Quid est Veritas? Quid est Logos? – Logos Rising Book Review

A Review of Logos Rising: The History of Ultimate Reality

Approx Reading Time: 11 Minutes

Margaret Thatcher famously stated that “there is no such thing as society.”  Upon reading the first few chapters of E. Michael Jones’ new book Logos, the History of Ultimate Reality I realized that not only does society exist, but history is a product of society.  Thatcher could only speak as she did because she was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the early 1980s which time the UK had been working under the pagan cosmology of Sir Isaac Newton.  This cosmology was then appropriated and evolved by Adam Smith, who replaced the “Divine Hand of Providence” with the “Invisible hand” of capitalism.  Biological materialism was fleshed out by Charles Darwin.  Long after the American Revolution, the materialism of these three great thinkers hegemonically dominates America’s cultural and intellectual landscape, and the Anglophone world in general.  This extends to most of the rest of the world, too.

It is a sordid irony that the leader of a country which headed a large, capitalistic empire, which marshalled the collective effort of multiple armies and multinational corporations, espoused a philosophy of atomization and individualism.  Note that Thatcher also said that “Europe was created by history, America was created by philosophy”, meaning that America was founded on a “creedal nationalism” rather than an ethnocentric stance.  This line of thinking is extended by todays capitalist conservative class, which promotes America as an idea or a “shining city on a hill.” But Thatcher was referring to the beliefs of the founding fathers of America, mostly Deists and Masons who largely based their government after Britain’s own model, and she thus attempted to reinforce Britain’s declining cultural influence.

Jones’ approach to history in Logos is diametrically opposed to the deracinated neoliberalism Thatcher embodies.  He notes the particular and the details of important philosophers and historical events, and like preparing a Russian doll he adds layers of cultural context, the personal lives of the subjects, the city they lived in, during the epoch of time the events occurred.  By focusing on key details and telling this story in a logical manner, Jones makes a stunning case for his thesis.  But what is Logos and where did the concept come from?  The Greek philosopher Heraclitus discerned that logos is a cosmic process analogous to the reasoning power in humans.  The Stoic Zeno of Citium (3rd century BC) referred to logos as an active rational and spiritual principle that permeated all reality. The term at times can mean “word”, “reason” or “logic”.  However, the translation of the Gospel of John’s usage of “logos” into the english “word” strips bare the metaphysical connotations of this term.  Logos as Jones refers to it is the rational order of the universe, and to act against logos (anti-logos) is to sow or create chaos.

The Hominem is the Argumentum

So as Jones contextualizes the thinkers he discusses, it is fair to discuss the context of Jones himself.  In 2019, he seemed to be on a podcast or YouTube channel daily, appearing at different times with Nick Fuentes, Joe the Boomer, and seemingly every Catholic with a YouTube channel.  Born of Irish and German heritage, Jones grew up in Philadelphia in a time of racial unrest.  In an earlier book, The Slaughter of Cities, Jones highlights the post-WW2 efforts of social engineers to relocate southern blacks into large urban centers such as Chicago, Detroit, New York City, and his hometown of Philadelphia.  Specifically, Catholic communities of recent immigrants, such as Italians, Poles, and Irish were targeted for displacement from ethnic enclaves.  Once ethnic enclaves could escape to the suburbs they could be more easily “assimilated” as “Whites”.  Jones mentions in several interviews that he acknowledges he has the grievances of two of the ethnicities most tortured by the Anglos of Britain and America.

Dr. Jones earned a PhD writing a thesis on Nathaniel Hawthorne, arguing that Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter is an indictment of Puritans and their lack of the sacrament of Confession.  Jones briefly held a position in the English department at Saint Mary’s University, a Catholic women’s college.  He lost his position after a conflict over his staunch pro-life stance (according to his testimony).  He inherited some wealth from his parents and invested it into Fidelity Magazine, currently titled Culture Wars.  Jones set out the template for the modern self-published celebrity with several books as well but views himself as a failed academic.  Excerpts from Jones’ life bookend Logos Rising because he zooms in on the cultural context of the authors of Logos in key points of history and relates this to the absolute reality of history. 

It is important to note here that Jones inserts himself into Logos not out of vanity, but to highlight that the character of the philosopher, the theologian, or the revolutionary matters greatly.  It is crucial in understanding Luther’s theology to know that he “liberated” convents and bartered off nuns as if he were a pimp. It is important to note that his inability to ward off lustful impulses is what triggered Luther’s revolutionary spirit into a rebellious act of anti-Logos.  That Nietzsche was a passionate piano player, enjoyed the ladies of the night, and was something of a failed academic (he retired on a modest pension after ten years) contributed to his nihilism. But these examples are extreme and reflect the antithesis of Logos according to Jones.  For Jones, the particular details of a person’s life fit in within universal forms.

The particulars germane to Jones’ thesis are that Jesus is the Logos, and that unlike the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John is the last gospel written and was written likely in response to St. Paul’s failed attempt to make progress in converting the Athenians to Christianity.  Jones himself asserts, that this hypothesis has not been put forth by anyone before and is the lynchpin of Logos Rising.  After spending a chapter explaining in detail the chronology of Greek metaphysics as it evolved through various iterations, through Hesiod, Thales, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Plato, and Aristotle.  The formulation of the idea of many definitions Logos coincided with the rise of the Greek Polis or city-state.  Jones describes the governmental organization of the early polis, (p.150) as a council of noble families which would advise the king.  Important matters were debated before the council.  The Greeks were a competitive people in athletics, poetry, and even dialogue.

In Chapter five Jones notes the particular failure of Saint Paul to convert the Athenians to Christianity.  This is documented in Acts 17, when some of the Athenians laughed at Paul, as illustrated in Acts 17:

22 But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.

23 For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you:

24 God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25 Neither is he served with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things:

26 And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.

27 That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us:

28 For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring.

29 Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.

30 And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men, that all should every where do penance.

31 Because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in equity, by the man whom he hath appointed; giving faith to all, by raising him up from the dead.

32 And when they had heard of the resurrection of the dead, some indeed mocked, but others said: We will hear thee again concerning this matter.

33 So Paul went out from among them.

Acts 17

Paul later found greater success evangelizing in Ephesus with the sailors and the loose women, but not with the school of Athens.  Although the first Bishop of Athens, Dionysus of Areopagite, was anointed at this time, it was 500 years until the pagan academy was defunded in Athens.  In Chapter 5, Jones proposes that John the Evangelist knew of Paul’s failure and thus “…proposed a metaphysical explanation” of His [Jesus] relations to the beginning of the universe—and, therefore, God—that necessitated the use of the word “logos”. Dr. Jones points out that the Greek word Logos is translated to several pages of words in English.  In his gospel, John the

Evangelist merges the historical Hebrew account with the ontological and the metaphysical language of the Greeks. According to Dr. Jones, it was both Paul’s failure to persuade the philosophers that prompted John to attempt to write from a metaphysical perspective, resulting in the incorporation of Greek metaphysics into Christianity. Note also that it was in the Book of Revelations that Jesus stated “I am the Alpha and the Omega” on three occasions, and so John’s appeal to metaphysics may have been revealed by Christ.

At over 700 pages, and citing around 140 books, Dr. Jones account of Logos crosses boundaries and cultures.  Dr. Jones compares the Greek term Logos with the Chinese term Tao, he investigates the cosmology of the Hindus, and in his chapter on Islam he parses the distinctive cultural aspects of Sunni and Shia Islam.  Here, he makes the analogy between Ockham and al Ghazali, as he notes:

The history of western philosophy has uncanny parallels to the history of Islamic philosophy.  After Aquinas integrated the good in Aristotle and the Greeks into a Scholasticism which came up with a synthesis of faith and reason that respected the claims of both, the West betrayed that hard-won enculturation of Logos and turned from reason to will.

Logos Rising, E. Michael Jones

Whether it was Martin Luther, or Nietzsche, or Sunni Muslims, the temptation of the faithful to is to adhere to sola fide, faith alone, and shun reason.   God then either becomes an “exalted Nietzschean” (p 319) or in the terms of the Sunni a grand caliph.

In both the case of Luther and the Sunni Muslims, the approach to philosophy was to make it forbidden, a temptation perhaps Paul faced as well.  At a time around 11th century Sunni traditionalists were persecuting philosophers, the great scholar and philosopher Averroes had tried to revive Aristotelian metaphysics, which he claimed was obfuscated by the Neoplatonists.  In addition, Averroes introduced a kind of dualism, which he said that Philosophy cannot contradict revelation in Islam because they are just two different methods of reaching the truth, and “truth cannot contradict truth”, as Peter Adamson wrote in Philosophy in the Islamic World 2016.  It was Averroes’ commentaries on Aristotle that percolated through Europe and garnered the interest of Albertus Magnus and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas took these commentaries and, in a sense, grafted Aristotelian metaphysics onto Christian theology in an attempt to abolish the Averroes doctrine of “two truths”.  The Angelic Doctor Aquinas, like John the Evangelist before him, wove Greek metaphysics into his theology.

Jones also discusses Rene Descartes, and along the way introduces to many one of the true heroes of Logos Rising (along with Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus and Werner Heisenberg): Giambattista Vico.  Here again Jones juxtaposes the personal and philosophical lives of these two great thinkers.  Both were pious and observant Catholics, but Descartes slept nearly 12 hours a day.  Descartes famously developed analytical geometry, perhaps his greatest achievement, by watching the trajectory of a fly in his room.  Spending so much time honoring the mental world, which for the most part was sterile (Descartes was not a family man) the radical simplification of the universe into the mind or res cogitans and the outside world res extensa.  The thoughts populating the head of Descartes created a world equal to the physical world.  In contrast, Vico was quite a family man.  Cartesian philosophy had been in vogue and Vico was an academic in Naples that attempted to reconcile Descartes with the study of history. But the radical mind/body split that Descartes proposed became a vehicle for a mechanistic materialism his scholastic critics cautioned against.  For Vico, he reconciled the mind/body split of Descartes by proposing that it is speech (here again “logos”) that unites these two.

While reading this Jones’ discussion of Vico I gained an appreciation for Vico’s life.  He was a faithful Catholic with a large family whose best efforts could not secure for him a chair position at a top school in Italy.  Jones highlights that his political failures, that is, the loss of an academic job prospect, actually freed Vico to become an independent scholar.  As Jones writes, “By denying him the chair of jurisprudence, the university freed him from the onerous burdens of the classroom which would have prevented him from writing La Scienza Nuova (p.387).  Unfortunately, La Scienza Nuova was written in Italian, and was Naples was relatively isolated from the intellectual hubs of France and Germany at the time. It was only when German Romantics Hamann and Herder had discovered Vico’s text and incorporated it into their own works that Vico’s thought became widely known.  In his cyclical idea of history (corsi e ricorsi), Vico posits an age of gods arising from a bestial condition, followed by an age of heroes, which leads to oligarchy.  The age of men follows, which is marked by class conflict, at which point society decays. 

For modern audiences, however, Giambattista Vico remained relatively obscure… for example there are no audiobooks readily available of La Scienza Nuova. The most prominent vector to introduce Vico in the 20th century was James Joyce, who referenced Vico in both Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.  Joyce seemed particularly enamored with Vico’s hypothesis of cyclical history and used the structure of La Scienza Nuova as a model for Finnegan’s WakeFinnegan’s Wake was published first in serial form under the title “Works in Progress” and a young Samuel Beckett acted as Joyce’s assistant.  In 1929, six years into the project, Beckett wrote an essay entitled “Dante, Bruno, Vico, and Joyce” in which he clearly highlights Vico’s influence:

Thus we have the spectacle of a human progression that depends for its movement on individuals, and which at the same time is independent of individuals in virtue of what appears to be a preordained cyclicism.  It follows that History is neither to be considered as a formless structure, due exclusively to the achievements of individual agents nor as possessing reality apart from and independent of them, accomplished behind their backs in spite of them, the work of some superior force, variously known as Fate, Chance, Fortune, God.  Both these views, the materialistic and the transcendental, Vico rejects in favor of the rational.  Individuality is the concretion of universality, and every individual action is at the same time superindividual.

Bruno, Dante, Vico, Joyce, – Beckett’s Essay

Perhaps the personal stories and opinions of Jones, which frame Logos Rising, provide an example of his individual action as also superindividual.  Sorry, Margaret Thatcher but not sorry.  Jones applies Vico’s idea of cyclical history to the idea of Logos.  Within the perpetually unfolding intersection of theology and history, there are cycles of revolution and heresy (the Nestorians, the Arians, Luther, Hegel, the French Revolution) which are met with counter-movements of increasing appeals to logos (i.e. natural law, divine providence), and right now we are facing the skepticism that is the ultimate end of Newtonian atomism.  The cultural hegemony of Anglophone materialism, founded upon the shifting sands of usury, is on the wane.  Jones has said in interviews that the best cultural operating system is Christianity, and it is through Christianity that Europeans were able to spread cultural and even scientific progress through Europe, the Americas, and much of the world.  The shotgun wedding of capitalistic materialism and Christianity has been long overdue for an annulment, and in the final chapters Jones lays out the fault lines of the oncoming conflict.

At night I often lay awake thinking about this intersection of Logos and Chaos.  Outside of a small world of social media experts that already know everything about Greek metaphysics, materialism, German Idealism, dualism, and the Ford Foundation, there are many gaps in the knowledge of many a catechism teacher.  I am imagining generous benefactors donating copies of Logos Rising to their Church library.  I will share a story here.  I was sitting in a class for which the priest explained the importance of a child’s first communion. Usually, just one parent attends, and in my case, I went while my wife stayed home with the children.  I bumped into an old friend who is the mother of one of my child’s classmates. The priest began to ask the question “What makes a chair a chair?  A table can have four legs, is it a chair?”  He goes onto explain this concept of forms and describes the transubstantiation of the Eucharist as a function of Aristotelian metaphysics.  The mother, a cradle Christian and RCIA-educated Catholic convert turns to me and says, “Did he (meaning the priest) just make that up?”  

This illustrates that the education of modern Catholics in philosophy and metaphysics is sorely lacking, which forfeits the entire game to materialists before the battle ensues.  Jones endorses a neo-Thomistic approach to metaphysics, though one tempered with Augustine’s appreciation of history.  The skeptics of Christianity now own the space of metaphysics and philosophy. But Logos Rising could be one tool believers need, supplemented by the contemporary works of Edward Feser (e.g. Five Proofs for the Existence of God) and the great Scholastics to reintroduce proper notions of history, metaphysics and theology as the basis for progress in the social realm.

Faisal Marzipan (the Lebanotarian) is a serial entrepreneur in the biotech field and the founder and director of the Clairmont Integralist Institute, a na’an profit prestigious think tank of great influence & clout with the goal of renewing the third Punic War with CRISPR-generated, armor-plated megafauna. In his spare time, he writes position papers and intellectual book reviews. His hobbies are roasting eggplant and providing grocery deliveries. All inquiries can be directed to his Twitter @CypressRevival.

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