A Priori Nonsense and Ineluctable Truth (12.20.08)
I didn’t engage in the ensuing debate because it’s another one of those things that’s not only wrong, but not even wrong. Few people are more hidebound, parochial, and unsophisticated than the typical liberal professor, who lives in such a small, closed circle that it’s pretty easy to “prove” whatever they need to prove in order to keep reality at bay.
Academia (as always, we are speaking of the humanities, not the hard sciences) has essentially been reduced to a domain of rationalism, which, in the absence of metaphysical truth, quickly becomes sub-rationalism and irrationalism. As I have noted in the past, there are only three methods of gaining knowledge about the world, 1) logic and empiricism (i.e., inductive and deductive reasoning), 2) revelation, and 3) pure intellection. Obviously, the vast majority of liberal academics categorically reject the latter two categories, which leaves only the reason, narrowly construed.
Now, reason is a method. It is empty until it is provided with content that has to come from elsewhere. In short, reason cannot provide its own content. So something other than reason has to provide it, and here you see at once the gap through which so much modern nonsense rushes in. Because these metaphysical yahoos of the academic left will rely on a sham substitute for revelation and intellection to provide the missing content.
Here we touch on the question of pure intelligence, for it is fair to say that the intellect itself is an interior revelation, while revelation represents exteriorized intellect. They are two sides of the same coin, and both flow from a higher source, which can be none other than Truth. But again, the liberal does not and cannot know any of this. However, sustained reflection should convince you that the intellect is a function of Truth, rather than vice versa -- just as something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true.
It has always been understood that the key to being a great scientist is the ability to identify a promising and generative problem. Here again, this mysterious process is completely a-logical. We cannot say it is “illogical," but it definitely doesn't obey the formal operations of mere linear logic. Rather, the ability to “see” an interesting problem -- and its potential solution -- is much closer to the realm of aesthetics than to logic.
Einstein, for example, was a mediocre mathematician. He did not arrive at his revolutionary theories through any strictly logical process, but by applying pure intelligence to problems that intrigued him but not others. Not only did he “see” the solution to those problems before he worked them out mathematically, but he was one hundred percent convinced that what he saw was true, regardless of empirical studies that didn’t confirm his theory of gravitation until 1919. When asked what he would think if the empirical results did not support his theory, he replied, "I would feel sorry for dear old God. My theory is correct."
A couple of weeks ago I told the story of how I not only managed to bluff my way into graduate school, but once there, continue bluffing beyond the abilities of classmates who, unlike me, actually had undergraduate degrees in psychology. How did I do this? It took me a while in life to find my path, but once on that path, I definitely “knew” things that came to me in a non-empirical way. And in fact, looking back on it, I am quite sure that if I had begun studying psychology when in was 18 or 19, accumulating and memorizing what passes for psychological knowledge in academia, I would have in all likelihood buried this capacity for direct knowing under a load of received nonsense. Like so many academics, I would have been “educated” at the cost of my intellect.
Again, I always use the term “intellect” in its time-honored way, as that which allows the human being to distinguish between substance and accidents. Intellection is direct knowledge of reality, very much analogous to physical perception. If you see something with your eyes, no one will ask you to prove the existence of sight. But in our current anti-intellectual climate, if you perceive something equally vividly with the intellect, you will be asked to provide logical proof -- itself a wholly illogical demand.
In reality, only an intellect of equal or greater depth can judge the claims of the intellect. And there is no rational basis whatsoever for determining who has the deeper intellect. It is only something we can know with our own awakened intellect. I can assure you that, for example, Frithjof Schuon's intellect is infinitely deeper than, say, Richard Dawkins' -- indeed, it couldn’t be more obvious. But can I prove it with logic? Of course not, any more than one can prove the greater artistic depth of one musician over another.
So in approaching these studies that prove conservatives are somehow maladjusted, you must first try to imagine the puny intellects of the researchers, and the problems that intrigue them as a result of that puniness. Obviously, trapped within the constraints of their narrow vision, they felt that it was worthwhile to study the link between conservatism and maladaptive personality traits, because their little minds already saw the connection. Therefore, it was just a matter of confirming their prejudice.
A deeper intellect will see much different problems. Reality is hierarchical and layered, so that something that is true on a shallow level may be false on a deeper level. Again, academia confines itself to such a superficial level, that it ends up being a self-reinforcing enterprise. For example, few things are more fascinating to the bovine intellects of academia than diversity, a construct which holds not the slightest bit of interest to an intellect of greater depth. So how do you even debate a person who thinks that skin color is of vital importance? There’s nothing to discuss, because I honestly don’t remember how to be so stupid, whereas they frankly don’t have the capacity to be any deeper.
I saw a beautiful example of this incredible stupidity on dailykos yesterday. It was written by a couple who are deeply disturbed at the prospect of the Supreme Court putting an end to government mandated racial discrimination, because of the effect it will have on “diversity.” They are presently in the process of selecting a school for their kindergarten aged daughter. They have about seven schools to choose from and are weighing a number of criteria, including -- I kid you not -- “number of GLBT families and GLBT-friendly staff” and race: “Specifically, the balance of race.... We eliminate from consideration ANY school that has more than 60% of a single ethnic group.” Naturally, they have had to eliminate several “excellent schools,” but one wonders how they can be simultaneously excellent and insufficiently diverse?
The writer claims that “we want [our child] to learn that the real world is one of many different types of people of different races, sexualities, ethnicities, languages, etc., to learn not to make judgements based on race or religion or ethnicity.” But by indoctrinating their daughter to believe that race determines anything, aren’t they teaching just the opposite? That we should by law be forced to make such odious distinctions? They also say they want their daughter “to learn that many different viewpoints can come to the truth better than just a few.” How can this absurd statement possibly be true? Truth is true, irrespective of whether a million people believe it or no one believes it. But for the multiculturalist, all falsehoods are equally true.
Which comes back to my original point about the silly studies linked to yesterday. From the moment I entered graduate school, one of the issues that most fascinated me was this question of psychopathology. We all know that mental illness exists -- although even then, there was a big movement among leftist psychologists in the 1960’s arguing that mental illness didn’t really exist, and that it was essentially a designation assigned by the powerful to the powerless.
But to say “mental illness” is to say “mental health,” and to say “mental health” is to say design and function. In short, the mind, just like any other organ, was designed to do something. To the extent that it fails to achieve this end, it is in a state of pathology, or ill health.
So before we address the question of whether conservatism is a form of mental illness, we must first determine what the mind was designed to do. I didn’t read the studies, but I seriously doubt that the researchers took it upon themselves to do this. Nor will I be able to do so today, because I’ve just run out of time. Perhaps tomorrow, if anyone’s interested.