issue. It seems in these contemporary controversies that while it was possible to believe in a political theology of revolution, a political theology of counter-revolution was ruled out. How very convenient! (Now, since Metz has been understood to be offering a political theology of Revolution, it is perhaps not merely an exaggeration or a mistake to believe that our author is presenting a political theology of Counter-Revolution in these pages.)
But all these oppositions (left/right, reactionary/progressive, revolution/counterrevoloution) change over time. Commenting on Ernst Feil's contribution to the controversy over political theology Schmitt writes, -What is new today is old tomorrow. Feil comes alarmingly close to progressive theologians of the nineteenth century like David Friedrich Strauss. For them, at that time, Christendom was the revolutionary new compared with pagan polytheism, and Christian monotheism was progressive compared to such pagan polytheism and pluralism. Julian the Apostate was seen as both a romantic and a reactionary, while the holy Athanasius was seen as a revolutionary. Today the situation is reversed. Today, the traditional Christian church represents the old and the reactionary, and progress as such is the new. (p. 52.)- So, you don't like being called a reactionary or a revolutionary? Wait a few decades (or centuries) - and you are practically guaranteed to be called the opposite!
We will often be reminded that the problem of 'progress as such' and 'the new' are also Schmitt's targets in this book. "I think that such a progressive, plurivalent, hominising society permits only that kind of eschatology which is immanent to the system and therefore also progressive and plurivalent. (p. 54)" Everything, including eschatology, today rests on Man. (We are not stunned by this; Schmitt wishes we were.) Regarding our books main concern, political theology, part of the problem is that "the pure emphasis on an unreflected catchphrase, 'divine monarchy' (rather than 'political unity')" has obscured the question. Indeed. Schmitt argues that Political Theology, understood as political unity, is always relevant. I want to here insist upon one point: what is vital for Schmitt has very little to do with any monarchy; the crucial point for him is always undivided sovereignty.
The contribution of Ernst Topitsch to our controversy is said by our author to praise Peterson because he "has 'clearly distinguished' the Catholic religion from the Arian ideology of the Empire. (p. 55.)" The Arian position in this controversy, of course, has to do exclusively with divine and earthly monarchy. The "victory of the doctrine of the Trinity over Arian monotheism was in itself 'clearly of eminent political significance' (p. 56)." But all this has little to do with contemporary circumstances. This book we are reviewing was published in Germany in 1970. The postmodern was already stirring: -The immensely polymorphous realm of political theology or metaphysics contains naive projections, numinous fantasies, reflective reductions of the unknown to something that is known, analogies between being and appearances, ideological superstructure over substructure. (pp. 57-58.)- And so, for our author, Political Theology is always (at least potentially) relevant, it can be anything; and this is true whether we are subjects of an Arian(-leaning) Emperor or 'living the dream' in our wretched capitalist postmodernity.
After this discussion of the current state of the controversy Schmitt, in the next chapter, turns to consider the original 1935 treatise by Peterson, 'Monotheism as a Political Problem'. Schmitt begins by examining an earlier monograph by Peterson called 'Divine Monarchy'. Regarding any possible attempt to achieve a Divine Monarchy in this world we learn that "[w]hoever would attempt such a realization imitates the antichrist" of whom it is said "he alone will have rulership over the whole world. (p. 62)" It must be noted that Schmitt agrees with this point by Peterson. He too fervently believes that there can never be a single ruler of the entire planet. Sovereignty in this world, for Schmitt, must certainly be internally undivided; but it must also always face other undivided sovereigns. The interactions between these sovereigns are to be ordered by international law.
Now, as to the difference between the 1931 and 1935 treatises by Peterson we are told that "the essential, and decisively significant, addition is a confrontation between Bishop Eusebius and St Augustine as a transition to the conclusion (p. 62)." Schmitt observes that the "rationale for the argument is simply that the epoch of the Roman Empire and the case of Eusebius should be exemplary for the whole problem of political theology. (p. 63)" Of course, Schmitt completely denies this. This is not "a convincing argument for all the different forms into which political theology can be translated. (p. 63)" The concrete situation of the age of Constantine, who Eusebius went so far as to understand as the Bishop(!) of those 'outside' (episkopos ton ekton), is simply too unique to be applicable to all subsequent history.
At this point Schmitt mentions Varro and his fecund distinction between mythical theology (poets, theatre), natural theology (philosophy, the world), and political theology (polis, the city). (For an extended discussion of Varro and Theology see Augustine's "City of God', especially books 6 and 7.) Following this Schmitt says, -Political theology is part of the Nomos and constitutes the public sphere through the worship of the gods, rites of sacrifice, and ceremonies. It belongs to the political identity and continuity of a people for whom the religion of the fathers, regulated public holidays and the deum colere kata ta nomima ['to worship God according to custom'] is essential in order to identify one's heritage, one's legitimate succession and oneself. (p 65)- Political theology has to do with the customary; that is to say (insofar as there are no eternal customs), changeable fashion!
But is Christianity merely then but another religious custom, like paganism? "The Church of Christ is not of this world and its history, but it is in this world. (p.65)" And in order to survive, the Church must take the world into account. This means, for Schmitt, that Christianity must, in some ways, be like other religions. "There are many political theologies because there are, on the one hand, many different religions, and, on the other, many different kinds and methods of doing politics."(p. 66) According to our author, in a fragmented world, political theology is split into several specific types based on different religions, polities, and I dare say, cultures, laws and ethnicities too. That is to say, Christianity (whether it wants to or not) inhabits several different nomoi (or, if you prefer, cultural traditions). I suspect that once postmodern particularism eclipsed modern secular universalism, the revival of Schmitt's atomistic understanding of political theology was well nigh inevitable.
But for "Peterson, political theology is over." Schmitt at this point mentions Peterson's use of the phrase 'le roi règne, mais il ne gouverne pas' (the king reigns but does not govern) in the 1931 treatise. Obviously, this phrase could not have originated in the early christian milieu that Peterson is considering. (I believe it originates with Benjamin Constant.) Its deistic undertones are duly noted by Schmitt. "The parallel between the monarch of a parliamentary regime (who does not interfere with his government's decisions, and who reigns rather than governs because of a notional transcendence accorded him by that parliamentary government or a cabinet) and the idea of a passive being from a higher sphere is striking. (p. 68)" Now, Peterson, of course, is alleging this of paganism, not christianity. In Peterson's 1935 treatise this argument is 'significantly developed and emphasized'. What does this phrase regarding kings indicate for the theologian Peterson? That for the pagans, "the almighty god reigns, but national gods govern. (p. 69)" Obviously, all this is "acceptable for Peterson because they do not concern christian monotheism and its doctrine of the Trinity. (p. 69-70.)"
Why is it acceptable? Because for Peterson, the monarch of political theology is "an arche as a singular person" and therefore it "is impossible to transfer the concept of monarchy to a Trinity within which arche and potestas 'have a meaning of their own'. (p. 70, 71.)" But is this understanding of paganism as monarchistic legitimate? No. Schmitt tells us that each pagan polity is a people, and that even the Jews (as God's People) and Christians (as ecclesia, as God's New People) were thought of in a similar manner. -At this point it becomes evident that the accurate, central, and systematic concept for the politico-theological problem that Peterson discusses cannot be oriented towards monarchy, but has to be oriented towards political unity and its presence or representation. (p. 72)- We are reminded that Hobbes "has systematically positioned the concept in that way: the Highest, the sovereign, can be a single human being, but also an assembly or a majority of people capable of action. (p. 72)"
Peterson's 'One God - One King' understanding of political theology is to be replaced by the 'One God - One People/Polity' understanding of Schmitt (and Hobbes). "The plausible coincidence between monotheism and monarchism breaks down and is no longer valid. (p. 72)" I believe Schmitt is right in this understanding of Political Theology. And so one is theologically tempted to say that while there is political strife here on earth, peace reigns in heaven. "The decisive argument for the Trinity that St Gregory of Nazianzus offers - that in the Trinity stasis is no longer imaginable - is, for a correct political theology, far away from being as irrelevant as Peterson claims (p. 75.)" The (ahem) 'political situation' of the Trinity is something Schmitt will return to at times through the remainder of the book.
At this point Schmitt will content himself to noting how Peterson limits his treatise. "'Monotheism as a political problem' does not mean anything more for Peterson, than the Hellenistic transformation of the Jewish belief in God. (p. 76)" Islam, for instance, is entirely ignored by Peterson. But Christian Trinitarianism was in turn ignored by them. "All attempts failed to make the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit plausible for other monotheistic faiths. (p. 76)" Monarchianism was once such attempt. It failed to convince almost everyone. Again, for Peterson, "the doctrine of the triunity of the One God serves, without any qualification, as an argument for the impossibility of any political theology. (p. 77)" Therefore non-Trinitarian monotheism is "expressly conceded to have the potential for a political theology. (p. 77)"
Peterson claims that only Trinitarianism saves us from political theology; of course, this is precisely what Schmitt needs to contest. Schmitt indicates that whenever Peterson finds examples of political theology in early Christians (Schmitt here not only mentions Eusebius, but also St Ambrose, St Jerome, and St Cyril) Peterson justifies this as Christians not yet being independent of the Jewish-Christian milieu or he argues that the pagans have 'forced' Christians into political theology due to the controversy between them. Of course, this last will turn out to be part of the case against Peterson. - Exactly when has Christianity not faced enemies? And if not ever, how can politics and theology be entirely separated?
Also, Christology itself seems to forbid such strict separation. "Peterson wants to uphold the absolute separation between the two domains, but, where the doctrine of the Trinity is concerned, an absolute separation would only be possible in the abstract, given that the second person of the Godhead represents the perfect unity of the two natures, the human and the divine... (p. 82-83)." Another point Schmitt makes here is that the emphasis on Eusebius' heresy by Peterson is irrelevant to the main point: "Countless church fathers and canonical teachers, martyrs and saints throughout the ages have passionately engaged in the political struggles of their time because of their Christian convictions. (p. 83)" Christians, whether heretical or not, have played at politics. The 'heresy' of Eusebius (Arianism) is only crucial to the argument if the orthodox never engaged in political theology. But this is not the case.
And Schmitt continues his assault with the point I found especially telling: the Christian Church exists between the Incarnation and the Second Coming. "Within this long interim, there emerge continually numerous new worldly interims, larger and smaller," and it is this ceaseless parade of political positions that the Church-in-this-world must deal with. The only permanence is that the Church must always find a way to survive while awaiting the return of the Savior, and thus all its politics must be temporary. Schmitt points out that Peterson was once well aware of this. In a 1929 essay (Die Kirche) Peterson writes, "[...] the church is not simply not a purely spiritual entity in which concepts such as politics and dominion are entirely prohibited, something which has restricted itself entirely to service. The intrinsic ambiguity of the church can be clarified through the interpenetration of empire and church. (pps. 86-87)"
But again, this is also Schmitt's point. One now finds oneself wondering if Peterson's 1935 treatise is itself a politico-theological exercise? Perhaps the Sacred and the secular cannot be entirely separated. And who knows - maybe even the laity practice political theology? "[...] all Christian peoples praised the champions of Christ and the defenders of his church, and even venerated them as saints. There was never a Christian people who would not have seen a providential, and therefore to some extent theological, meaning in the earthly success or defeat of Christ's church. A church is not only composed of theologians... (p. 87)" But the Church itself practices "a liberal tolerari potest [it can be tolerated]." Even if this is only done in a theologically non-dogmatic way, it is still done. Schmitt will note that during the thirties the Church herself would achieve a modus vivendi regarding fascism "tant que cela dure [for as long as it lasts]". (See pages 88-90.)
Technically, a 'wrong' Political Theology could only come from a heretical christian. If not, Political Theology itself (for the Church) is then but a temporizing maneuver, waiting on the return of Christ. Eusebius' mistake was that he "greatly exposed himself as a panegyrist and glorifier of the Roman Empire. (p. 91.)" For him, Constantine completes what Augustus began: "The Roman Empire is the peace, the victory of order over uproar and over the factions of the civil war: One God - One World - One Empire. (p. 91)" Schmitt even hints that, for Eusebius, this 'Pax Romana' might be the Katechon itself, the Restrainer who holds back the advent of Antichrist. But this is going off on a a tangent. "Peterson's argument revolves around the distinction between the purely theological and the impurely political, in an abstract and absolute disjunction which enables him to circumvent the mixed nature of the spiritual-secular combination of any specifically historical event. (p.92)"
Review is too long, will continue with a comment(less)