Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blondel: On The Knowedgeof God Part II

A Philosophy of Freedom

The question Blondel proposed to explore in his philosophy of action is the central question: What is the meaning of human life and its common destiny? Blondel argued that humans cannot choose to cease being; we are here, like it or not, for all eternity.

Yes or no, has life a meaning and do humans have a
destiny? I act with out knowing what action is, with-
out having wished to live………This appearance of
being that is at work in me, these actions fleeting as
a shadow, I understand that they carry within them
the weight of eternal responsibility, and even at the
cost of blood I cannot purchase nothingness, because for
me it can no longer be. I find myself condemned to life,
condemned to death, condemned to eternity. Why and
by what right, since I have neither known nor willed it.

Having posed the question of human destiny, Blondel makes the point that freedom is the very essence of the human subject and the essential condition of possibility for human existence. There can be no human destiny, unless that destiny can be achieved through human freedom.

Blondel made the passionate assertion that each of us must be able to choose life, choose death, choose eternity; otherwise the very existence of the human individual is an illusion. “There is no being where there is only constraint. If I am not that which I will to be, I am not. At the very core of my being there is a will and a love of being or there is nothing. If human freedom is real, it is necessary that one have in the present or at least in the future knowledge and will never to suffer any tyranny whatsoever.

Blondel’s understanding of human freedom differed radically from the classic understanding of scholastic realism. The scholastics taught that humans were substantially determined by their essence and only free on the superficial level of actions. Blondel taught that for a human to be is to act, and in acting to freely mold his or her own reality

Humans are not authentically human unless in the depth of their being and action they seize themselves as free source, action itself, a constant self-positing.. Human freedom is understood as the radical self positing of our own reality. We must exist at every moment as a consequence of our freedom

If in the depths of our own subjective being we meet with any determinism whatsoever - biological, psychological, social, or even a determinism that springs from the divine will, a determinism that lies radically outside the sphere of our freewill to determine ourselves - then we would be forced to accept the conclusion that the existence of the individual human person as such is an illusion.

The Principle of Immanence

This insight into the radical nature of human freedom led Blondel to accept the principle of immanence as the fundamental methodological principle governing his philosophy. He formulated that principle in there words: “Nothing can impose itself on a human; nothing can demand the accent of out intellect or the consent of our will which does not find its source from within ourselves”. “That necessity which appears to me as a tyrannous restraint”, Blondel wrote,” that obligation which at first appears despotic, in the last analysis, it is necessary that I understand it as manifesting and activating the most profound reality of my own will, otherwise it will be my destruction”.

Anything which presents itself from with out as essential to the achievement of human destiny and happiness must correspond to a need in the dynamic of the human will or, on the psychological level, to a profoundly felt desire in the depths of the human psyche.

Blondel did not hesitate to apply this methodological principle of immanence to any manifestation of the divine will. Although the divine will must manifest itself as in some way distinct from out finite human will, yet that revelation, if it is not to destroy our freedom and integrity, must be made in some way within our consciousness of self and prove capable of being assimilated into our free self-positing.

The entire movement of modern philosophy has been a continual movement toward a deeper understanding of the role the subject as such plays in human understanding and willing. This movement has led to the conclusion that there is only one possible method to attain the existing human subject as such in its unique freedom in a legitimate philosophical manner; we must renounce all attempts to make the singular existing subject into an objective content of knowledge, and be content to seize it in our immediate experiential awareness of self in the deployment of our free activity.

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