The Cult of Gnon
“Nature or Nature’s God” is an expression of special excellence, extracted (with subtle modification) from America’s Declaration of Independence. For Steves, it is something of a mantra, because it enables important things to be said in contexts where, otherwise, an interminable argument would first need to be concluded. Primarily, and strategically, it permits a consensual acceptance of Natural Law, unobstructed by theological controversy. Agreement that Reality Rules need not be delayed until religious difference is resolved (and avoidance of delay, positively apprehended, is propulsion).
“Nature or Nature’s God” is not a statement, but a name, internally divided by tolerated uncertainty. It has the singularity of a proper name, whilst parenthesizing a suspended decision (Pyrrhonian epoche, of which much more in a future post). It designates rigidly, but obscurely, because it points into epistemological darkness — naming a Reality that not only ‘has’, but epitomizes identity, whilst nevertheless, for ‘the sake of argument’, eluding categorical identification. Patient in the face (or facelessness) of who or what it is, ‘we’ emerge from a pact, with one basic term: a preliminary decision is not to be demanded. It thus synthesizes a select language community, fused by the unknown.
If The Arbiter of the Universe merits abbreviation (“TAofU”), Nature or Nature’s God has a much greater case. A propeller escapes awkwardness, and singularity compacts its invocation. NoNG, Nong, No — surely, no. These terms tilt into NoNGod and precipitate a decision. The ‘God of Nature or (perhaps simply) Nature’ is Gnon, whose Name is the abyss of unknowing (epoche), necessarily tolerated in the acceptance of Reality.
Gnon is no less than reality, whatever else is believed. Whatever is suspended now, without delay, is Gnon. Whatever cannot be decided yet, even as reality happens, is Gnon. If there is a God, Gnon nicknames him. If not, Gnon designates whatever the ‘not’ is. Gnon is the Vast Abrupt, and the crossing. Gnon is the Great Propeller.
Spinozistic Deus sive Natura is a decision (of equivalence), so it does not describe Gnon. Gnon’s interior ‘or’ is not equation, but suspension. It tells us nothing about God or Nature, but only that Reality Rules.
Heidegger comes close to glimpsing Gnon, by noting that ‘God’ is not a philosophically satisfactory response to the Question of Being. Since Heidegger’s principal legacy is the acknowledgment that we don’t yet know how to formulate the Question of Being, this insight achieves limited penetration. What it captures, however, is the philosophical affinity of Gnon, whose yawn is a space of thought beyond faith and infidelity. Neither God nor Un-God adds fundamental ontological information, unless from out of the occulted depths of Gnon.
The Dark Enlightenment isn’t yet greatly preoccupied with fundamental ontological arcana (although it will be eventually). Beyond radical realism, its communion in the dread rites of Gnon is bound to two leading themes: cognitive non-coercion, and the structure of history. These themes are mutually repulsive, precisely because they are so intimately twisted together. Intellectual freedom has been the torch of secular enlightenment, whilst divine providence has organized the perspective of tradition. It is scarcely possible to entertain either without tacitly commenting on the other, and in profundity, they cannot be reconciled. If the mind is free, there can be no destiny. If history has a plan, cognitive independence is illusory. No solution is even imaginable … except in Gnon.
[I need to take a quick break in order to sacrifice this goat … feel free to carry on chanting without me]
ADDED: Connected thoughts from Anomaly UK.