The charm of J.N. Findlay’s Gifford lectures lies primarily in his cheerful refusal to bow to the philosophical trends of his day. He identifies the unwarranted prephilosophical decisions made by analytic philosophy and phenomenological existentialism (respectively), gently disarms them, and goes on to develop his bizarre temporalized Neoplatonism. His frequent references to the minuscule size of his audience underscores his lack of concern for the fact that there is simply no place for his work in the cultural fabric of his day (it is easy to imagine that he himself was only able to pursue his line of reasoning because, living in South Africa, he was insulated from certain social pressures that sear core convictions into the Euro-American mind and heart - the main one of course being the rejection of theism).
Findlay’s rationalist mysticism is a perfect example of genuine Ark Work. It is engaged with the ideas and needs of modernity and western history, but it is able to fly under the radar of capitalist self-amplification by refusing to go along with social pressures to be trendy and ‘radical’. Analytic philosophy and continental philosophy are both forms of ideological mystification precisely because of their obedience to an injunction to critique and reject metaphysics (which is counterintuitive, since traditionally we think of metaphysics as amounting to ideological mystification par excellence ) . In both cases their is a white-knuckled shaming of the notion that theoretical and practical reason are rooted in a (currently) incomprehensible divine being. They both reject the one true god, and, leaving nothing in his place, allow capital to take his throne. Without knowing why they are driven to develop more and more sophisticated computational logics or present ethical visions that are more and more nihilist, transgressive and sophistic (analytic and continental, respectively) they unknowingly provide the tactics for a ‘strategy’ which is catapulting human civilization towards annihilation (ie Varizenic/capitalist sheer auto-expansion, rending ontic/normative space as such to pieces)
Findlay’s vision of a gradual but ineluctable dematerialization and unification of human culture, which he believes he can arrive at using nothing more than a mix of dialectical and phenomenological analysis, is quite beautiful, along with his notion of a divine ‘zeal’ that animates the progress of civilization. There is something so gentle in his effort to demonstrate the existence and nature of the invisible, divine world using patient reasoning alone. It is limited, however, by its refusal to acknowledge non-being, the material unconscious, the vama marg and the potential value of all things pertaining to sex, violence and transgression. Findlay would have us sit back and watch while the wheels of history guide us towards a horizon of love and joy - he does not realize that agency, experimentation and risk are required (made obvious by the contempt for Kierkegaard and the ‘monstrosity’ of Christ which he expresses in The Transcendence of the Cave). Findlay’s theism is to be lauded, but it is still too philosophical, too gentrified - it is not Christian enough.