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"This is the right place for potency: the ontological priority of the given over the possible; the priority of gratitude over merely imaginative possibilities."

Thank you for putting into words my own coming-down from liberalism to an earthy confrontation with the true. I still remember the day I felt this ontological switch in priority and became a conservative almost overnight (with Brothers Karamazov at my bedside). Crashing back into reality from the Gnostic dream is a hard landing. But dreams have ways of becoming nightmares, when they are about escape.

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Thank you so much for reading, Steve, and for subscribing! Crashing back into reality is, as you say, no easy thing. And it's almost too easy to find ourselves falling back into the Gnostic dream; it is the liquid crystal of our age, always nudging life to take a particular, highly restrictive and terribly false shape. Thankfully, reality always kicks back; it is a rather stubborn force and resistant to our denials of its presence.

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May 1, 2022Liked by Duncan Reyburn

"Reality always kicks back" -- Duncan, I love your mode of thought. To me it's a blissful expanded kind of Strauss but Christian :-)

The fundamental change which we are trying to describe shows itself in the substitution of "the rights of man" for "the natural law": "law" which prescribes duties has been replaced by "rights," and "nature" has been replaced by "man."

Found in pp. 42-44 of The City and Man, Leo Strauss

The following (which I hope you find enlightening) explained for me in an "aha!" moment and forever the ring-nosed tatooed "Pink Haris" and how they got that way -- not amplifying what nature has already given, but traducing it:

“Descartes[1596-1650]'s ego cogitans ["thinking self"'] has emanci­pated itself entirely from ‘the tutelage of nature’ and eventually refuses to obey any law which it has not originated in its entirety or to dedicate itself to any ‘value’ of which it does not know that it is its own creation.”

-- Leo Strauss, The City and Man, Univ. of Chic. Press (1964), p. 45.

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Thank so much for reading, and for this thoughtful comment, Paula. This notion from Strauss is very potent indeed! The loss of the tutelage of nature is a very sad and ultimately very destructive thing. Perhaps "traducing [nature]" (such a great way of putting it), is part of an attempt to silence natural law. But yes, thank God, reality always kicks back!

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Apr 2, 2023Liked by Duncan Reyburn

Thanks Duncan! Again your piece was wonderfully incisive and insightful. (In my comment, that was supposed to be "Pink Hairs" 😃)

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