Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Freedom, Truth, and Objectivity (5.28.08)

The prerogative of the human state is objectivity, the essential content of which is the Absolute. There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence; there is no freedom without objectivity of the will; and there is no nobility without objectivity of the soul. --Frithjof Schuon

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Forget the blather about a “Creator.” Could nonsense such as this ever pass muster in a contemporary leftist university, where the only self-evident truth is that there is no truth, self-evident or otherwise?

This imaginary “Creator” supposedly endowed us with “liberty,” which is to say free will. But every leftist knows that we don’t really have free will. Rather, we are victims of our environment and our genes. For example, poverty causes crime. Unless you happen to be rich. Then greed causes crime. Unless you haven’t committed any crime. Then it’s just a crime to be rich. But don’t be confused--there’s no objective right or wrong anyway.

Multiculturalism is the doctrine that race, not values, determines consciousness. For example, there is “black consciousness.” Perhaps you didn’t know this, but blacks are born leftists. However, occasionally you will see a conservative black person such as Thomas Sowell or Ken Blackwell or Shelby Steele. One is tempted to say that these deviants represent birth defects, but they are probably just trying to imitate “white consciousness.” Whites are inherently racist, so in a weird way, these self-hating black conservatives are also racist.

What about white liberals, you ask? Since liberals represent all that is good and decent, how have these white people transcended their own inherent racism? And since it is fair for liberals to attack black conservatives for “acting white,” is it fair for conservatives to attack liberal caucasians for “acting black?” Try it some time.

“There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence.” “There is no freedom without objectivity of the will.” Freedom is a paradoxical thing, for if it simply means that we are subjectively free to do or believe whatever we want, what good is it? It’s just another, more subtle form of tyranny, the tyranny of unconstrained, ultimately meaningless choice on the horizontal plane.

The classical (not contemporary) liberal draws a sharp distinction between freedom and liberty. Freedom is the mere absence of constraint, the right to do whatever one wishes. It implies no verticality at all. Liberty, on the other hand, is constrained by Truth, both as it applies to knowledge and our will to act.

In fact, what good is academic freedom unless it is actually converging upon objective truth? One of the problems in the Arab world is that they have neither freedom nor liberty. They are obliged to believe lies--lies about Israel, lies about America, lies about women, lies about Christianity. But it is possible to have the opposite problem, the obligatory belief that truth doesn’t exist, so that one person’s belief is no higher or better than another’s. Moral and intellectual relativism are not just forms of tyranny, they are a manifestation of hell, for hell is any place where one cannot appeal to Truth.

Ironically, the person who believes that truth exists and that he is free to discover it is far more constrained than the person who either doesn’t believe in objective truth or who lives in tyranny. For example, if you read memri.org, you will see that in the Arab world you are absolutely free to believe the most vicious and vile lies about Jews. Likewise, on American college campuses, you are free to believe the most brazen lies about American history, or about President Bush, about religion, or about capitalism.

But the person who believes in truth doesn’t have that kind of freedom. For he is only free to believe what is true, and what kind of freedom is that? In other words, such a person is not free to believe that 2+2=5, or that men and women are identical, or that children do just as well with two fathers as a father and mother, or that objective truth doesn’t exist, or that natural selection alone explains human consciousness, or that high taxes are a good way to reduce poverty, or that we have no transcendent moral obligations. And yet, the truth supposedly "sets you free.” How does that work?

It seems that objective truth is the key to true freedom, both as it pertains to knowledge and to action. Objectivity is often thought of as empirical knowledge of material reality, but this is a misleadingly narrow definition. Rather, according to Schuon, objectivity must be understood not as “knowledge that is limited to a purely empirical recording of data received from outside, but a perfect adequation of the knowing subject to the known object.”

In other words, objectivity has to do with aligning our understanding with what it is we wish to know, whether it is a rock, a mathematical equation, or God. “An intelligence or a knowledge is ‘objective' when it is capable of grasping the object as it is and not as it may be deformed by the subject.” It is “conformity to the nature of things,” independent of interference by individual tendencies or tastes.

As such, objectivity is even a kind of “ego death” in the face of the reality of the object. But there is a payoff, in that “the subjective compensation of this extinction is the nobility of character,” a vertical nobility that is our true human birthright. Moreover, in our logoistic cosmos, the transcendent Object (Brahman, the Father) is ultimately the immanent Subject (Atman, the Son). Therefore, in the final analysis, objectivity is none other than the ultimate Truth “in which the subject and the object coincide, and in which the essential takes precedence over the accidental--or in which the Principle takes precedence over its manifestation--either by extinguishing it, or by reintegrating it.”

Thus, through objectivity, we actually become who we are, undistorted by the accidents and contingencies of existence. "Without objectivity and transcendence there cannot be man, there is only the human animal; to find man, one must aspire to God.”

In short, because we have the capacity for objectivity, we partake of the Absolute, which is absolute freedom. We are not really free to know God. It is only God who is free to know himself through us. Deny this truth, and we live in another absolute--the false absolute of arbitrary and unlimited horizontal freedom. The purpose of freedom is to enable us to choose what we already are in the depths of our being. This is that famous point whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere: there is only this one center, and you are it.

19 Comments:

Blogger Lisa said...

P.S. Don't forget to laugh!

http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/KF/2006/05/laughing_yogi.mpeg

Good thing Bob has a picture of himself on the blog or one could naturally be confused!

5/23/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael A. said...

Objectivity menas the ability to see unblinded by any preconceptions, including one's own.

The far Left cannot attain objectivity; their preconceptions DEFINE them. Their preconceptions are parasitic, are in fact all they have to hold on to.

Building an identity out of subjective opinions is easy, but the finished construction is dangerously flimsy - one nice strong gust of Truth, and everything you know about yourself comes toppling to the ground. I can't imagine anything more frightening than losing your identity - especially if there's a little narcissism mixed into it.

5/23/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>It is only God who is free to know himself through us. Deny this truth, and we live in another absolute--the false absolute of arbitrary and unlimited horizontal freedom. It is only God who is free to know himself through us. Deny this truth, and we live in another absolute--the false absolute of arbitrary and unlimited horizontal freedom. <<

To live in the false freedom, I think, is to consign one's self to a permanent restlessness. If heaven is absolute stillness, then hell must be absolute unease, restlessness. I imagine that's why those who live in the false freedom would, whether they are conscious of it or not, be most susceptible to those who seem to promise the "stillness" of surety, purpose, meaning. This would be a horizontal "false stillness", of course, but it would have its allure - and because it only promises but never attains stillness, the allure could engender an ever-growing fanaticism.

I was recently reading about Iran's Ahmadinejad and his messianic appeal to young people, not only in Iran but around the world. And then in yesterday's LGF, a note about musician Moby's seeming enthrallment with Ahmadinejad. I don't want to get too loopy here in saying that American kids would en messe fall for a false messiah. I can see how 3rd World youth in general could do so - 3rd World life has to be the essential "restlessness", just as 1920's Germany, with its social/economic turmoil, must have made for an essential restlessness.

On the other hand - even though American youth enjoy unprecedented prosperity and stability, the sick ethos of the false freedom as purveyed by the leftist elite has to create in them a terrible sense of restlessness. I've never really thought it possible before, but I now have to think that maybe that restlessness could compel many to place their faith in a false messiah, somebody who can still that restlessness by offering sense of purpose and meaning.

5/23/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Will,

"I've never really thought it possible before, but I now have to think that maybe that restlessness could compel many to place their faith in a false messiah, somebody who can still that restlessness by offering sense of purpose and meaning."

Hey, consider that Bill Clinton, basically a used car salesman with nothing to sell but himself, was able to capture the hearts of The Left (and the center), despite the fact that he sold them out on nearly every issue.

Now, only 10 years later, you've got a left deluded by a boogieman, filled will repressed fear of a changing world, devoid of any historical perspective, drowning in a disjointed, nihilistic world view.

These are people desperate for a 'God.' I'd contend that a people mired in spiritual poverty are even more susceptible to a demigod then those in economic poverty.

Think of the recent 'heroes' of The Left. Howard Dean, Cindy Sheehan. Talk about desperation.

Not to mention their admiration for all sorts of horrible dictators around the world.

Now imagine someone with the slightest bit of charisma and intelligence, a Bill Clinton type, but this time with some sort of agenda.

I recall, back in '99, listening to some conservative radio host raving on about how Clinton might use a Y2K disaster as an excuse to suspend elections and hold on to power (sound familiar?). Of course, at the time, I was thinking, 'C'mon, lets not get ridiculous...'

But here's the rub, had he wanted to Clinton could have done it. Just like, if he wanted to, he could have gotten away with murder.

Those who loathed - and feared - Clinton did so because they saw his potential power and presumed the worst. The same was true of Reagan and, to an extent, Bush. I don't fear any of these men because I trusted them, but they all had/have something that could be dangerous in the wrong hands or with the wrong intentions. Paranoia, in this sense, seems to be a deficiency of faith. Technically, our leaders are actually capable of most of the crazy schemes the paranoid comes up with; the reason we find these ravings absurd has more to do with a logical assessment of motives or simply a certain amount of faith in our own intuition about people.

The only reason I found the suggestion absurd was because I never thought Clinton was evil. Shady, phony, shameless, narcissistic - sure; but, at heart, the guy wasn't necessarily evil.

However, imagine if the full package (charisma, cunning and evil) were to show up here, or in Europe, to find a nice, fertile wasteland of the spiritually bereft...well, hey, I think you guys know your prophecy better then I do.

5/23/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Kahn - it really depends on the Zeitgeist, I think, and a batch of crosswinds that don't occur that often. Maybe the time is near, I dunno. If it is, then the 3rd World would be particularly susceptible, what with the cross-pollination of anti-Americanism, Hugo Chaves dealing with Arab jihadists, etc. From Africa to Malaysia to South American, they're united against us; all they need is one leader to give full voice to their hopes and hatreds.

As for Americans - well, we've always had leaders, politicians that had strong, even fanatical, populist appeal, eg, Huey Long, Reagan, Clinton. But that's a little different from falling for a truly charismatic figure. I think *charisma* is generally misunderstood. In the real sense of the word, it's supposed to apply to extremely rare individuals like Christ and, yes, Hitler. It just doesn't come along all that often and when it does, there is obviously some mystical component involved, whether for good or evil. Even some secular historians acknowledge that German occult circles probably taught Hitler how to meditate and bring forth his innate charismatic abilities.

But Hitler succeeded in a country where royalty once had prevailed. And 3rd World tribalism is virtually programmed for the acceptance of a charismatic leader. The very principles of the USA, however, would seem to militate against succumbing to charismatic charms. If there's one thing this country likes to do is to build up leaders, celebrities, etc., and then knock 'em down to size. *Everybody* is supposed to have charisma here. I think these "supreme leader-averse" principles are ingrained in us to a great degree, even in those who might regard the USA as being the worst of all imperialistic evils. We're a tad cynical; we like to laugh at the high and mighty.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe spiritual flabbiness and the consequent desire for some kind of stability would be enough to override our distrust of a charismatic leader. I like to think, though, that at least a sizable core of charisma-immune would hold fast. And that would only be here, in the USA.

5/23/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous michael said...

Bob,
I was wondering, given your abundant quotations of F. Schuon, how you mesh your views on evolution with his. He is decidedly anti-evolution, though not "creationist".

5/23/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Will,

"I like to think, though, that at least a sizable core of charisma-immune would hold fast. And that would only be here, in the USA."

I tend to agree. Those American ideals are the sleeping giant, and we did see it stir - if only for a short time - after 9-11.

The fact remains, for all the moobat nonsense, the views of the extreme left are not rooted in anything. Chomsky and the Daily Kos are not exactly the grounding for an intellectual movement.

And the key is that, for the vast majority on our left, they still share the core American values, they just misinterpreted them.

Your point about royalty is excellent. In Germany the core they fell back on was one of restoring German glory, nationalism, etc. In America, precisely because our nation was founded on the noble aspirations of mankind it would very difficult for someone to do what a Hitler did by appealing to our deeper common values. The Germans, the French, etc. do not share any common noble values. However, the offspring of the British Empire do share a common value of the dignity of man.

5/23/2006 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Can I just say as someone who voted for Clinton and generally regarded him as a good guy except for the little things like moral character and such, I never realized until after 9/11 how dangerous his vanity and need for sexual conquests was to our nation. Every time I fill up my gas tank now, I realize that we could have had over a million more barrels a day of our own oil if Clinton had not vetoed drilling in Anwar. I don't want to just blame Clinton because congress has not made it any easier to build more refineries and other things necessary but I still like to give Clinton the symbolic finger! Although, he would probably just try to suck on it! Funny, how his legacy is only centered on his desire to cheat on his wife. It makes him look like a pathetic, horny, old buggar. He only has his libido to blame.

5/23/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Which brings up another question, "Who in their right mind would vote for Hillary Clinton after she let her husband make a complete ass out of her in front of the whole world?"

Without going into a detailed analysis, I would not trust her to handle matters of importance to the free world when she can't even keep her own husband happy. Would Qaddafi or any other Muslim leader give up his nuclear weapons to any woman, let alone one that willfully ignorant!?

5/23/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Hmmm Kinda' grim stuff today. It used to really annoy me that Christians claimed to have access to ultimate truth. OK- I'd ask. What is this true thing? Spell it out! My wife and I were talking about this today. She said, yeah, in Buddhism they get the same question- Mystic Law? What law? spell it out! What law am I supposed to obey?

The longer I think and the more I read on it, the more I come to the conclusion that islam is a truly satanic force. One whose aim is to bind the world in spiritual darkness. It is the worst kind of flat earth fundamentalism- a construct utterly lacking in transcendence. Yet it masquerades as enlightenment. And given the restlessness and uncertainty of third world ignorance, or the total subjectivity of values expressed in the postmodern PC world, islam could nicely fill the void just like animism, paganism, scientology, heaven's gate, or Jim Jones. It's very appeal is that it forecloses the vertical, and replaces it with inflexible certainty. And it spices the flat earth void by appealing to what? How is the believer rewarded? How about greed, lust, gluttony, sloth. And it is prodded on by pride, anger, and envy of Jews and Christians.
The appeal of Ahmadinejad is frightening. Especially since he's making the tacit, if not outright claim to be the emmissary of the mahdi if not the 12th imam himself. This ain't good, folks.The next few years may just well be those "interesting times" of the Chinese curse.

JWM

5/23/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Oh- thought I'd share this with you. BabbaZee sent it to me this morning:
JWM

Life in Words
-------------

Plants live in a world of earth, water, air and sunshine. Animals live in a
world of the body and its senses. Human beings live within a world of their own
words.

The sages called us "the speaking being," saying our soul is filled with words.
When our words leave us, our very being goes out within them. We conquer with
them. We declare our mastery over Creation with them. Our words tell us that we
exist.

For us, nothing truly exists until we find a word for it. All our thoughts of
every object and every event are thoughts of words. Our world is a world not of
sensations and stimuli, but of words.

Build your world with precious words. Fill your days with words that live and
give life.

Memorize words of Torah and of the sages. Have them ready forany break in your
day. Wherever you go, provide that place an atmosphere of those powerful words.

5/23/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

michael--

You asked how I mesh my views on evolution with Schuon's decidedly anti-evolutionary views.

Easy. I just waited until he died, so he couldn't respond.

Actually I have addressed this in past posts, although I don't know which ones. As a matter of fact, I have great sympathy for a "steady state," anti-evolutionary view. I just keep it on one part of my brain (my symmetrical consciousness), while I keep the evolutionary view in the other (my asymmetrical consciousness). In many ways, my book is about reconciling the two.

I learned from my psychoanalyst that whenever you are confronted by a seeming duality, it's best to see it as an irreducible complementarity.

5/23/2006 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Rorschach said...

Bob:

Apropos of nothing, I would love to hear what you think about Eric Berne's various attempts to classify mind parasites... Just finished reading THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, working on WHAT DO YOU SAY AFTER YOU SAY HELLO?, and I've been thinking over how it might relate to your own concepts.

Berne's work seems to me like a more layman-accessible revision of Freud's work on human interaction.

5/23/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous micrdick said...

Wow. This is what keeps me coming back to One Cosmos. Straight uncompromising insight.

Has anyone read "The Fourth Turning" by Strauss and Howe? They have an interesting take on historical cycles, seen as dominant public attitudes.

5/24/2006 02:20:00 AM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Good teaching, Bob!
I'm gonna keep this short.
Yesterday, I made 2 long comments, only to see everything crash, and the comments disappear.
Aaaarghh!

5/24/2006 02:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Sal said...

The Book of Common Prayer describes the service of God as "perfect freedom".One of those paradoxical phrases that will support some deep pondering.
Thanks, Bob.

5/24/2006 04:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood those who see the service of God as perfect coercion instead of perfect freedom, but this may make inroads to understanding them:

"The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history. The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge. The subtext is that all the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the Garden of Eden if you had just kept your mouth shut and hadn't asked any questions." -- Frank Zappa

"It's not like you killed someone / It's not like you drove that spiteful spear into His side..." -- M. J. Keenan

5/24/2006 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Andreyakovich said...

The song Anonymous quotes is called "Judith." It is named for the songwriter's mother, who was rendered a helpless, semi-aphasic paraplegic (not to mince words or anything) by a severe stroke. Keenan could not understand why his mother's religious faith GREW after her stroke instead of diminishing; he could not shake off the strange idea that she was being punished for something she didn't do.

Maynard Keenan has, to put it frankly, been through a LOT of shit in his life.

5/24/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of PITCH BLACK.

"Because you do not believe in God does not mean God does not believe in you."

"You think someone could spend half their life in the slammer with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in a liquor store trashcan with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? You got it all wrong - I absolutely believe in God. And I absolutely hate the fucker."

5/24/2006 10:34:00 AM  

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