A Few Words About the Unspeakable
Needless to say, Wittgenstein's thoughts about the impossibility of metaphysics are of no consequence to a Coon. I mean, W. is entitled to his opinions, just as Dr. Qi is entitled to mine, but most of the ideas of linguistic philosophy are so low on the vertical scale that they needn't detain any serious seeker. Again, like deconstruction, what is sound in it has always been known to the intellectually awakened, while what is new is mostly wrong, especially when elevated to an overarching philosophy.
And again, there is no purely secular philosophy that doesn't have at least a few useful nuggets of truth lodged in it, but elevating a partial truth to the totality is generally at the root of all bad philosophies -- as is true of most heresies. For example, some Christian sects overemphasized Jesus' humanity, others his divinity. One of the functional effects of Trinitarian thought was to check the tendency of the mind to default in one static direction rather than tolerating an unresolveable -- but generative -- state of dynamic tension.
Yesterday a troll suggested that I had engaged in "doublethink," which is what spiritual paradox looks like from down below. "From above," paradox is a fruitful way to think about ultimate reality, as indicated, for example, by Zen koans or by the endlessly provocative paradoxables of Jesus. But to suggest that Jesus' playful and ambiguous use of language made him a postmodern deconstructionist is strict kooky talk.
The fashionable grooves in which the minds of linguistic philosophers endlessly circle made their way into psychoanalysis at the very time I was studying it in graduate school, so I am (or was before flushing) well familiar with them. This was via a fellow named Lacan -- not surprisingly, a Frenchman. Fortunately I was eventually rescued by Bion, whose capacious metapsychology easily subsumes the linguistic poopspeaks, and that was that.
Lacan's intellectual cantribution to psychoanalysis was the notion that "the unconscious is [structured like] a language." Whatever. I imagine Lacan is still very popular in France, since Euros are intrinsically confused (with obvious exceptions), being that they no longer have any religious "cognitive inoculation" against loony uncoony tunes and ideas. But he is irrelevant to psychoanalysis at its leading edge, which in my view involves the interface of attachment theory and neurodevelopmental psychoanalysis, i.e., the study of internalized mind parasites from early childhood.
Speaking of mind parasites, no disrespect, but Wittgenstein was a very sick man -- depressed, at times suicidal, and if I recall correctly from his biography, intensely schizoid, i.e., incapable of normal human relationships -- and it goes without saying that he would not have believed what he believed had he received proper psychiatric treatment, but such treatment was not available at the time. It really wasn't until the 1970s that psychoanalysis began being able to explain and treat these types of deeper character disorders -- e.g. narcissistic, schizoid, and borderline personalities.
I am not suggesting that a mentally disturbed individual is incapable of arriving at truth, for any idea must always be evaluated on the merits. However, at the same time, it is perfectly obvious to a clinical psychologist that certain philosophical and political inclinations result from certain pathologies, which is, after all, one of the reasons people passionately believe things that are intrinsically stupid.
In any event, it is no big surprise that a deeply schizoid man would be attracted to the idea that language is just a kind of logic-chopping tool, since he himself was so detached from flesh-and-blood reality -- as indeed are a fair number of philosophers and academics in general, who live in their abstractions and not the real world. There is a reason why there are plenty of neo-Marxists on college campi, but no man who actually runs a business is a Marxist -- at least for long, as reality has a way of rooting out such dysfunctional ideas.
The unhinged skepticism of deconstruction achieves the opposite effect intended by its "progressive" proponents. That is, if we cannot judge the merit of competing ideas by assessing their relative truth value on an absolute scale, then either everyone will have their own private truth or truth will be enforced by the state or some other powerful collective. Our recent visitor suggests that I am a deconstructionist or that the philosophy of deconstruction is somehow compatible with classical liberalism. But as Stephen Hicks points out, it is no coincidence that the leading postmodern theorists are all left -- and usually far left -- in their political orientation, for the cognitive pathology of the one is reflected in the nonsense of the other.
Ironically, although the discoverer of psychoanalysis, Freud, was hostile to religion, it so happens that there is a deep convergence between psychoanalysis and Christianity, for at the heart of each is the notion of embodiment. Both take very seriously the idea that we live in a specifically human body, from the moment we are conceived until the day we die. In many ways, psychoanalysis is the study of the "embodied mind," just as Christianity is the religion of the "embodied word."
As such, Christianity implicitly provides a profound linguistic philosophy. In chapter IX, The Hermit, our Unknown Friend gets into a very clear explanation of how Christianity elegantly resolves certain linguistic conundrums in a way that no secular philosophy can. But as always, since its primary concern is salvation and not intellectual diversion for unfertile eggheads, the ideas of the Bible are presented in such a way that the average academic pinhead will neither understand (i.e., through an activated gnosis) nor be attracted to them.
I'm sure you all remember the derision President Bush endured from the intellectual elites when he said that his favorite philosopher was Jesus. It matters not that a single wisecrack of Jesus contains more wisdom than the unwise crock of a philosophy department in a leftist university. They are sophisticated, and we are not. Again, whatever. Let the braindead bury the souldead.
Unknown Friend begins with an account of the various antinomies that have always divided philosophy, because of the very structure of the world and of our minds. In general, this or that philosopher attempts to resolve the antinomy by coming down on this or that side, which never works; rather, this is simply a case of "word magic," i.e., making some part of reality disappear through a sleight of language.
Hrmph. It's only 5:45, and some ominous sounding proto-language is already emerging from Future Leader's bedroom, so I'm not sure I'll have time to discuss the whole chapter.... Let's see if I can get him down for another 45 minutes....
So far, so good.
I should say that coming down on one side of an antinomy "always works," in the sense that there is no mere mental argument that can't be countered by its opposite. In other words, so long as you are on the mental level, anything you can prove can be equally disproved. While this should spell the end of the prestige of the lower mind, many otherwise intelligent people get stuck at this level, either believing nothing or believing in some limited philosopher such as Wittgenstein. It doesn't matter who the philosopher is, as the deeper purpose of a secular philosophy is to serve as a sort of "transitional object" for the purposes of security, or predictablity, or to appear wise in one's own eyes.
But as Schopnhauer wrote, "For the man who studies to gain insight, books are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge, but the many who study in order to fill their memory do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but take them off and load themselves with them to take them away, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden. They remain forever below, because they bear what should have bourne them."
Grrrrrr! This is impossible. He's up. We'll have to continue this later.
On to some light denkeeping, which I can do with "la-la-la-LA, la-la-la-LA, Elmo's World" echoing in the background.
I have been invited to join Pajamas Media, which I suppose will bring more attention to our largely secret gnocturnal world. As such, I was rather ambivalent about the matter, but consulted with two most senior Coons -- one of whom is known to you but prefers to operate in anonymity, "behind the veil" -- and got the go-ahead.
My main concern is exposing these ideas to those who are bound to mis- or disunderstand them. Naturally, some people will stagger in from the k->old and be pleased to drink from the pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, while bitter flatlanders such as Q will pompously barge in with their narrow agendas and try to turn this into an argument clinic, or accuse me of operating the blog as a form of ego grandiosity as opposed to my benign Coon mercy, which tends to be infinite but not without a dollop of sternness. As such, I'm guessing that I will be relying more upon my fellow Coons to set these folks straight.
Remember, a Coon is never angry, much less querulous or petty. True, out of a Coon's keyboard goes a sharp sword with which we smite the trolls and correct them with a rod of iron. But we always do so in a laughty atmasphere of affable gallantry, which is to say we good-naturedly mock them, for being laughed at is the one thing the pompous cannot tolerate.