The politics behind ideas


Patapievici contrasted the current South American states to the US, stating that the endemic economic crises and the societies’ state of fragility are explainable in the case of the former through the fact that the colonizing Spanish and Portuguese did not apply the Christian idea of freedom and property like the Puritans did. But let us note that the handful of Puritans that landed in what was to be known as New England, as well as other groups of religious exiles that followed, represented the most heretical Christianity in relation to the major Christian traditions, while the colonizers in the rest of the continent were the expression of a millennia-old civilization that was upholding the orthodoxy of the faith and all of the canonical teachings. Could it be that during a millennium and a half the Catholic world had been unable to associate Christianity with a more fertile sense of freedom like the oppressed (in any corner of Europe) Puritans did?

This proves that the modern world is in fact the fruit of diverse influences and at any rate of various ways of understanding Christianity. But also debatable is the type of philosophy of history and culture that Patapievici promotes. His local guiding marks are Constantin Noica, the most representative Romanian philosopher in the Communist era (which he spent first under house arrest, then in jail, then in voluntary isolation, being nevertheless popularized by his apprentices Gabriel Liiceanu and Andrei Plesu) and Lucian Blaga, one of the more original Romanian interwar philosophers. Noica claimed that modern science (physics for instance) was born simultaneously with the symbol of the Creed pointed out in the first two Ecumenical Councils (325 and 381 AD). Because the theological novelty of a person having two natures, divine and human, revolutionized mentalities so much so that after many centuries physicists managed to understand differently the concrete world. Consequently, they developed technical aspects and, consequently, led to the current Western civilization so coveted by the whole of humanity. It’s interesting that neither Noica nor Patapievici assume Christianity as a kind of ethics, as a kind of behavior, but as a sum of superior ideas, as a pedagogy of thinking. However, could history be just like for Hegel a succession of powerful ideas that take shape in a succession of civilizations? It’s rather a form of Platonism that puts at the forefront a world of ideas torn apart from reality but formative of reality.
Lucian Blaga on the other hand developed a variant of cultural philosophies that were blooming in the era (the likes of Oswald Spengler). He claimed that certain stylistic matrices that determine all human activities in a certain age are decisive. In other words, if he lives in a certain Christian civilization a physicist is predisposed by his cultural environment to think out physics theories in an implicitly Christian manner. “Implicitly” meaning that theology cultivates specific mental forms that are valid in any other cultural creations (Blaga considered them to be simultaneous, a priori specific to a certain culture, while Patapievici admits historical dialectics).
But all of these are obviously reductionist arguments, no matter how much they could at the same time be fertile in bringing to the surface certain aspects that are usually neglected. However, what is the political undercurrent? Patapievici is among those who tried to promote the American neoconservative ideas in the Romanian world, ideas that rely on the premise of the Christian civilization’s superiority. Of course, there is no point for a man to convert to Christianity if he does not believe in the added value that this option could bring to life. The Muslims believes Islam is superior, similarly the Jew believes Judaism is above all other religions. The problem is: are the others inferior because they do not have my religion? If yes then cohabitation becomes morally complicated, and in certain conditions the attempt to convert them can be understood as a noble duty. But another problem arises: if religion is superior does it mean that the cultural creations (those representative through quality) that appear within this religious civilization will be superior to those outside of it? Isn’t this a rather vain presumption?

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