Appreciating The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos

David Myatt

David Myatt

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Appreciating The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos

Abstract

We ask why David Myatt’s mystical philosophy of pathei-mathos is unappreciated and why are old allegations and rumours about him still made and still propagated today.

We suggest it may in part be because in Myatt’s philosophy empathy and personal honour lead us away from the Judeo-Christian illusion of causal abstractions (a naming) and a dialectic of opposites based on such naming with the inevitable apocalyptic eschatology; and partly because his philosophy presents a modern and rational paganism based on Greco-Roman values and is therefore seen as belonging to a new and emerging “right-wing” milieu in which ancestral (native and pagan) European culture and a tradition of personal honour are central.

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That David Myatt’s mystical philosophy of pathei-mathos {1} is unappreciated today except by a few sagacious individuals is understandable given two things. First, Myatt’s extremist past – three decades (1968-1998) as a neo-nazi activist and ideologue, and almost a decade (1998-2008) as a supporter and ideologue of Muslim Jihad – and, second, given the unproven allegations, and the rumours spread, about him over the decades by politically motivated individuals and organizations with an agenda who profess to be “fighting extremism”.

Allegations and rumours that are still made and still propagated today despite Myatt’s voluminous post-2011 writings about his rejection of extremism. Writings such as his 2013 book Understanding and Rejecting Extremism: A Very Strange Peregrination {2} and collections of essays such as his Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos: Essays and Letters Regarding Spirituality, Humility, and A Learning From Grief {3}.

Why therefore are such allegations and rumours still made and still propagated today?

All his vociferous politically orientated critics say and write are either prejudiced statements such as “it’s hard to take anything Myatt says at face value, so successfully has he enshrouded himself in self-contradictory disinformation”, or make propagandistic claims such as that he has a “history of deception”, none of which statements or claims his critics support with probative evidence based on primary sources.

That is, such critics are merely presenting their personal opinions as well as revealing either their lack of knowledge of Myatt’s voluminous post-2011 writings about extremism and about his philosophy of pathei-mathos, or their prejudiced dismissal of those writings as “disinformation and deceptive”, and writings which they obviously have never read or have not bothered to study in detail.

Good, Evil, Honour, and God

Where, for example, are their reasoned, or their scholarly, critiques of Myatt’s Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God, his 29 page monograph included in his book Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos.

Which monograph is a relevant example of his writings about his philosophy of pathei-mathos, and in which he compares the ontologies of Christianity, Islam, and the modern nation-state with the ontology he proposes for his own philosophy.

For example, after discussing the ontologies of Christianity, Islam, and the modern nation-state, he presents in Parts Four and Five his argument in favour of a personal ontology deriving from pathei mathos, as well as presenting his conclusions regarding the need to lead a tolerant, compassionate, honourable, way of life.

Thus in Part Four he writes:

“To be in balance, in harmony, with Life; the balance that is love, compassion, humility, empathy, honour, tolerance, kindness, and wu-wei.

This, by its nature, is a personal answer and a personal choice; an alternative way that compliments and is respectful of other answers, other choices, and of other ways of dealing with issues such as the suffering that afflicts others, the harm that humans do so often inflict and have for so long inflicted upon others […]

No need for dogma or too many words; no need for comparisons; no ‘just cause’ to excuse our behaviour. No mechanisms and no techniques to enable us to progress toward some-thing because there is no need or requirement to progress toward what is not there to be attained. There is only a personal living in such a way that we try to be compassionate, empathic, loving, honourable, kind, tolerant, gentle, and humble. And this is essentially the wisdom, the insight, the way of living – sans denotatum – that thousands upon thousands of people over millennia have contributed to the culture of pathei-mathos, as well as the essence of the message which many if not all spiritual ways and religions, in their genesis, perhaps saught to reveal: the message of the health of love and of our need, as fallible beings often inclined toward the unbalance of hubris, for humility.”

In Part Five he explains the origins of his philosophy:

“Twenty years ago, someone whom I loved who loved me died, too young and having harmed no one. Died, leaving me bereft, if only for a while. For too soon my return to those hubriatic, selfish, suffering-causing, and extremist, ways of my pasts. As if, despite the grief, the pain of loss, I personally had learned nothing, except in such moments of such remembering that did not, unfortunately, impact too much upon my practicalities of life; at least until another bereavement, thirteen years later, came to shock, shake, betake me far from my arrogant presumptions about myself, about life, to thus lead, to so slowly lead, to me on a clear cold day yet again interiorly dwelling on what, if anything, is our human purpose of being here and why such bereavements, such early deaths, just seem so unjust, unfair.”

Another relevant example is his In Reply To Some Questions (2012) in which he explains in greater detail the intent of his writings about extremism and about his philosophy of πάθει μάθος – the ‘numinous way’ – and that those writings

“have been written as expressions of my own feelings, experiences, and philosophical reflexions, with no particular audience in mind, save in many instance for a few personal friends. In effect, they document my interior struggles, my attempts to find solutions to certain philosophical problems, and my desire to understand the how and the why of my hubris, of my extremist decades, and thus to understand and acknowledge the mistakes of my past – to understand and acknowledge the suffering I caused – and understand the error of extremism itself […]

What I hope to achieve by such writings is to communicate – or to attempt to communicate – some of my insights, some of my experiences, some of my solutions, and some of my conclusions, such as they are, and as personal and as fallible as they are, and dealing as they do with extremism, with an extremist life, and with the personal life of the hubriatic man I was […]

My concern – and therefore that of the philosophy of πάθει μάθος – is with spiritual (numinous) and personal matters. With our own individual interior change and reformation; with the perspective and insight that empathy and pathei-mathos provide: which is of personal virtues such as compassion, love, humility, empathy, πάθει μάθος, honour, and wu-wei, and thus with treating human beings as individuals […]

My writings over the past few years have been personal, ‘mystical’, and philosophical, with the latter documenting the development and refinement of my ‘numinous way’ culminating in my moral philosophy of pathei-mathos which is concerned with individuals and how individuals might discover and learn to appreciate ἁρμονίη and δίκη and so move toward wisdom. So, what I wanted – rather, what I felt compelled to do following a personal tragedy – was to try and understand myself, my suffering-causing past; to try and discover what undermined ἁρμονίη and δίκη, and what ὕβρις was and what it caused and why.”

Is this as his politically orientated critics claim “disinformation and deceptive”, or is it – like his Understanding and Rejecting Extremism, his Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God, and other such writings including his autobiography Myngath – a genuine expression of Enantiodromia, of the reformation of an individual? {4}

That Myatt’s politically orientated critics have not penned reasoned, or scholarly, critiques of such Myattian works should be sufficient to answer that question.

A Modern Pagan Philosophy

One other reason why Myatt’s mystical philosophy of pathei-mathos may be unappreciated today, and another possible reason why his politically motivated critics have not penned reasoned, or scholarly, critiques of that philosophy, is that his philosophy is, for many of those who have studied it, a modern pagan philosophy in the tradition of Greco-Roman philosophy.

In his recent (2019) autobiographical essay An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture he explained that he uses some non-English terms mostly from Ancient Greek but occasionally from Latin,

“in the hope that such terms would not only be able to convey my meaning better than some easily mis-understood English term but also might be assimilated into the English language as philosophical terms either in their transliterated English form or in their Greek and Latin form.

Such terms might also reveal my indebtedness to Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture and how and why the philosophy of pathei-mathos is both a “transition from mythoi and anthropomorphic deities (theos and theoi) to an appreciation of the numinous sans denotatum and sans religion” and thus a return to individual insight and understanding over impersonal abstractions/ideations, over denotatum, and over religious and political dogma, with the Latin denotatum – used as an Anglicized term and which thus can be used to describe both singular and plural instances of denoting and naming – a useful example of my somewhat idiosyncratic methodology.

Thus and for example I used and use σοφόν instead of σοφός when the sense implied is not the usual “skilled”, or “learned” or “wise” but rather what lies beyond and what was/is the genesis of what is presenced in a person as skill, or learning, or wisdom. I used and use σωφρονεῖν in preference to σωφροσύνη (sophrosyne) to suggest a fair and balanced personal judgement rather than the fairly modern English interpretation of sophrosyne as soundness of mind, moderation.” {5}

In that essay he asks then answers a rhetorical question about using such Greek and Anglicized terms:

“Does my idiosyncratic use of Ancient Greek and Latin terms make this philosophy confusing, difficult to understand and difficult to appreciate? Perhaps. But since philosophia – ϕιλοσοϕία – is, at least according to my fallible understanding, becoming a friend of σοφόν, and since such a personal friendship involves seeking to understand Being, beings, and Time, and since part of the ethos of the culture of the West – heir to Ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture – is or at least was a personal and rational quest for understanding and knowledge, then perhaps some effort, as befits those of noble physis who appreciate and who may seek to presence καλὸς κἀγαθός, is only to be expected.”

In his recent monograph Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos he explains the context and meaning of the term καλὸς κἀγαθός, writing that

“we are, ontologically, emanations of and presence Being, and are a connexion to the cosmos – to other presencings of Being – through, in terms of epistemology, not only reason (λόγος), perceiverance (νοῦς) and wordless-awareness (συμπάθεια, empathy) but also through τὸ ἀγαθὸν, τὸ καλὸν, and ἀρετὴ, through the beautiful and the well-balanced, the valourous and honourable, and those who possess arête, all of which are combined in one Greek phrase: καλὸς κἀγαθός, which means those who conduct themselves in a gentlemanly or lady-like manner and who thus manifest – because of their innate physis or through pathei-mathos or through a certain type of education or learning – nobility of character. Which Greek phrase expresses the ethics, the high personal standards, of the ancient paganus weltanschauung we have been discussing.”

In his monographs Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua – both published in 2017 {6} – he writes of the difference between classical paganism and revealed religions such as Christianity. That there is, in his view, a

“fundamental difference between a religious apprehension of the numinous – based on received and venerated texts, on exegesis – and the paganus apprehension of the numinous as manifest in Greco-Roman culture, based as it is on an individual, and an intuitive, empathic and thus wordless, apprehension of the numinous.” {7}

This “empathic apprehension of the numinous” is at the core of Myatt’s philosophy of pathei-mathos. In his Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos he writes that empathy is a means by which we can

“understand both φύσις and Πόλεμος, and thus apprehend Being as Being, and the nature of beings – and in particular the nature of our being, as mortals. For empathy reveals to us the acausality of Being and thus how the process of abstraction, involving as it does an imposition of causality and separation upon beings (and the ideation) implicit on opposites and dialectic), is a covering-up of Being.”

In Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, he writes that

“Greco-Roman culture is inextricably bound to the culture of the West and formed the basis for the European Renaissance that emerged in the 14th century, one aspect of which was a widespread appreciation of classical Art, of classical literature, and of texts such as the Corpus Hermeticum.”

Which why his translations of eight tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, and of other Greek texts,

“when studied together enable us to appreciate and understand the classical, pagan, ethos and thence the ethos of the West itself […]

What Myatt does in his translations [of the Corpus Hermeticum] is paint a picture of classical – and of Hellenic – culture and especially of Hellenic mysticism; a culture and a mysticism which is pagan and based on individuals, on tangible things such as honesty, and not on moralistic and religious and impersonal abstractions. That is, he reveals the Greco-Roman ethos – the pagan ethos – underlying the hermetic texts and which is in contrast to that of Christianity with its later, medieval and Puritanical, impersonal moralizing.” {8}

Which understanding of the ethos of the West, sans Christianity, the politically orientated individuals and organizations who are vociferous critics of Myatt most probably view as heresy, as evidence that Myatt’s philosophy of pathei-mathos undermines the Judeo-Christian culture and tradition that still forms the basis of many Western nation-states, and evidence also of how Myatt’s philosophy may aid those who champion a particular and pagan interpretation of Western culture.

As one commentator noted, Western culture is

“exemplified according to Myatt by καλὸς κἀγαθός. That is, by those who “conduct themselves in a gentlemanly or lady-like manner and who thus manifest – because of their innate physis or through pathei-mathos or through a certain type of education or learning – nobility of character,” and which nobility of character is manifest in “the virtues of personal honour and manners” and which Western culture was also – according to Myatt and contra modern ‘political correctness’ – manifest in a natural and necessary aristocracy composed of those who possess nobility of character and who thus exemplify καλὸς κἀγαθός.” {8}

This interpretation of Western culture, as Myatt expresses it in his Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, is also

(i) an (often wordless) awareness of ourselves as a fallible mortal, as a microcosmic connexion to other mortals, to other life, to Nature, and to the Cosmos beyond our world, and (ii) a new civitas, and one not based on some abstractive law but on a spiritual and interior (and thus not political) understanding and appreciation of our own Ancestral Culture and that of others; on our ‘civic’ duty to personally presence καλὸς κἀγαθός and thus to act and to live in a noble way.

For the virtues of personal honour and manners, with their responsibilities, presence the fairness, the avoidance of hubris, the natural harmonious balance, the gender equality, the awareness and appreciation of the divine, that is the numinous.

Which “new civitas” – new communities, a new understanding of what being part of (a citizen of) such communities means; a new definition of freedom based on honour – strikes at the very foundations of the modern nation-state with its impersonal laws and in which modern nation-states where the ‘law of personal honour’ – one of the foundations of Myatt’s philosophy {9} – if not outlawed is subject to often severe state-sanctioned restrictions.

As Myatt noted in his Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God,

“My own and only fallible answer to the question of how to deal with the suffering that blights this world therefore seems to be the answer of a personal honour. That is, for each of us to gently try to carry that necessary harmony, that balance, of δίκη, wordlessly within; to thus restrain ourselves from causing harm while being able, prepared, in the immediacy of the moment, to personally, physically, restrain – prevent – others when we chance upon such harm being done. This, to me, is Life in its wholesome natural fullness – as lived, presenced, by the brief, mortal, consciously aware, emanations we are; mortal emanations capable of restraint, reason, culture, and reforming change; of learning from our pathei-mathos and that of others. My personal answer to personal questions, perplexion, and to grief and doubt. The answer which is to live in hope – even need – of a personal loyal love; to live with empathy, gentleness, humility, compassion, and yet with strength enough to do what should be done when, within the purvue of our personal space, we meet with one or many causing suffering and harm, no thought then for the fragility of our own mortal life or even for personal consequences beyond the ἁρμονίη we, in such honourable moments, are.”

In an essay written in September 2014 he explained that

“personal honour – which presences the virtues of fairness, tolerance, compassion, humility, and εὐταξία – [is] (i) a natural intuitive (wordless) expression of the numinous (‘the good’, δίκη, συμπάθεια) and (ii) of both what the culture of pathei-mathos and the acausal-knowing of empathy reveal we should do (or incline us toward doing) in the immediacy of the personal moment when personally confronted by what is unfair, unjust, and extreme.

Of how such honour – by its and our φύσις – is and can only ever be personal, and thus cannot be extracted out from the ‘living moment’ and our participation in the moment.” {10}

By expressing a new civitas based on the concept of personal honour and on the noble virtues of καλὸς κἀγαθός, Myatt’s rather unique philosophy, evolved as it has been by his Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and his Tu Es Diaboli Ianua monographs – might well be seen to be, according to the standards of the political status quo, as somewhat radical.

It might also become seen to be, or may already be seen to be, by some politically orientated individuals and organizations who profess to be “fighting extremism” – and who are still swayed by the Judeo-Christian illusion of causal abstractions and the dialectic of opposites – part of a new and emerging “right-wing” milieu in which ancestral (native and pagan) European culture and a tradition of personal honour are central. {11}

According to Myatt’s philosophy, empathy and personal honour lead us away from the Judeo-Christian illusion of causal abstractions (a naming) and a dialectic of opposites based on such naming with the inevitable apocalyptic eschatology which engenders a real-world struggle or a war between a posited and a supra-personal, abstract, ‘good’ and ‘evil’. An eschatology – struggle between a posited ‘good’ (us) and a posited ‘evil’ (our enemies) – which the modern nation-state has appropriated, as witness the propaganda against National Socialist Germany with its portrayal of The Third Reich as the ‘evil’ enemy who must be fought and defeated.

Myatt’s philosophy leads us away from such abstractions, back toward the pagan insight of Greeks such as Heraclitus:

“Although this naming and expression [which I explain] exists, human beings tend to ignore it, both before and after they have become aware of it. Yet even though, regarding such naming and expression, I have revealed details of how Physis has been cleaved asunder, some human beings are inexperienced concerning it, fumbling about with words and deeds, just as other human beings, be they interested or just forgetful, are unaware of what they have done.” {12}

In chapter three of his The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos Myatt provides not only the Greek text of two other fragments by or attributed to Heraclitus but also his own translations:

“Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.” Fragment 53

“All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia.” Diogenes Laërtius, ix. 7.

In that chapter he writes that

“Empathy also reveals why the assumption that abstracted, ideated, opposites apply to or should apply to living beings – and that they thus can supply us with knowledge and understanding of living being – disrupts the natural balance, resulting in a loss of ἁρμονίη [harmony] and συμπάθεια and is therefore a manifestation of the error of ὕβρις.”

In place of such abstracted, ideated, Judeo-Christian conflicting opposites there is in both Greco-Roman paganism, and in Myatt’s philosophy, Summum Bonum. As Myatt notes in his <i Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, quoting the Roman philosopher Seneca,

“What is injurious to such a [pagan] harmonious balance is what is dishonourable, with τὸ ἀγαθὸν – Summum Bonum – thus understood as honestum, as what is honourable, noble:

summum bonum est quod honestum est; et quod magis admireris: unum bonum est, quod honestum est, cetera falsa et adulterina bona sunt. Seneca, Ad Lucilium Epistulae Morales, LXXI, 4.

“the greatest good is that which is honourable. Also – and you may wonder at this – only that which is honourable is good, with all other ‘goods’ simply false and deceitful.”

For honestum is how hubris can be avoided and balance maintained, and is the essence of καλὸς κἀγαθός which presences the numinous, the divine, in and among mortals.”

This rational pagan understanding is worlds away from the abstractions of the modern nation-state and makes the unproven allegations, and the rumours spread, about Myatt now and over the decades by politically orientated individuals and organizations with an agenda who profess to be “fighting extremism” seem to belong to a medieval world of heretics, hateful preachers, and zealous fanatics inspired by the prevalent Judeo-Christian culture and who seek to track down, to publicly shame, and to accuse their enemies – “witches” and “wizards” – of heresy.

Three Wyrd Sisters
Oxonia
June 2019
v.1.05

{1} For an overview of Myatt’s philosophy refer to The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt. The second edition is available from https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/a-modern-mystic/

{2} ISBN 978-1484854266. A gratis open access pdf version is available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/dwm-rejecting-extremism-v3.pdf

{3} ISBN 978-1484097984. A gratis open access pdf version is available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/religion-and-empathy.pdf

{4} Myatt explains what he means by Enantiodromia in the Enantiodromia and The Reformation of The Individual and The Change of Enantiodromia chapters of his book The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos (ISBN 978-1484096642) which is also available in a gratis open access pdf version at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/numinous-way-v5c-print.pdf

His autobiography Myngath is also available both as a printed book, ISBN 978-1484110744, and in a gratis open access pdf version at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/david-myatt-myngath.pdf{5}

{5} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/an-indebtedness-to-ancient-greek-and-greco-roman-culture/

{6} (i) Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos, ISBN 978-1979599023. A gratis open access pdf version is available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/classical-paganism-v2-print.pdf and (ii) Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, ISBN 978-1982010935. A gratis open access pdf version is available at https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/tua-es-diaboli-ianua.pdf

{7} Tu Es Diaboli Ianua.

{8} Western Paganism And Hermeticism: Myatt And The Renaissance of Western Culture. Available from https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/western-paganism-and-hermeticism/

{9} See, for example the chapter Honour In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos in The Mystic Philosophy Of David Myatt.

{10} The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis. The essay is included in One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.

{11} In regard to the European – the Western – tradition of personal honour see, for example, William Segar, Booke of Honor & Armes, published in 1590. The book is currently – June 2019 – available at https://books.google.com/books?id=LlI_AQAAMAAJ

{12} The translation of fragment 1 is by Myatt who in his Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God provides the Greek text.

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A pdf version of this article is available here:
https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/appreciating-myatt-philosophy-v3.pdf

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The Crusade Against Hate-Speech

David Myatt

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Applying Myatt’s Philosophy To The Real World:
Part Two

The Crusade Against Hate-Speech

The term “hate-speech” is, like the term “racist”, a modern abstraction and is an integral part of the new political crusade “against hate”.

The term “hate-speech” originated in America in the late 1930s and was used in a newspaper article in reference to a speech made by Adolf Hitler. It became current in the 1980s as a mass-noun to refer to speech or written material which is deemed to be inciting hatred or intolerance with especial reference to that directed at a specific ethnicity or to a religious belief or to a sexual preference for someone of the same gender.

In terms of its definition and use what is important is the fact that the speech or written material is assumed or believed by someone, or by some others, to incite hatred or intolerance, and that this assumption or belief by some is projected onto or imposed on others.

For, as with the term “racism” {1} implicit in the abstraction “hate-speech” is a moral judgment, a political belief, by some or by special interest (pressure) groups or by politicians that “hate-speech” is “bad” and has to be challenged, fought, and eradicated. That there is or there should be a dialectical conflict between those who are deemed to have incited hatred or intolerance and those who crusade “against hate”, with the State having a moral duty to manufacture laws which punish not only those deemed to have incited hatred or intolerance but also those who are believed to have, or are judged to have, intended such incitement.

The result is conflict, ideological, political, and practical; the projection of the denotata “hate-speech” onto words spoken and written; demands for punishment of those deemed to be the offenders; and dehumanizing propaganda in the media and elsewhere about those alleged offenders.

In brief, there is one more modern zealous crusade based on abstractions such as “defeating hate and countering hate-speech” with the crusaders assuming they are the righteous ones and represent the moral high ground as zealous crusaders – be they political or religious – always do and always have done.

              In terms of Myatt’s philosophy the error of all this is not only the perpetuation of the separation-of-otherness by means of impersonal abstractions with the inevitable dialectic but also because of the continuing manufacture of modern abstractions which remove us ever further from the insight, the wisdom, the understanding of physis {2}, that he states can only be discovered through personal empathy and via pathei-mathos.

As Myatt wrote in his The Way Of Pathei-Mathos – A Précis,

“A personal pathei-mathos [is] one of the primary means whereby we can come to know the true φύσις (physis) of Being, of beings, and of our own being; a knowing beyond ‘abstractions’, beyond the concealment implicit in manufactured opposites, by ipseity (the separation- of-otherness), and by denotatum.” {3}

In his most recent essay he wrote

“empathy and pathei-mathos lead us away from the abstractions we have constructed and manufactured and which abstractions we often tend to impose, or project, upon other human beings, upon ourselves, often in the belief that such abstractions can aid our understanding of others and of ourselves, with a feature of all abstractions being inclusion and exclusion; that is, certain individuals are considered as belonging to or as defined by a particular category while others are not.” {4}

In The Real World

While all this mention of empathy, pathei-mathos, and ipseity might seem obscurely philosophical it amounts in Myatt’s view to one important thing: that both empathy and pathei-mathos are personal and thus that what they reveal to an individual is only relevant to that individual and cannot be “abstracted out” from the moment or moments of revealing.

In practical terms in the real world this means that such insights cannot form the basis for any political or religious dogma, agenda, ideology, or belief. For such political and religious things are by their nature – their physis – supra-personal, and based on the claim, the assumption, or the necessary belief, that individuals should place such dogma, agenda, ideology, or belief before their own insight and judgment.

According to Myatt’s philosophy the philosophical mistake of millennia, continued with the manufacture of new abstractions such as “racism” and “hate-speech”, is and has been some individuals believing that their own always fallible instinct or their understanding and insight can be or should be generalized and applied to others; that their interpretation or view of the world or of events is the correct one with others opposed to their instinct or interpretation or view needing to be challenged and challenged in ways which more often than not involve practical conflict. Thus have military, political and religious leaders and teachers emerged and, latterly, political parties and ideological movements.

Myatt’s philosophy is a move away from all this. A move toward what he describes as wu-wei, a Taoist term which based on his study of Taoism while living in the Far East signifies

“a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, their φύσις, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, toward the error, the unbalance, that is hubris, an error often manifest in personal arrogance, excessive personal pride, and insolence – that is, a disrespect for the numinous.”

In practice, the knowledge, the understanding, the intuition, the insight that is wu-wei is a knowledge, an understanding, that can be acquired from empathy, πάθει μάθος, and by a knowing of and an appreciation of the numinous. This knowledge and understanding is of wholeness, and that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future.

Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature (the physis) of things/beings /ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.” {5}

For me, this expresses the fundamental and personal insight of paganism both modern and old.

Rachel Stirling
February 2019 ev

{1} qv. Part One, available at https://regardingdavidmyatt.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/myatts-philosophy-in-the-real-world/

{2} Myatt’s use of the term physis is explained in essays such as Towards Understanding Physis, published in 2015.

{3} The essay is included in his 2014 compilation One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings.

{4} Physis And Being: An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos. 2019

{5} The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, ISBN 9781484096642

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