Lord, make me an instrument of Your environmentalism. Where there is climate change, let me sow carbon offsets; where there is deforestation, trees; where there is skepticism, alarmism; where there is despair, more despair; where there is darkness, solar power; where there is sadness, activism.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to have children as to combat overpopulation; to understand facts as to disseminate propaganda; to love the cross as to love trees; For it is in recycling that we renewed; it is in bicycling that we erase our footprints; and it is in dying that we save the planet.
In an appendix to The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, F.A. Hayek says, “The practices that led to the formation of the spontaneous order have much in common with rules observed in playing a game. To attempt to trace the origin of competition in play would lead us too far astray, but we can learn much from the masterly and revealing analysis of the role of play in the evolution of culture by the historian Johan Huizinga, whose work has been insufficiently appreciated by students of human order.”
In Homo Ludens: A Study of The Play Element of Culture, Huizinga argues that “civilization is rooted in noble play and that, if it is to unfold in full dignity and style, it cannot afford to neglect the play-element.” He discusses the play-element in human activities including: art, language, poetry, sport, law, and war. And he helpfully provides a thorough criteria for what constitutes real play. Play is “voluntary activity,” “disinterested activity,” “creates order, is order,” “has rules,” and so on.
Etty Hillesum and Simone Weil can help our understanding of political science through their accounts of participatory experience of the full amplitude of reality. Their reflections on their everyday experiences attest to the truthfulness of Eric Voegelin’s political science. Specifically, they raise the question: Once we open ourselves to the “ultimate purpose toward which we are rationally oriented,” then what? How is human openness to transcendence made manifest in our daily living? Through the diaries and letters of Hillesum and Weil, we can understand the meaning of participation in living within those questions that one cannot ask without some change taking place in the soul of the questioner. Voegelin symbolized these experiences as the opening of the soul to transcendence. This involves the recognition that man is not the source of his existence, so he cannot be the ultimate measure of it. Such insights are not propositional or axiomatic, but are experienced through paradoxical and meditative participation in the turning of the soul toward truth. This is also the fundamental experience of a political theorist who can then begin to analyze society against the standard of divine truth rooted in the nature of the relationship man experiences in his response to God.
I presented this paper at the American Political Science Association annual conference in August 2014. To listen to it, click here:
My senior thesis was just posted on VoegelinView.com.
The topic is the relationship between a person’s biography and his or her philosophy. I studied this by reading a particular thinker’s memoirs and relating these to his philosophical writings to show the coherence between his experiences and his insights.
Chuck is from Toronto, lives in Toronto, and I met him in this Toronto Starbucks. He spoke to me reminiscing about his experiences of moving to Alberta in the 1970s to work in the oil sands. Here’s he discusses the wildlife, scenery, working conditions, and his fond memories.
Here’s his response to my question about negative perceptions of the oil sands.