Wednesday, October 13, 2010

(hopefully more time for the Platonic geometer tomorrow)

What is the spiritual destiny of a state? This might be the proper way to ask in terms of a phenomenology of spirit how to understand the distinction between state and church. The individual gives himself over to more than one kind of common destiny, so that there are destinies which are not ultimate in the way of the destiny of the church. However, the destiny of an individual fits in with the destiny of the church, but the destiny of a state seems not to fit in so nicely. My American upbringing (read “the manifestation of objective spirit which forms in part (which 'part?') the material for my own self-offering destiny,” if you like) makes it horrible for me to think that a nation might simply have no destiny of its own, might be only a collective tool of individuals — unless such a lack were the determinate self-negation of national destiny itself. On the other hand, the state seems to become something monstrous as soon as it lays claim to destiny. Our own history has involved a gradual abdication from a sense of “manifest destiny” learned perhaps only through the wretched enactments of that perceived destiny. On the other hand, this abdication seems to be nothing peculiar to our history — more of a destiny of the whole Western world. Nevertheless, I find it is beyond me to deny that America is something. If anyone has any idea what, please let me know.