Because I am gearing up to be a spokesperson for the essential building project, I want to discuss what I mean when I use the word “essential.”
The essential part of the essential building project is the principles, and the shapes of the structures. The building materials and techniques are accidental.
But just because the accidental is not the essential does not mean you should not pay attention to it, or that it cannot be important, at times more critical than the essential theoretical grounding. Yet we can only make the accidental unquestionably good by relating it to the essential, we can only maximize the accidental by putting it into use as forms of the essential.
A favorite thinker of mine, a fearless explorer in search of the necessary, Friedrich Nietzsche was looking for new values. For him the value judgment system of good and bad, or good and evil, had no more value in developing and progressing and evolving humanity, it no longer functioned to drive humanity toward its greatest fulfillment. Nietzsche very forcefully and poetically suggested an alternative value judgment system, one beyond good and evil: strength and weakness. That is the value dichotomy Nietzsche turned to as an alternative, which he considered the prized value system of a nobility which went back in time beyond Christianity, whose values were largely foreign or unconscious to his own time.
Having studied Nietzsche closely for three or four years with my entire life on the line, I can confidently depart from him here, and suggest my own alternative value judgment system, one also beyond good and evil. For me, it is not so much that good and evil have lost all possible meaning as a value system functioning in the interest of life, as it was for Nietzsche. I believe that the good and God exist, and I believe that evil and the demonic are very real forces and factors in the world.
However, the truth of the absolute good is beyond good and evil, pleasant and unpleasant, like and dislike, positive and negative, pleasure and disgust, right and wrong. The truth of God is a transcendent unity beyond all that. That being the case, it is also the case that in order to describe the functioning of the supernatural world we must use value dichotomies, clean and unclean, pure and impure, good and evil, attractive or repulsive, acceptable and unacceptable, exalted and lowly. All these are just as valid as one another, because they, along with all value dichotomies, are derivative qualities polarized by their descent from an absolutely transcendent unity. God is always absolute unity, prior to all dualities.
Both of those truths being the case – the ultimate truth is beyond any value judgment dichotomy, and to discuss it at all we must posit value judgment dichotomies – it is then our task to choose the most expedient means of expression, to identify the best words at the time in order to convey the ideal activity of the absolute sovereign of existence, who is beyond all dichotomy and argument.
And so, with no further to do, I will say my value judgment dichotomy, as a tablet I place this new value above your head: that which is essential is the good and most necessary, and ought to be prioritized, and that which is not essential is the accidental, and it ought not be prioritized. You do not need to go so far as to say the accidental is bad, or evil, or impute any negative to it, such as impurity, dirtiness, stupidity, sinfulness, uselessness. There is nothing inherently wrong about it, it is simply not the essential. It is not the opposite of the essential, but rather the absence of the essential.
Capitalism does not bother with ethical categories at all. The only value judgment dichotomy for it is profitable and unprofitable. And indeed, a superficial person could go their entire life without struggling with ethical categories, seeing all the world and human behavior through the value judgment dichotomy of the fortunate and unfortunate. But the profound reality is that ethical categories are necessary to understanding the human phenomenon, even though such categories can easily be used as instruments of discrimination and oppression. You might even say they lend themselves to being co-opted by agents of power for use as tools of discrimination, and to aiding the repressive measures which serve whatever is useful to the forces in power at the time.
This led me to wonder, What ethical value judgment system has not been co-opted by political systems, vulgar understanding, factions of sovereign wealth, and imprecise philosophical categories? What terms may still have usefulness today in elucidating the heart of ethical systems, what expedient means of expression do we have, to symbolize the truth which is beyond good and evil?
And I say that which is essential is the good, whole, necessary, universal, determinative and telos in one. That which is accidental is the dependent, the sudden, and the fixed. These adjectives define that which is existentially accidental in nature.
When you understand the absolute, you understand priority. You realize how the absolute is prior to your consciousness, but also, within that realization, the certainty is nested which assures you that the absolute is prior to all human consciousness, and all the natural world which we are conscious of too. By understanding the sense of what is prior to the foundation of your world, you can start to have a sense of what commands priority throughout all kingdoms of life, and in so doing develop a relationship with Wisdom, through faith in the priority of the absolute. What you can piece together from this is that what has priority has been given it by the absolute good, which is prior to all things. But what does it mean to be invested with priority?
What does it mean to be invested with priority? – That which may or may not be temporally prior, but which has the quality of priority – that is the essential. Something which may or may not be prior to something else, but nonetheless does not have the quality of priorness, of priority – that is the accidental.
But who gives the quality of priority, and how is it given? Or where does it come from? Is the who of God the same as the where of God? With God the where is the when, and the who is the what. God is from the place prior to all things, and who God is is realized by recognizing the function of instilling the quality of priority in all that which is essential, and the being who is that toward which the accidental strives, and which it ought to be in the service of.
It is better to serve a divine will than to rule a dying one. It is better to work for the essential without pay or any hope of reward than it is to get all the benefits of the accidental without lifting a finger. Capitalism is accidental, not essential.
The essential endures; the accidental may or may not endure, and yet when it does endure, it is because it has related itself to the essential, which, in being prior and ultimate priority, can also carry through any accidental thing to lastingness.