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On Universal Reason

Kelly Kinkade

CXXV

Delivered to the Assembly on Winter Solstice 2015

 

Preview

I have longed for so long to share time and space with you all and eat with you and celebrate with you all – old friends, new friends, and friends I have not had the privilege to meet yet but will do what I can to remedy that situation during our breaks and meals.

O tempora! O mores! The West needs our help as it has several times before. The division, doubt, hedonism, materialism, and wars that plague the West are due to an ignorance of Stoicism. The West is seizing Hedonism as it always has during prolonged prosperity. Our nations are exchanging philosophy and prosperity for Hedonism. The well-trained already hear the “fee-fi-fo-fum,” warning that the West is beginning a life of lawlessness that leads to murder. In Michigan, we say we already hear, “the tattletale sound of the wind in the wires.” I truly tell you, the Stoic School will continue to chaperone, mentor, and champion Western civilization. You deserve to know that the School is strong enough and aggressive enough to fulfill our purpose regarding the West. So, be courageous! Without vice, the School‘s leaders accepted the Sisyphean life for your good – the good of Western civilization. The School is not weary. To the contrary, all around the world our people are more energetic than ever. If all of us practice harmony with Nature, society will always prevail, because Nature prevails always. Universal Reason explains why this is the case. So, let’s discuss Universal Reason in a way most of you never have.

As Fate would dictate, we understand Universal Reason best by understanding God first, which we understand best by understanding Logos, which is knowable only by its animation of Nature and its activation of Providence.

In other words, for most students, the most efficient way to learn about Universal Reason is after understanding the School’s concept of God. This is because the matrix for Universal Reason shows the Four Causes to be the Stoic School’s concept of God. This is a queer reality that students encounter and don’t know what to do with for a while. They only understand it by living it.

Universal Reason is mostly non-logical and is sometimes illogical, although it includes logic as well. Logic is a part of and subservient to Universal Reason, it is not the other way around. In other words, Logic is a subset of Universal Reason; Universal Reason is not a subset of Logic. This is an important distinction. It is the distinction between an antenna transmitting vibrations and a receiver accepting vibrations. It is true that every good antenna can be a good receiver, but the direction of the signal is what applies to our discussion of Universal Reason today. This is also why we must understand the signal sent to check the fidelity of our reception. As I will show you, this means the source of Universal Reason is indispensable in determining if we have Right Reason.

Audi alteram partem

First, let’s consider the other side.

There are six main categories of conceiving God. Our main point today is not considering God; we are discussing Universal Reason, but, since Universal Reason issues from the Stoic concept of God, and other philosophies do not consider Universal reason, we must extrapolate the conclusions of other philosophies regarding Universal Reason by considering their concepts of God and what each concept would indicate about that school of thought’s view of Universal Reason if they consistently took their assumptions of God to their reasonable and practical conclusions regarding Universal Reason issuing from their concept of God. The six main ideas contrary to the School’s concept of God, which lead to wrong reason about Universal Reason are:

Deism – generally, the idea that God set the Cosmos in motion as a watchmaker would make a fine timepiece and leave it in a bureau drawer. God then lets the Cosmos play itself out without interacting with it. In Deism, Universal Reason is a bastard infant that germinated from God and was then abandoned to exposure and was left to revolve mechanically with no interaction from God or man. While interpretations vary, the general implication is that what we call Universal Reason will eventually cause the watch to wind down to an undetermined entropy, which is not Conflagration.

Evangelicalism – generally, the idea that we can have a personal relationship with God, via Christ, akin to being personal friends, or the greatest BFF experience possible. In this belief system, what we call Universal Reason is an ecstatic experience of emotions from a unity with the creating force of the universe. Today, we will not discuss this issue directly; we emphasize, however, that it differs from the School’s concept of God and Universal Reason in that Universal Reason issues from something that is obviously more like a Supreme Judge than a best friend.

Traditional Christianity – also disparagingly called the “Santa Clause” concept of God, the idea here is that God can be accessed via prayer or the Saints, and He responds to suppliants by actively hearing their prayers and granting them miracles anywhere from healing children plagued with cancer to helping the faithful find their keys and leading them to the love of their life, so they may be blessed with a marriage literally made in heaven. While the School does not ignore the so-called miracles, the majority of those holding this view are talking more about what we call Providence. Since Seneca, the School discusses traditional Christianity separately (see Seneca 14-3-3-10, Theophilus 2-1-4-29, Aquinas 2-5-3-11, Scholarchs CI-9-8-3-7, Scholarchs CXXV-4-2-1-1, Annals 35-7-7-12). Let it suffice for now to say this is a special case for the School.

Agnosticism – the idea that God is ultimately unknowable, and possibly even whether God exists or not is unknowable. This means that it is not humanly possible to know accurately when or whether God intervenes in this world. This would mean that Universal Reason would be ultimately unknowable – an idea the School rejects. However, in a little while we will see how this concept was influential to the School at a critical time in history at Athens and separated us from the Epicureans.

Atheism – most modern “atheists” are actually agnostics. Atheism proper is generally understood by the School to mean those who affirmatively teach via methods including or similar to the Scientific Method that there is no God. This would mean Universal Reason is incomprehensible in the sense the School uses the term. True atheists relegate our concept of Universal Reason to something similar to our concept of Nature.

Hindu and Muslim God – generally, these teachings are related closely enough to be joined for our purposes today. They teach that anything is possible for God. This includes suspending the Laws of Nature arbitrarily, being unreasonable, and practicing capricious vice. This view of God(s) erases the entire concept of Universal Reason as the School uses the term. It also eliminates the true idea of Nature and the benefit of science, which we believe has been proven for centuries, by the negative, in societies governed by this concept, because they are scientifically stagnant.

Today we will see why these six concepts are not reality.

A Difference Between Logic and Universal Reason

There is much about God that is counter-intuitive, which is similar to saying there is much about God or Nature that is illogical, meaning that we could not figure it out before observing it (a classical example is the gyroscopic results of spin angular momentum). However, once an Idea - Logos - comes into the Cosmos, it is governed by Universal Reason, which is the only way for us to consider it in the first place. Right Reason is the main thing for us. It is the only way for us to harmonize with Universal Reason. Our ability to reason is our way to understand, harmonize with, and marshal the very forces of Nature in a way that we can utilize to our benefit and to the benefit of our kith and kin.

Universal Reason is the key to Socrates’ question, “What is Justice.” A specific Piety is Socrates’ Justice. It recognizes something higher than man’s laws. It recognizes Natural law. Otherwise, man’s law is the highest, but that is only legality and, at best, a subset of Justice, which is fully contained in Universal Reason.

Empathy is an illusion. We cannot feel another’s experience, as is shown in the Cave when the remaining prisoners cannot comprehend what the former prisoner experienced. God is Plato’s Good Sun. God is the Good. Universal Reason is what led the former prisoner out of the Cave and made everything sensible to him. Universal Reason is the drawing force to the Good and the pushing force back to those still in the Cave. Regarding the illusion of empathy, the remaining prisoners could not make sense of what the returning free man experienced, because they did not meet and were not imbued with Universal Reason; they had not encountered the Good. This is Justice, because Nature’s preventing us from having empathy makes every individual find the Good himself. We can point the way; in fact, as Plato said, it is the most natural thing in the world for us to go back into the Cave and share with our kith or kin the Good we experience. However, Nature is strict in making each individual take the Good Journey themselves. As Plato liked to say, “You can lead a jackass to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Analysis and Calculations

We understand Universal Reason best by understanding God first, as is seen clearly when we put Universal Reason into its first table:

Causes of Universal Reason

Final               Gd

Formal            Gd

Material          Gd

Efficient          Gd

Well, what do you do with that? This table gives new students fits. It seems like a dead end. This is where Universal Reason plays the coquette. Every instructor makes sure he has no commitments the entire day when he walks with the students for this dialogue. It is almost always the longest dialogue in the School’s system.

The conspicuous observation is that everything in the table goes to God. Therefore, the table is meaningless unless we first understand the Stoic concept of God. Even then, the intrigue only becomes more alluring, as I will prove.

God yields this first table:

Causes of God

            Modern Notation      Ancient Notation

Final               0                                  Α

Formal            ∞                                 Ω

Material          ∞                                 Ω

Efficient          0                                  Α

One conspicuous observation is how the first century Christians adopted our notation to identify God. The “Alpha and Omega” resonates in Christian ears, although it is a Stoic concept. They adopted several Stoic concepts and practices because of our ideas’ irrefutability and Paul’s familiarity with Seneca the Younger in particular and the School in general. But that is another walk altogether.

[Note bene: using our words does not mean the borrowers use our ideas. In this case, the New Testament use of Alpha and Omega is not identical to ours. Much was divided by Christianity into a Stoic element that is entrusted with “the sword” due to their virtue, and is the natural governor of bodies of citizens, and the rest was transformed into a spiritual element that is entrusted with ministering to the souls of citizens due to the need of citizens for mentoring; the Annals as well as the New Testament itself affirm this, e.g. a letter to the Romans (Stoics) chapter 13 and Seneca’s letter #3].

Our modern notation is more understandable to the average person today than is the Greek alphabet, just as modern numerals are more efficient for computations than were Roman numerals. In this case, the Final Cause is zero (modern) or alpha (ancient), meaning God has no beginning and is Beginning in itself or the beginning of all things. The formal cause is infinity (modern) or omega (ancient), meaning God is End in itself or the end of all things. The Material Cause is infinity, meaning God is Substance in itself or the substance of all things. The Efficient Cause is zero, meaning God is uncreated and is Creation in itself or is the creation process of all things.

This is a good start for a fascinating discussion about the nature of God, but we are here this morning to talk about Universal Reason. As you know and have seen before, I love to take questions and answer them well past midnight, but we all strive for moderation in all things, and today is particularly meaningful to the School. I want to hear our other speakers as much as you do, and I want to allow as much time as possible for your questions. So, I will moderately keep on point regarding Universal Reason rather than God. Besides, we can all smell the roasting lamb, the olive oil, the garlic, the wine, the honey, and the fruits and nuts from the kitchen making lunch. So, let’s stay focused. Keeping in mind the little bit we highlighted about God from the zero and infinity table, we can look at the Universal Reason table here with a brighter light.

Table 2 for Universal Reason

(It is made by running the Causes of Universal Reason vertically down the left-most column in the bold type. Since all the Causes of Universal Reason are the Causes of God, which means all the Causes of Universal Reason are the Four Causes of God, each horizontal row is identical to the others, as I represent with modern notation.)

Causes of     Final Cause  Formal Cause           Material Cause         Efficient Cause

Universal      of God            of God                        of God                        of God

Reason

 

Final Cause            0                      ∞                                 ∞                     0         

Formal Cause        0                      ∞                                 ∞                     0                                 

Material Cause       0                      ∞                                 ∞                     0                                 

Efficient Cause      0                      ∞                                 ∞                     0         

As you can see on the screen, this is the most useful form for our purposes today, because it demonstrates the peculiar Shrinking Phenomenon. This is what happens whenever we take a table of anything to its end. Everything “reverts” to one thing ultimately, which is what we imperfectly call Vibrations. The 0 and ∞ represent the greatest amplitude and frequency of Vibration. This table is a symbolic representation of Conflagration, the shadow of which is plasma.

This is an Identity Matrix in Standard Form. Each horizontal row is identical and symmetrical (or palindromic), every vertical column is palindromic, and there are exactly two symbols in the matrix. As a result:

  • Both diagonals are palindromic and identical to each horizontal row.
  • The Final and Efficient columns are all one and the same thing.
  • The Formal and Material columns are all one and the same thing.
  • Since 0 (A) = 0 (A), and ∞ (Ω) = ∞ (Ω), the four columns collapse to two columns.
  • Since columns collapse to the left (toward the Final Cause) in Standard Form, we now have:

                                   Final/Efficient           Formal/Material       

Causes of

Universal                  Causes                      Causes

Reason                     of God                        of God

 

Final Cause                         0                      ∞        

Formal Cause                     0                      ∞

Material Cause                    0                     ∞

Efficient Cause                   0                     ∞

 

Again, 0 (A) = 0 (A), and ∞ (Ω) = ∞ (Ω).

Palindromic rows collapse up (toward the Final Cause) in Standard Form, so we have:

Unit Identity Matrix for Universal Reason       Final/Efficient           Formal/Material       

(UnIMUR)                                                                  Causes                      Causes

                                                                                    of God                        of God

 

Final/Formal/Material/Efficient Causes                       0                      ∞

Of Universal Reason

The first time I worked these calculations to this point, it brought tears to my eyes. Its virginity, elegance, and beauty were overwhelming. I heard Socrates’ words, “The Good is so beautiful that if men could see it, they would instantly fall in love with it.” I apologize; as you can see, it still can overwhelm a person.

Observations Regarding UnIMUR

Nevertheless, we must go beyond a state of courting this virginal beauty. So, what does analysis of this table reveal to us? First, I will mention two observations. Then, we will consider their implications.

  1. All Causes of Universal Reason come from what we mean by the School’s symbols of 0 and ∞.
  2. In contrast to Universal Reason, God has two Causes solely from 0 and two Causes solely from ∞.

Implications of Analysis and Calculations

  • God and Universal Reason are not one and the same.
  • They are inextricably connected.
  • All Four Causes of Universal Reason have a duality; for every one Cause, there is both a 0 and an ∞, therefore Universal Reason is not Singularity.
  • However, God has two Causes, which are 0 and two Causes which are ∞. Therefore, God is Singularity. Zero and infinity collapse into unity when we fulfill the orders of operations, because time disappears.

This indicates Universal Reason comes from what we call God; God does not come from Universal Reason.

For variety, let’s go backwards. We normally consider the Causes of a thing in the order of Final, Formal, Material, and then Efficient. For now, let’s go with the saying that variety is the spice of life.

First let’s consider the last – the Efficient Cause of Universal Reason. We see clearly it has little to do with Logic. It incorporates logic, but only to a degree or two.

Second, let’s consider the Material Cause of Universal Reason. It is the Good. This is Plato’s Sun that hurts all eyes coming out of the Cave. It is the thinking of the Cosmic body. Stoics look at the totality of the Cosmos and see that it is all, “very good.”

Third, what about the Formal Cause of Universal Reason? It is not logic. Universal Reason explains all things Logos, not only logic. All forms in the Cosmos are Reasonable, but it is debatable whether or not there are any that are logical. Yet they all have to do with Logos as we discuss many places. Universal Reason is something that prevents most non-Stoics from becoming fully Stoic, because Universal Reason means man’s futility in life is brought about by Universal Reason. Our futility and the irony of life are not logical, but they are reasonable to the initiated. This is where the evil in the world is reasonable, as is the wickedness, yet Virtue is shown to be not only the solution but the cause as well.

Finally, let’s consider the first. What is the Final Cause of Universal Reason? It can be changeable. We see that Descartes’ “evil demon” could logically be true. We could be in a Matrix-like universe. The UnIMUR is why the School dismisses a vital part of Descartes’ logic on formal grounds, although his conclusions are basically correct, because logic is not helpful in all matters – logic is as helpful as a scorned lover, as we discussed yesterday. Descartes does not prove that everything could not be an illusion, but the School proved that God is the Good and not an evil demon for centuries before Descartes. Nevertheless, Descartes is a Hero, duly recognized by the School and memorialized every year for his praiseworthy work.

In a practical sense, this means that dismissing the existence of God because of wickedness and suffering in the world is unreasonable and only makes sense to those who do not know the nature of Universal Reason and God and the Causes of each. The nature of God is best discussed by analysis of its four Causes, and then we can find the Nature of Universal Reason, because Universal Reason issues from God. That means dismissing the existence of God also dismisses the existence of Universal Reason as the School uses the term. They are inextricably linked.

Universal Reason, Logos, Fate, Nature, Providence, and God

God includes the non-yielding parts of the Universe. This includes what we mean here in Michigan when we quote the poet, “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours.” Providence is benevolent in that it provides for our needs. Other parts of Nature are violent. Animals eat one another alive. Men are wicked to one another. Unyielding Fate is a tyrant that does not change and cannot be mastered and strictly dominates us without mercy or spite. All of these names issue from the Stoic God via Universal Reason. Even the Stoic concept of God cannot be understood except by that which issues from it – Universal Reason. Nature and Providence are where it is in our control to better ourselves or to hurt ourselves. Logos and Fate are beyond our control.

This is why some accuse the School of minimizing logic. Even though we have contributed to the study of logic, we see that there is very little logic in practical life. The main area of logic in the Cosmos is mathematics. However, most of the Cosmos is non-logical or illogical. Even geometric mathematics is an imagination that has a barrier between it and the real world. For example, no geometrical measurements are exactly the length they are meant to be on a blueprint, especially the diagonal of a room that is one unit by one unit, let alone i, the imaginary number. All we have to do is measure them with a finer instrument to see there is a difference from the pure idea from math and the reality. If we refine our building tools, the difference might seem to disappear. However, if we further refine our measuring tools, we see a difference once again. So, pure logic always evades us. This is one reality that gives us pause to not over-emphasize the role logic plays in finding truth. Engineers memorialize this reality in their declarations of “tolerances,” that are acceptable for devices to work in the real world.

Another reality that puts logic in its place, so to speak, is shown best in The Syllogism. The conclusion, “Socrates is mortal,” only comes from two assumptions called premises. Every form of syllogistic logic depends on commonly accepted assumptions, which are ultimately unprovable by the same logical system of syllogisms. We encounter a similar limitation in other kinds of logic. In other words, you cannot prove that logic is true by logic. So, logic is not cut out for finding truth, but Reason is.

The final reality for our purposes here is the obvious superabundance of non-logic in the Cosmos generally and life in particular. Some of this is captured in Chaos Theory, although much of Chaos Theory often ends up describing a deeper order rather than chaotic confusion. But, we need not go further than ourselves to see this non-logic phenomenon. For example, why does one person prefer yoghurt, and another prefers ice cream? Why does a person fall in love, especially when it is unrequited? Why is the acceleration of gravity 32 feet per second per second and not 31 or 33? Why do people often do what they know will harm them? This last question has long consumed the West’s intellectual life. It has, however, been answered and analytically proven by the Stoic School, as we constantly demonstrate. All of these things are true, but it is a stretch to call them logical. If we study the matter more and more, we find a farther and farther estrangement between logic and Reason.

Again, we have held many discussions dedicated to the role of logic in the Cosmos, but maybe these few examples are enough for our purposes here. After all, we are discussing Universal Reason not logic – (and the lamb and puddings are smelling amazing). So, we all want to get to the point as expeditiously as possible. Remembering a little bit about the nature of logic and its role in us is helpful to those who would grasp its difference from Universal Reason. You see, Universal Reason includes logic, but it goes much further, it has a much more majestic sway, as we say. We speak of all things being reasonable and part of Universal Reason. But, we do not speak of all things being logical. We consider this as self-evident. We are not dogmatic about all things as to which are illogical in contrast to which things simply have a deeper logic left for us to discover. However, there are those few things that we can prove are illogical. Most things, however, are not proven with certainty as being in one category or the other. The UnIMUR shows this incorporation of logic and illogic when it displays each of the Four Causes of Universal Reason as having two causes (0 and ∞) that are extremes. The UniMUR is also the base from which many end up personifying God. To man, illogic and acting on passions seem to be part of what it means to be a person. Therefore, the thinking goes, God seems to be a person. Today, we will consider God by a primary source text that is extant and external from the School and is dated to the first century School in Athens. We will consider it to see what it illuminates about the School’s distinction between God and Universal Reason as far back as the first century.

An Unknown God – Seneca, Paul, and Socrates

One of the great wonders to Stoics is why so-called philosophers often demonstrate Bible-phobia. We read Plato even if we do not practice the Socratic method. We read Aristotle even if we are not Aristotelian. We read Marx even if we are not Marxist. We read everything in between even if we find it wanting. But, when it comes to the Bible, there is a palpable aversion. Yet, in one volume we find many stunning ancient transcripts that detail dialogues of everyday people at critical times in Western history.

For example, we can read an important insight into first century Stoicism that bears on our topic today. I will discuss one potent example – an ancient eye-witness account of a day in the life of the ancient Stoic School in Athens from a man who was a physician by learning and a historian by love. The witness recorded the event and sent it to his friend in a letter about what was going on philosophically in the first century. Partly due to this letter, the recipient converted to Stoicism and became the 14th Scholarch. Two letters from this historian, both of which were to the same future Stoic and Scholarch are included in the New Testament, and that seems to be the reason university Academics reject the insight the letters give into everyday life in a Stoic culture. But, the School must admit that we have our own records of this event, and the letters from the historian are in agreement with our texts in the Annals. Let me demonstrate.

Trust me, considering this will verify how long the School has seen Universal Reason correctly. Sit back right now, and you will experience an eye-witness report – a primary source – of a day in the life of the Stoic School in the first century. This primary source has been preserved by the School and in the New Testament because it documents so many things that changed history forever and determined probably 90% of what you do day to day today. The School knew this was Universal Reason in action and how this would impact the West for centuries. That is why Theophilus and other Stoics preserved the transcript for us – many times at the cost of the lives of those who translated or protected the texts throughout the following 20 centuries until they were entrusted to us. This is also one reason the leaders of the School today must also take the oath of passing on these texts at the cost of their lives, if necessary. Note well, the oath of the officials of the School is not to give their lives in protecting these texts, it is to pass them on, even if it costs them their lives. The oath is to pass them on and the oath has always been to do that. If an official of the School dies and does not pass on the texts, he violates his oath and succumbs to vice. If he passes on the texts, whether he lives or sacrifices his life, he virtuously keeps his oath.

Let me set the stage for you that led up to a fascinating speech at the School in the first century that I am about to share with you. You don’t need access to the Annals to figure out what happened from the death of Socrates until the first century. The followers of Socrates were stunned. We were part of that group, because the School continued to follow the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. But, at the time of Socrates’ execution, the School was not formally organized. All followers of the Socratic method were mixed together. Nevertheless, it is barely possible to overestimate the trauma that struck the Western intellectual world by the “trial” and death of Socrates and his Stoic conduct throughout the whole affair. It nearly broke the West. But, Socrates knew what was going on and made sure it would not end what he began, as his payment of a cock verifies. His trial is a seminar in itself. Today, let’s just focus on three points as they relate to Universal Reason.

1) Socrates was convicted on the grounds of impiety or denying the gods. This was because he used “the God” every time he was serious. This was clearly heard by Athenian ears as a denial of polytheism. Yet, he still did not claim to know “the God” that must be virtuous.

2) Socrates testified that he was seeking this God. Finding “the God” that was virtuous would reveal what justice always is and never is not.

3) The disciples of Socrates could not deny what Socrates taught. They also did not want the Master’s teachings to fade away. After the execution of Socrates, the School eventually erected an altar very near to where Socrates was sentenced to death for impiety. The symbolism of this was not obvious to the Athenians at the time. For the next several centuries, Stoics would visit the monument to contemplate Socrates’ new teachings revealed during his trial. The altar was inscribed with, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”

The Second Chapter of Socrates’ Trial

One day in the first century, Seneca was teaching the Stoics at the School in Athens, so the Epicureans joined them to discuss each’s teachings as to how they applied practically to the news of the day. A Christian missionary approached the School. In a very short speech, the missionary showed he understood our teaching on Universal Reason and God. He came to the very place Socrates was condemned to death to speak to those continuing the teachings of Socrates.

In the New Testament, the speech is recorded in the book of Acts, chapter 17. In the Annals of the School, the nearly identical speech, although much more detailed in its inclusion of the question-and-answer portion of the event, is recorded in the texts of Theophilus, book 3. Here are the highlights of the speech that pertain to our discussion:

A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to new ideas.)

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! (1) I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

“The (2) God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though (3) he is not far from any one of us. (4) For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, (5) We are his offspring.’

“Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when (6) he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

(7) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

(1)       By this time, centuries after the death of Socrates, it was common knowledge what the altar meant to the Stoics. The School had suffered several generations of disillusionment after the death of Socrates. Where was Universal Reason to be found in what happened? However, the School was the only school that kept teaching that Justice would ultimately prevail, while admitting ignorance on how this would occur.

Remember, for Stoics, piety or being religious in the classical sense, is akin to being Just. The Stoic School was known for finishing the mission of Socrates to find what Justice always is and never is not. The School has always known this involves something rational that is above human laws. This is a clear, albeit oblique, reference to our concept of Universal Reason.

(2)       This is unmistakably language used by the School at the time. Seen as impiety by the Athenians and somewhat misunderstood by the Christians, the School made a pronounced distinction between “dwelling” in a material building and “eminent immanence in all matter.”

Nevertheless, the School then and the School today does its best to avoid getting hung up on words. Rather, the School then appreciated that the speaker understood the School’s teaching enough to bring something new to the painted porch.

The ‘giving everybody life and breath and everything else’ continues to be language of the School describing the Stoic concept of Providence.

(3)       This is a reference to the School’s teaching of Eminent Immanence. If something is a part of your being, or if you are a part of its being, it cannot be far from you.

(4)       Here is a quote from the Cretan philosopher Epemenides. The speaker demonstrated an understanding of our concept of Logos, God, Providence, and Universal Reason. Moving, living, and our being, are not logical, we are not God, we can do things that harm ourselves in contrast with Providence; yet, all is part of our concept of Universal Reason, which the speaker clearly understood. The School was intrigued by the speaker’s intimate knowledge of nuances in our teachings.

(5)       Here is a quote from the famous Phaenomena of our poet Aratus of Cilicia. However, it is noteworthy that the speaker uses the plural of poet when he says, “as some of your own poets have said …” This might be the only non-School source that verifies our records that many of our revered poets have used, not only this concept, but this specific special phrase. It has been a uniquely Stoic expression and has been an integral part of our Rites for 23 centuries. The teaching that, “we are his offspring,” prepares the audience for a few sharp points from the speaker regarding Universal Reason. “His offspring” would hit Stoic ears as a reference to our concept of God, which the speaker needed to get back into focus before making a Stoically coherent argument about Universal Reason, since Universal Reason issues from Socrates’ unknown God.

(6)       This is the speaker’s direct address to the School’s thoughts about the death of Socrates. In a quite Stoic way, the speaker reminds the School of one of our tenants, namely, “The wheels of Justice turn slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.” The point the speaker is trying to persuade the School to accept is that Christianity explains Reason/Justice ultimately will triumph. However, the speaker obviously knows that, whether the School accepts his argument or not, the School cannot ignore its own teachings of Justice, specifically that Time is not considered by Universal Reason, because it transcends time and has no bearing whatsoever on what is Virtue.

This was an incredibly insightful and charitable approach to the Stoic School. At the location of Socrates’ mock trial, the speaker emphasized Justice. We knew that Justice would prevail, and the speaker showed remarkable insight into our thinking. We discuss this thoroughly in many places. Stoics could accept the new teaching of the speaker, but, even if they did not, the speaker was offering something that would strengthen the School in its continued existence as a bastion of Virtue. The School memorializes this moment with solemnity as an example of Universal Reason realized in matter. In other words, the speaker was offering a new idea to the School, but he was complementing the School by saying Justice would prevail in the end, regardless of whether or not we accepted his new ideas.

(7)       Here the speaker showed an extraordinary intimacy with Stoic teaching and sensibilities regarding Universal Reason. This was the most sensational and shocking part of the entire speech to us, even according to Theophilus’ Annals.

This is why:

It was well known at the time that the School taught about the Conflagration Cycle. But, here the speaker was very clever. His cleverness was not missed by Seneca, however. The speaker used language almost identical to our language regarding the Conflagration. However, the speaker slipped in this idea of a resurrection (Gr. and Lt. for “Rise again”). This was a brilliant approach for the speaker in addressing the School. The School leaders recognized this immediately.

What was going on here is this:

The Stoic School has long taught the Conflagration. For our purposes, the Conflagration is the cycle of rebirth of the Cosmos. This is a major tenant of our teaching on Universal Reason. That is because it is consistent, but not logical; and it provides for our needs, but it does not provide for all our wants. So, here the speaker claims that a person had been resurrected in the recent past, while the School had totally missed any observation or awareness of such a dramatic event. In other words, the speaker claimed that those at the Areopagus had lived through what the School says is caused by Conflagration, but none of the audience had even noticed it. What a ridiculous circumstance.

The very idea that a Conflagration could go unnoticed was absurd. So where did the speaker go wrong? He used Stoic teaching accurately up until his novel conclusion that a Conflagration had happened on a personal level a few years ago. This made the School dig back into Universal Reason. The speaker had developed a logical argument. But, the School knew that did not prove it was part of Truth. But, the Stoics there in Athens had never heard this line of thinking before, so the task was to analyze where Reason was violated, if anywhere.

According to the letter to Theophilus as well as the New Testament there were three reactions to the speech over the next few weeks. 1) Some Stoics converted to Christianity; 2) some Stoics rejected the speech outright; 3) some Stoics listened to the speaker again at a later time to analyze his ideas more rigorously.

Now, let’s come back to the 21st Century. The point for us today is that the Stoic School was so well known that speakers could visit the School completely unannounced and argue very intimately about Stoic teachings. This happened regularly. Can you imagine a philosophy professor today tolerating that kind of disruption, let alone inviting it? Think about a philosophy professor lecturing you about Nietzsche and in comes a Christian missionary to talk about the Christian perspective on Nietzsche. What would you do if you were the professor? What would you do as a student in the class? Wouldn’t you wish the missionary got out of the room, so you could learn what you needed to know for the final exam? That is how far the West is today from being a Stoic culture, as it has been for most of its history. The documents of Theophilus and the New Testament are just snapshots of history that show us a very different West than the one we live in today, and we claim it shows a better West that is recorded so it might find its way back to being itself, the process of which the Stoic School has overseen several times over the centuries. Never give up or minimize the power of our people tapping into the very forces of Nature. Universal Reason will not go away. Other ideas will, but Reason will not. It survives even Conflagration.

A major part of Stoic epistemology is experience. Since we were not there in Athens to experience this speech, the next best thing is to delve into an eyewitness account of what was said and done. When we do this regarding this event at the Areopagus, we see two very important things regarding Universal Reason.

First, note well the close association of the Stoics and Epicureans. We broke from the Cynics because of their contempt for civic conventions. Then, for a long time the School was close to the Epicurean school because of their sincerity and moderation. However, the School parted ways with the Epicureans for two reasons:

1) They devolved into what is more accurately called Hedonism.

2) They were unwilling or unable to reason rightly about Universal Reason. After a few centuries, the School decided the Epicureans would not or could not entertain the difference between Logic and Universal Reason. This is a fatal impediment in a school of philosophy, because it commits the school to Sophistry. The Sophists used logic and not reasonableness. Any school can use Sophistry to “prove” anything under the Sun. But, “Reason has only one spouse.”

Second, as Theophilus and Seneca record, the School recognized that Christianity was a genuinely new contribution to Western civilization. It was a novel idea that would influence Western philosophy. This was because it provided an intriguing answer to a question from the very beginning of Western civilization, namely, “Why do we do what we know will harm us.” The missionary speaking to the School at Athens claimed it was ignorance. Well, the School always taught this, but the School meant ignorance having to do with human events. The School immediately recognized this missionary was talking about ignorance of things having to do with “the Unknown God.” That was astounding to us, because we had never considered this over the centuries. It did not contradict anything Socrates said. It did not contradict Plato or Aristotle or Zeno, et al.

After that speech at the Areopagus, the School developed a more explicit definition of Universal Reason. We saw these points about the thing:

1)         Universal Reason includes injustice and suffering for man.

2)         Universal Reason is mostly non-logical.

3)         Universal Reason is from the Good, because the injustice, the suffering, and the non-logical are the only way man can grow certain kinds of strength or virtue.

4)         Universal Reason survives even Conflagration, because it is what makes the Cosmos new after the Conflagration, therefore, if we harmonize with Universal Reason, we survive the Conflagration also.

Summary

The key to the excellent life is living in harmony with Nature. This requires right reason, which is harmony with Universal Reason. This lets us see the world and ourselves by the light of Plato’s Good Sun, or lets us see the world naturally. Everyone else sees the world in shadows, and it is a land where dead souls walk to and fro. We are in the zombie apocalypse now.

As orchestras demonstrate, fine harmony requires practice, tuning, a conductor, and live performance. Likewise, harmony with Nature requires extensive pre-meditation and post-meditation, the spiritual Rites, a Conductor (Right Reason), and suffering. As we say, “Fire refines gold as adversity refines strong men.”

The path of Happiness is harmony with Nature. Harmony only makes sense in coordination with others. Therefore, the path of Happiness includes our recognition of our cellular identity in the Cosmic body. The Stoic life is the most excellent life whether there is a heaven or not and whether the Conflagration comes in our lifetime or not.

God, Universal Reason, Providence, Logos, Fate, and Nature are Stoic terms of art; they have different meanings. However, the differences are important only in technical discussions. Nearly all the time, you can safely use them interchangeably.

This is enough about Universal Reason. Let me address your comments and questions.

Sources:           Seneca 6-14-2-9, Annals-6-6-7-12, BibleNIV-Acts-17-18-34, CIX-2-2-4-2, CXX-1-9-32, Scholarchs-29-10-2-1, Theophilus-3-14-6-15, Aesop-4-7-5-2, Annals-7-15-9-34, Stockdale-1-1-2-1.