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Article # 280
LOOKING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD-- KRAUSE PHILOSOPHY (REVISITED)

Author: W.Bro.Dr.M.Vamshidhar, W.M. Lodge Concord (No.204)    Posted on: Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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[The Second Paper presented at the Masonic Retreat, Yelagiri was a Power Point Presentation with an extempore amplification of the salient points. The paper formed the nucleus for the lecture and the same is uploaded here.]

 

LOOKING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD-- KRAUSE PHILOSOPHY (REVISITED)

W.Bro.Dr.M.Vamshidhar, W.M. Lodge Concord (No.204)

 

A common debate in Masonic and also in non-Masonic forums that are aware of the Masonic institution centers around the relevance of Freemasonry in the present 21st century.

It is imperative that we address a few questions with candor.

1)  Is freemasonry relevant to the present society?

2)  What and how does freemasonry as an organization contribute to the present society in which it is a part of?

3)  Is freemasonry evolving itself without our conscious knowledge and is addressing the two questions above?

4)  If the answer is YES and it is addressing the first two questions above – albeit unconsciously – then don’t we need to codify and make that knowledge available and work in that direction? If NO, then do we need to change?

These are some of the issues that need serious perusal. If we fail to address these concerns or fail to grow educationally then our order may lose the sheen and respect in future generations.

While I was trying to ponder on these issues, which I considered of serious attention, I came across a book written by Bro. Roscoe Pound, of the law School of Harvard University. The slim book is very instructive though the language is typical of its times. I have found that Bro. Roscoe has dealt with the philosophy of Masonry in a very systematic and concise manner.

The book consists of a series of 5 lectures on the "philosophy of Masonry". Interestingly these are lectures based on answers given to the fundamental questions raised by four eminent Masonic Scholars themselves on Masonic philosophy.

In essence the questions raised were three:

1)  What is the nature and purpose of freemasonry as an institution? For what does it exist? What does it seek to do?

2)  What is the relation of masonry to other human institutions? What is its place in a rational scheme of human activities?

3)  What are the fundamental principles by which masonry is governed in attaining the end?

To give a nutshell summary of Bro.Roscoe pound’s book is quite a challenge. But I can safely say in a reductionist manner they can be seen as two broad systems with four strands of philosophical thought (or schools).

The two broad systems can be categorized as “Intellectual” and “Spiritual”. These two broad systems, may be further divided by the particular Masonic thinkers, as strands (or schools) of philosophical thought using keywords vis-à-vis the emphasis they place.

 

A. Intellectual Systems:

1) Scientific school of William Preston - keyword was knowledge.

2) Rational school of Karl Krause- keyword was Morals.

 

B. Spiritual systems:

3) Metaphysical school of Albert pike- keyword was Symbolism.

4) Religious school of George Oliver- keyword was Tradition.

 

While researching the various systems of Masonic philosophy, I was particularly intrigued or fascinated by the works of Bro. Karl Christian Friedrich Krause as it was dealing with moral philosophy and Freemasonry has the Moral pursuit in its essence.

 

ABOUT THE MAN – Bro. Karl Christian Friedrich Krause

 

Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832) was born near Leipzig, Germany. He was a student of Hegel and Friedrich Schelling. He also taught Arthur Schopenhauer. He was founder of the Law school and wrote many books on Legal philosophy.

He was an initiate of Lodge Archimedes and was also a ‘Redner’ (lecturer of lodge). His twelve lectures were published in a book form with the title ”Higher spiritualization of true symbols of Masonry”. He also tried to release another book titled “ the three oldest professional records of Masonic fraternity”. This book was greatly acknowledged by Dr.Albert Mackey who asserted that it was “one of the most learned that ever issued from Masonic press”. However, it created lot of flutter among the German Masonic order. The very rumor of Krause’s book generated greater agitation among German Masonic authorities, as it was not allowed to have public discussion of the Masonic symbols. This resulted in his expulsion from the Order and the persecution prevented him from attaining the recognition he deserved among the other great thinkers of his day.

Krause in his philosophy of Masonry, classifies that Masonry’s objectives can be seen to be; to progressively achieve Natural, Artificial and Moral order. In his own words, he says:

Natural order is typified by the ceaseless and relentless strife in which all individuals, races, and species are inevitably involved. He uses as an example the struggle of every weed at war with one another for room to grow, but must contend for their existence against the ravages of insects, voracity of grazing animals, and implements of men. Thus, the staple of life, under pure natural conditions, is conflict.

 

If we turn to the artificial stage – for example the conditions of a garden, the contrast is extreme. Even exotic species, planted carefully, so as not to interfere with each other, carefully tended, turn their whole energies to more perfect development, and produce forms and varieties of which their rude, uncultivated originals scarcely convey hint. According to Krause, society and civilization are, like a garden, an artificial order. As in the garden, so in the society, the characteristic feature is elimination. What we eliminate points Krause interestingly is the elimination of the struggle for existence (which exists in the natural order).

 

The next stage Krause says is the most desirable of all and is the Moral order.

 

While the Natural order is the order of nature, he states that the Artificial order is a middle transitional step achieved through religion or state and then what emerges (and we should desire) is the Moral order. To him, religion governs men by supernatural sanctions; the state governs them by the sanctions and force of the organized law and morality governs them by the sanction of public, private and self-reflective analysis. 

 

To Krause, the Masonic order is the most suited institution in cultivating morality worldwide. He felt it could play a crucial role in perfecting humankind.

To put it in perspective and at the risk of repeating myself;

Krause classifies the world and Human beings into three orders based on their degree of selfishness or self-centerdness.

 1) Natural 2) Artificial and 3) Moral order.

Under Natural order all species, races and individuals are self centered and not conscious of others existence. They are inevitably involved in a struggle for existence. Their activities are centered on their desires and their immediate family requirements. This results in mutual conflicts and unhappiness everywhere.

 

He recommended the artificial order to comprise people forming societies, local organizations and creating an artificial environment, which will customize the needs, and further the social progress. Here the society (in manifestations of religion, government, rules and law) takes all the positive steps to resist the natural order. Society ensures that humans learn to adjust and act without hindering others.

 

Krause always believed that society and humanity must mature into Moral order wherein the individual identifies himself with one and all. He is free from all worldly divisions and demarcations; where his love is all embracing and universal. This Krause also realized is a task that can only be accomplished at an individual level through self- realization and self change.

 

He finally conceived that Masonry ought to work in tandem with the social, religious and state organizations to monitor and ensure continuous social progress. In his vision Masonry should have an active part and should shoulder the responsibility of the three pillars of human civilization - Religion, Law and Morals thus, helping in human perfection.

 

It is this, which set me on my own thinking and led me to a few perspectives, which I would like to share with my learned brethren and seek their feedback.

 

While agreeing with Krause’s structure and his goal I ask the questions as to how Masonry is now evolving or should evolve to achieve the lofty ideals as espoused by Krause.

 

As far as Natural order is concerned, a large part of the world is now under some form of government. Hence the “struggle for existence” in a physical harm possibility has been reduced at an individual level. Of course one could very agreeably bring the case of recent wars, which are a reflection of Natural order. But even the staunchest critics would agree that in wars the states or governments are at war and not individuals. Mature market mechanisms that have evolved over the years have also contributed in minimizing a brutal and brutish “struggle for existence”. Essentially today people tend to compete with their specialized skills and not fight in a physical sense.

 

The Artificial order has also matured over the years. Most governments have softened and have become democratic. Of course there are many examples that could be given to repudiate this but this is more the case than not. Additionally judiciary, activism and public debate (specially through television and internet) have contributed in maintaining this order in an ever-evolving manner. This is where Krause saw a lot of contribution that Masonry should make. He envisioned Masonry working with Religious and Legal bodies to shape this order. While that was perfect for that period, my thinking has led me to a few different conclusions that I would like to share.

a)  While religion during that period was a very strong institution which also in many countries also held sway on the government, today it is not so. In most secular countries, religion is seen as a private matter.

b)  Law, which at that time was in formative stages and was made by elected representatives is today mature and is now influenced by various forces including academics and business interest lobbyists. I would like to quickly add that I am not taking a pejorative view of this development.

But these changes essentially bring me to the fundamental question of what Masonry should do? In continuation of Krause’s vision my humble opinion is that Masonry should evolve and steer recognizing these changes. And surprisingly it is already, though in a very unconscious way. Let me state why I feel so;

1)  Masonry is already working with non religious secular bodies and taking up programs and contributing to the Artficial order. Our own Jyotirgamaya programme is one such. I am very sure more learned brothers can cite many more.

2)  When it comes to influencing the government and lobbying too Masons have not been far behind. They have participated in many activities which have led to better street lighting, drainage, water facilities, environmental protection and so on by lobbying with the powers that be.

My only submission is that we are doing all this without our own consciousness on it. Or in a way we have naturally transformed and are moving on new paths but we have still not codified it and set the path for the future generations. In a way we have found the new art but it yet needs to be science.

 

The third stage of Moral order which Krause brings about is very interesting. There is very little in those early days that Krause prescribed for it except hoping that it would naturally evolve. But I ask myself whether we could leverage modern technologies (like mobile apps, youtube videos, self help books, audio recordings etc) and reach individual people to promote this Moral order. What is the Moral order that we want? How do we espouse it? How do we make it interesting? And then how do we deliver it to each and every individual using modern technologies, which are very much within our reach?

 

How do we carry the torch of Masonry into future generations and how do we help them carry it forward?

 

conclusion

Let us all brethren jointly rise to the purpose and make the commitment now for the future that:

1. Masonic fraternity must aim at establishing relevance of Masonic values to the contemporary society.

2. Masons must strive for community visibility and demonstrate the stated goal of improving the moral order in the society influencing individuals, social institutions and thereby affecting the social order.

3. It is imperative for Masons to understand that the concept of Brotherhood, which is based on principled life style, cannot be kept secretively inside an individual. In fact, they must work at grass-root level and impart the masonic values namely, Integrity, Inquiry, Diversity, Community and Vitality to each and every individual of the community

When at individual level each starts practicing those masonic values through a process of self-realization and self-discovery. The mechanism will gradually swells into a critical mass and kick-start a chain reaction that will push a moral change resulting in Universal Moral Values and Universal Brotherhood at Global level.

 

 

 

 

The Author is an upcoming Masonic Scholar. He has presented papers and Power Point Presentations in numerous Lodges, Masonic Seminars and Masonic Retreats.He is a very busy Eye Surgeon. Nevertheless he devotes considerable time for Masonic Research and Education.


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