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Genera and praxis
What is the practical benefit to the proletariat of consciousness of the genera? Here is Marx:
Only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself the abstract citizen, and as an individual human being has become a Gattungswesen [generic essence] in his everyday life, in his particular work, and in his particular situation, only when man has recognized and organized his “own powers” as social powers, and, consequently, no longer separates social power from himself in the shape of political power, only then will human emancipation have been accomplished.—On the Jewish question
To achieve emancipation, man must understand himself as a generic essence. To do that, he must see himself in relation to the other generic essences, as one generic essence among the infinity of generic essences.

Intuition and interrelation

Harry Waton takes the same position as Brunner and Spinoza on the primacy of intuition in understanding the other genera, or as Waton calls them, realities:

Intuition perceives individual realities, but not the relations among them. On the other hand, reason perceives the relations among the realities, but it does not perceive the individual realities themselves. Intuition must first perceive the individual realities that reason may afterwards perceive the relations among them. Intuition supplies the substance of knowledge, and reason supplies the form of knowledge. When intuition and reason cooperate, only then is knowledge born.—A true monistic philosophy v. 1, p. 102
Waton is unique in stressing the importance of the interrelationship of the genera. He writes:
The nature of a reality manifests itself only in its interrelation and interaction with other realities.— A true monistic philosophy v. 2, p. 410.
This is an advance toward the scientific application of the core doctrines of Spinoza and Brunner. It serves as the fundamental principle of ecology. Our self-conception can only be formulated as a relation with other forms of being. To the extent that we deny qualities to other beings, we deny them to ourselves. If we deny that other entities think, then we deny that property to ourselves. If we deny that there is anything essential to other entities, then we deny that to ourselves. Perhaps we need an inverted golden rule: What you do unto others, you do unto yourself.

Scientific fantasy and scientific intuition

How do we gain knowledge about the consciousness of other beings? By observing their form and motion. But does observation of the form and motion of other beings lead to knowledge of their consciousness? Observation can never provide certainty that other beings think. Only imagination can do this. Brunner calls it “scientific fantasy”:

We may hold before our eyes glasses that will make our things appear larger or smaller, or coloured-nothing else. But to hold the senses and the nervous system of another animal like glasses before our eyes, in order thereby to achieve a kind of viewing and a thinking of things different from the human—that is unfeasible…. [T]his other imagining, however, is a comparing the representation of our attribute with other attributes for which we entirely lack any manner of representation. A representation is as little valid for other attributes, after all, as for the substance. Hence this comparing is no actual comparing and therefore this imagination is no actual imagination of how but only of that—fairy tales that cannot be told—which nevertheless now occupies, as fantasy, a place in our consciousness.—Science, spirit, superstition
This speculative scientific fantasy proceeds on the basis of analogy between our own thought and that of the other genera:
From analogy we derive the imagery necessary to the concept and thus arm the concept from the armour of our relative Practical Understanding. Completed is the concept of relative infinites, and we can now line up and compare the infinity of our world with the innumerable infinites of the other worlds (innumerable as numbers)—we have the all of infinities.—Science, spirit, superstition
In Brunner’s view, this is the core of Spinoza’s philosophic project. Indeed, Spinoza’s principle of scientific intuition, the highest form of knowledge, is made intelligible as Brunner’s scientific fantasy of the genera from within.

In terms of practical science, what this means is that we first know intuitively that the genera think, and then from their form and motion we derive clues as to how they think.

Geistigen and Volk

The Volk craves spiritual awakening, but it cannot accept it as such. Spirit must mask itself as practicality in order to find its way into the thought of the multitude. Only through science can spirit present itself as practicality. What is meant, then, by science as the outer form of spirit? Let us look again at what Feuerbach says:

Die Wissenschaft ist das Bewußtsein der Gattungen.
[Science is consciousness of the genera.]
What are the genera? Here is Spinoza:
The second [kind of definitions] are those [of things] which do not exist through themselves, but only through the attributes whose modes they are, and through which, as their genus, they must be understood.—Short treatise.
Thus the genera are the means by which the attributes are understood. What are the attributes? They are the forms of infinite and eternal Beingness. Thus science is consciousness of the forms of infinite and eternal Beingness. What is consciousness? Here, again, is Spinoza:
[M]an conceives a human character much more stable than his own, and sees that there is no reason why he should not himself acquire such a character. Thus he is led to seek for means which will bring him to this pitch of perfection, and calls everything which will serve as such means a true good. The chief good is that he should arrive, together with other individuals if possible, at the possession of the aforesaid character. What that character is we shall show in due time, namely, that it is the knowledge of the union existing between the mind and the whole of nature…. Thus it is apparent to every one that I wish to direct all sciences to one end and aim, so that we may attain to the supreme human perfection which we have named; and, therefore, whatsoever in the sciences does not serve to promote our object will have to be rejected as useless.— Improvement of the intellect
Consciousness, then, is knowledge of the union existing between the mind and the whole of nature. Taken all together, then, science is knowledge of the consciousness of the different genera. How can we gain knowledge of the consciousness of the different genera? By observing their form and motion.

In this formulation, all scientific observation has only one goal, namely, to understand the consciousness of the genera. Notice how this inverts the usual scientific formulation wherein the observation of form and motion is posited as the end goal of science, and the question of consciousness is left as an unexplained remainder.

Can the Volk come to see that science is about the consciousness of the genera? Perhaps not. But at the very least engagement on this ground provides the only viable means of bringing the Volk to the life of the spirit.


Martin Rodan has published an article on Matthias Grünewald.

Brunner called Grünewald, “the only significant German painter deserving of the name” (Our Christ, p. 271).

This article by Rodan is certainly magnificent and important in its own right, and deserves a detailed treatment which I plan on providing here. For the moment, however, I will only say how pleased I am about the reference to Proust and his contemplation of Vermeer’s View of Delft. For one thing, I am a great fan of Proust. I recently completed reading his master work, which I started in the summer of 1986. When I mentioned this to Rodan, he told me that he considers Proust’s book a true "geistiges Kunstwerk." I hope that Rodan will publish something on that subject.

I must also say that some of my most cherished memories are from the day I spent with Rodan in Delft itself; and then at the Mauritshuis in Den Haag, where we sat together in contemplation before Vermeer’s masterpiece.

Social Dynamics:

The movement of human consciousness is from the naïveté of the practical understanding (ie. the proletariat) to spiritual awakening that is distorted by scholasticism, then to bourgeois values, then to a self-purifying authentic spirituality and finally a return to the practical understanding buttressed by the preceding movements. This dynamic is expressed schematically as follows:
This schema highlights two problematic movements: the movement from scholastics to the bourgeoisie, and the movement from the Geistigen to the proletariat.

Many scholastics certainly see themselves in opposition to the bourgeoisie. However, the fact remains that the scholastic value system can do nothing but validate the bourgeois value system. Indeed, the bourgeois value system is nothing other than the operationalization of the scholastic value system. Reciprocally, the bourgeoisie justifies its values through scholastics.

In the other case, the Geistigen seem entirely disruptive of the proletariat. The fact remains, however, that the proletariat needs and desires disruption, ie. spiritual awakening. At the same time, the way of life of the proletariat is utterly alien to the Geistigen. However, the Geistigen can freely adopt the external forms of the proletarian life while maintaining their own inner spiritual freedom from external forms. This allows the Geistigen to pass as proletarians, and thereby escape hostile targeting on the part of the Volk. It also allows the Geistigen to fulfill their mission to encourage and direct the spiritual awakening of the proletariat.


Brunner writes:

Feuerbach, with wonderful energy and clarity – continuing and perfecting Hegel’s ideas – has made crucial and indispensable statements on the essence of religion, on the origin of God out of man and on theology as anthropology. Absurd, however, are his materialistic conclusions (as we shall see in our ensuing discussion of the Cogitant in us) and his perverted identification of the consciousness of God with that of the human species.—Our Christ, p. 409.
Brunner here identifies the two main problems with Feuerbach: materialism and anthropocentrism. Marx, as we have seen, also took issue with Feuerbach. However, Marx saw him as not materialist enough and not anthropocentric enough. This is precisely the ground upon which Brunner and Marx exist in contrast to each other. Originating from the same Spinozist/Hegelian/Feuerbachian point, they diverge into opposite directions. How is this to be understood? Marx decided to leave the problem of philosophy unresolved, and advanced into his science of man. While this is of fundamental importance to man, it is incomplete. It leaves completely untouched and unresolved the question of philosophy and Geist. Brunner remedies this, and thus he completes the work of Marx and establishes the basis for a true science of man.

The fact remains, though, that Feuerbach provides the fundamental answer to both philosophy and science:

Die Wissenschaft ist das Bewußtsein der Gattungen..—Das Wesen des Christentums, p. 47.
This simple sentence sums up neatly the whole of science and philosophy. Unfortunately, Feuerbach did not know how to unpack this thought. He forgot that science must comprehend all the genera, not just man. By making the plural genera into the single genus of man, Feuerbach paved the way for Marx to establish the science of man; but this came at the price of forgetting about all the other genera, and stripping the world of spirit. It is only with Brunner that the genera are restored to their rightful place as expressions of thought.

Social dynamics:
Brunner’s doctrine of the Geistigen and the Volk
On the establishment of the Gemeinschaft der Geistigen, Brunner writes:

It would definitely improve things for the spiritual, and who knows but it might prove to be equally a blessing for the multitude, more important than the whole social revolution, its very precondition, the precondition for a new order of humanity. It only brings unhappiness on the multitude, too, when they imitate the spiritual.— Our Christ, p. 340.

In the century since Brunner wrote this, there has been no measurable progress toward the establishment of the Gemeinschaft der Geistigen. Brunner himself did not elaborate a praxis. His role as theorist required that he draw the sharpest possible contrast between the components of his sociology, between Geistigen and Volk. He expected his followers to develop the praxis. Unfortunately, Brunner’s followers have made no progress whatsoever toward establishing such a praxis. Part of the reason for this is that they wanted to make the sharpest possible distinction between Brunner and other thinkers. Isolating his thought, however, makes it impossible to establish relationships, which in the end are the only effective tools of any praxis. What relationships, then, can be established from within Brunner’s doctrine? There is only one relationship in Brunner’s doctrine: the relationship between the Geistigen and the Volk. Can this relationship be made useful in furthering the interests of both groups?

Spinoza puts the establishment of a positive relationship between Geistigen and Volk as his first principle of conduct:

To speak in a manner intelligible to the multitude, and to comply with every general custom that does not hinder the attainment of our purpose. For we can gain from the multitude no small advantages, provided that we strive to accommodate ourselves to its understanding as far as possible: moreover, we shall in this way gain a friendly audience for the reception of the truth.—Improvement of the intellect.

Marx, too, understood the importance of the relationship between Geistigen and Volk:

Die Emanzipation des Deutschen ist die Emanzipation des Menschen. Der Kopf dieser Emanzipation ist die Philosophie, ihr Herz das Proletariat. Die Philosophie kann sich nicht verwirklichen ohne die Aufhebung des Proletariats, das Proletariat kann sich nicht aufheben ohne die Verwirklichung der Philosophie.—Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie.

Or, as Marx interpreter Harry Waton puts it:

As philosophy finds in the proletariat its material weapon, so the proletariat finds in philosophy its spiritual weapon.—A Program for the Jews, an answer to all anti-semites, a program for humanity.

Unfortunately, Marx did not protect his work from being understood as purely materialist, and thus made it vulnerable to distortion. In the end, Marx’s sociology is incomplete precisely because it takes no explicit account of Geist. Waton clearly understood this deficiency in Marx’s thought, and clearly saw the solution in a return to Spinoza:

If Hegel and Marx had adequately comprehended Spinoza's philosophy, they would not fall into the error of assuming there is a causal relation between human consciousness and the material conditions of existence. The human consciousness, that is, his mind, is a mode of the attribute thought; and the body and the material conditions of existence are modes of the attribute extension. And, just as there is no causal relation between the attributes, thought and extension; so there is no causal relation between human consciousness and the body and the material conditions of existence.— A true monistic philosophy v. 2.

What is needed, then, is sociology based on spirit, a spiritualized Marxism. This would involve nothing more than adding Brunner’s spiritual dialectic to Marx’s materialist dialectic. To the antagonism between proletariat and bourgeoisie there is added the antagonism between Geistigen and Volk.

The key to making this work is to distinguish elements of the Volk from each other. The proletariat and the bourgeoisie must remain distinct sub-groups of the Volk. The bourgeoisie constitutes the material leadership of the Volk. In addition, there must be delineated the intellectual leadership of the Volk, which is the entire educational/scholastic apparatus.

It is also important to delineate the internal thought dynamics of each of these groups. The proletariat, in Brunnerian terms, exists in the realm of the practical understanding, its thought rooted in the concrete operations of feeling, knowing and willing. The Geistigen exists in the realm of spiritually modified thought based on the abstract operations of art, philosophy and mysticism (love). Scholastic thought is spiritual thought distorted by materialist egoism, and is based on religion, metaphysics and moralism. The bourgeoisie bases its thought on the absolutization of its materialist egoism, on sensual pleasure, wealth possession and honour/vanity.

The inter-dynamics of these four groups are also important. The proletariat and the bourgeoisie exist in negative relation, and so do the Geistigen and the scholastics. The proletariat is attracted by the Geistigen, but scholasticism distorts and deflects the thought of the proletariat, creating the bourgeoisie. The only way out of the bourgeoisie is through conscious self-discipline under the tutelage of the Geistigen.

The foregoing is summarized in the following schema.

What then, in practical terms, is the praxis of the Geistigen vis-à-vis the proletariat? First is the rejection of all bourgeois and scholastic thought. Second is the active engagement with the proletariat within its own structures, namely, the workplace and the political parties. The idea is to present the proletariat with the Geistigen ideal of a social world of emancipation from coerced labour and emancipation from politics. That the ultimate goal of this Geistigen engagement with the proletariat is to allow the Geistigen to live a life distinct from the proletariat poses no obstacle to the cooperation of these two groups.

All the foregoing points to the possibility of establishing a cooperative relationship between the Geistigen and the multitude. Indeed, the establishment of this cooperation is a necessity. The Geistigen without the multitude has no material power. The multitude without the Geistigen has no spiritual power.

Dutch treat

A Dutch Spinoza blog has been making some outstanding posts recently, covering Kettner and Waton and mentioning Brunner (along with my good friend, Claus Italiaander, who, along with his lovely wife, Edith, was my most gracious and generous host during my stay in Den Haag).

There is also a post on Jonathan Israel saying that he is “tired of talking about Spinoza.” Heh. I guess Mr. Israel needs to think about Spinoza’s emblem (a rose) and motto (Caute!).

With this kind of news and analysis, this blog is becoming one of my favorite internet sites. Thank goodness for automatic translation!

homo spiritus
Let’s look at the question of different species within the genus homo. The important distinctions within the genus homo are not based on differences in bodily form, but rather on differences in thought content. The two important species within genus homo are on the one hand the materialist monists, ie those who understand reality as comprised solely of things in motion; and on the other those who understand that, in Parmenides words, “reality itself is a thinking thing, and the object of its own thinking.” Since time immemorial there has been war between these two species. It is time for that war to end. The war can only end if there is mutual respect. Now, the materialists cannot come to respect anything that is not based on material distinctions. So those who comprise the species that we may call the Geistigen, ie. those of spirit, must learn to make themselves materially distinct, ie. they must make themselves into a community capable of providing for itself and defending itself.

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Evolutionism = consumerism
We are inflicting massive damage to the biosphere because there is something wrong with how we think about the biosphere. The evolutionist mentality encourages us to take a consumerist approach: life and all its forms are seen as cheap, expendable, replaceable.

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Christian bio-socialism

What follows is a post I made on Talk Rational that summarizes my intellectual synthesis.


So, then let us look at the class that we call man, the genus homo. Here is what Feuerbach has to say:

The genus is not an abstraction; it exists in feeling, in the moral sentiment, in the energy of love. It is the genus which infuses love into me. A loving heart is the heart of the genus throbbing in the individual. Thus Christ, as the consciousness of love, is the consciousness of the genus. We are all one in Christ. Christ is the consciousness of our identity. He therefore who loves man for the sake of man, who rises to the love of the genus, to universal love, adequate to the nature of the genus, he is a Christian, is Christ him self. He does what Christ did, what made Christ Christ. Thus, where there arises the consciousness of the genus as a genus, the idea of humanity as a whole, Christ disappears, without, however, his true nature disappearing; for he was the substitute for the consciousness of the genus, the image under which it was made present to the people, and became the law of the popular life.—The essence of Christianity / Feuerbach
Marx took issue with Feuerbach on this point:
Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual.... In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.—Theses on Feuerbach / Marx
Marx’s point was to refute Feuerbach’s idea of individual possession of the Gattungswesen, genus-essence. For Marx, possession of the Gattungswesen requires the participation of the whole of mankind:
Only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself the abstract citizen, and as an individual human being has become a [Gattungswesen] in his everyday life, in his particular work, and in his particular situation, only when man has recognized and organized his “own powers” as social powers, and, consequently, no longer separates social power from himself in the shape of political power, only then will human emancipation have been accomplished. —On The Jewish Question / Marx
Marx is saying that Christianity is realized only through socialism.

Now, having examined genus homo, we need to take a look at the other genera. Here is Marx:

Man is a genus-being [Gattungswesen] in that he not only makes his own genus [Gattung] and also that of all other things the object of his practical and theoretical activity, but—and this is to say the same thing a different way—he relates to himself as the actually living genus [Gattung], that is, he relates to himself as a universal and therefore free being.—Economic-philosophic manuscripts / Marx
What, then does it mean to say that man makes his own genus and that of all other things the object of his practical and theoretical activity? It means that man sees in nature an infinity of distinct generic essences [Gattungswesen], each with its own form of mind and body. As Brunner puts it:
Each genus is thinking its world image, hence, has a world, of a specific kind, according to the specificity of its organization, according to its morphological structure and its care for life, according to the biological center of its interests and relations. An infinite diversity--how divergent from our kind of thinking the Arthropoda with their exoskeleton, chitin coat of mail, which, so far as we know, can experience only few outer stimuli, and, much less yet are experiencing those sessile animals with rigid cellulose sheathing, or the encapsulated endoparasites. However, we might and must assume that each animal possesses its awareness of the world and not simply a consciousness of its own particularity.—“The Attributes.”
For Brunner, each genus is a whole and complete attribute of infinite and eternal Beingness.

What all this amounts to is that the future belongs to Christian bio-socialism. But Christian bio-socialism must confront evolutionism.

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Red Letter

Joel and Shawn introduced me to the Red Letter Christians. According to their website, the goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.

The “Red Letters” are the words spoken by Christ himself, often rubricated in Bible editions.

Red Letter Christians do not want their movement to become an instrument of the partisan Left. They see its role as social and cultural, as opposed to political. It is up to politicians, then, to respond.

I posted on Metafilter on this subject.

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Marx’s work is centered on the concept of Gattungswesen, genus-essence. The importance of this concept grows as we confront the ever more dire consequences of our inadequate approach to biology. In a recent paper, “Twenty-First Century Species-Being,” Nick Dyer-Witheford presents the notion of the Gattungswesen in the context of contemporary ecological and political problems. (Note, however, that Gattungswesen is translated as species-being, rather than as genus-essence. This is a frequently encountered problem with English translations of the term.) Here is how Dyer-Witheford presents the notion:

Species-being can be thought of as the emergent capacity of the human biological collectivity to identify and assemble itself as a species and alter itself--to be a species not only in itself, but for itself and transforming itself, directing its own evolution. “Alienation,” the central problematic of the 1844 Manuscripts, is not an issue of estrangement from a normative, natural condition, but rather of who, or what, controls collective self-transformation. It is the concentration of this control in a sub-section of the species, a clade or class of the species—who then acts as gods (albeit possibly incompetent gods)—to direct the trajectory of the rest.
This is completely in harmony with Brunner’s thought, where the Gemeinschaft der Geistigen functions as a kind of “committee of the gods.”

Dyer-Witheford proposes a bio-communist movement based on the notion of Gattungswesen. However his four-point programme is rather weak sauce: basic income, open source, biotechnology, ecological planning. Still, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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I recently started making wine at home, and I quickly discovered that Vitis is one of most carefully studied genera on the planet. The literature on this life-form is so vast and deep as to be essentially inexhaustible. And now new techniques of DNA analysis are further expanding our knowledge of the grape. Here we find a perfect example of healthy biology: the close examination of intra-generic variation, with no blather about extra-generic evolution.

Incidentally, Brunner says that his favorite wine is Rheinwein, so that is definitely on my production list.

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Brunner writes a great deal about Gattung, genus, which he distinguishes from Art, species. According to Brunner, each genus is the embodiment of a complete attribute of reality, an infinite and eternal expression of absolute Beingness. This way of thinking is the foundation of the Platonic forms and the Biblical Jahve Tsebaot (Beingness of infinite powers). It continues through Spinoza to Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx and, of course, Brunner. In this line of thought, every genus has an essence, Wesen. This genus-essence, Gattungswesen, is the proper scientific unit for biology.

It is important to note that many translators have a pernicious habit of translating Gattung as species. This leads to all manner of confusion. The problem afflicts in particular translations of the aforementioned German thinkers: Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx and Brunner.

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Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to put into practice some of Brunner’s ideas on biology. I have been doing this in pet management, treating my dog and cat as whole and complete modi of the infinite and eternal attributes Dog and Cat. This approach has certainly deepened my appreciation for them as unique and alien life-forms.

I have also applied Brunnerian biology in herbalism. It is very helpful to view each herb as an expression of the whole of Being. This approach was also useful in quitting tobacco. Once I came to see tobacco as a powerful life-form, it became easier to relativize my dependance on it to the point of being able to withdraw from consuming it.

I have also applied Brunnerian biology to my fermentation activity. Starting with home-brewed beer, I have moved into wine, cheese and yogurt. In each case, I understand the process as one of feeding the micro-organisms, and harvesting the products of their metabolic activity. This focus on fermentation as a reciprocal relationship between me and the micro-organisms is tremendously satisfying and produces spectacular results.

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One of the most difficult lines of Brunner’s thought is his rejection of the theory of evolution. I found this position most startling when I first read it. After I became convinced of Brunner’s soundness in every other regard, I decided to explore his approach to biology. I started out by engaging in online debate, where I quickly learned how ferociously its adherents defend the theory of evolution. The attacks on me in these debates helped me do the background work necessary to defend myself. I am now quite confident that Brunner is correct. Typically, though, Brunner did not create a complete alternative biology. He provides only tantalizing clues. This makes for hard but fun and interesting work in fleshing out his ideas.

Outside biology proper is the role that theories of biology play in our culture. It is quite clear that Brunner is correct in maintaining that the theory of evolution is playing the cultural role once played by religion. What interests me is the place of evolutionism in the political Left. In my view, the collapse of Christian socialism, the collapse of the Social Gospel movement and the general anemia of the Left today is due in large measure to the failure to reject the theory of evolution.

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The Social Gospel
At our first meeting, Joel told me about his work on the Social Gospel movement. He gave me a copy of his paper on the subject, and suggested I look at a few books, particularly Christianity And The Social Crisis by Walter Rauschenbusch. In his paper, Joel deals extensively with the father of the Canadian Social Gospel movement, Salem Goldworth Bland, and his book, The New Christianity. I found all this reading most stimulating, and perfectly in harmony with everything in Brunner and Waton. It is very clear to me that the late nineteenth-century through the early twentieth-century was a golden age of cultural visionaries.

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Christian socialist working group

Over the past few years, my main interest has been in actively building what Brunner calls the “Gemeinschaft der Geistigen”, ie. a community for those who seek a spiritual and intellectual alternative to mass materialist culture. Brunner doesn’t provide any practical tips for how to go about this, stating that “no one knows what form the community will take.” I have experimented with a number of different possibilities, but nothing really grew. Now, since my early days at university I have had a strong interest in the fusion of socialism and Christianity. Brunner touches on this subject, but only just: his interests lie elsewhere. Recently, I came across the work of a contemporary of Brunner, Harry Waton. In fact, Brunner made a contribution to a publication of Waton’s Spinoza Institute of America. Waton writes explicitly and insistently on the fusion of socialism with Christianity and Judaism, and thereby provides the key for building the Gemeinschaft der Geistigen: it must be based on a fusion of Christianity and socialism, of Geist and Macht, of genius and Volk. Waton calls on the enlightened among the bourgeoisie to contribute to the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the proletariat, ie. to spread the influence of the Gemeinschaft der Geistigen. This harmonizes with what Brunner says, that in the formative stages of the community, those who are receptive to Geist have a greater role to play than the productive geniuses, because the former are better able to work among and with the Volk.

Reading Waton galvanized me into action. The first thing I did was a google search of Christian and Alberta and NDP (the local socialist party). I found the blog of Joel French. I contacted Joel, and we met for coffee. We hit it off immediately, and agreed to continue working together to build what we are calling the Christian socialist working group.

At the second meeting of the Christian socialist working group, Joel brought along Shawn Birss, the pirate pastor. We had a great discussion, and formulated ambitious plans for the future.

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Whole Lotte love
Renate Stolte-Batta has just published a biography of Lotte, Brunner’s stepdaughter. She reveals that prominent Brunnerians suppressed and ultimately destroyed the “black” diary in which Lotte wrote of her “decades-long sin.”

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Brunner round-up

Brunner was the topic at a recent soirée at The National Library of Israel.


The new book of Brunner’s selected letters was reviewed in Die Zeit. The review was rather disparaging: Brunner is described as a wild-head, pompous, outmoded, worthy of only skeptical curiosity, of interest mostly to Zeitgeist-surfers and esoteric experience-seekers.


The conference “Constantin Brunner in context” (agenda in German) took place last fall at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. The presentations are to be published.

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Viva Figueroa!

In all my years of posting on discussion sites, I have very rarely made any real human contact, let alone found a friend. I must say, though, that to find one friend on the Internet validates the whole experience. My dear Internet friend is Jósean Figueroa, or as he likes to be called, figs.

First and foremost, figs is a wonderful artist, an informed and forward-looking disciple of Dali.

Figs also has a serious inclination toward philosophy. His new blog, Transcendental Naturalism, is a useful tool for helping to restore to prominence the genius of our greatest thinkers within the context of new scientific insights into the self-creative power of nature.

Figs is a very good teacher. In online debate he is scathing, but he is ever ready to help bring anyone to his own level.

Figs gives us an inside look at the New Man: emancipated from the past without rejecting it.

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Mio amore
As my first post in this newly expansionist blog, I would like to pay tribute to my dear wife, Vivian Zenari. Vivian is a professor of English and a gifted writer of prose and poetry. Her blog, Mimetic Capitol, presents practical ideas for writers with a kind of dreamy moodiness that I have always found utterly irresistible. Vivian is an exemplar of those who grow up in a cultural wasteland, but by carefully nurturing themselves, become blooms in the cracks of the pavement.

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A New direction
When I first started this site, Vivian warned me about turning it into a Barrett site rather than a Brunner site. I took that advice to heart. And, while I still agree that this site should not be about me, I do think it needs to grow beyond just talking about Brunner. I see Brunner as a launch pad for my engagement with a constellation of similarly inclined thinkers. And so, for now on, there will be less of Brunner here, but there will be more active networking with the goal of actually bringing about Brunner’s vision of the future.

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