Hello, and welcome to my blog, Last Eden. My name is Eve Keneinan.
According to my Twitter bio, I am
- A Traditionalist Philosopher.
- An Unorthodox Orthodox Christian.
- A Rogue Platonist.
- A Post-Feminist.
Whose mottos are
- Iūstitia Sociālis dēlenda est.
- λόγον διδόναι.
- Αληθώς Ανέστη. ✒️
What does all that mean? I’m a professional philosopher—that is, I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy and I’ve taught Philosophy at a number of colleges and universities for around 25 years. I consider myself a philosopher in the classical sense also, that is, a spiritual follower of Socrates, a questioner who seeks the truth by means of λόγος (reason, in the least worst translation). While I specialize in metaphysics and ethics and the history of philosophy, I’ve studied and taught many subjects at one time or another, including (within philosophy) philosophy of science, aesthetics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and for that matter, I’ve studied and taught physics, calculus, literature, poetry, and a variety of other subjects. By calling myself “a traditionalist philosopher” I mean two things:
- First, as I said, I’m a philosopher in the classical tradition, which means I regard most contemporary philosophy, such as today’s Anglo-American analytic philosophy or continental postmodernism as temporary aberrations in the history of philosophy. Both are deeply hostile to truth in the classical tradition: the postmodernists want to deny it outright, and the analytics generally want to diminish it to a shadow of itself, and end up de facto denying it anyhow. I regard truth much as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle did, as something holy, and something that is an ultimate good that all human beings are directed towards by their nature. We are made to know truth.
- Second, I am actively hostile to most of the poisonous political ideologies that are rampant in the world today. Most of the ones with power today, and so the most dangerous ones, are on the left, so I tend to appear (and be) somewhat conservative—not because I haven’t thought things through, but because I have: for the most part, I reject nearly all the legacy of philosophical modernity as false and harmful to human beings. I stand with Nietzsche and Heidegger in diagnosing our age as one drowning in the spiritual/moral/philosophical disease of nihilism. And while I agree with both of them a simple return to the past is impossible, I do not reject the possibility of a rebirth of classical philosophy and Christian theism.
I am an “unorthodox Orthodox Christian.” By “unorthodox” here I just mean “unusual.” As far as my Christian beliefs go, I am an entirely orthodox Orthodox Christian. However, Orthodoxy is so little known in the West (which tends to take Protestantism or Catholicism as exhaustive of Christianity) that my beliefs are apt to seem strange to those who know only the Protestant or Catholic traditions. I am also an adult convert to Orthodoxy, having had a not-particularly-religious upbringing and with what little faith I had obliterated (or as it turned out, obscured) by Nietzsche at age 14. I was an ardent Nietzschean for several years, until Nietzsche’s demand for uncompromising intellectual honesty (Redlichkeit) led me into a systematic study of Nietzsche’s great enemy, Plato—who won the day, persuading me that we live in a cosmos, not a chaos, and that Being is intelligible. Thought and Being were made for one another, and their union is natural, like a marriage, although not without effort, like a marriage. Realizing that Platonism continued most directly through the Christian Church Fathers of the East (most Westerners simply don’t know that the “fall of Rome” in the 4th century A.D. was only the Western half of the Empire—the Eastern half of the Roman Empire didn’t fall for another thousand years, and preserved the classical philosophical legacy intact. Most Westerners think that Christendom lost the works of the ancients, which were later reintroduced to them by the Muslims—which is true for Western Europe, but not in general), I undertook the study of such Christian philosophers and theologians as St. John Damascene, St. Dionysios the Aeropagite, St. Maximus Confessor, as well as the neo-Platonic tradition, and eventually realized that Christianity, at least in the form of Orthodoxy, is the legitimate continuation of classical Greek philosophy. I can say, with St. Justin Martyr, “I am a philosopher because I am a Christian” and I can say the reverse “I am a Christian because I am a philosopher.” The philosophical path to Christianity not extremely common, but it is a very viable one; once one realizes the incoherence of philosophical modernity, it is perhaps virtually inevitable (unless one embraces the incoherence in the way of the postmodernist).
I mean several things by “a rogue Platonist.” I am basically a Platonist in most respects, but my thinking has been colored by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Aristotle, and the Christian Fathers as well as Christian Orthodoxy itself. I consider Aristotle to be another rogue Platonist; in its broadest signification, being a Platonist means you think that being is intelligible and can be known. This is the sense in which Emerson meant “Plato is philosophy, and philosophy Plato.” As my old teacher Stanley Rosen used to put it “Platonism is the doctrine that we can know things.”
My motto “Iūstitia Sociālis dēlenda est” means “social justice must be destroyed.” The world is presently under a dire threat to the liberties which befit free men and women by a cluster of authoritarian leftist movements which call themselves “social justice” movements. “Social justice” is a perversion of the very concept of justice, and is, in fact, the latest mutation of what could fairly be called Cultural Marxism—although its roots lie at least as far back as Rousseau—and it is the political manifestation of a nihilism that rebels against reality in the name of an imaginary utopian ideal for which no sacrifice of human lives is too great—even though should the revolutionary faction triumph, we will not get utopia, but unimaginable tyranny. These people and these movements, if not stopped, will take our freedoms and then our lives, and will make a large section of humanity miserable for some centuries. This should not happen. Therefore: “social justice” must be destroyed. We should have had de-Marxization at the end of the Cold War, as we had de-Nazification at the end of the Second World War, but for some reason we permitted this cancer of Marxist ideology to continue to grow and thrive, and we are now paying the price for it. All free men and women of the Western tradition should do their best to fight cultural Marxism in word and deed, and not allow themselves to be duped by utopian pied pipers or those who only stir up ressentiment, a true poison of the soul.
Modern, third-wave feminism and its latest incarnation as Intersectional Feminism is a part of this ideological cancer. I call myself a “post feminist” because in my view, all legitimate work that feminism had to do in the West, it has done, and in addition to some good, has done much evil to the human race, and currently continues to promote (as far as I can see) nothing but evil, particularly in the forms of advocating sexism, misandry, the demonization of men and healthy masculinity, the promotion of unjust female privilege, and the continuation of the evil project of eugenics under the rubric of “reproductive rights.” Furthermore, many or most feminists use utterly intellectually dishonest rhetoric as their means to seize and keep political power: from pseudo-concepts like “Patriarchy” to outright lies such as Western “rape culture” to the willful distortion of statistics such as the “wage gap” to modern-day witch hunts like those unleashed upon Sir Tim Hunt or Dr. Matt Taylor. It is a fairly safe ethical principle that if your side is conducting witch hunts, you are on the evil side.
I support both women’s rights and men’s rights—that is to say, human rights—and I think it is a pernicious rhetorical sleight-of-hand to attempt to equate “feminists” with “women” (especially given that 80%+ of women DO NOT identify as “feminists”) or to equate women’s rights with feminism—they are simply NOT SYNONYMS. In reality, contemporary feminism shows itself to be about “equality for women” in the same way Marxism is about “equality for the working class,” which is to say, in name only—just as “social justice” has nothing to do with justice other than misleadingly using the word in its name. It is not my fault if people believe that labeling a bottle of poison “healthy medicine” actually means that bottle contains healthy medicine. And it doesn’t matter how many times you tell us that the bottle is clearly labeled “healthy medicine”—you can’t change an evil ideology into a beneficial thing by relabeling it.
“λόγον διδόναι” is a Greek saying, which means “to give an account.” It is what philosophers strive to do. We do not tell stories, μῦθοι, but give rational accounts of things, λόγοι.
“Αληθώς Ανέστη” is the second part of a formula with which Orthodox Christians have greeted one another for thousands of years. The first part is “Χριστὸς ἀνέστη,” and the exchange means: “Christ is risen.” “Truly, he has risen.” “Χριστὸς ἀνέστη” is probably the shortest confession of the Christian faith.
For my fixed, pinned Tweet on Twitter I wrote out some things about my understanding of human beings, here:
As you can see, I reject the modern understanding of the nature of human beings in favor of a Heideggerian-Chrisitian one. A human being is neither a clever ape, nor a mind-body fusion, but a living unity we call a “person” which has an intrinsic, infinite worth, being created in the image of God, endowed with the remarkable power to comprehend being and know truth, and yet at the same time flawed and fallen.
My Twitter handle is @EveKeneinan.
Eve’s avatar is the work of Kinohara-Kossuta, used with her permission.
See more of Kinohara’s art at http://kinohara-kossuta.deviantart.com/gallery/
You really need to have an about/contact page.
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Wow, you certainly delivered. Do you still teach? You made it seem like you no longer do.
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Yes, I’m still at it. I’ll probably keep at it well past retirement age—although hopefully as emeritus and with a reduced teaching load.
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Oh I wish I had gone to grad school but I could not at the time. Regret more than you can imagine! I love your positions. Simply I will say they are pragmatic. This is one of my favorite blogs for substance.
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Would you be able to direct me to the blog post(s) of yours which contains what you consider to be the most compelling case for the Christian god? You’re very articulate and while I do not necessarily agree with all of your positions, I think you’re very logical and I find your arguments often well-reasoned. It is on that note that, for the sake of intellectual inquiry, I’m interested in exploring what you consider to be the strongest arguments in favor of the existence of the Christian deity. Thanks in advance for your help.
The positive case for God, first, and the Christian understanding of God, next, is something that I would want to lay out with the greatest possible care and thoroughness. So far, all my blog posts have been essentially written in one sitting. A post on that could not be—so I’ve yet to sit down over several days and put it all in order. I’m sure someday I will though.
I do know that the argument would have three major steps:
1 I think the cumulative weight of metaphysical argument is overwhelmingly on the side of there being a such a thing as rightly could be called “God,” an absolute metaphysical ground of all contingent being. The argument from contingency alone suffices, I think, as a demonstration, but with the various demonstrations, this is almost a matter of philosophical overkill. I think the only way to escape the conclusion is to accept a metaphysics that denies the possibility of metaphysics, which is of course an irrational thing to do, since it would necessarily be unfounded in terms of itself, but it does carry the illusion of being reasonable, just as skepticism can seem reasonable because the skeptics refusal to invest any belief means he’s never wrong.
2 This section would attempt to show the necessity of the “the absolute source and ground of being” to be a personal being. I think this can best be done by arguing from the irreducible features of the reality of consciousness that we know, because we are it. I will attempt to make the case that conscious, first-personal beings would be utterly inexplicable if the first source were a mere unconscious force.
3 Christian belief is in the end (and the beginning) a matter of faith, as a kind of trust in revelation that God has given to us, and indeed, faith is a gift of God’s grace. What natural reason can do, I think, is show that the Christian understanding of God, man, and the world is the one that makes the most sense out of God, man, and the world. Islam, for example, is forced to make God the source of evil—it has no doctrine of sin or the fall of man—and places God so “high” (as it understands this) that he may as well be an impersonal force, or indeed, not exist at all. This has yet to befall Islam, but Descartes was rather successful in “elevating God so high He becomes completely irrelevant.” What I would attempt to do is to show that Christianity’s teaching is so extreme, so immoderate, so paradoxical … that God entered His own creation and became man, in order to unite man to Himself in His own being … that it must be true. It has a kind of terrible plausibility that tends not to release one, once one begins to think it through—but this kind of thinking will not be a strictly third-personal kind of reasoning, but an existential kind as well. One needs must of all to face the reality of one’s own finitude, and finitude in general, or in a word, death. I think in the final analysis only Christianity can answer the twin problems of sin/evil and death.
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Thank you for taking the time to reply to this and for also, though no such post has been made, taking the time to sketch out your approximate arguments in order to demonstrate such a position. I’d like to know your thoughts on possible counter-arguments or, as I think they are more aptly phrased in this dialogue, counter-considerations. I will number them in reference to your own post.
1: What would your position be against those who posit that the argument of contingency merely asserts a creator, but that this is ultimately an extraneous assumption? That is, why should a “creator” of the universe be considered more likely than a universe which gives rise to itself? Given your background, I’m assuming that you’re already quite familiar with this counter-argument, and so I’ll keep things brief by leaving it to you to fill in the blanks.
2: Is it not possible or likely for consciousness to be an emergent feature of matter?
3: For now, I think I’ll stick to awaiting your responses to the above two points as the matter of this third point seems more complex than the former. It would additionally seem irrational to focus on this before the former two were established, so I’ll wait to hear your approximate positions on those.
Thank you once again for the response.
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Briefly (if I can be such)
1. The universe is the sum of all contingent beings, and as such a sum, must be contingent itself. A necessary being cannot undergo CHANGE, because changes is a transition from potentiality to actuality, and only an existence that is pure actuality can be ontologically NECESSARY. So: “The universe changes. Whatever changes is contingent. Whatever is contingent cannot be necessary. Therefore the universe cannot be a necessary being.”
Also, and I don’t make much of this point but some do, our best science indicates that the universe we know is not eternal but came into being at sometime. And since nothing can bring itself into being, nor can things just *pop* into being FOR NO REASON (at least this isn’t a rational or even intelligible claim)—we are forced to pose the question of the agency that brought the universe into being. The “multiverse hypothesis” is meant to avoid this problem, but (1) it is pure speculation which posits the existence of things beyond the universe which we have no way of knowing about or verifying—it’s a completely ad hoc move—and (2) as I understand it, all the physics we know places constraints even on any possible “multiverse”, such that, since our universe is inflationary, any multiverse that gave rise to it must also be such—meaning that the multiverse had a beginning when it came into being, which means it to requires an explanation of what brought it into being. Finally, if you say “a multiverse exists, but it has no relation to the physics of our universe” you are now making a purely speculative, purely ad hoc appeal to magic (a magical multiverse!)—which is the the philosophical equivalent of saying “But maybe not, somehow!”
2. The term “emergent” seems to me to mean “appears by magic in violation of the principle of sufficient reason” that is “something that happens for literally NO REASON.” That isn’t a rational explanation, it is a thought-terminating non-explanation. It answers “Where did X come from?” with “it came out of something which didn’t have it in it” which is the same as “from nowhere.”
The only way that consciousness could “emerge” from matter in a way that is NOT sheerly ex nihilio, is if panpsychism is true, and consciousness is already somehow latent or implicit in matter. But if that’s the case, the question of the ultimate origin of consciousness is the same as the question of the ultimate origin of the universe itself, and so we are back to necessity of a a necessary first source.
So an appeal to “an emergent feature” is either an appeal to magic or panpsychism. Appeals to magic are always irrational, since they give the “reason” FOR NO REASON. And appeals to panpsychism don’t help avoid the first source, since it merely postulates consciousness as a basic feature of the universe, which of course requires the same explanation that the universe itself does.
Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law, Vol 1 (1748) has good stuff on the logical existence of God. Available at http://lonang.com/library/reference/burlamaqui-natural-politic-law/
I appreciate that you think about these things. Do you play FO4 on Steam?
FO4, yes, obsessively, but due to having a mac, I am a console peasant (PS4).
Oh ok – I haven’t tried it yet. Still haven’t finished 3 (spend too much time modding it to actually play it)
A forger is who interprets Nietzsche.
I’m afraid that I’m at a loss as to how to pronounce your last name. This is especially awkward when I recommend you blog to others. Would you mind setting me straight?
Keh NINE an or Keh NYE nan
Ke9an would work, anyhow : )
I finally read your “About” page and it makes me wish I could be taught the things of philosophy by you. You write rationally and with such clarity.
Do you ever give bits of advice to novices at philosophy?
I’m not sure where to put this so I will leave this message here. I’ve effectively been an atheist since the age of reason (13-14, I am now 17) however I have never come across anyone who has set forth such lucid arguments against atheism directly. I have never really fallen for the easy trap of scientism, I’m not a fan of Coyne, Krauss etc. I always knew that science and philosophy had its place. Somewhat startlingly I didn’t realise how vapid the ‘burden of proof’ argument was until you and Gary Edwards pointed it out. Now I’m coming to grips with what it truly means to have an open mind and to be skeptical of all positions…..
Anyway I really hope to see more interesting blog posts from you, all the best.
This is what happens when slogans like “question everything” becoming living things. IF you keep thinking hard about things, I guarantee you’ll end up at conclusions you never saw coming or expected. It’s not an accident that most internet “skeptics,” all look very much alike. There are a whole series of beliefs about which they are not skeptical in the slightest, things they believe simply because “most somewhat educated late 20th-early 21st century people do.”
Consider seriously the proposition: “It is likely that people living in the late 20th century/early 21st century are mostly right about everything they think and believe.”
If that starts to strike you as wildly implausible the more you think about it, the more interested you will become in interrogating the prejudices of the age. And they are legion. It is my view that belief in God has become implausible for so many today largely on the basis of a series of absurd prejudices that are grounded in the accidental development of the history of ideas—these are at the root of most nonbelief, in my estimation.
Take a simple example. This age of the West has rejected its past and the wisdom of generally all humanity in deciding that extra-marital sex is a good thing. As a direct result, we have experiencing a widespread breakdown of the family, and possibly of our entire civilization. Do you think we are right on this point? Or does it come from the bizarre modern idea of freedom as “we can do anything we want to,” which is a childish position at best?
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I’m unsure how to respond to the specific example of extra-marital sex, however, I take your point about the probability of assumptions borne from modernity.
I continually attempt to remove any psychological barriers to changing my mind, not that I’ve succeeded entirely as its an ongoing project. Your post about the sentimentality of reason(tm) was quite striking. slogans of rationality are just that, self congratulatory nonsense. And I utterly abhor them. That being said, having void as the default and not some sort of model making belief of the world is unsustainable. Sure, I will always try to challenge fundamental assumptions but that does not mean lacking all reality models in the mind is a healthy (or even possible) thing to do.
It is a shame that atheists (if not atheism itself, I don’t know) tends towards three paths. Nihilism, hedonism or this:
“Aloysha simply chose the opposite path from all others, but with the same thirst for an immediate deed. As soon as he reflected seriously and was struck by the conviction that immortality and God exist, he naturally said at once to himself: ‘I want to live for immortality, and I reject any halfway compromise. In the same way, if he decided that immortality and God do not exist, he would have immediately joined the atheists and socialists (for socialism is not only the labor question or the question of the so-called forth estate, but first of all the question of atheism, the question of the Tower Of Babel built precisely without God, not to go from earth to heaven but to bring heaven down to earth).” -Ch1, The Brothers Karamazov
It is apparent how similar socialism in Dostoevsky’s day is to modern humanist utopian ideals of a religionless world. an “End Of Faith” if you will. All the more chaos of doubt for me to work through I guess…
Thank you very much for your work, both here and on twitter. Your interactions with atheists inspire me. God bless!
Thank you for sharing so so much.I am absolutely Holy Spirit blown away by your blog. I am currently interested in the study of philosophy and theology but unfortunately an extremely late comer (in age) to it plus there only 1 university in my country that offers philosophy (modern only). Its fascinating to know that there is so much similarity in what I am learning and the metaphysics you talk about in relation to faith and human morality, although your articles are quite advanced for me. Could you kindly advice how I could speed up my learning i.e please point me to the most relevant courses or books or articles or websites, anything you think could help me for I feel I will be too old to be able to use my knowledge if its takes forever. You could email me directly if that’s better. Would really appreciate some direction to be articulate as you some day in content and expression. Thanks again.
Wisdom is one of the virtues that grows with age. Kant was in his 60s when he began the Critical Philosophy that made him one of the great philosophers.
My best advice is probably predictable: study Plato and Aristotle. A lot. Thoroughly. When Whitehead said “Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato,” he wasn’t kidding. It is literally the case that almost everything that comes after Plato and Aristotle is a series of debates within the framework that they establish. Modern philosophy as a whole—if it were theology rather than philosophy—would be a kind of Platonic-Aristotelian heresy. Postmodernism, since it abandons the idea of truth as normative for thinking, replacing it with power, is not strictly philosophy. It is anti-philosophy, a label that many or most of the postmodernist would accept and even embrace. But thought in the service of power rather than truth is SOPHISTRY, the enemy of philosophy.
Point one: study Plato and Aristotle.
Point two: Get help! Read Leo Strauss, Jacob Klein, David Roochnik, Stanley Rosen for Plato. Giovanni Reale for both. Joseph Owens and Jonathan Lear for Aristotle.
Hello Eve — this is my first time here, and I am greatly impressed with your ideas and your ability to clearly express them. Thank you for all you do. JOHN …PS — do you like Bloom’s translation of The Republic? I have it but have not yet read it.
Yes, it is probably the best in English, although Joe Sachs is good too. Bloom has an excellent interpretive essay as well.
You have a lot of information here… but who are YOU? Where do you teach? Can we have coffee?
Love your work but seldom interact. One question though: I read somewhere that you think the aim of natural theology is “showing the rational warrant of theism”.
What do you mean by ‘warrant’? It can’t be beliefs produced by properly functioning cognitive faculties (which is what I understand Plantinga to mean by the term), or?
/Mathias, trying to understand epistemology
Eve, was just informed by Dean on his red pill religion after action report vid with the Non Sequitur Show that you are a group account. Somehow I find that difficult to believe. So here I am asking is that true?
Just went through your Twitter time line. You’re not a group account, no way. Good grief Dean says silly things sometimes. Ya know, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let people think that though. Still thankful, you’re a great resource.