Existentialism-the New God Creates His Own Nature - RR261B4
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Our subject this evening is Existentialism–the New God Creates His Own Nature. Before we begin our analysis of the two great existentialist philosophers, let us look briefly at an important existentialist artist, Marcel Duchamp. One of the qualities of the existentialist that I think is particularly admirable, is there readiness to push an idea to its logical implications. In this respect perhaps they have been the most brilliant of philosophers, and the most honest of men.
Marcel Duchamp in this respect is particularly revealing. Duchamp, who died in 1968 became very famous shortly before World War 1 for a picture which attracted more audiences than perhaps any other art show in the history of America at that point. It was his famous: Nude Descending a Staircase. Even Theodore Roosevelt turned out to see it. It was an example of futurism and cubism, and of course part of the attraction was to go there and see where in the world, in all those cubes you could locate a nude. Now, although that picture made Duchamp famous, he began to push the ideas he had been picking up, existential idea, to their logical conclusion. As a child of modern philosophy he felt that meaning indeed did not come from the outer world, or from any correspondence between our mind and outer reality, it was entirely in the mind. Things in themselves could not be known, and were in addition, meaningless. And therefore Duchamp felt that art was one vast pretention. For anyone to assume that art should express meaning was to foster an illusion.
As a result, after his famous Nude Descending a Staircase, Duchamp began to make a mockery of meaning in art. He would go to the junk heap and bring scraps of junk and insist on exhibiting them. Only his great reputation enabled him to get away with it. It reached a climax when he found an old discarded school urinal and brought that and insisted on displaying it as a piece of sculpture, and called it: Fountain. [00:03:12]
What Duchamp was doing was to ridicule art, meaningful...
What Duchamp was doing was to ridicule art, meaningful art. And finally he abandoned even the attempt to be a formal artist, because it still constituted meaning. He wanted to get beyond the world of meaning into the world of pure existence, pure existentialism. He had himself photographed in the nude with an actress, and he in this case, as Adam, offering to Eve an apple. To indicate that he was the fountainhead of the world of the future, a world beyond meaning, a world beyond the knowledge of good and evil. He then set about his great life’s work; to create a new language, a language which would cut the thread with God and meaning. But after many years of struggling with it, he realized that it was impossible to create a language without meaning. And so he abandoned the quest and spent the rest of his life playing chess with a few friends and talking as little as possible.
Now, ridiculous as this all sounds, in a sense the logic there cannot be faulted. Having accepted the premises of existentialism, Duchamp was militantly pushing them to their logical conclusions. The influence of existentialism on art and on literature is exceptionally strong. The influence of existentialism on our college youth in the major universities is virtually total. The two great existentialists of this century whose influence has been especially great are Albert Camus, who died prematurely in the 50’s of an automobile accident, and John Paul Sartre.
Albert Camus, whose greatest work is the Rebel whose The Myth of Sisyphus is also rewarding reading, was particularly telling in his statement of the case philosophically. The issues he felt were ultimately, he felt, between Christian faith and existentialism. In the very well known opening words of The Rebel, an Essay on Man in Revolt, he writes and I quote: “There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined.
But the Penal Code makes the convenient distinction of premeditation. We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime. Our criminals are no longer helpless children who could plead love as their excuse. On the contrary, they are adults and they have a perfect alibi: philosophy, which can be used for any purpose—even for transforming murderers into judges.” [00:06:55]
“Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, would kill everybody on earth...
“Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, would kill everybody on earth in order to possess Cathy, but it would never occur to him to say that murder is reasonable or theoretically defensible. He would commit it, and there his convictions end. This implies the power of love, and also strength of character. Since intense love is rare, murder remains an exception and preserves its aspect of infraction. But as soon as a man, through lack of character, takes refuge in doctrine, as soon as crime reasons about itself, it multiplies like reason itself and assumes all the aspects of the syllogism. Once crime was as solitary as a cry of protest; now it is as universal as science. Yesterday it was put on trial; today it determines the law.”
Well you would think this man was a Christian as you begin to read his book. Camus says that for Christianity judgement is transcendental. There is a final judgement, but it is postponed. And so all the reckonings are not of history. For modern man, all judgments must be total and immediate, and therefore you introduce totalitarianism, absolute power, which in Christianity belongs only to God, into history. And you declare that in history there must always be this total judgement.
Moreover, Camus says, there are only two possible worlds. The world of grace and the world of rebellion, of revolution. As the one world wanes, Camus said, the other rises. In the world of revolution, the rebel has an epistemology which is the logical conclusion of Descarte's ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’, I think, therefore I am. And it is simply this, Camus said: “I rebel, therefore we exist.” Man knows his existence only by rebelling totally against the world of meaning, totally against the idea of God, of an order, of a structure. “The world,” says Camus “Is unreasonable, it is absurd.” And the whole philosophy of the absurd, the idea of the absurd, which has been so powerful in America in the past twenty years, Paul Goodman for example wrote extensively on it, is derived from Camus. The world is absurd, it is without meaning. No valid knowledge is at all possible.
Camus said and I quote: “The world itself, whose single meaning I do not understand, is but a vast irrational. If one could say only just once, “This is clear.” All would be saved.”
And of course, Camus stresses this over and over again. If there was one fact in the world, in the Universe with a meaning, then we would be saved. But there is no fact with meaning. Every fact is totally irrational, it is all brute factuality. And therefore, there is not one single atom of meaning in the universe. [00:11:04]
To quote Camus again...
To quote Camus again: “To think, is first of all to create a world, or to limit one’s own world, which comes to the same thing.” But having said this, he goes a step further, with a most rigorous honesty. Camus could not with Hegel say, that: “Having cut myself off from the world, I now have this absolute freedom, and this freedom in which I am my own God is the goal.” Rather, he said: “This world in which I am totally alone, in which there is no meaning outside of my mind, in which my logic finds no echo in the universe, is not free. Freedom itself cannot exist in it.” And I quote: “If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden.”
Now if I may stop there, Dostoyevsky of course, came to the same conclusion as he developed the university thought of his day in The Possessed, which by the way, is the novel which more than any other explains our modern age, because he was dealing with the nihilistic youth, who had come to the conclusion that since there is no God, all things are permitted. And he dealt with an actual group of socialists, who set out to kill, to murder, just as a means of enforcing revolutionary discipline.
To go back to Camus. “If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden. To prohibit an action there must in fact be a standard of values and an aim. But at the same time, nothing is authorized. There must also be values and aims in order to choose another course of action. Absolute domination by the law does not represent liberty. But no more does absolute anarchy.” [00:13:39]
So he said, in a world of absolute anarchy, what is...
So he said, in a world of absolute anarchy, what is freedom? It is meaningless, because meaning is gone, we are beyond good and evil, we have denied meaning to good and evil, and freedom therefore is meaningless. And so Camus says: “At the point where it is no longer possible to say what is black and what is white, the light is extinguished, and freedom becomes a voluntary prison.”
There is now, Camus said, no legitimacy to any action. No good, no evil. No real choice left, only man alone in his meaninglessness, and bitterness. So Camus says: “Man because he has declared his independence from God cannot choose the world of grace and of righteousness, he must choose the world of revolution and of self conscious evil.” Because he is only now a negation, he must negate the other world in order to demonstrate the reality of his world. And so as man becomes his own God, says Camus, his world becomes his prison, no bigger than himself, and all is unreason.
Now Camus answer, a very unhappy one which did not hold water, was ‘Let us admit that there is no meaning, that we are not God’s by eliminating God, but let us establish something like a God over ourselves, by a common agreement, as a limiting concept.’ But in a world of total anarchy where every man is his own God, such an agreement of course is impossible. And Camus could not come to such an agreement with even the young man over whom he exercised so profound an influence, John Paul Sartre. [00:15:56]
Sartre is perhaps the man who in the ...
Sartre is perhaps the man who in the 50’s had as powerful an influence over European youth… in the 60’s… as any other person. Unlike Camus, Sartre declared he had no desire to renounce man’s claim to deity. “Man is the being,” He says in his book, Being and Nothingness, which is his great work, “Man is the being, whose passion is to become God.” “There is,” He said, “No meaning to the world, no plan to the world, or to man.” “Man thus,” He says, “has being, he exists, he is, but no essence.” That is, no pre-established nature, or pattern, or meaning. He is not the creature of God, he is not predetermined by God and patterned or programed by God. There is nothing in him from his past or from God or from history, that programs man. Man has being, he simply is; you cannot predicate anything of man beyond simple being.
To say anything more concerning man is utterly false. Man’s freedom is to make his own nature, to be his own God; man creates himself, and he creates the world around him. And so Sartre said: “The world is human. The cosmos is a creation of my logic, my mind. The world is what I imagine it and create it to be, and man is what he makes himself, because in man existence precedes essence.” In Sartre’s words, he says and I quote: “What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essences? It means that first of all man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and only afterwards defines himself. If man as the existentialist conceives him, he is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing, only afterward will he be something; and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus there is no human nature. Since there is no God to conceive it, not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be, after this rush towards existence. Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism. Existentialism is nothing else than an attempt to draw all the consequences of a coherent, atheistic, position.” [00:19:34]
‘Man,’ Sartre said, ’is in a world without meaning, he simply is, but man is nothing without reason. By reason he makes himself.’ But how can a nothing project reason or meaning even onto his own mind? Universal unreason makes all reason absurd, and this is a problem that Sartre wrestles with, very honestly. How can man make his own essence? His own pattern, his own nature? When the idea of a pattern, an established, meaningful, programmed structure, is utterly irrational, is meaningless, has no significance. “Moreover,” Sartre says, with a great deal of rigorous logic, that: “Since God is denied and I hold all human activities are equivalent.” all human activities are equivalent.
Now of course, this puts Sartre in a very great bind. Because of course, if all human activities are equivalent, what was Sartre doing, favoring Castro as against Kennedy? Or in favoring the Communists as against the United States? He found it difficult to justify this, and to his credit, at points he didn’t even try. But this problem haunts the existentialists. The man who was voted on the Stanford campus as the most popular professor just about 3-4 years ago, he has since come to New England somewhere to one of the schools there, I think Yale or one of the Ivy League schools, is Michael Novak. Michael Novak, an atheist and a Catholic theologian, we have a lot of atheist’s today who are protestant and Catholic theologians, it seems to be the in thing in the churches, was one of the younger men who during the 60’s had a very profound influence on campus groups. And of course, Novak had a problem. How could he differentiate his position from Hitler’s?
Hitler after all, was a Nihilist who had denied meaning, and Novak was no better. And so Novak has to go through some distortions to try to say: “Well there is a difference between his kind of existentialism and my kind of existentialism.” But he has no way of saying there are differences, because you have abolished all law, all standards, all meaning, and therefore you have abolished all differences. And this is Sartre’s problem. And so Sartre very honestly, finally after a great deal of wrestling comes to this conclusion: “Man has to define his own being, create his own essence.” [00:23:36]
Then how are you to judge, say between Hitler’s essence...
Then how are you to judge, say between Hitler’s essence and yours? Sartre says and I quote: “It amounts to the same thing, whether one gets drunk alone, or is a leader of nations.” As a matter of fact a little later Sartre has to say, in a sense, you have to give the drunk the edge in this situation, because eth drunk isn’t thinking about others you see. The leader of nations, good or bad is still thinking about meaningful relationships with other people, getting their votes, establishing connections. But the solitary drunk is only thinking about his own essence. And therefore in a sense he is the better existentialist.
This indeed puts Sartre in a very real bind. Sartre by disposition wanted to be a socialist. He admits very honestly that: “Well, for me God is not a problem, I ruled that out long ago.” He says in effect. “But my neighbor is. If I am God, what are you doing? If you claim as an existentialist to be a God?” And so in one of his plays he has a character who expresses his existentialist faith, and pushes it to the conclusion, “(Priott?) finally for me, my neighbor is the devil.” If I am God, then you can’t be God, you have to be the devil, because I am the God. I am the source of ultimacy, I do not recognize any law or any claim you might have over me.
Now you can see from what I’ve cited, it sounds absurd, but these men have very rigorously, with a great deal of integrity and brilliance, pushed modern philosophy to its logical end. They believe it; they know they are in a bind, but nonetheless they see no other way out and they have pushed rigorously to the logical conclusions of their position. [00:26:15]
Existence is totally without essence, it is totally...
Existence is totally without essence, it is totally chance. There is no reason for life, life is absurd. Ideas of law and necessity are vain and without reason, and when a man creates his own essence, it is entirely for himself, and hence it makes no difference what he makes of himself, as long as he likes it. And whatever he makes of himself, man is then haunted by the fact of universal unreason and death. Death reduces a man’s being to nothingness. So Sartre concludes; “Man is a being whose passion is to be God, but,” And these were his exact words: “Man is a useless passion.”
Man has no meaning, only absolute freedom. But a freedom without purpose, direction, or reason. Progress is only what leads to me. Only subjective man remains, whose being is exhaustive in action. As Sartre says of this: “The doctrine I am presenting is the very opposite of quietism since it declares there is no reality except in action. Moreover it goes further since it adds man is nothing else than his plan. He exists only to the extent that fulfills himself, he is therefore nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life.” Now for the existentialists there is really no love other than that which manifests itself in a person’s being and love. There is no genius other than one which is expressed in works of art. The genius of Proust is the sum of Proust’s works. The genius of Racine is his series of tragedies, outside of that there is nothing. Why say that Racine could have written another tragedy when he didn’t write it? A man who is involved in life leaves his impress on it, and outside of that there is nothing. However when we say you are nothing else than your life, that does not imply that the artist will be judged solely on his works of art. A thousand other things will contribute to summing him up. What we mean is that a man is nothing else than a series of undertakings, that he is the sum, the organization, the ensemble of the relationships which make up these undertakings.”
Now this is a curious position. Man has existence, but no pattern, no plan to his life. But then he is nothing until he makes himself a plan. And of course, this is why, although his position is total anarchism, he likes socialism in all its forms, because socialism represents a plan forced upon the world. [00:29:36]
But, since man can only be known, he says, by the ensemble...
But, since man can only be known, he says, by the ensemble of his acts and in the plan that it reveals, then without a manifested essence man is nothing. First Sartre denies that man has an essence, then he denies that a man is a man if he has no essence. No plan, if he is not programmed, even to being a drunk. And so in effect he says: “There is no man unless there is an essence of predestination, a predetermined plan which he himself establishes.”
“The freedom of man is the freedom to choose to become God,” He says, and yet and I quote: “The only being which can be called free is the being which nihilities’ its being. Moreover we know that nihilation is lack of being and cannot be otherwise. Freedom is precisely the being which makes itself the lack of being.”
Now here again this is an amazing statement. How do you prove that you are truly a man? Why, you will yourself to death, you nihilate your own being. A great many of Sartre’s pupils committed suicide. This was not a new not in existentialism, I believe it was (Artodd?), the brilliant avant garde dramatist, who came half a generation or so before Sartre, who decided since life was meaningless and death coming without his will was an imposition of God, or the universe, or something upon him, the only way he could assert his freedom, finally, was to kill himself. Now that was not a new theme. How many of you here have read The Possessed by Dostoyevsky? [00:32:05]
Of course, this was precisely the logic of Kirilov...
Of course, this was precisely the logic of Kirilov who kills himself in The Possessed, and (Artodd?) decided no one was going to take away his life from him, he was going to assert the ultimate freedom of man. He was going to kill himself. And so he proceeded to do it as dramatically and slowly as possible; he drank himself to death over a period of not too long a time, on a sidewalk (Aphaze?) of Paris, where his disciples could witness it, and where he could make a last will and philosophical testament, as it were.
Some years ago I read an interview that Sartre gave to an American publication, and I have misplaced it at present, but the essence of it is this: He was asked by the reporter, why, in view of his philosophy, he himself had not committed suicide? What was his reason for living? And Sartre’s answer was simply this: “I see no reason for committing suicide. But of course I see no reason for living either. I see no reason.” Which was a logical existentialist answer.
Thus the conclusion of the matter in Sartre is that the new Gods will themselves to death. As Albert William Levi, a brilliant contemporary philosopher has said and I quote: “Sartre’s philosophy is a cool demonstration that destructiveness is no accident, but an ontological necessity, and that all human experience is founded upon nothingness. Heidegger saw before Sartre our dread before the general threat of nothingness, but even he has not shown the nihilating activity of the human consciousness, at the very center of the self.” “For Sartre,” and I quote, “Nothingness is prior to being.”
And so Levi concludes: “In Sartre’s philosophy we have a veritable lust after nothingness. Perhaps it is even a sickness unto death. With this, I would not agree.” And the tragedy is that modern philosophy by beginning with the false premises it has, has led these very brilliant and logical men to such strange conclusions. It is in fact leading our entire culture to a suicidal conclusion. We are at the end of an age. The philosophy of the modern world has worked itself out, it is now mined out veins, and the time is ripe for new ideas, for a renewed faith, for a new presupposition in terms of which men can create the culture for tomorrow. Are there any questions now? [00:35:58]
[Audience Member] I’d like to ask what is the role...
[Audience Member] I’d like to ask what is the role of Kirkegaard?
[Rushdoony] Kirkegaard was a religious existentialist who in a sense is the fountain head of most of your existentialism.
[Audience Member] Did he exert an influence on them?
[Rushdoony] Very profound. Very profound influence over all subsequent existentialists. But most of them have felt no need to retain the idea of God, which Kirkegaard formally did. Yes?
[Audience Member] Doctor Rushdoony, William Shakespeare predated John Paul Sartre, by several centuries, and yet in the final soliloquy of Macbeth, what he expressed in there is exactly what Sartre and his school has expressed also. Now whose philosophy did Shakespeare have when he wrote?
[Rushdoony] Well of course, suicide is always a negation, so negation the total negation of life will always to a certain extent have similarity. But what you have whether it is in Hamlet or in Macbeth is a personal expression of not finding meaning for oneself, but here is a total negation of the possibility of meaning. Of the possibility of knowledge, of any right or wrong, to an extent that we have only had once or twice before in culture. We had it in the cynics of ancient Greece.
Now the cynics, the word for cynic comes from the same Greek word we have today as Canine. Literally dogs. And the whole point of calling themselves cynics was to say that the whole of mankind represented a pretension to the world of meaning. When Diogenes, a cynic, went around with a lamp looking for and honest man, it was to dramatize the fact not that he couldn’t find anyone who was virtuous, but that the whole idea of virtue, of good and evil, was mythical. Non-existent. He and other cynics fostered the idea that, well, the whole of houses were pretensions, therefore Diogenes lived in a barrel or in the streets; they favored open copulation in the streets and practiced it, they said it was a shame to throw dead men into the ground, all that good meat wasted, they favored cannibalism, they favored every kind of thing that to us is incredible, because, well, there is no law, there is no meaning, we are simply animals.
Now it’s interesting then in the so called free speech movement at Berkeley California, one of the speakers who seized the microphone, an existentialist young man, I’ve forgotten the name he was called, it was at the very beginning of the 60’s when I was still in northern California. He started spouting the philosophy of the cynics and said: “We demand, the right to copulate on the campus just as the dogs do, right out in the open.” [00:39:46]
Now you see the cynics came at the end, at the break...
Now you see the cynics came at the end, at the break down of Greek culture, and as a result today we have the same kind of faith, the same kind of philosophy.
[Audience Member] Weren’t all of those 19th century philosophers full of self pity?
[Rushdoony] Oh yes! Oh yes, self pity is the worst disease in the modern world, it’s the most fatal of all cancers. Self pity is a tremendous factor, you find it intensely in the existentialists like Heidegger and Sartre, Camus is surprisingly free of it; although, well, he’s not free of it entirely, but less so than any other existentialist. [00:40:45]
In one of my writings on the subject of existentialism...
In one of my writings on the subject of existentialism I use an image which is not new by any means: “The existentialist is like the young man who murders his father and mother and then begs the court for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.” Yes?
[Audience Member] Why do you, I agree with you very much, indeed the existentialists were very great men, ..?.. But even going beyond that into areas that are irrelevant, analyzing words and so on, it seems to me the nihilism of the analytical philosophers are even beyond that of the existentialist..
[Rushdoony] Yes, well, however they’ve reached the stage of the dunces, you see. The Analytical philosophers are saying there is no meaning to anything, so we will simply confine ourselves to an analysis of the meaning of words, provided you understand that they don’t have any meaning, really. It becomes an exercise of futility, Wittgenstein who is regarded as the great man in this school once said that to hold the kind of position he did you first had to be sick. I think he was right. I don’t care for them, you see, they are just playing games. But Sartre and Camus and the others are really wrestling with the logical conclusions of modern philosophy. Yes?
[Audience Member] I’m trying to understand the logical connection between Sartre’s philosophy and his passionate participation in the Marxist partism in France.
[Rushdoony] Yes, well, he’s never formally become a member, he has aligned himself very closely with it at times. I just mentioned it I think in passing, but it is this: He is aware that there is a contradiction between his position which requires total anarchism and the totally collectivist position; the point of union is the idea of essence, plan, a total plan, whether it is man in the individual or man in the group, it’s a man created plan. This he likes, but he finds it difficult to get from the individual to the group because as he says: “For me, my neighbor is the devil.” And yet he says that this is the problem for us as existentialists, to establish a bridge between man and man, so that we can have this collective action, this collective plan or predestination of man. [00:43:55]
Weren’t they all in the gnostic movement, Gnosticism?
[Audience Member] Weren’t they all in the gnostic movement, Gnosticism?
[Rushdoony] Yes, there are strong elements of that although…
[Audience Member] To destroy a (?) is a terrible thing.
[Rushdoony] Yes, the best thing to read on that is by Doctor (Monarr?), his most recent book on the problem of knowledge, he points out the similarities between the gnostic hermetic tradition and modern thought. He feels it’s not the influence from those past traditions but because they began from common premises. Yes?
[Audience Member] People would come to me and tell me that without their faith in God, they couldn’t live, and they don’t understand how other people could live, without, in their conflict with Christian faith. And if you have men like these men who have such brilliant minds and yet speak so ignorantly and stupidly about the existence of life but they don’t know what it’s all about, when they have formally denied God. And so the thing is whether as an existentialist or an atheist it leads to where there is nothingness, without faith in God life has no meaning and it comes to this point where you do want to destroy yourself because you don’t know what the heck is going on, you don’t know what’s up. And so many people come up to me when faced with sickness or funerals and say: “Well I don’t know how I would get through this thing if my faith didn’t give meaning and substance to it. And so these men are brilliant but again the analytical philosophers are dunces. [00:45:49]
[Rushdoony] Yes, I was comparing them with the reign...
[Rushdoony] Yes, I was comparing them with the reign of the dunces, you see, at the end of the middle ages when philosophy worked itself into a blind alley, and the dunces began to invent problems to occupy themselves; they forsook reality and this is what the linguistic analysts have done. Yes?
[Audience Member] Well what I was going to say was that the contradiction in Sartre on his existentialism and his support of socialism would make sense if it was his plan, and if he was to run it, if you see what I’m saying…?... That would be perfectly acceptable under his existentialist philosophy.
[Rushdoony] yes, a very good point and we must remember these literary existentialist’s believed that the rules should be in their hands, the whole trouble with the world is that they are not running it. Now, Camus I think I mentioned was a man of action, he was in the resistance movement during World War 2, but after the war he was totally against the Marxist executions that were taking place and opposed them bitterly, whereas Sartre who never lifted a finger during the war was all for executing everybody in sight. Any other questions? Yes. [00:47:37]
[Audience Member] Do you see any pattern in the way...
[Audience Member] Do you see any pattern in the way thought is transferred from one discipline from another, I know Francis Schaeffer often talks about certain disciplines falling into the pit of modern thought first followed by others, do you see Grayson’s philosophy sort of setting the pace for other disciplines or any kind of relationship like that?
[Rushdoony] Yes, in the medieval world theology was the queen of the sciences. Philosophy then became the queen of the sciences, and very definitely was regarded until recently as a science. The early philosophers regarded themselves as scientists, and were involved in various scientific disciplines, so that for example Berkeley, his theory of vision and so on, Descartes a mathematician, this kind of relationship was very close so that philosophy began as a science in the modern and its influence has been profound on the social sciences and has been infiltrating the natural sciences quite rapidly through the philosophers of science.
[Audience Member] So you would see them in that particular order, philosophy, social sciences and natural. Where did art come into it?
[Rushdoony] Oh Art has been very expressive of this, I’ll be dealing with art the next day; to give you an example of this kind of thing, one of our oh, scientific bulletins I forget the name of it, I have it somewhere at home, just recently, had an interview with 4 of the top scientists connected with the moonshot. And the thing that was remarkable about that was that these men, top men in their fields, thoroughly understood and accepted all that I have been talking about, modern philosophy. So that they said the mystery to them about the moon shot was how their mathematical computations which were pure logic and have no connection to outside reality could pinpoint a man to a particular spot on the moon. And they said; “Now there are people in other times who would have explained this by means of God, saying that He had created a fundamental order so that things in themselves and logic had a correlation.” But he said, “We cannot accept this. And therefore it is the greatest mystery connected to our work. How our logic can have any connection with pinpointing a man on the moon.”
Now, to me that’s an astounding statement, that a man who has put a man on a particular point on the moon still refuses to see any correlation between human logic and the natural world. But if he accepted that you see he has to take the other answer, that God has created a fundamental harmony between man’s logic and the natural order. [00:51:16]
[Audience Member] I wanted to ask you wasn’t (marx’s?) existentialism very influential …?... do you think this is going to continue in the near future or do you think that there will be a rise and tide against that?
[Rushdoony] Well I can’t predict the future at all, except that as I said earlier that I do believe that this is a mined out vein. A thoroughly mined out vein. It’s the end of the road, they have hit a dead end. Now, when a culture hits a dead end it can either stagnate and go into a period of decline for a time until a new faith, a new idea comes along, or if it comes along immediately it can revive and move forward. So it’s just a question of when that will come forth. Now of course this is one of the things that concerns me greatly and in our little foundation we’re interested in furthering ideas that will work towards reconstruction in one area after another. And we have a forthcoming volume edited by Gary North: The Foundations of Christian Scholarship, in which we go into various disciplines and try to re-think some of the presuppositions. We have a very brilliant essay there which I believe is going to be one of the most important things done in mathematics in this century, by Doctor Vern Poythress, a very brilliant mathematician on the implications of mathematic inquiry, and we hope to do this in other areas. Now it is only going to be as men re-think one area after another, and this is not being done by the school of linguistic analysis you see. They have reached the point where they are just playing games; I think Duchamp was better, at least he was playing chess.
[Audience Member] Well, from the lecture I think that...
[Audience Member] Well, from the lecture I think that the existentialists must deny original sin.
[Rushdoony] Oh yes, oh yes. That’s the part of an essence they deny.
[Audience Member] But then how do they explain the devil in their neighbor?
[Rushdoony] Oh well, if you are God you cannot except other Gods competing with you, so they just borrow the term from Christian theology, and say: “For me my neighbor is the devil.” There is no harm in borrowing terms, you put a new content to them, or you use the old meaning in a different context.
[Audience Member] Thank you Doctor Rushdoony. [00:54:31]