I decided to call the new site “The Andalusian Peafowl” after my literary “heroine” (for lack of a better word) Flannery O’Connor. During her long and painful battle with lupus, she lived almost exclusively on her mother’s farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. The farm was called, with a touch of European pretention, Andalusia. When Flannery finished writing in the morning, she would sometimes spend her afternoon caring for her favorite birds the peafowl. Anyway, since I called the site “The Andalusian Peafowl”, I found it only fitting that I call the philosophy behind it “Andalusianism”.
Andalusianism is, simply, a philosophy dealing with the nature of man’s soul. Most specifically the intellect and the will (sometimes called the mind and the heart, respectively). The Catholic Church teaches that the first parents, Adam and Eve, were called out of nature into perfection. Beautifully symbolized in the Garden of Eden story, Adam and Eve enjoyed original justice, an “inner harmony of the human person, harmony between man and woman, and finally harmony between the first couple and all creation” (CCC #376)*. Original justice is so called because it resulted perfection in the human person, and thus man acted according to right order, or justice.
According to right order, the passions and inklings of the will are subject to the reasoning power of the intellect. Therefore, “feelings” and desires are regulated according to perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom. To give an example of this to which we can all relate, I turn to Father Sebastian Walshe. He gives the example of waking up in the morning. Many of us are tired in the morning and are loth to rise out of bed. If our natures obeyed original justice, rising in the morning would be no problem. Our intellects would tell us that we need to get up, and the will would obey accordingly. As it is, our will desires more time in bed, even though our mind knows better.
Mankind lost original justice through original sin, the sin of Adam as recorded in the book of Genesis. Because of this first act of disobedience to God, man now lives in competition with God. “The control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered” (CCC #400), and the will now becomes subject to its own fickle whims and fancies. Man no longer behaves according to right order, but according to chaos and rebellion. It is a terrible struggle to overcome this tendency (called “concupiscence”). Enter Andalusianism.
Andalusianism is basically a philosophy that stresses behavior according to right order, according to the reasoning power of the intellect. Feelings and desires change, but truth does not. From this seminal fact, the rest of Andalusian philosophy flows. I chose, rather piously I might add, ten Andalusian principles which summarize Andalusianism quite nicely. The first is:
The intellect must rule over and guide the will
This is quite obvious of course since we’ve already discussed it. It simply means that the mind must dictate actions. What feels good, or what an individual desires at any given moment is irrelevant. A person must always act according to what they can know with their mind. The antithesis to this axiom is hedonism, which stresses the preeminence of the will. It is a do what feels good philosophy, rather than a do what is right philosophy.
The intellect should never be stifled or limited in any way
Again, this seems fairly obvious on the surface. Ignorance is not bliss could be said. An individual should always seek greater knowledge and wisdom in all they do. The stifling of education is to be shunned, as is the banning of media (be it film, books, the internet) for moral or religious purposes. Though done for sincere motives, censorship is never to be tolerated. See Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” for more on this matter.
Truth exists and is knowable
This is to ward off the relativists, who say truth depends on the situation and cannot be known definitively, and the existentialists who claim truth does not exist. The Lord said, “Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice,” (St. John 18: 37). Thomas Aquinas defined truth as “that which corresponds to reality”. Thus the axiom above means it is possible to know to an unknown extent the nature of reality.
The intellect is tuned to know the truth
The purpose of the mind is discover and know the nature of reality. It learns more about the truth through investigation, discovery, logical reasoning, and revelation. The intellect is designed to sift through propositions and decide which correspond to reality. Reiterating Father Sebastian’s analogy, the intellect is made to know that lying in bed all day is not a preferable state of being.
All ways of knowing are equal
This harkens back to St. Thomas Aquinas, who taught that all methods of discerning the truth are of the same value. Thus, science is not a better mode of discovery than philosophy. And similarly, mathematics is not of more value than logical reasoning. They all mutually complement and give credence to each other. Using the transitive property, it could also be said that there is only one way of knowing. It is man who divides discovery into various categories and sub-genres, when in reality there is only one means of discovering the truth.
The will is tuned to act according to the truth
The purpose of the will is to behave according to what the intellect has grasped of the truth. It is designed to behave in a way that corresponds to nature, morality, and reality.
Human will is damaged and fallible
Because of the fall, and because of concupiscence, human will has superseded its rightful place as subject to the intellect. Many people now live lives according to how they feel or what they want. The mind takes the back seat, and the heart governs life. Mankind has a tendency to act irrationally, or without thinking or discerning the consequences of an action. This is a huge problem in the world.
Beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder
Flannery O’Connor hinted at this truth in one of her essays. “Anything that comes out of the South,” she said rather excoriatingly, “is going to be called grotesque [. . .] unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” She could find beauty in the most horrible acts of violence. She saw it as an objective reality rather than as a subjective experience. Examined from this angle, beauty is anything which points beyond itself, ultimately to God and his free gift of grace. For this reason, the brutal murder of a hoity-toity grandmother can be called beautiful because it caused her to respond to God’s grace. Similarly, all suffering in the world can be seen as part of God’s plan of redemption. On the other side of the coin, the most pleasing piece of music can be truly hideous if it does not point beyond itself to supernatural reality. Many believe beauty is simply a matter of taste. We hold that it is not.
As it is, the will cannot act according to the truth
Because of concupiscence, the will requires ample amounts of grace to act according to the intellect and ultimately the truth. Original sin mars our ability to behave properly according to original justice.
The will must be subdued and repressed in order to achieve its purpose
Though at first a little mystifying, this final principle is built upon the same foundation as physical exercise. One exercises to achieve right physical fitness. One practices mortification in order to achieve right order in action. For this reason we must repress our desires for things of the world. For fame, money, power, food. It is training in order to put the will back into its rightful place as subject to the intellect. This is impossible without grace.
*CCC – Catechism of the Catholic Church