August 11, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
Op-ed by Padraig Joseph McGrath – “The Irish Crimean”
Irenaeus’ influence on political and intellectual history is vastly under-emphasized.
That being said, some of the ways that the Irenaean theodicy has influenced latter-day secular thought have been downright toxic.
The Irenaean theodicy attempts to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent god. Most interpretations of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and that experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development….. Hegel’s philosophy of history could be read as a re-rendering of the Irenaean theodicy, especially as Hegel himself is quite explicit about the role of “providence” in his system, and he explicitly calls his theory a theodicy in the closing pages of “The Philosophy of History.”
But what happens once the Irenaean theodicy becomes fully secularized, or re-configured in some post-religious form?
For example, ask yourself this question: For the Jacobins, was state-terror merely a necessary strategy to achieve certain political ends, or was the “republic of virtue” which Robespierre sought achievable only through the experience of terror?
That is to say, was the experience of terror itself deemed a necessary precursor to “enlightenment?”
It is clear that the Jacobins’ ultimate goals went deeper than mere politics – ultimately, they aimed for the enlightenment and moral improvement of the people. But the key question is, was state-terror deemed merely justifiable to indirectly achieve this, or was the process of enlightenment itself metaphysically constituted by the experience of terror?
In short, did the concept of “enlightenment” operate as a theodicy, not merely justifying state-terror, but actually mandating it on some metaphysical level?
Moving on to a contemporary example:
99% of us understand perfectly well that the ultimate goal of “exporting democracy” and “humanitarian bombing” is cheap resource-extraction.
But let’s set that completely obvious point aside for the moment.
Let’s imagine some advocate of humanitarian bombing who is so sublimely naive that they don’t understand its ultimate goal to be cheap resource-extraction.
In that case,…. Are “exporting democracy” and “human rights” theodicies? Are these things sought for their own sake, or as necessary precursors to some imagined moral or spiritual improvement?
In that case, is “humanitarian bombing” deemed, not only justifiable to achieve tangible political change, but deemed necessary on some metaphysical level?
In some dark recess of the liberal universalist psyche, is the infliction of suffering on the global south’s poor thought of as not only justifiable, but a necessary metaphysical precursor to their enlightenment?
“HOW DARE YOU not share in and embody my enlightenment,” said the Upper East Side drag-queen, “You must be cleansed by fire!”
Padraig McGrath was born in the Republic of Ireland in 1973. He has lived in Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic, and has published journalism and commentary on social and philosophical issues for a number of media for 15 years. He moved to Simferopol, Crimea in December 2013, 3 months before Crimea’s re-unification with Russia, and still lives there.